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Old 09-13-2022, 03:14 PM
cbBen cbBen is offline
Addicted Ledgie
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,139
Default When FM Ended Era W. Heroes Are Hard To Find

Heroes Are Hard to Find, is, in many ways, one of Fleetwood Mac's most forgotten – just like soon-to-depart guitarist Bob Welch.

He'd had been in the lineup since 1971, releasing four LPs up to this point, all of which kept Fleetwood Mac on an upward trajectory. Albums like Bare Trees and Mystery to Me started to garner some radio play in the United States, and their reputation as a live act had been well-established. Despite that, things had yet to really click for the veteran rockers.

Released on Sept. 13, 1974, Heroes Are Hard to Find begins on a strong note, with a first-class Christine McVie composition in the title cut. Brimming with her unique brand of jubilation, the song is a perfect album opener and one of McVie's lost classics. It should have been a hit, but failed to make any dent.

Welch is up to bat next with the slightly psychedelic "Coming Home." Displaying solid signature playing that made earlier tracks like "Hypnotized" so strong, Welch is front and center here. It's an odd song, with no real discernible hook, but the mood created is dynamic and striking. The entire album is split between the songwriting of McVie and Welch, and while their style and approach is quite different, the two paths link up very effectively throughout.

On the third track, "Angel," Welch is still in command here with a moody, straight-ahead rocker that once again displays his underrated guitar technique. "Bermuda Triangle" is a haunting tune, almost worthy of its namesake. Welch's vocal delivery lacks personality at times, and the song never really takes off into the depths it should, but the always reliable rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood save the song from itself.

"Bermuda Triangle" points to one of the problems with this incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. They had a tendency to veer too close to the middle of the road. With Welch in control, things got very smoothed out in a way they didn't amid the raw blues chaos of the Peter Green era, the rootsy approach of the Danny Kirwan/Jeremy Spencer-driven lineup or, obviously, the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks years. Not that it was his doing entirely, but Welch didn't have the fire needed to push the band where it needed to go.

"Come a Little Bit Closer" is pop perfection from Christine McVie. The song has an almost George Harrison-like quality to it, with some nice pedal steel from the legendary Sneaky Pete Kleinow, formerly of the Flying Burrito Brothers. On "She's Changing Me," Welch again veers too close to that sterile MOR sound so prevalent in 1974. Not unlike the tune it follows, it has elements of a lost Beach Boys tune, but ultimately goes nowhere.

Things really pick up with "Bad Loser," a moody rocker that shows off some genuinely fine guitar work from Welch and adds in heaping handfuls of personality, something lacking from much of the album. The rhythm section once again saves the day here. Welch steps back up with "Silver Heels," a somewhat country-ish tune that sinks before it gets the chance to swim. It's generic mid-'70s rock to the definition, and his slightly funky approach fails miserably. His forte was subtle, yet haunting guitar playing, much less so his singing or attempts to rock out.

"Prove Your Love" is pretty much standard Christine McVie fare, meaning it's got a hook and a melody and ultimately succeeds, even if the results are not up to her usual standards. "Born Enchanter" finds Welch trying to get all funky again. The LP ends, however, on a very strong note, as Welch gets back into his own groove with the somewhat spacey, and appropriately titled "Safe Harbour." A beautiful tune, primarily instrumental, that showcases not only his sweet guitar playing, but his knack for creating a mood.

Though the LP reached the U.S. Top 40, Heroes Are Hard to Find would be Bob Welch's last with Fleetwood Mac. Shortly after its release, he left the band. In the years that followed, Welch became a tragic figure who sadly took his own life in 2012. He never really got his due as a player or writer, particularly in the Fleetwood Mac story: For unknown reasons, he was not inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the band.

Fleetwood Mac Ex-Members: Where Are They Now?
Fleetwood Mac have had massive success, and a difficult time keeping a lineup together.

Bob Brunning
John McVie was unwilling to leave his steady gig as the bassist in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, even after Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood named their new group Fleetwood Mac. So they picked up Bob Brunning (above right) with the understanding that he would be gone if McVie changed his mind, which he did a few weeks later. Brunning then spent a year in Savoy Brown before beginning a teaching career while playing in blues bands on the side. He died on Oct. 18, 2011, at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack.

Peter Green
Green was Fleetwood Mac's first lead guitarist, writing the classics "Albatross," "Oh Well" and "Black Magic Woman," which was later a breakout hit for Santana. Born Peter Allen Greenbaum, he left the band in May 1970, a few months after an acid-drenched party at a hippie commune in Munich. He faded from public view, the result of drug use and mental illness – he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the mid-'70s – but resurfaced in a few places, including on Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' LP in 1979 and a few solo albums in the early '80s. He formed the Peter Green Splinter Group in 1997 and occasionally played with groups comprised of friends before dying in 2020 at age of 73.

Jeremy Spencer
Guitarist Jeremy Spencer co-founded Fleetwood Mac in 1967, and stayed through the release of 1970's 'Kiln House.' While in Los Angeles promoting the record in early 1971, he and his wife joined a religious organization called the Children of God, which is now known as the Family International. He mostly gave up music for the religious group, with which he is still reportedly affiliated, but later resumed his music career and released several albums after 2006.

Danny Kirwan
Fleetwood Mac expanded to a three-guitar quintet in 1968 with the arrival of Danny Kirwan, whose band Boilerhouse had opened for Fleetwood Mac a few times. He drank heavily, however, and clashed personally with Bob Welch, who had been brought in to replace Jeremy Spencer. Kirwan was fired in 1972, after he smashed his guitar and refused to go onstage, preferring instead to heckle the band. He embarked on a solo career that lasted through the late '70s before giving up the music industry. Kirwan died in June 2018 at the age of 68.

Bob Welch
Californian Bob Welch joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971 through his friend Judy Wong. She was the band's secretary and subject of Kirwan's "Jewel-Eyed Judy," ironic given Welch and Kirwan's feud. His arrival helped steer Fleetwood Mac in a more pop-oriented direction: Welch's last album with the band, 1974's 'Heroes Are Hard to Find,' was their first to crack the Top 40 in the U.S. He left Fleetwood Mac for a solo career, resulting in the hits "Sentimental Lady," "Ebony Eyes" and "Precious Love." He died on June 7, 2012, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. According to a note left at the scene, Welch felt unable to fully recover from spinal surgery and did not want his wife to go through the burden of caring for him.

Dave Walker
Danny Kirwan was replaced by singer Dave Walker and guitarist Bob Weston. But Walker, who had previously spent time in Savoy Brown, wasn't considered a good fit for the group and appeared on only two tracks from 1973's 'Penguin' before being sacked. He then tooled around in a bunch of bands, even joining Black Sabbath for a brief spell from 1977-78 when Ozzy Osbourne temporarily left. Walker spent the late '80s and early '90s in Savoy Brown, then began fronting a self-named band in 2007.

Bob Weston
Bob Weston didn't last much longer than Walker, playing on 'Penguin' and the follow-up LP, 'Mystery to Me' before being fired, supposedly due to an affair he had with Mick Fleetwood's wife, Jenny Boyd. Weston then played with Murray Head, Sandy Denny and Steve Marriott, and made a few solo albums. He died on Jan. 3, 2012, of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Billy Burnette
Lindsey Buckingham's first departure from Fleetwood Mac, shortly after the release of 1987's 'Tango in the Night,' meant that they needed replacements for the tour. Fleetwood Mac found a pair of guitarists and singers: Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. Burnette, the son of early rocker Dorsey Burnette, had been recording country music since the early '70s and came into Fleetwood Mac's orbit in the early '80s, working on several members' solo albums. He played on the band's 'Behind the Mask' and 'Time' albums before leaving when they went on hiatus in 1995. Burnette and Bekka Bramlett, another member of that Fleetwood Mac lineup, later formed Bekka & Billy. They recorded an album together in 1997.

Rick Vito
Before joining Fleetwood Mac, guitarist Rick Vito had a lengthy career as a session musician, playing with Todd Rundgren, Little Richard, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger, among others. He left the band after 1990's 'Behind the Mask' to concentrate on his solo career, beginning with 1992's 'King of Hearts.' Vito has also appeared in the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.

Dave Mason
No member of Fleetwood Mac came to the band with as impressive a resume as Dave Mason. He's been in Traffic, recorded with many major rock acts (that's him playing the acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower"), wrote the Joe Cocker favorite "Feelin' Alright," and had solo hits with "Only You Know and I Know" and "We Just Disagree." He and Bekka Bramlett joined Fleetwood Mac in 1993, and both stayed through 1995's 'Time.' Mason later returned to his roots in Traffic, reuniting with ex-bandmate Jim Capaldi in 1998 then mounting his own 'Traffic Jam' tour in the mid-'10s.

Bekka Bramlett
The daughter of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Bekka Bramlett came to Fleetwood Mac after Stevie Nicks left. She joined after working on Mick Fleetwood's solo project the Zoo in the early '90s. Bramlett enjoyed a steady career as a backup singer after leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1995, with a long list of credits on rock, country and blues albums. The late-'90s duo Bekka and Billy also featured former Fleetwood Mac bandmate Billy Burnette.

Lindsey Buckingham
Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac on New Year's Eve 1974 along with his girlfriend Stevie Nicks, with whom he had released an album in 1973. The duo helped lead the group to superstar status with 'Fleetwood Mac' and 'Rumours.' He left in 1987 but returned in 1996 when the classic lineup reunited. Buckingham was abruptly fired in 2018, then endured a health scare before returning to solo work with a self-titled 2021 LP.

Last edited by cbBen; 09-13-2022 at 03:31 PM..
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