'Show-Biz Blues' is a compilation which consists entirely of previously unissued works from Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. Included here are new songs as well as alternate versions of previously released tracks, and detailed in this booklet is the background to every track on this second 2-CD collection of early Fleetwood Mac blues. Also to be found in this booklet is new info and interviews for devotees of the original Peter Green line-up of the band, and for anyone interested in the 1960s British music scene - the time during which blues progressed into rock.
The great thing about doing retrospectives which revisit that blues-rock period is that although the 1960s are well dead and gone, back in this dot.com present fresh info is there daily and important new stuff comes to light from time to time which allows you then to dig a bit deeper. So there can be no such thing as the 'definitive' story of the original Fleetwood Mac - it is an ever-unfolding saga.
Since The Vaudeville Years collection came out, three things have been made available which add new slants to the Fleetwood Mac Story and to the Peter Green Story. First, an interview with hitherto low-profile Jeremy Spencer on Marty and Lisa Adelson's Fleetwood Mac website /penguin/qa.
Second, an evocative and often poetic autobiography has been written by Dinky Dawson, the original Fleetwood Mac's sound engineer 'Life On The Road' (Billboard Books - ISBN 0-8230-8344-6). It is essential reading for Mac fans.
The third chunk of info is not directly to do with early Fleetwood Mac but even so speaks volumes about the climate of those times and about how the pressures of fame and stardom could weigh heavy on a sensitive artist and cutting-edge guitarist. And so, watching Christopher Olgiati's television documentary about Jimi Hendrix - The Man They Made God - broadcast on BBC2's Hendrix Night in 1999, it was impossible not to see some parallels with Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac. In amongst much new archive footage from that time there is Eric Burdon's chilling assertion that "the business killed Jimi". What's more, Band of Gypsies' conga player Juma Sultan recounts bad memories of how Hendrix's creative direction towards the end - or rather a lack of it - was far more 'influenced' by management carrying shooters under their slick suits than by his own musical genius.
Ironically, Hendrix's show-biz blues towards the end came to him from his fan base many of whom only wanted to hear what they knew. He was booed at the Isle of Wight Festival for musically wanting to move on. Being aware of this, management wanted Hendrix to be a keep-playing-the-old-hits cash cow rather than an inventive musician pushing back barriers. And so, in Juma Sultan's words. "they milked the cow to death". Burdon's and Sultan's comments are stark reminders that if there was something in the air in the late-1960s and 1970 in the music business then it was not the notion of artistic freedom - something Peter Green was also discovering around that time. In 1968 Hendrix told a journalist:
"We've been playing Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Hey Joe and Foxy Lady.....we've been playing all these songs - which I really think are groovy songs - but we've been doing all these songs for two years. So quite naturally we start to improvise here and there and there's other things we want to turn on to the people, you know."
And just two years later Green - by then, with three hits under his belt - commented:
"Sometimes I think I've played this song 25,000 times - I've got to do something different with it. It's almost like being dictated to."
So, a couple of years after Jimi Hendrix, the original Fleetwood Mac - led by a blues visionary - were also poised to conquer the world with a futuristic take on the blues. To get an idea of Green's musical vision listen now to his improvisational skills on a promotional recording of Green Manalishi - Disc 2 - track 7 - extended live version. Playing at his very best, none the less he soon had to quit the business for his freedom - to escape being dictated to by his fans, and also by his band who felt safer playing accessible blues-rock as opposed to the free-form direction of Underway - Disc 2 - track 3. There lies a crucial difference between Green and Hendrix: Green got out just in time, Hendrix got trapped.
Peter Green's sudden exit came as a big shock to the band he left behind and to the business. But wasn't it a wise move in retrospect. At least he got away with his life. This was his and Fleetwood Mac's Show-Biz Blues, as he recently explained to Harry Shapiro in the Vol. 2 Issue 35 of the indispensable British Blues Connection magazine Blueprint (www.blueprint.blues.co.uk)
"You can't really say what it was all about - it's just Show-Biz Blues (a track on 'Then Play On'). That's the song that says it all. The rest of them looked like clowns and I'm part of the circus. Whatever Fleetwood Mac had become I just didn't want to play whatever it was."
The sad irony of Peter's comment is focused when listening to this collection with its many gems, and then imagining what might still have been to come.
Everybody's got the show-biz blues.
fom CD Liner-notes
1. Soul Dressing (Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Lewie Steinberg) – 3:47
2. If You Want to Be Happy (Frank Guida, Carmela Guida, Joseph Royster) – 2:28
3. Outrage (William Allen Jr., Cropper, Jackson, Steinberg) – 2:47
4. The Sun is Shining (Elmore James) – 3:02
5. Don't Be Cruel (Otis Blackwell, Elvis Presley) – 1:40
6. I'm So Lonely and Blue (Jeremy Spencer) – 3:53
7. How Blue Can You Get? (Leonard Feather) – 3:36
8. My Baby's Sweeter (Sonny Boy Williamson) – 3:38
9. Long Grey Mare (Peter Green) – 1:58
10. Buzz Me Baby (Fleecy Moore, Dave Dexter, Jr.) – 3:33
11. Mind of My Own (Danny Kirwan) – 2:59
12. I Have to Laugh (Otis Rush, Dave Clark) – 3:27
13. You're the One (Buddy Holly, Slim Corbin, Waylon Jennings) – 2:05
14. Do You Give a Damn for Me (Green) – 3:58
15. Him and Me (Green) – 4:02
16. Showbiz Blues (Green) – 4:06
17. Fast Talking Woman Blues (Green) – 3:22
18. World in Harmony (Kirwan, Green) – 3:24
19. Leaving Town Blues (Green) – 3:49
Tracks 1-3 are performed by The Peter B's, an early band featuring Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood with Peter Bardens and David Ambrose.
1. Black Magic Woman (Green) – 7:39
2. Jumpin' at Shadows (Duster Bennett) – 5:24
3. Rattlesnake Shake / Underway (Green) – 14:06
4. Stranger Blues (Elmore James, Morris Levy, Clarence Lewis) – 4:15
5. World in Harmony (Kirwan, Green) – 3:32
6. Tiger (Ollie Jones) – 3:22
7. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Prong Crown) (Green) – 15:15
8. Coming Your Way (Kirwan) – 7:32
9. Great Balls of Fire (Blackwell, Jack Hammer) – 2:32
10. Twist and Shout (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) – 7:45
* Peter Green – Guitar, Vocals
* Jeremy Spencer – Guitar, Vocals
* Danny Kirwan – Guitar, Vocals
* John McVie – Bass
* Mick Fleetwood – Percussion, Drums
1967-71 Live At The BBC
1968-71 The Best Of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac
1969 Shrine '69