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Reviewed by - George Bennett

Peter Green's
Fleetwood Mac
Live at the BBC
Released: January 14, 2003
Origination Year: 2001
Time: 1:06:38
Tracks: 36
Produced by: N/A
Style: Live
Format: DVD-Audio
Enhancement: MLP / Extras

This ain't your mama's Fleetwood Mac! You know - hell, everybody knows - the Fleetwood Mac that released one of the top-selling pop/rock albums of all time, Rumours. Yeah, sure...them. Unless, that is, your mama is very hip!

There was a Fleetwood Mac before that Fleetwood Mac, more properly known as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. They had nothing in common with Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, save the rhythm section of namesakes Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass). The Mac actually went through a number of incarnations pre-Rumours. The first, and the one we are interested in here, consisted of Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer (the three-pronged guitar attack - electric lead, slide, and lap-steel experts, as well as blues harp blowers extraordinaire), with Fleetwood and McVie onboard to anchor the unit. (This is the best-known - as Matt calls them - "pre Buckingham/Nicks" Fleetwood Mac [the Lindsay Buckingham/Stevie Nicks version being the pop incarnation that recorded Rumours, etc...].)

Back in the mid-late 1960s (a time when giants walked the earth), Long John Baldry, The Yardbirds, and especially John Mayall and his Blues Breakers spearheaded the British blues band scene. (We're talking strictly blues converts here, so The Stones are not included - no letters, please.) Guitarists such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Peter Green (yep, in those days Peter Green was mentioned in the same breath as that illustrious line-up) floated in and out of various of these and other, minor, Brit blues bands. All went to school on early American blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Willie Dixon, and Robert Johnson.

Here's the short version: Clapton became god, and Green's excessive use of drugs doomed him to a shadowy figure floating in and out of Brit blues history. Having been somewhat a fan of these early UK blues practitioners at the time, I admit I had not heard Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in years. Thus, I jumped at the chance to hear this DVD-A mix, although I was somewhat skeptical of the probable sound quality. Well, my-oh-my, did my jaw hit the floor upon first listen! Although Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Live at the BBC was recorded between 1967 and 1970, this DVD-A version sounds as if it were done yesterday!

Released on the Silverline label, infamous for their ubiquitous "stunning 5.1 channel surround" claim on the back of the super jewel case of every DVD-A they release (no matter the true surround content), from experience I didn't expect much, if any, output from the L/R surrounds. Damnit, I wasn't wrong! There's barely an audible bleed dubbing the L/R fronts to the surrounds. BUT, don't let that put you off this disc! The sound charging from the front speakers is truly astounding! The 96kHz/24 bit DVD-A version and the 48kHz/24 bit Dolby Digital 5.1 version are both equally great! The original source material must have been in pristine condition, and kudos go out to Gustavo Bonet and Charlie Watts for an excellent transfer. The highs and lows, and everything in-between are balanced just right - and right in-your-face! While there is a meager scripted intro by Mick Fleetwood and a few black-and-white photos, extras are nil. Even the liner notes list only track info and production credits. C'mon, guys, a little effort here, please?

Peter Green wrote most of the songs herein, but Kirwan and Spencer also contributed. The 36 (!) tracks on this DVD-A make it a worthwhile investment, indeed. A few cover tunes originally done by The Everlys, Buddy Holly, Little Willy John and Tim Hardin (among others), and some traditionals arranged by FMac are included, and they run the gamut: from an Elvis sounding "You Never Know What You're Missing" (complete with Jordanaires-like backing vocals and Jerry Lee Lewis piano riffs) and "Heavenly" to the Buddy Holly shadowed "Buddy's Song" and the Everly Brothers tribute "When Will I be Loved".

Now, the heart-of-the-matter, the meat-on-the-bone blues tracks on this disc include such standouts (and Peter Green afficianado faves) as "Rattlesnake Shake", the now blues and rock band standard "Oh Well", and the one top-of-the-charts hit from this band, Green's haunting instrumental piece, "Albatross". Other must-hears include the smokin' lap-steel guitar work-out "Preachin'", the straight-up slow blues style of "Jumping at Shadows", featuring Green's B. B. King-like lead guitar, Robert Johnson's chooglin "Sweet Home Chicago" (sounding for all-the-world like "Baby What'cha Want Me To Do"), and the stinging "grab-a-note-and-let-it-rip" guitar howl of "Blues With a Feeling" (indeed!). (Missing are Green Manalishi and Black Magic Woman, later covered, of course, by Santana to great effect.)

Peter Green is now back in the limelight at times, with Peter Green's Splinter Group, apparently regaining some amount of sanity (after pulling a Syd Barrett, as he did). I'm sure he would be well-pleased with this collection, as he should be...and so should you. Buy it, play it, love it, play it again...

Track Listing:

Rattlesnake Shake / Sandy Mary / Believe My Time Ain't Long / Although The Sun Is Shining / Only You / You Never Know What You're Missing/ Oh Well / Can't Believe You Wanna Leave / Jenny Lee / Heavenly / When Will I Be Loved / When I See My Baby / Buddy's Song / Honey Hush / Preachin' / Jumping at Shadows / Preachin' Blues / Need Your Love So Bad / Long Grey Mare / Sweet Home Chicago / Baby Please Set a Date / Blues With a Feeling / Stop Messing Around / Tallahassee Lassie / Hang On To a Dream / Linda / Mean Mistreatin' Mama / World Keeps Turnin' / I Can't Hold Out / Early Morning Come / Albatross / Looking For Somebody / A Fool No More / Got to Move / Like Crying, Like Dying / Man of thew World.

Fleetwood Mac: Mick Fleetwood - Drums; Peter Green - Guitar / Vocals; Danny Kirwin - Guitar; Jeremy Spencer - Guitar; John McVie - Bass.

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