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  #31  
Old 03-18-2015, 06:39 PM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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Orlando Weekly by Jason Ferguson

http://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando...nt?oid=2372055

A case for 'Bare Trees' as one of Fleetwood Mac's best records

The Rolling Stone Album Guide says, "There are essentially three Fleetwood Macs." Being Rolling Stone, this bit of received knowledge has become the baseline for assessment about the band's 45-year history.

And, being Rolling Stone, this bit of received knowledge is superficial and totally wrong.

Really, there are nine discrete Fleetwood Macs, both in terms of lineup but also (and more importantly) in terms of sonic approach.

1 Peter Green's blues-rock band (all those records on the Blue Horizon label)

2 Green's mature and sonically inventive blues-rock band (Then Play On)

3 Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan expanding on Green's later ideas to varying degrees of creative success (Kiln House, Future Games)

4 Kirwan's unheralded masterpiece (Bare Trees)

5 The years in the wilderness when Bob Welch tried to remake the band in his image, but ended up running it into the ground instead (Penguin, Mystery to Me, Heroes Are Hard to Find)

6 The Buckingham/Nicks years (Fleetwood Mac, Rumours)

7 The Buckingham year (Tusk)

8 The cocaine hangover (Mirage, Tango in the Night)

9 Perpetual reunion (Say You Will, endless touring)

This may seem like splitting hairs, and perhaps it is, but it's important to note just how different the sound of each of these eras is. It's a difference that's not only attributable to the band's shifting lineup, but also to their willingness to regularly throw out a formula that was (or wasn't) working in pursuit of something else entirely. There are gems within each of these periods, and a couple of legitimately excellent albums that are routinely overlooked (Say You Will being a prime example).

Rumours is a great album, but and this is a huge but it's perpetually disappointing to see this era of Fleetwood Mac held up as the only one worth paying attention to. Between the sub-canonical masterpiece of Then Play On and the Buckingham/Nicks era, there are six albums that are well worth exploring, but the most criminally ignored is Bare Trees.

Compared to Rumours, it's short and loose and not nearly as maniacally perfectionist ... but it's one of the most thoughtful, resonant and enjoyable records Fleetwood Mac ever made.

Bare Trees is Kirwan's album. The guitarist joined the band in 1969, and his impact was immediate: His fluid, ethereal and melodic playing debuted on the unlikely instrumental hit "Albatross." That song's approach a gentle fusion of blues-rock structures and otherworldly pop sensibilities would define Kirwan's tenure in the band. Of course, fellow lead guitarist Spencer played a substantial role as well, with his passion for classic rock & roll and slide guitar, but by the time of Bare Trees, Spencer was out (he split in the middle of a tour and joined the Children of God cult), Green had been gone for two years, and guitarist Welch (who had appeared on Trees' predecessor, Future Games) had only been in the band for about nine months.

This left Kirwan as the de facto musical leader of the band, a role that, ironically enough, neither Mick Fleetwood nor John McVie ever seemed to have any interest in. And though it's Welch's "Sentimental Lady" that's often the most-remembered song on this album, the sound here is all Kirwan.

On Bare Trees, the guitarist deftly alters the blues-rock formula to create a singular, mutant strain of what could reasonably be called "soft rock," but with none of the anodyne trappings of what that moniker would later imply. In fact, the album kicks off with a fairly rollicking stomper in the form of "Child of Mine," a groove-heavy number that you can almost picture going on for days. Kirwan's flawless guitar work is wondrous here, but it's really the strong melodic sensibility and casual beauty that he brings that makes the song shine so brightly. Conversely, the brooding, dark penultimate track, "Dust," is kept from being overly morose, thanks to the rich harmonic interplay between the guitars and the hopeful-if-resigned vocals. But it's the soaring instrumental beauty of "Sunny Side of Heaven" which almost directly references "Albatross" and the heavenly groove of the title track that seal up any arguments that this album ranks among Fleetwood Mac's best.

So, although the drama (and drugs) of the Buckingham/Nicks years are what Fleetwood Mac will almost always be known best for, it's worth remembering that this band's extensive discography holds plenty of surprises and even a few lost moments of perfection
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  #32  
Old 03-18-2015, 10:01 PM
THD THD is offline
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[quote=michelej1;1162986]Orlando Weekly by Jason Ferguson

(KIRWAN) debuted on the unlikely instrumental hit "Albatross." That song's approach – a gentle fusion of blues-rock structures and otherworldly pop sensibilities – would define Kirwan's tenure in the band./QUOTE]

In my opinion ,there are no" blues rock structures "in Albatross at all It is totally diatonic and uses a tonic MAJ 7TH chord- not bluesy in any way !(this is why it was so out of character for FM in the middle of a no compromise (n) hard core Chicago blues period


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(Kirwan's ) fluid, ethereal and melodic playing debuted on the unlikely instrumental hit "Albatross."



t Danny's playing is great on this instrumental but he is simply playing what Peter composed .

Last edited by THD : 03-18-2015 at 10:04 PM.
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  #33  
Old 03-18-2015, 10:06 PM
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aleuzzi aleuzzi is offline
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I hated Bare Trees when I first heard it over 25 years ago. I thought it sounded a bit muddled and anonymous. I couldn't sense a good deal of musical dynamics on it.

How wrong I was! Now I love it, but it was one of the last albums to have won me over. I think the fact Christine's vocals are not yet fully evolved here is a key reason why I underlistened to it for years. (At least Future Games had "Show Me a Smile," which sounds like mature Christine.) But now I love this record. As the writer shows, it's Kirwan's showcase--and what a showcase. The only thing that could have made this album better would have been the inclusion of "Trinity."

What a rich list of songs! I think "Child of Mine" may be one of the greatest opening cuts on a FM record. The instrumentation is layered yet concise, expansive yet restrained.


So, I agree with the writer on this point. But other parts of his breakdown--such as pairing Kiln House and Future Games in one era, and calling 73-74 the wilderness years--are, well, wrong.
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  #34  
Old 03-19-2015, 04:43 AM
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Dr.Brown Dr.Brown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleuzzi View Post
So, I agree with the writer on this point. But other parts of his breakdown--such as pairing Kiln House and Future Games in one era, and calling 73-74 the wilderness years--are, well, wrong.
Yes, especially since Jeremy departed immediately after Kiln House and was replaced by Bob Welch (someone with an entirely different musical aesthetic) before Future Games - an album whose title track was composed and sung by Bob. I also completely disagree with his "wilderness years" assessment. Both Penguin and MTM featured some true gems. HAHTF was relatively disappointing but the band's legal struggle over the fake Mac had obviously taken its toll which played into Bob's departure following that album.
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  #35  
Old 03-19-2015, 05:23 AM
wetcamelfood wetcamelfood is offline
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I like how they go through the trouble of breaking it down to NINE FM's, and they clearly don't like some of them, yet BTM and Time are STILL ignored as not even being one. They could at least call it "wilderness 2", but to not even include it?

John
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  #36  
Old 03-19-2015, 05:26 AM
wetcamelfood wetcamelfood is offline
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Though I also disagree with their obvious dislike for Welch and the KH/FG "era", I will give them credit for having the guts to say that for the BN era it's "perpetually disappointing to see this era of Fleetwood Mac held up as the only one worth paying attention to" as it seems not many would say that.

John
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  #37  
Old 03-19-2015, 08:51 AM
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wondergirl9847 wondergirl9847 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wetcamelfood View Post
Though I also disagree with their obvious dislike for Welch and the KH/FG "era", I will give them credit for having the guts to say that for the BN era it's "perpetually disappointing to see this era of Fleetwood Mac held up as the only one worth paying attention to" as it seems not many would say that.

John
Agreed...it's nice to know die-hards aren't the only ones disappointed with the "Rumours is the only album worth anything." BS.

I'm at work right now, but dang...I seriously want to listen to Bare Trees RIGHT NOW!!
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  #38  
Old 03-19-2015, 01:40 PM
FuzzyPlum FuzzyPlum is offline
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This may seem like splitting hairs, and perhaps it is,

Yes it is splitting hairs.
That said, there's no way I'd group Kiln House with Future Games. Kiln House is a whole separate entity on its own.
At a push I'd group Future Games and Bare Trees together. They don't exactly have the same feel but you can pick up on the development Bare Trees makes on the groundwork started by Future Games.
Penguin is kind of on its own (mainly down to the personnel) and then I'd probably lump Mystery To Me with Heroes Are Hard To Find.

But yes it is splitting hairs as there have been so many line up changes that the albums moved on each time. A case could be made for each of those 6 albums to be separate eras.

...and yes, its absolutely crazy to omit Behind The Mask and Time which were each stand alone periods.
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