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Fleetwood Mac (1968) Peter Green

How to upset the blues purists

Among Britain’s young blues fans Eric Clapton was once hailed as a god, then discarded by the ethnics when he left John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for the Cream. Taking his place in their affections was Peter Green, a 21-year-old from Bethnal Green hailed as the true voice of the blues guitar and symbol of dedication.

Shock

Peter left Mayall to form his own group, the Fleetwood Mac and it may come as something of a shock to his fans to learn that he is not a raving blues purist and started life as a rocker.

“The group has been very successful since we formed it last August. There is a big interest in blues in Britain, although not what I call real blues, more progressive stuff from Jimi Hendrix and the Cream. But it’s definitely spreading. There are only two places in the whole country where we don’t go down — a couple of dead universities.

Chocked

“John Mayall has been the spearhead in reviving interest in blues. He’s really done a lot for it. I’ve been playing blues guitar for about three years, and before that I was playing bass.

“When I left John, I didn’t want to form a group. I wanted to go to Chicago, but it was difficult to be sure of being safe and I ended up dropping the idea. I was happy doing nothing, but Mike Vernon said ‘Why not?’ and he talked me into it.”

Peter has been featuring rock ‘n’ roll a lot in his act. What did he think of the current revival?

“I’m a bit chocked about it. I hope people don’t think we’re doing it because of the revival!

Picture

“I was first interested in rock ‘n’ roll and Bill Haley when I was ten years old. It has a big place in my musical heritage. I had a picture of Haley on my bedroom wall. We’re all big rock fans in the group.

“We started out doing ‘At The Hop’ as a joke, then we did ‘Ready, Teddy’, and ‘Lucille’ and we really enjoyed them.

“A lot of so called blues purists are against us doing it, but I don’t care what they think. We play what we like — we’re not just playing for purists.

“I’m not a blues purist. I don’t know every record ever made, or their numbers, and I’m not interested in talking about the blues all night. I just play blues — and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Chris Welch / Melody Maker / March 16, 1968

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Fleetwood Mac (1968) Peter Green

Rock’n’Blues via Peter Green

The big beat bug bites bluesman Peter

The big beat rock’n’roll bug is biting everywhere.

Think of the most unlikely place for it to bite. No, not Des O’Connor. Not even warm. Think of a dedicated musician NOT in the rock’n’roll field who has spent a long long time building up a reputation as a blues guitarist… you got it, baby — Peter Green.

If you go and see Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and you hear “Jenny Jenny” or “Keep A Knockin’,” don’t run away and grab your bicycle chain to hit them with. Stay and listen and you’ll hear Peter and the boys play some pure blues numbers. Then the similarity between the two kinds of music will be apparent to you — and you’ll be able to see how the early primitive rock’n’roll developed from the blues. And remember that the Sun studios (who first recorded Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison) were recording blues artistes — some of the best — many years before the rock’n’roll craze started.

NO NEGLECT

“I’ve always liked rock,” confessed Peter to me, while he was sipping a glass of Mackeson. “And it’s a pity in a way that everyone is going on about the rock thing because it seems as though we’re just being ‘in’. Actually I’ve always wanted to do this kind of thing on stage — but it doesn’t mean we’ll be neglecting the blues.

“We’re still doing the same kind of numbers as we always did — but I’m playing more to the audiences nowadays. For instance — when we started we used to play to please ourselves, and didn’t bother too much about the audience. Now — I play numbers that are requested —like ‘Going Down Slow’ for instance which they like be cause of the guitar sounds we can get into it. Funny about guitar playing — the people in the audience think you’re great if you play fast, but that just isn’t so. Now I only play fast when I want to, which isn’t THAT often.”

On stage — if you’ve never seen the Fleetwood Mac — they wear no stage clothes, amble on stage, and tune up before the audience. A necessary part of the “white blues” stage ritual perhaps, but effective. It makes them seem dedicated. And when the group starts playing the audience really get into the music.

Peter talked about his new LP out on the CBS label Blue Horizon. “It really represents what we first started doing when the group was together. I think that ultimately we will think all the time in LP’s, but of course I’d like a hit single.”

I told Peter that I thought it was difficult for a British studio to get the “hard” sound that blues studios in America get — take Howlin’ Wolf or Elmore James records for instance.

“Yes, that’s true,” admitted Peter. “I asked our producer Mike Vernon if we could do a ‘live’ LP but he said no. I’ve always wanted to play straight through the LP — no stopping for mixing and reductions etc. On a new LP we’ve just recorded with Eddie Boyd we’ve done almost just that. It’s all recorded in mono but it is played just how I wanted it to be. I’m very excited with it. Our own LP I’m not fully satisfied with, but I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with our records — it’s already sold quite well so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

EFFECTIVE

“Talking about studios I was talking to Marshall Chess who was over here and he said that if we were ever in America we could use his Chess studios. I’d love to take him up on that offer.

“Some of the tracks on our LP are very exciting — ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’ for instance and I think that the echo effect and the dropped voice used on ‘I Loved Another Woman’ is very effective.”

Norman Jopling / Record Mirror / March 9, 1968

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Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac (1968)

ALBUM REVIEW: Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac — My Heart Beat Like A Hammer, Merry Go Round, Long Grey Mare, Hellhound On My Trail, Shake Your Moneymaker, Looking For Somebody, No Place To Go, My Baby’s Good To Me, I Loved Another Woman, Cold Black Night, The World Keep On Turning, Got To Move (Blue Horizon 7-73200).

I was slightly disappointed. Peter and his boys are competent and dedicated enough to have made a better LP than this, which consists of nothing much new or adventurous in the blues field, merely their attempts to duplicate what has already been done by countless other blues artistes. Doubtless it’ll appeal to Fleetwood Mac fans as opposed to blues fans. Also the recording quality was too often flat — compare this with the punch of Elmore James or Howlin’ Wolf items. This is a shame because throughout the album some brilliant touches come through. “I Loved Another Woman” is perfect, and the instrumental and vocals are mostly very competent, and often inspired. ***

Peter Jones and Norman Jopling / Record Mirror / March 2, 1968

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Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac (1968)

ALBUM REVIEW: Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (1968)

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (Blue Horizon).

One of the group events of last year for blues fans was the formation of the ex-Mayall guitarist Peter Green’s own group. They blow committed blues and aren’t afraid to rock. From the first bars of “My Heart Beat Like A Hammer” the music is kept at white heat intensity, or a warm, red glow for the medium-paced outings like ‘Merry Go Round’. Jeremy Spencer contributes nice slide-guitar, piano and vocals; John McVie, also ex-Mayall, is on bass, and Mick Fleetwood, drums. Producer Mike Vernon and engineer Mike Ross get a good sound on the rhythm section, which is usually the weak point of British blues recordings.

Melody Maker / February 24, 1968

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Fleetwood Mac (1968)

Beyond the Blues Horizon

The ever-growing acceptance of blues during the Sixties has decisively affected the direction in which the popular music business has travelled in country. On the whole it’s been a benign influence, in my opinion, in spite of a number of malignant offshoots.

But good or bad, the popularity of what is at root an American Negro song style is an established fact. More blues has been played on the air, in clubs and on concert stages, and in Englishmen’s homes these past few years than in the whole of the rest of my life.

Names like Muddy Waters, Jack Dupree, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Memphis Slim have become a commonplace in record company catalogues. Specialist magazines and disc labels have sprung up, and some survive. One of the labels most likely to succeed is Blue Horizon, a name with a nice visionary touch to it.

It began, nearly three years ago, as a modest private operation putting out limited editions of U.S. recordings which appealed strictly to blues fanciers. Hubert Sumlin, J.B. Lenore, Jack Dupree and Little George Smith were among those issued.

Last year the Horizon boys recorded Eric Clapton and John Mayall’s Lonely Years on Purdah (by then two more labels, Outasite and Purdah had been launched) and every copy was disposed of in a fortnight. Subsequently the masters were sold to Decca and reissued on their Raw Blues set.

“For a time we carried on like that,” says Mike Vernon, one of Horizon’s proprietors. “But we realised there was a mounting demand not only for American-made blues but for British groups playing good blues in their own way.

“An obvious illustration of this is Mayall’s Bluesbreakers whose sales I’ve seen rise to 25,000 and more during my year and a half of producing records for Decca. When Peter Green left to form his own group it looked as though there was going to be one more group with an uncompromising attitude to its music.

“For us, the next move was clearly to find a major company to distribute our records. It wasn’t simple because companies were slow to see the possibilities; and we didn’t want a major to put out records we made under their imprint. We wanted to keep our label identity.”

Finally a contract was realised between CBS and Blue Horizon. Singles by the Fleetwood Mac and Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation are already out, but on a CBS label showing a Blue Horizon symbol. The first Blue Horizon proper, by the Chicken Shack, appears on January 19. And the first LP, by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, is to appear early next month.

Richard Vernon, the other Vernon who runs Blue Horizon, says when things are ticking over perfectly there will be a minimum of one single and one LP each month, plus extras as required.

“Briefly, our policy is to establish a market for a label,” he explains. “So that when people buy Blue Horizon they know they’re getting blues. Our plans are far-reaching; not just British groups far from it.” Mike Vernon, enlarging on the plans, says that the scope will be pretty wide — “starting with Mississippi or Texas blues and any country style that comes our way, then taking in early Chicago and Detroit, also things from the West Coast made in the late Forties and early Fifties.”

Blue Horizon aim to represent every facet of blues right up to current trends. Names they mention are B.B. King, Albert King, Little Joe Blue, Eddie Boyd. It hardly seems necessary to enquire if the Vernons have faith in the future of the blues market here.

“I think the chances of the label surviving for five years or more are very good,” says Mike. “If I’d wanted just money I’d have gone into something else.” Now that is spoken like a true blues gent.

Max Jones / Melody Maker / January 13, 1968

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Fleetwood Mac (1968)

Peter Green: The guitarist who won’t forsake the blues

Anyone who in a year has built up the reputation of being Britain’s best blues guitarist, must have some interesting things to say, and therefore be interesting to write about and read about. That’s what I figured and indeed Peter Green is very interesting.

He made his reputation as John Mayall’s lead guitarist when he replaced Eric (then “Slowhand”) Clapton. It is necessary to know that Peter Green really and truly lives for the blues and with the blues, and everything from his East End upbringing (he was a shy and reticent child) to his natural talent has contributed to his present reputation.

When he replaced Clapton after a series of auditions by John Mayall in which Peter won hands down, he was taunted on nearly every date by cries of “We want Clapton” from some of the audience.

“They weren’t the kind of things which made me play better,” said Peter, “they would just bring me down. For a long time with John I wasn’t playing at my best, as good as I was able. Only in the last few months with him could I really feel uninhibited.”

Peter first became interested in the blues when he heard a Muddy Waters record when he was fourteen. At that time he was playing bass, but after hearing more and more blues he felt he could play blues guitar and switched instruments. From playing Shadows material he has changed to playing real blues – he is on the new Eddie Boyd LP and in a private letter to a record producer Eddie said that Peter could play blues guitar better than anyone else he had heard – a truly fine compliment.

Peter’s guitar playing has made him into one of the most highly-rated musicians in the country, but does Peter think that his very specialist form of music can be truly appreciated by the audience?

“No, no, only by a few. I think this is demonstrated by the applause I get when I play very fast – it’s something I used to do with John when things weren’t going very well. But it isn’t any good. I like to play slowly, and feel every note – it comes from every part of my body and my heart and into my fingers. I have to really feel it, I make the guitar sing the blues – if you don’t have a vocalist then the guitar must sing.

“Only a few people in this country can really do this. Clapton could. I would watch him and think how great he was. But he sat in with us the other week and he isn’t the same, he’s lost the feeling. Mind you he could, I think, get it back – but he’s so easily influenced. He sees Hendrix and thinks ‘I can do that, why don’t I?’. But I’ll always play the blues.”

A while ago Peter wanted to go to Chicago because he thought that the blues scene in Britain wasn’t wide enough. But he has abandoned the project now and formed his own group, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Why did he leave John Mayall’s band, which has the reputation of being the country’s most successful blues outfit?

“Various reasons. But the most important was that I didn’t agree with the kind of material which was being played. It was becoming, for me, less and less of the blues. And we’d do the same thing, night after night. John would say something to the audience and count us in, and I’d groan inwardly.”

Peter’s group will record for the Blue Horizon label, a specialist label which will soon be distributed nationally.

If you appreciate blues, and real blues guitar, don’t miss them.

Norman Jopling / Record Mirror  / August 19, 1967