Bob Welch - guitar, vocals; Christine McVie - piano, vocals; Bobby Hunt - Hammond organ, clavinet, ARP synthesizer; John McVie - bass; Mick Fleetwood - drums
The late 1960s/1970 Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac is deservedly legendary and the era that began in 1975, with the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, is by far the most commercially successful era, but the time period between the two is often neglected in terms of recognition. Admittedly, this era was full of personnel changes and certainly a transitional time in the long history of the band, but they were still creating new, fresh and vibrant music. This December 1974 Record Plant recording, the band's second appearance that year, captures the lineup fronted by Bob Welch and Christine McVie, performing some of their finest material of that era, along with several tributes to the departed original leader of the band, Peter Green.
At the time, the group's previous management had a bogus Fleetwood Mac out on the road and the band was not only competing with the glory of a previous lineup, they were also battling to make it clear that they were indeed the real Fleetwood Mac. Hence Tom Donohue's introduction where he says, "They have had imitators. They've had even forgeries, but this is the real Fleetwood Mac."
The band launches directly into one of Peter Green's heaviest songs, "Green Manalishi." While not as intense or lengthy as Green and Kirwin's dense explorations on this number, Bob Welch does a respectable job as the sole lead guitarist, and the unique drive of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood's rhythm section, which often propelled this song, is still fully intact. This warm-up exercise gets the group pumped up for the material that defined the era.
The set then alternates between the best of Bob Welch's and Christine McVie's recent contributions to the band. Welch supplies "Angel," a lengthy excursion into "Bermuda Triangle," as well as the FM radio staple, "Sentimental Lady," which morphs directly into a superb rendition of "Future Games." The latter is an overlooked classic and this performance contains an extended monologue in the middle, where Welch explains the genesis of this captivating number. "Future Games" is certainly one of the high points of this set and this era of the band. Christine McVie contributes her infectious "Spare Me A Little" and lovely takes on "Why" and "Believe Me," three of her most memorable songs from this time period. Her voice is in fine form not only on her own numbers, but in conjunction with Welch on some of his numbers, where she provides harmony or counterpoint vocals.
Later in the set they return to honoring their founder, Peter Green, with a lengthy tribute jam containing three of his classics; "Black Magic Woman," "Oh Well" and Green's anthem to masturbation, "Rattlesnake Shake." The set ends with an arrangement of one of Welch's finest contributions, "Hypnotized," the highlight of the previous year's Mystery To Me album. Beginning with a unique guitar intro sequence not included on the recording, this is a dreamy, mesmerizing performance.
This is a fine performance and one of the last existing live documents of Fleetwood Mac with Welch on board. Like Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwin before him, Welch too would soon depart to pursue a solo career, leaving the band in search of another frontman/guitar player and the opportunity to again redefine their sound. Little did they know what astronomical success lay in store for them.
-Written by Alan Bershaw