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dougl 10-05-2021 06:56 PM

Life before Mac: the very underrated blues debut from Mrs McVie
 
Christine Perfect – Christine Perfect (Reissue, 1970)

10th September 2021

Considering Christine McVie’s huge success with Fleetwood Mac, penning songs that would stay in the UK and US charts for months on end, this treasure of a debut album is curiously unknown. In 1970, Christine Perfect – the maiden name by which she was still known, at least professionally – was performing with Chicken Shack, dabbling with her husband’s band Fleetwood Mac, then led by Peter Green, and also finding time to record and release this bluesy delight on, naturally, Blue Horizon.

Christine Perfect is full of sultry brilliance. Take Crazy ’Bout You Baby, which manages to be sexy and yet also perhaps the most clipped English delivery on record. There are two strong Bobby Bland covers, of the B-side I’m On My Way, full of longing and sensual desperation, and I’m Too Far Gone (To Turn Around), which lacks the xylophone and cooing backing singers of the R&B original but again, is uniquely and charmingly delivered.

At times, McVie’s vocals are curiously detached from the music, as if she’s in the room with you, singing along to a recording of the backing. It works, though: her version of I’d Rather Go Blind doesn’t have the guts and grit of Etta James’s version from three years earlier, but it shines a whole new light on the song. Chicken Shack – bass guitarist Andy Sylvester, guitarist Stan Webb and drummer Dave Bidwell – back McVie on the latter track, which shows off their skill at sounding like they’re playing down the local pub, while also being telepathically locked in a groove. Elsewhere, Tony Joe White’s I Want You is more Thames than swamp without the lowdown dirty guitar White brought to the song. McVie shows off her keyboard skills throughout the album, though, but also stretches her voice, allowing it to soar, whisper or belt depending on what the songs need.

Danny Kirwan and John McVie turn up on Kirwan’s When You Say, a tender ballad with syrupy strings. McVie’s delivery, however, is distinctly Nico-ish, bringing an icy defiance to lines such as “When you say/That there’ll always be/You and me”. There are also a handful of original songs, from the minor-key blues of Wait And See and the funkier R&B of Close To Me. Funereal horns lift No Road Is The Right Road, while McVie really lets rip on the mutated 12-bar boogie of For You. These originals don’t have the indelible melodies of the likes of Don’t Stop or Little Lies, but they have a ragged soul that transcends the muddy production.

jbrownsjr 10-05-2021 09:01 PM

What a cool review! I've grown to love this album.

David 10-06-2021 04:06 PM

“No Road Is the Right Road” is my favorite. The Chris trademark style — reserved — is so much more up my alley than the belter style which alienates me. There was once a far greater American jazz and blues singer named Billie, and she kept it in reserve, too, and did all right by herself. “As if she’s in the room with you, singing along to the backing” — that’s Chris.

Macfan4life 10-06-2021 04:48 PM

This article reminded me of something. In 1984 as her new solo album was breaking and her solo hit was racing up the charts, Chris bashed this album. She disliked it and hated that it was being re-released because of her current solo album. She made statements like she was embarrassed by some of the songs.
This has always been my peeve with Chris on how she bashes her solo work. She called In the Meantime somewhere in the gates of hell and she never really praised her 1984 album only calling it "pleasing to her own ears."

I want to grab her and shake her.......You are good girl. Yes you could sing good. Yes you have a knack for writing songs, and yes you can play a catchy groove. She has always been the loyal band member. But her solo work is excellent too. She is probably the only artist where I have never heard a horrible recorded song. There are a few I am not crazy about but they are never bad songs. Thats pretty rare in the music business. She knows what she is doing and it frustrates me when she constantly downplays herself.

HomerMcvie 10-06-2021 09:32 PM

I think if it has sold(much) better, she wouldn't have been embarrassed.

Goats can bleat all day, and people come a running.

DownOnRodeo 10-08-2021 05:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Macfan4life (Post 1270095)
This has always been my peeve with Chris on how she bashes her solo work. She called In the Meantime somewhere in the gates of hell and she never really praised her 1984 album only calling it "pleasing to her own ears."

I want to grab her and shake her....(...) She knows what she is doing and it frustrates me when she constantly downplays herself.

So true!

If Stevie's feet are sometimes so far off the ground she's basically floating around in the clouds, Christine's so frustratingly grounded it's as though both legs are forever stuck fast in a Kentish peat bog, even when she's in a nationally broadcasted TV interview or on stage in a stadium.

David 10-08-2021 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DownOnRodeo (Post 1270100)
So true!

If Stevie's feet are sometimes so far off the ground she's basically floating around in the clouds, Christine's so frustratingly grounded it's as though both legs are forever stuck fast in a Kentish peat bog, even when she's in a nationally broadcasted TV interview or on stage in a stadium.

Chris is overwhelmingly practical (i.e., self-depreciating). So is John — remember how he used to say, “I just play bass—I don’t cure cancer.” Those two are so unlike the other three drama queens.

bwboy 10-09-2021 04:23 PM

I read this and the first thing that came to mind is- is this album being rereleased because Christine sold her catalog? Because if that’s the case, maybe we’ll see more rereleases, not just from Christine, but also Stevie and Lindsey, since they sold their catalogs as well.

Or is there no relationship between this rerelease and her sale?

FuzzyPlum 10-10-2021 09:17 AM

Love the Christine Perfect album the best out of all her albums.
Its raw, rough and technically not the best, but that gives it a charm.
Close to Me, No Road is the Right Road, And That's Saying a Lot...such a sexy album.

michelej1 10-10-2021 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David (Post 1270101)
Chris is overwhelmingly practical (i.e., self-depreciating). So is John — remember how he used to say, “I just play bass—I don’t cure cancer.” Those two are so unlike the other three drama queens.

The problem is Chris talks more favorably about songs and albums that are successful. I see her as not modest, so much as commercially biased. That’s disappointing because she has some great songs that are every bit as good as the “hits”. And in Stevie’s defense, no matter how predictable her set lists, she is more likely to praise her least recognizable songs than Chris is.

aleuzzi 10-11-2021 08:49 PM

The first time I heard the (Legendary) Christine Perfect Album, I was startled at how immature her singing seemed when compared to her voice on HEROES and the White album. I thought: "She's not yet there."

But I heard this album BEFORE I heard any of her songs on the first two Chicken Shack albums. When I did explore them, I was startled again--this time to hear her sounding confident and fully-developed as a blues singer. "It's Okay With Me Baby" is first-rate.

Then I returned to the 1970 solo album. I realized the "problem"--if there was one--was its in-betweenness, its transitional nature. She was moving away from the blues but not yet entirely acclimated to rock/pop-rock.

But then maybe her vocals weren't the problem. Maybe I was the one with deficient ears. I had never heard someone singing in this ambiguous space between blues/pop/soul. Whatever the case, when I hear the album now, I am impressed with about half of it. Most of side 2 is excellent--and "I Want You" is all-out sexy. "No Road" holds up as one of her finest songs--both as a performance and in terms of its writing.

Where the record falls short is when she just doesn't go far enough, when her reserve comes off as bland. Case in point: comparing "Crazy 'Bout You Baby" from that record with the live-in-studio version a year later is the difference between day and night. With Mac, she sounds energized and spirited rather than listless.

David 10-12-2021 05:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aleuzzi (Post 1270152)
I had never heard someone singing in this ambiguous space between blues/pop/soul.

That was a good post, Tony.

lazy poker 10-13-2021 08:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aleuzzi (Post 1270152)
But I heard this album BEFORE I heard any of her songs on the first two Chicken Shack albums. When I did explore them, I was startled again--this time to hear her sounding confident and fully-developed as a blues singer. "It's Okay With Me Baby" is first-rate.

I guess it's pretty safe to say that ALL of Christine's singing in her time with Chicken Shack was so confident and strong that she could easily wipe the floor with ALL of Stan Webb's strange and often quite irritating voicings. Her qualities as a singer are such that she never ever needed to shout it out or indulge in debatable acrobatics - this and her appropriate piano playing are what I love the most about these early Chicken Shack releases!

aleuzzi 10-13-2021 08:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lazy poker (Post 1270159)
I guess it's pretty safe to say that ALL of Christine's singing in her time with Chicken Shack was so confident and strong that she could easily wipe the floor with ALL of Stan Webb's strange and often quite irritating voicings. Her qualities as a singer are such that she never ever needed to shout it out or indulge in debatable acrobatics - this and her appropriate piano playing are what I love the most about these early Chicken Shack releases!

Amen, brother/sister!

lazy poker 10-13-2021 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aleuzzi (Post 1270160)
Amen, brother/sister!

. . . "brother" is completely sufficient in this life. :laugh:


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