Fleetwood Mac

Live at the Boston Tea Party, Vol. 2

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Recorded during a legendary extended weekend stand in 1970, these live recordings from the three-guitar lineup of Fleetwood Mac have existed in various shoddy, uneven, and sometimes sloppy configurations, but were finally sorted out and released as a triple-disc box, (also available individually) in 1999. First generation source tapes were utilized, there's approximately an hour's worth of previously unreleased tracks, between-song patter is interspersed among the songs, and the running order is restored to match that of the original performance. Live at the Boston Tea Party, Vol. 2 starts strong with a floating "World in Harmony," the only Peter Green/Danny Kirwin co-written track in the Mac catalog, and one that, interestingly, never appeared on a studio album. An abbreviated but aggressive "Oh Well" (the rocking opening only) segues into a half-hour "Rattlesnake Shake" that's more raucous, driving, and intense than the lower key, and slightly stiffer version on Vol. 1. The Kirwin/Green interplay here is stunning as they push each other past previous limits, driven by the forceful rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Jeremy Spencer runs through terse versions of "Stranger Blues" and "Red Hot Mama," two hot and jittery Elmore James covers. But the show becomes slipshod with his '50s doo wop tribute "Teenage Darling," complete with faux-Elvis singing that is pandering and irritating. The band jogs through a few revved-up, enthusiastic, but hardly essential Little Richard covers, redeemed by Fleetwood's driving drums and Green's wiry leads weaving through ten minutes of "Jenny Jenny." It may have been a blast at the time, but the tracks don't translate well without the visual impact of the three guitarists flailing away. The set ends with a heretofore unheard 12-minute jam simply entitled "Encore," where Joe Walsh of opening band the James Gang, adds a fourth guitar. Intermittently interesting, the quadruple guitars trading leads and riffs make for some predictably cluttered and unfocused music. Followers of the band during these early years might find this of passing curiosity, but for most people, you had to be there. Still, with Green playing at the peak of his powers, at least half of this disc is essential, especially to fans, and the numerous high points more than make up for the parts that drag.

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