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Thread: Fleetwood Mac albums with Bob Welch - The "Lost" Years 1971-1974

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    Fleetwood Mac albums with Bob Welch - The "Lost" Years 1971-1974

    I've been going back lately and listening closely to the 5 Mac albums with Bob Welch. I'm curious what you intrepid listeners think of these albums. My favorites are "Future Games" and "Mystery To Me". Danny Kirwan's "Woman of a 1,000 Years" is maybe my favorite song, though there are many gems by Welch and Christine McVie. Welch had a unique style that I have always found very compelling. His "Revelation" from PENGUIN has been a revelation.

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    Bare Trees is a solid album. Kirwan was an underrated talent (he really shines on this one) and Christine can usually be counted on to bring the goods. From this period, I also thought Future Games was good, Mystery to Me was OK (“Hypnotized” was Welch’s classic, hands down) and Penguin and Heroes Are Hard to Find both pretty weak. Strangely, “Silver Heels” was a (minor) hit for a nobody band called Blaze who only ever released the one single in 1976! The pop charts are weird!

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    Bare Trees is the one I am least familiar with, but plan on exploring soon. I agree that HEROES and PENGUIN are very uneven. I do think Mystery to Me is a very strong album. I love the overall vibe and artwork. I find Miles Away an addicting song.

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Another vote for Bare Trees here. Future Games is really good too. I loved investigating this era a few years back and found a lot to like. Bob Welch was an undersung talent with a really cool, laid back style. I like the other albums from this time too. Each has their share of great tracks and not so. Keep On Going is a tune that is looked over. A Welch tune, sung by Christine. It's disco a few years early. Not the best tune from this era, but a cool one to my ears.

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    Bare Trees is a brilliant album IMO. Every song is terrific. Bob Welch, Danny Kirwan and Christine McVie’s songwriting are great. Guitar playing is excellent. My favorite album behind Then Play On. Future Games and Mystery To Me are fine albums as well, but don’t compare to Bare Trees.


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    I agree Heroes is uneven but it has some great songs, mainly Welch's above-mentioned "Silver Heels" and Christine's "Prove Your Love," probably my favorite song from her before 1975.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I agree Heroes is uneven but it has some great songs, mainly Welch's above-mentioned "Silver Heels" and Christine's "Prove Your Love," probably my favorite song from her before 1975.
    "Coming Home" is an interesting track, though the production is very murky and strange. "Bermuda Triangle" is classic Bob.

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Never been much of a Fleetwood Mac fan, but Bare Trees is one of the few albums I own. Like the title track a lot.
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    Bob Weston was an excellent guitarist. Too bad he couldn't control himself ;-)

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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the winter tree View Post
    Bob Weston was an excellent guitarist. Too bad he couldn't control himself ;-)
    I looked him up but I'm not sure what you are referring to. I hope you don't mean in an Igor Khoroshev kind of way.
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    ^He had an affair with Fleetwood's wife at the time.

    Anyway there is great stuff on these albums, particularly Future Games (love the ethereal, somewhat progressive title track on this) and Bare Trees (my favourite, a pity it's a bit short). The jazzy 'Hypnotised' is another gem. And Welch's later solo version of 'Sentimental Lady' saw it become the hit it should have been from the start.

    Kirwan was an underrated writer. The 'Dragonfly' single slightly preceded Welch joining, but is also worth seeking out. I think the Beat Club TV performance does have Welch on it, actually.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I agree Heroes is uneven but it has some great songs, mainly Welch's above-mentioned "Silver Heels" and Christine's "Prove Your Love," probably my favorite song from her before 1975.
    I think Chris’ best song pre-75 is “Why.” An epic feel and one of her best vocal performances. I understand even after Stevie and Lindsey joined, this one remained in the repertoire.
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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Relistened to Future Games and Bare Trees, and this version of FM is definitely not for me.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Progbear View Post
    I think Chris’ best song pre-75 is “Why.” An epic feel and one of her best vocal performances. I understand even after Stevie and Lindsey joined, this one remained in the repertoire.
    From what I find on Wiki, they played "Spare Me A Little" and "Why" in 1975 and 1976. Also "Hypnotized" (and some Peter Green era songs) with Lindsey singing. Surprising to me, it says they opened in 1976 with "Sunny Side Of Heaven." I recall reading a fan said he remembered Lindsey singing "Bare Trees" too.

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    Another "Bare Trees" vote for me. My favorite of the Welsh era.

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    I like Bare Trees quite a bit, and a few songs here and there from the Welsh era. I was fortunate to see the Welsh version of Fleetwood Mac (Welsh, Kirwin, the McVies, and Fleetwood) opening for Spirit and West, Bruce & Laing in early '72. Danny was definitely the center piece at that performance. They played only two Peter Green numbers: "Oh, Well" and "The Green Manalishi."
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    I bought the 8-CD 1969-1974 box set which came out in 2020. All the studio albums (remastered well, and with bonus tracks) from Then Play On thru Heroes with an unreleased live album from 1974 (Kirwan was long gone by then, unfortunately). If you're as big a fan of this period as I am, this is essential.

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    I adore this period of Fleetwood Mac, way more so than the early pure blues or the Buckingham/Nicks material, and the 69-74 box set mentioned above was an occasion of joy. Honestly the albums are somewhat uneven, but every album has at least one or two moments that I love as much as any music. It's not quite what you'd call prog rock but it the best of it has the sense of imaginative psychic space and sonic and lyrical world-building that prog-rock does, combined with a lovely sense of melancholy.

    It seems like Then Play On gets a decent amount of attention now and I don't know if it's as lost as the other stuff from this era. Kiln House is mostly bland blues-rock but the b-side Dragonfly from that era is lovely psychedelic folk, and very much worth seeking out.

    Kirwan does some great songwriting on Future Games, especially Sands of Time, but the arrival of Welch is a milestone. He has one of the great underappreciated voices of the seventies, butter-smooth but world-weary and with a constant suggestion of wry humor. His lyrics are sometimes emotional but sometimes bizarre and surreal, and his leads are clean and tasteful and evocative. Future Games and Bare Trees are both great misty morning chill-out albums, about as successful in that vein as I can imagine anything being.

    Welch's three songs on Penguin are also quite moody and evocative and imaginative, and the closing instrumental is a nice mood piece which reminds me a bit of mid-period Camel, but the rest of that album is honestly underwhelming. Mystery to Me has Hypnotized, which is the best-known song from this period, sort of a cosmic disco-rock song about unexplained phenomena, brilliant brilliant song, and Emerald Eyes is great as well. Welch writes a lot of that album, sometimes more successfully than others, but it's worth hanging out through for the best bits. Heroes are Hard to Find is decent throughout; Welch wrote most of that album and it has a couple of his best pieces (Coming Home and Angel) but also some of his more pedestrian work. His solo albums are unimaginative soft rock, and you can feel him edging in that direction here.

  20. #20
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    ^He had an affair with Fleetwood's wife at the time.
    Wasn't that how they initiated band members back then?

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    There was a Fleetwood Mac episode of the BBC series Rock Family Trees which spent a fair amount of time on this period. It also delved into the thoroughly bizarre saga of the 'fake Fleetwood Mac' (which evolved into the band Stretch).

    I do like those pastoral Kirwan instrumentals. There was 'My Dream' and 'World In Harmony' in the Peter Green era, but also 'Sunny Side Of Heaven' on Bare Trees, which I think is the best of them all.

    I should note that, despite mostly being recorded here, all of these Welch-era albums sold very poorly in the UK.
    Last edited by JJ88; 1 Day Ago at 12:49 PM.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by EBES View Post
    It seems like Then Play On gets a decent amount of attention now and I don't know if it's as lost as the other stuff from this era.
    Peter Green era, so less obscure.

    Re Welch, after Heroes he did that odd hard rock power trio Paris with Glenn Cornick ex-Tull on bass. I had their first LP once, some cuts were kind of interesting but I didn't hang on to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    Peter Green era, so less obscure.

    Re Welch, after Heroes he did that odd hard rock power trio Paris with Glenn Cornick ex-Tull on bass. I had their first LP once, some cuts were kind of interesting but I didn't hang on to it.
    I've never heard of that! I'll have to check it out. Doesn't seem like anyone's that fond of it but I'm still curious.

    He did an album called "His Fleetwood Mac Years & Beyond" where he re-recorded a bunch of these songs with terrible vocals and stiff digital production, and I have this memory that one of the songs involved a repeated sample of a little kid saying "I'm a badass motherf----r" or something similar. I tried to find it just now and couldn't but I'm almost certain it wasn't a hallucination. I also remember reading an interview from the late 90s where someone asked him what he was listening to and he said Limp Bizkit, Sixpence None the Richer and the Phil Collins Big Band.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by EBES View Post
    I've never heard of that! I'll have to check it out. Doesn't seem like anyone's that fond of it but I'm still curious.
    The only positive mention I've read of Paris was Chuck Eddy's 500 best heavy metal albums book which had some oddball choices (including a fair amount of prog-adjacent stuff).

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    I remember "Big Town 2061" getting quite a bit of airplay on FM radio.

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