Tuesday, March 30, 2004

So, the reissue of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk does sound pretty good, but I wouldn't say that any of the bonus tracks on the extra disk are life-changing (though some are interesting). The album of theirs that I'd most like to see reissued with bonus stuff is their 1972 release Bare Trees. This is the first Fleetwood Mac that really sounds like what the band would eventually become, which is kind of interesting because it's dominated by Danny Kirwan who didn't appear on any subsequent albums. His story is pretty sad, and you can read about it here.

Bare Trees features the original version of Bob Welch's Sentimental Lady (which is better than the rerecorded version that became a hit) and Christine McVie's Spare Me a Little of Your Love (which sounds very... Fleetwood Mac-y, in a good way). But it's really Danny's songs that make the album for me. Here's Danny's Chant, which has an extremely cool intro, and then turns into something that sounds an awful lot like early Bongwater. And here's Dust, which is (in my opinion of course) the best thing ever to come out of Fleetwood Mac. It's got an amazing chord progression, and a real sense of melancholy that fits very well with the cover photo of leafless (or, um, bare) trees on a grey day. And speaking of grey days, here's the odd little vocal bit that ends the album -- strange, right? Listen closely for the husband (?) who pipes up near the end. I grew up listening to the slick Fleetwood Mac that I heard on the radio and found out about their Peter Green days somewhat later, but this was the first album of theirs that I really connected with. Just in case you didn't click the link about Danny Kirwan, I'll briefly summarize: he lost it mentally while touring for this album and got kicked out of the band, ending up homeless at one point, and ultimately in an institution. End result: Fleetwood Mac don't have another album that sounds like Bare Trees. In a way, it's their Wowee Zowee: a transitional album that's often the favorite of longtime fans.

I must be in a classic rock mood lately, because the other album that I've been listening to a lot is Jennyanykind's Revelater. Jennyanykind were initially a very indie-shoegazer type group with three nondescript releases who, seemingly overnight, turned into Bob Dylan with the Band. They had one album (Revelater) on a major label (Elektra) which seemed to be a cut-out from day one. I've always liked it a lot, which is odd because I don't particularly like Bob Dylan or the Band. (I note that Largehearted Boy had all sorts of Dylan links the other day...maybe there's something in the air.) [Right after posting, I note that Anthony is Right features Dylan today...definitely something in the air.] I have trouble picking favorites, as the whole CD is very strong, but I guess I lean towards the rave-ups. Here's Every Executioner Has a Song and here's You Better Get Right With God. After Revelater, they lost their major label contract, and I assumed that they'd disappeared until I found their self-released album Big Johns. It's much more stripped down than Revelater, and I lost interest and just assumed that they'd eventually fade away. Then, when I checked their website the other day I noticed that they've kept on putting out albums. They have mp3's of a few of their albums up on the website (be patient, they seem to download slowly), and the songs from I Need You sound very much like the Revelater stuff. I guess you really need to keep an eye on these guys. BTW, here's an absolutely inept Pitchfork review of Revelater that struck me as kind of funny (there are all of these old, very half-assed reviews still kicking around the Pitchfork site from their early days).

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