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Old 12-27-2011, 10:14 AM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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Default Preaching the Blues Review (3 stars)

New York Daily News, December 27, 2011
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Fleetwood Mac “Preaching the Blues”

(Secret Records)

3 Stars

Live albums act like snapshots. They freeze a moment in a band’s life for historic appreciation or ruthless scrutiny, depending on how things turn out.

A new pair of concert disks clicked the camera at especially rare and valuable moments.

The Allman Brothers’ live CD sifts pieces from two shows held at Long Island’s Stony Brook University in September 1971, just five weeks before the death of brother Duane. It debuts a song destined to become a classic, “Blue Sky,” which didn’t see a studio release until the following February on “Eat a Peach.”

It is also the sole live version of this touchstone to include Duane and Dickey Betts on their timeless solo hand-off, as well as the lone one to feature Duane and bassist Berry Oakley (who would also die by later the next year).

“Preaching the Blues” represents an equally special chapter in the history of Fleetwood Mac, a band blessed and cursed with one of rock’s most improbable plotlines. Recorded in the Canada Gardens in February of 1971, “Preaching” profiles the band just after the departure of guitarist Peter Green (who ended up in a mental asylum) and right at the tentative entry point of Christine McVie.

At the time, the band boasted two lead guitarists (down from three) — the great slide player Jeremy Spencer and the rock-steady Danny Kirwan. “Preaching” may be the last Mac show to feature Spencer before he ditched the band at month’s end to join the religious cult Children of God.

Seven months before this, Mac released the disk “Kiln House,” a work driven by Spencer’s love for Budddy Holly but highlighted by several classic rock songs by Kirwan. Five months later, a post-Spencer Mac would relocate to L.A. to start exploring the summery folk-rock sound that exploded, after more personnel changes, on “Rumours” in 1977.

Puzzlingly, “Preaching” features just one song from the “Kiln” album, the brilliant rocker “Station Man.” (Sadly, it doesn’t include a take on that disk’s peak track, Kirwan’s “Tell Me All the Things You Do”). Otherwise, the repertoire emphasizes the band’s blues roots, providing a bracing showcase for Spencer’s slippery slide. A longtime admirer of Elmore James, Spencer found his own wily way into that sound. Christine McVie (who only played piano, but didn’t sing, on “Kiln”) gets a vocal cameo here on the blues ballad “I’m On My Way.” But it’s terribly rough, and poorly recorded to boot.

The whole disk suffers from uneven sound, smothering the rhythm section and blurring some voices. Luckily, the music’s focus — those spry solos — soar.

The Allmans’ disk starts out with compressed sound as well, ruining their standard opener, “Statesboro Blues.” Luckily, things look up from there. The disk, previously available only through the band’s fan club, now serves as the inaugural release on their own label. It’s enlivened by decidedly different solos than the band played on the classic “Live at the Fillmore” album, which came out just two months earlier with many of the same songs. There’s particular fire and invention in the long jams that occupy disk two, found in “Dreams” (a jazzy showcase for Duane’s slide guitar) and the harder “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.”

But it’s the 11-minute take on “Blue Sky” that will make fans swoon. At more than twice the length of the studio version, this interpretation lets Betts and Allman fly over the fretboards with solos that, no matter how elaborate, never lose hold of the melody. It’s a one-time-only moment that, thanks to this disk, can now be repeated endlessly.
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:35 PM
dino dino is offline
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Actually, it's yet another re-issue of part of the Madison Blues set, recorded in August 1970.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:22 PM
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aleuzzi aleuzzi is offline
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Yeah--and the advantage of the Madison Blues disc is that it has a good deal of live-in-studio recordings that make up for the "roughness" of the live dates.

Some of the highlights of the live-in-studio tracks:

1. The band's more assertive take on "Crazy Bout You Baby," which Christine performed in a low-key style the year previous. On Madison, the song is given an incredible lift by both Kirwan and Spencer's respective guitar solos. Christine sounds far more vital here than on the solo outing.

2. Renditions of Station Man and Tell Me, which sound clean and clear.

3. Down at the Crown and Purple Dancer--two Kirwan tunes.

And then, of course, the four Christine Perfect band songs (recorded, I think, for a radio show) and the Jeremy Spencer dvd interview make the Madison Blues disc an interesting find.

The live material is often poorly recorded. And Christine's voice is in bad form for much of it. Still, Kirwan's guitar pierces through everything.
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