For reasons that no one seems to recall in detail -- but for which we can be grateful -- when it was time to release a second Fleetwood Mac LP in America, producer Mike Vernon and the band didn't just send the existing Mr. Wonderful album across the Atlantic -- a little fine-tuning and retooling was in order. The band had just expanded by one member, to a quintet -- with the addition of guitarist Danny Kirwan -- by the end of 1968, whereas Mr. Wonderful represented them as a four-piece outfit. Additionally, the group had just toured the U.S. for the first time, as a quintet, playing to very enthusiastic audiences, and so there was some point to sending U.S. licensee Epic Records something extra, representing who they were at the start of 1969. And that became the English Rose album, offering three Kirwan-authored instrumentals, plus the hit U.K. single "Albatross," and also their previous single, "Black Magic Woman," which had been a British Top 40 hit (though it was unknown in the U.S., and preceded Santana's hit recording of it by almost two years). Half of Mr. Wonderful was still there, including the opener, "Stop Messin' Round" and "I've Lost My Baby," representing the stronger tracks from that record. Between the paring down of Mr. Wonderful and the addition of the single tracks, English Rose ended up being a stronger album than its predecessor, though without a hit single in America to drive sales and get it exposure, it barely brushed the Top 200 LP listings in the U.S. Strangely enough, despite the overlap with Mr. Wonderful, English Rose was released in England about six months later, probably to help make up for the loss of the group's contract (due to an oversight) by Blue Horizon.
English Rose Review
by Bruce Eder