Monday, 23 July 2018

Fleetwood Mac - The Pious Bird Of Good Omen (1969)


Released August 1969

Yet another UK blues rock band from the mid to late sixties showing just how they could play the blues is they were straight from the Southern USA and were ageing black musicians. They were not, they were young lads from the UK and the music they came up with was incredibly authentic. John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Cream, Free, The Kinks (at times), The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Duster Bennett, Jellybread, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Alexis Korner, Chicken Shack, Top Topham… the list is endless. Fleetwood Mac, in  this incarnation, were not, of course, the stadium gigging “AOL” superband of the mid seventies. They played the blues and they played them straight. A bit scratchy and raw at times, but isn’t that part of the appeal?

This album, with its marvellously pretentious title, was released in 1969. It is basically a compilation of the band's first four singles and their "b' sides. “Need Your Love So Bad” is the slow, stately blues that many people know. ”Coming Home” is a cutting, grinding, industrial slab of pure blues rock. “Rambling Pony” is even more authentic, blues-wise. “The Big Boat” is straight from the Mississippi Delta. Indeed, pretty much all the material is copper-bottomed plus rock of the highest quality, featuring excellent guitar throughout from the prodigiously talented Peter Green. The two exceptions are the popular hit singles, the huge number one brooding, mournful instrumental “Albatross” and the catchy “Black Magic Woman”. While the latter is definitely bluesy, it has an addictive refrain that renders it more accessible than some of the other tracks. It is, however, a great blues single. It was later covered, successfully and convincingly, by Santana.

The guitar on “Just The Blues” is razor sharp. One of the best moments on the album. This is a track that features blues artist Eddie Boyd, with Fleetwood Mac on backing. The other is “The Big Boat”. In fact, “Just The Blues” is probably my favourite cut from the album. “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues” is a jaunty instrumental, referencing the track from The Stones’ “Beggars’ Banquet”.

This is a great album of its time and genre. Blues rock was just so strong in the UK at this time. By the time the seventies came around, its light was fading, which was a shame.


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