Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974)

Fleetwood Mac: New singer and a new sound

New Fleetwood Mac singer Dave Walker says his move to the group from Savoy Brown has given him a feeling of liberation. He claims it means not being TOLD how to sing.

When I spoke to Walker recently he was full of comparisons between the two bands and their respective approaches to music. And Fleetwood came out miles ahead as the outfit most suited to his own musical ideals.

He told me: “Savoy Brown was governed too much by Harry and Kim Simmonds. It’s Savoy Brown Limited, and they call the shots. They tell a person how to sing and what to do.

“To me it was really a question of not being treated like a human being.

“You see, our thing with Savoy was a pretty high energy act. And I began to feel that as far as I was concerned it was a case of ‘just wind him up and watch him go’.

“I felt that even I’d broken a leg the band would still have expected the same amount of energy from me.

“Anyway it went on and on, and I had a bit of a breakdown in New York in August, and that was it. I was out of the band.

“Then Fleetwood Mac came along and asked if I’d like a job. I agreed, because we were all pals. We’d just been on a big tour together and I’d known them for some time.”

Anyway, one can rightly assume the man is happier.

“It’s much freer,” he says. “When I do any writing, Fleetwood at least listen and say whether it’s worth recording. At least I’ll have a chance to get some of my writing recorded.”

He continued: “On performances I’m not the front man, I’m just another guy in the band – just another member. We all work together and we’ll all do our little bits. If one of us goofs there are no terrific inquests after the gig.

“Generally the feeling in the band is very, very relaxed. We all try and help each other. No one takes anyone else for granted.

“Of the half-dozen or so gigs we’ve done in England there were probably only two occasions when the band was working well. But since we’ve been in the States we’ve been working constantly, say five gigs in a row, and it seemed to sort out all the little goofs.

“Now the band is starting to sound very good. It’s starting to sound like the new Fleetwood Mac, as opposed to the old Fleetwood Mac.”

The American dates done by the six-piece Mac (with Walker and Bob Weston) were with Deep Purple, and playing to those 10,000-plus crowds.

Their material has been revamped, putting a firm boot behind most of the oldies, except two. And they now play new numbers, which are the sole property of this new outfit.

And they’ve been going down well.

Of the recording situation Walker says: “This month we start recording a new album.

“A lot of the things will be sorted out in the studio. I don’t think anything’ll be too prearranged. It’ll be nice, because we’re having the Stones Mobile Recording truck down at the house in Hampshire.

“Although it costs money, it means that if anyone has an idea it’s just a matter of getting out of bed and going downstairs and recording it. I think in that way some of the best things will come out.”

Okay. But isn’t there this feeling in Blighty that Fleetwood Mac have been limping around just a little too long? Is there a rejuvenation in the band, I asked Walker?

“Mick (Fleetwood) and John (McVie) seem pleased enough. I think it’s true to say Fleetwood were limping along. I thought so. Then when I was with Savoy we played with them on tour in the States, and they weren’t limping quite as badly as people thought they were.

“The reason why people in England may think Fleetwood are limping along is simply because we all get the horrors playing in England now. It’s the old, old story – we don’t play here that often.

“The States is a different kettle of fish. We’re not so paranoid in the States.”

What they need in England and Europe, he elaborates, is a hit record. “Then we’d be much more relaxed and play better”.

As yet there are no firm plans for Mac to hit our English motorways. Walker feels the music tides are moving towards the rock of bands like Roxy Music, and away from rock ‘n’ blues.

“It doesn’t seem to be enough to stand on a stage looking normal and playing music. You’ve got to have this gimmicky thing.”

And he concludes: “If England goes completely that way, then you won’t hear Fleetwood Mac here because we just ain’t into all that.”

Perhaps not a charming thought to leave us with, but sobering.

Tony Stewart / New Musical Express / January 13, 1974

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