Tuesday, 16 September 2008

"The Pious Bird Of Good Omen" by FLEETWOOD MAC (1999 Box Set and 2004 Single CD Reissue on Sony/Blue Horizon with Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"The Pious Bird Of Good Omen" by FLEETWOOD MAC was released on the now famous and much revered Blue Horizon label in the UK in August 1969. With its racy nun sleeve - band name in place and distinctive title - an unsuspecting punter could have been forgiven at the time for believing it to be their 3rd new album. But it wasn't. Instead it was a 12-track ragbag of non-album 7" singles and their B-sides, collaborations and other rarities difficult to find on LP.

The reason I mention this is that there are now TWO variants of this album on CD. 

The standard version from CBS/Rewind re-released in 1995 has the original 12-track line up and is exactly as per the LP release (a non-remaster). 

But this 2004 remastered and remixed version of "The Pious Bird Of Good Omen" by FLEETWOOD MAC on Sony/Blue Horizon 5164452 (Barcode 5099751644521) really screws it around and some explanation is in order because this new variant actually loses tracks from the original...

Here's what the original album 12-track line-up of "The Pious Bird Of Good Omen" LP looked like with added extra info (all tracks are credited to FLEETWOOD MAC except 4 and 9 which are credited EDDIE BOYD with PETER GREEN'S FLEETWOOD MAC):

1. Need Your Love So Bad (a Little Willie John cover) (their 3rd UK single on BH in July 1968)
2. Coming Home (an Elmore James cover) (on "Mr. Wonderful", their 2nd BH album from September 1968)
3. Ramblin' Pony (Peter Green original) (Non-Album B-side of their 1st UK 7" single on BH from November 1967)
4. The Big Boat (Eddie Boyd track) [by Eddie Boyd with Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac] (Non-Album A-side of BH 7" single from 1967)
5. I Believe My Time Ain't Long (Jeremy Spencer song) (Non-Album A-side of their 1st UK 7" single on BH from November 1967)
6. The Sun Is Shining (an Elmore James cover) (Non-Album B-side to "Black Magic Woman" their 2nd UK 7" single on BH in March 1968)
7. Albatross (Peter Green original) (November 1968 4th UK 7" single on BH)
8. Black Magic Woman (Peter Green original) (Non-Album A-side, their 2nd UK 7" single on BH in March 1968)
9. Just The Blues (Eddie Boyd track) [by Eddie Boyd with Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac] (Non-Album B-side of BH 7" single from 1967)
10. Jigsaw Puzzle Blues (Danny Kirwan track) (Non-Album B-side of "Albatross")
11. Looking For Somebody (Peter Green original) (from their debut LP "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" on BH February 1968)
12. Stop Messin' Around (Peter Green co-write with C.G. Adams) (as per track 2)

Now here's the track list of this re-sequenced re-issue so you can see the differences and omissions:

1. Need Your Love So Bad (Master Version)
2. Rambling Pony
3. I Believe My Time Ain't Long
4. The Sun Is Shining
5. Albatross
6. Black Magic Woman
7. Jigsaw Puzzle Blues
8. Like Crying
9. Need Your Love So Bad (Version 1)
10. Need Your Love So Bad (Version 3)
11. Need Your Love So Bad (Version 2)
12. Need Your Love So Bad (Take 2)
13. Need Your Love So Bad (USA Version)

When you compare the track list of the original 12-song LP with this 13-track re-issue, you see they bear little resemblance to each other! Why so different? What happened was this. In 1999, Sony issued the stunning 6-disc box set "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967-1969" by FLEETWOOD MAC to universal acclaim (pictured below). Mike Vernon, the label's producer, had taken the unusual decision to re-sequence the track line-ups of ALL 5 UK albums (one was a double) to feature outtakes, studio chatter, false starts and so on. This was of course fine and dandy on a comprehensive box set. But this 2004 singular re-issue mimics that release, when it really should have been reverted to the 12 track original LP run and added the outtakes on as bonuses at the end. Also, what you can't see from the track listing of the new CD is that Track 9 "Need Your Love So Bad (Version 1)" is Take 1, 2 and 3 combined and runs to 11:35! Track 10 is worse; it has Take 1 and 2 and runs to 13:06! The novelty was ok for the box set, but it quickly wears off. I doubt any casual buyer wants 6 variants of this track on anything - and of course, it isn't the album "Pious Bird Of Good Omen" as it was released.

With regard to the Eddie Boyd collaborations on tracks 4 & 9, I've bought the EDDIE BOYD CD "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions", which features PG's Mac and it's a genuine peach - an absolute must-own if you're a fan of either artist. I've also acquired the OTIS SPANN 2CD set "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" again with PG's Mac, which is also fantastic - not just in its breath, but also in its truly awesome remastered sound and huge haul of primo unissued material on CD2 (see my separate reviews of these for fuller details).

I would advise fans of this period to purchase ALL the Blue Horizon issues that feature Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac because there's magic dripping off all of them! And in order to actually get "Pious Bird" in remastered form, you'll probably have to!

As it stands "Pious Bird" is a still a rocking good bluesy offering (in any configuration) and only makes you pine for more. And "Albatross" - arguably the best rock instrumental ever made - is still truly gobsmacking to this day.

PS: For those wishing for more, the Blue Horizon label Fleetwood Mac UK albums are:

1. "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac"
1968 original album, known as "Fleetwood Mac" in the USA
2. "Mr. Wonderful"
1968 original album
3. "The Pious Bird Of Good Omen"
1969 compilation of non-album 7" singles, their B-sides, collaborations and other rarities
4. "Blues Jam At Chess"
1969 original 20-track 2LP set often referred to as a Various Artists compilation.
Its full credit is to: Fleetwood Mac, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Shakey Horton, J.T. Brown, Guitar Buddy (Buddy Guy), Honey Boy Edwards, S.P. Leary. Originally a 2LP set on release, it was broken into 2 volumes for the "Complete" box set and renamed "Blues Jam In Chicago Volume 1" and "Blues Jam In Chicago Volume 2". It is ONLY these singular re-sequenced releases that are available today.
5. "The Original Fleetwood Mac"
1971 compilation - although released in '71, this LP has recordings from August 1967 through to October 1968, all of which were previously unreleased at the time

All of the above albums are contained in repro card sleeve form in this superlative 1999 6-CD box set



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