Friday, 25 July 2008

"Christine Perfect" by CHRISTINE PERFECT (Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac] Inside "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" (2008 Sony CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



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"…Can't Go On Much Longer This Way…"

This March 2008 CD release on Sony/BMG/Blue Horizon 88697192162 (Barcode 886971921625) of "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by CHRISTINE PERFECT is based around Christine McVie’s lone self-titled album for the cult UK label Blue Horizon in 1970 - and it’s a long-overdue reissue of a Fleetwood Mac solo rarity. 

Lancashire lass Christine Perfect had been with Stan Webb’s CHICKEN SHACK for three albums (also on Blue Horizon) - met the bass player John McVie of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac - fell in love - married - and the rest as they say is well-documented Fleetwood Mac history. Here are the details (45:45 minutes):

1. Crazy 'Bout You Baby
2. I'm On My Way
3. Let Me Go (Leave Me Alone)
4. Wait And See
5. Close To Me
6. When You Say
7. And That's Saying A Lot
8. No Road Is The Right Road
9. For You
10. I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around) – Album Version
11. I Want You
12. Tell Me You Need Me
13. I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around) – Single version
14. Hey Baby
15. It's You I Miss
16. Gone Into The Sun
Tracks 1 to 5 (minus "I'd Rather Go Blind" – see notes) make up Side 1 of her debut solo album "Christine Perfect" released 1970 in the UK on Blue Horizon 7-63860. Tracks 6 to 11 make up Side 2. The album was reissued in 1976 as "The Christine Perfect Album" on Sire with a different cover (sat in a whicker work chair). 

BONUS TRACKS:
Track 12 “Tell Me You Need Me” is a Previously Unreleased album outtake
Track 13 is her 2nd single around the album “I’m Too Far Gone (To Turn Around)”. It’s a slightly edited version on the album cut and was released February 1970 on Blue Horizon 57-3172 in the UK. The song is an Otis Clay/Benford Hendricks cover version made famous by Bobby Bland on his 1965 Duke Records hit (Duke 393). The album cut “Close To Me” was its B-side.
Tracks 14 to 16 are a Previously Unreleased BBC Session in Mono (see Notes)

DUNCAN COWELL remastered all tracks at Sound Mastering in London - and yet again - a typically great job has been achieved – warm, alive and none-too-hissy. The house band for the August/December 1969 sessions featured RICK HAYWARD and TOP TOPHAM of THE YARDBIRDS on Lead and Rhythm Guitars with MARTIN DUNSFORD on Bass and CHRIS HARDING on Drums. 

As forthcoming tasters two singles preceded the album’s release - “When You Say” and “I’m Too Far Gone (To Turn Around)”. Released October 1969 on Blue Horizon 57-3165 - the first “When You Say” was a DANNY KIRWAN penned song with the album cut “No Road Is The Right Road” as the B-side (both McVie and Kirwan play and produce). MIKE VERNON - the label’s boss - felt that at the time that it was a bad choice and I would agree. With a string-quartet arrangement dominating the whole song and it’s slow neither here nor there pace - the song is completely unrepresentative of what’s on the rest of the album. Having said that you can definitely here the beginnings of the sound that would permeate the “Kiln House" album by Fleetwood Mac in September of 1970 (a huge personal favourite of mine and I feel a very underrated early Seventies classic). With its Scott Walker meets Jack Nitzsche string melodrama - “When You Say” is an interesting song if not a slightly odd one.

With the September 1969 Melody Maker magazine win as Best Vocalist under her belt, and the 2 singles prepping the fans, the album was finally released in 1970 as “Christine Perfect” on Blue Horizon 7-63860 (it was reissued in 1976 as “The Christine Perfect Album” on Sire following the huge success of 1975’s “Fleetwood Mac” album). Its initial release was met with mixed reviews - and even her own position towards it over the years has ranged from scathing to outright disowning it – calling it the worst record she’s ever made. Of its 12 tracks, the first 5 are self-penned, 6 is the CHICKEN SHACK song “I’d Rather Go Blind” with Christine on award-winning lead vocals, 7 is the Danny Kirwan contribution “When You Say” and then the other 5 are various cover versions. The album’s opener, “Crazy ‘Bout You Baby” was noticed on an Ike & Tina Turner album from 1969 called “Outta Season” (their version is bluntly far better and funkier!). “I’m On My Way” (originally proposed as the album title) is a Deadric Malone penned song sung as a B-side by Bobby Bland on Duke Records in 1969. “And That’s Saying A Lot” is a Chuck Jackson cover sung by the superb soul maestro on Wand Records in 1965 and “I’m Too Far Gone (To Turn Around)” is discussed above. Which leaves the swamp funky boogie of “I Want You”, a TONY JOE WHITE stunner that turned up on his debut album for Monument Records “Black & White” in 1969. The rocking guitar work by both leads here is just fantastic (a real high on which to end the album). I also love the funky groove of “Let Me Go (Leave me Alone)” which would have been a far better single choice (lyrics from it title this review).

Given that there was room, the exclusion of Chicken Shack’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” is a bit of a blemish on an otherwise great re-issue and obviously makes a mockery of the word ‘complete’ on the outside wrap. This reissue clearly makes the presumption that real fans will already have the song from previous purchases and I suppose that’s fair enough. I still think it should have been on here especially as it breaks the actual track run of the original album - and for me that’s pissing about way too much. Still, on the upside for newcomers, if its exclusion here points that person in the direction of the sensational Chicken Shack 3 CD set “The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions”, then that’s a good thing, because in truth, it’s a far more rewarding and better-value purchase than this one.

Which brings us onto the bonus tracks - a real find is the sauntering ballad “Tell Me You Need Me” - an entirely new Christine song from the original sessions seeing the light of day here for the first time in nearly 40 years. It’s very of-the-time Fleetwood Mac, yet with her own personal touch to it – a real find as I say. Speaking of which the last three tracks are brand-new - previously unreleased mono recordings. They were taped at the BBC Recording Studios in Maida Vale, London on the 24th of November 1969 for airing on the Dave Lee Travis Sunday Show that weekend. “Hey Baby” is co-written with her old band partner Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, while “It’s You I Miss” and “Gone Into The Sun” are by Christine herself.  I love all three and am more than pleasantly surprised by their quality. “Hey Baby” is rocking boogie-woogie piano blues tune, the keys tinkered by the good lady herself with the same band as the albums sessions, Top Topham and Rick Hayward in particular providing superbly tight backup. “It’s You I Miss” could so easily have been a Peter Green guitar groove on any of the Fleetwood Mac Blue Horizon albums, while “Come Into The Sun” is good also, if not as exciting as the two that went before it. In truth, I’m digging the bonus tracks more than the actual album!

To sum up then, a 3 star album pushed up to 4 on this re-issue by its great sound, detailed presentation and excellent bonus tracks. A must-buy for fans - and for those disappointed by it in the first place - definitely worth another look…

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