Peter Green - vocals, guitar; Jeremy Spencer - vocals, guitar; John McVie - bass; Mick Fleetwood - drums
After distinguishing himself and achieving a level of recognition in Europe, Peter Green, like Eric Clapton before him, departed John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, freeing himself of employment and artistic restrictions. Unlike most of the British guitar greats, however, Green was never concerned with flash or becoming a guitar superstar. This less-abrasive attitude, in addition his general approach to music, overall, made him one of the most compelling of all the British guitar players of the '60s.
Green could play incisive and clean style perfectly, but was equally adept at playing with tremendous power. Many of his originals have a timeless quality that still sound fresh and intriguing today.
This outstanding early performance by Fleetwood Mac occurred only a week into their first visit to the United States, when Peter Green was only 21 years old. Falling right between the release of their debut album and the follow up, Mr. Wonderful, this captures the early incarnation of the band when they were considered one of The Crusaders of the English blues movement. At this point, the group was still a quartet, but already with the two distinct aspects that would come to define their stage show already in place.
Peter Green was the chief architect of the band's sound, and was providing the bulk of their original, more purely blues material, while also beginning to explore music outside of the traditional blues repertoire. His playing could be wonderfully restrained one minute and powerfully explosive the next, marked by a distinctive vibrato and economy of style. At this early stage, Jeremy Spencer was the other factor contributing most prominently to the group's overall sound. Spencer could more or less authentically recreate Elmore James' persona onstage and this novel ability, along with a ribald sense of humor (shared by the entire band), helped fuel the band's early stage shows. Spencer could also create dead-on parodies of 1950s rock 'n' roll songs, especially those of the teen idol variety, giving the band an onstage theatricality element that was both funny and entertaining.
The band had been hanging out and socializing in San Francisco for several days prior to this run and were warmly welcomed by both the local musicians and audiences alike. It only takes a few minutes for one to realize that the band is having an extremely good time. Fleetwood Mac performs in between sets by Big Brother and the Holding Company, which featured Janis Joplin on lead vocals at the time. Although it consists of only four songs, what is here is a fine example of the band's energy in 1968.
The first track begins well in progress, containing a smoldering version of Little Willie John's "I Need Your Love So Bad," a straightforward blues with Peter Green on lead vocals. The remainder of the set showcases Jeremy Spencer, in full Elmore James mode. "I Believe" shows just how adept Spencer was at recreating James' signature slide guitar style, with Green, McVie and Fleetwood providing a tight rhythm section behind. One of the most popular Spencer-fronted tracks from their debut album follows. Far wilder than its studio counterpart, this version of Elmore James "Shake Your Moneymaker" finds the band pushing the envelope in more ways than one.
Green announces that Big Brother will be up next for their second set before resuming his vocal duties on a raw, full tilt blow out version of Little Richard's "Ready Teddy" to close their set. The fact that the next night's take was incomplete, due to tape stock running out, makes this full length version even more of a treat. Listen and enjoy one this early taste of one of the 70s' foremost rock ensembles - it'll only whet your appetite.
-Written by Alan Bershaw