Monday, August 2, 2010

A stunning example of band evolution

There have certainly been bands that have changed their sound over the years. Sometimes this is because of a change in interest of the band members - the Beatles come to mind here. And sometimes it is because of personnel changes - Van Halen and Genesis come to mind here.

But probably the most vivid example of a popular band undergoing a dramatic change in sound has to be Fleetwood Mac. Just take a listen to "Albatross" and "Gold Dust Woman." Go ahead, I'll wait.

While the bass and drums - the "Fleetwood Mac" part of Fleetwood Mac - remained constant over this period, all of the treble underwent a wholesale change. Blues fanatics were replaced by a melodic Englishwoman and two melodic Americans. Now Albatross was of course an instrumental, but the mid-1970s Fleetwood Mac certainly hit on some wonderful three-part harmonies.

And the guitar. How does one compare Peter Green and Lindsey Buckingham, two guitarists with very distinctive styles?

In 1999, Peter Green answered some questions about Fleetwood Mac after his departure:

First of all, I would like to thank you very much, Mr. Green, for taking the time to answer our questions. It really means a lot. My question is: What did you think of Fleetwood Mac's evolution from a heavy blues band in the late 60s, to a Rock/Pop group in the 70s and 80s? You did start Fleetwood Mac as a blues band, so what did you think when they became so popular playing a different type of music? (Josh Williams, East Liverpool, Ohio, USA)

It was a natural progression from blues to middle of the road stuff. I was very pleased for them when they became successful with Lindsey and Stevie.

How do you feel about the guitarists who followed you in Fleetwood Mac (Lindsey Buckingham, Rick Vito, etc.) ? Also, when you briefly worked with the band on TUSK, how did you feel about working with Lindsey as a producer? (Beau, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA)

I don't know what I feel about them. I was quite ill at the time that they popular. I felt that they had a more technical technique than I did. I didn't play guitar on the "Tusk" album.

In a separate interview, Lindsey talked about his influences, which weren't necessarily Chicago blues:

How did you get started on guitar?

I started playing guitar first of all when i was eight, because my older brother used to bring home all the Elvis records, Buddy Holly, the old Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis. Then I got into folk stuff and acoustic fingerpicking.

One influence was interesting.

What rock guitarists did you later get into?

I guess Eric Clapton and that whole thing--but at the time I wasn't into playing that stuff much. Peter Green, oddly enough, has a little bit of influence on me, because Then Play On [Reprise, 6368] was released around that time. I really liked his style of playing where a few notes mean a lot--even one note.

Now I don't know if Buckingham has ever played "Albatross," and I don't know that Peter has ever accompanied a singer on "Gold Dust Woman," but I'd love to hear the results. And of course you can hear Rick Vito taking the lead on "Albatross".

blog comments powered by Disqus