Monday, 6 October 2008

“Mr. Wonderful” by FLEETWOOD MAC (1999 and 2004 Sony/Blue Horizon 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Stop Messin' Around..." 

Following only 7 months after their explosive debut and afforded the luxury of a gatefold sleeve - Fleetwood Mac's second studio album "Mr. Wonderful" was released in September 1968 on Blue Horizon Records S 7-63205 in the UK (in stereo only). The American equivalent was issued in February 1969 on Epic Records BN 26446 and was called "English Rose" - it had different artwork and a much-altered track run. This CD version reflects the UK LP and is slightly expanded.

Here's the breakdown - the original 12-track album track list ran as follows (41:51 minutes):

1. Stop Messin' Round (Peter Green and C.G. Adams song) [2:21 minutes]
2. Coming Home (Elmore James cover) [2:41 minutes]
3. Rollin' Man (Peter Green song) [2:54 minutes]
4. Dust My Broom (Elmore James cover) [2:53 minutes]
5. Love That Burns (Peter Green and C.G. Adams song) [5:04 minutes]
6. Doctor Brown (William Glasco cover) [3:46 minutes] (End of Side 1)
7. Need Your Love Tonight (Jeremy Spencer song) [3:29 minutes]
8. If You Be My Baby (Peter Green & C.G. Adams [3:53 minutes]
9. Evenin' Boogie (Jeremy Spencer song) [2:42 minutes]
10.Lazy Poker Blues (Peter Green & C.G. Adams song) [2:36 minutes)
11. I've Lost My Baby (Jeremy Spencer song) [4:18 minutes]
12. Trying So Hard To Forget (Peter Green & C.G. Adams song) [4:51 minutes] (End of Side 2)

This 16-track CD reissue of "Mr. Wonderful" by FLEETWOOD MAC at 56:27 minutes is "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967-1969" version from the November 1999 Sony 6-CD Box Set issued as a stand-alone disc in July 2004 (Sony 51644442 - Barcode 5099751644422). The additional bits are that Track 1 has some studio chatter before the take [extended to 2:36 minutes], tracks 2 to 12 are exactly the same, while the following are BONUSES added on...

13. Stop Messin' Round (Takes 1, 2 and 3 with False Starts/Previously Unissued) [4:32 minutes]
14. Stop Messin' Round (Take 5 - Master Single Version/Remix)  [2:47 minutes]
15.I Held My Baby Last Night (Elmore James/Jule Taub cover) [4:26 minutes]
16. Mystery Boogie (Jeremy Spencer song) [2:51 minutes]
Note: Track 14 is longer than and different to the album version of "Stop Messin' Round" that opens the LP

In the USA the album was called "English Rose" on Epic Records and its altered track list ran as follows:

1. Stop Messin' Round [as above]
2. Jigsaw Blues [on "Pious Bird Of Good Omen"]
3. Doctor Brown [as above]
4. Something Inside Of Me [on "The Original Fleetwood Mac"]
5. Evenin' Boogie [as above]
6. Love That Burns [as above]
7. Black Magic Woman [on "Pious Bird Of Good Omen"]
8. I've Lost My Baby [as above]
9. One Sunny Day [on "The Original Fleetwood Mac"]
10. Without You [on "The Original Fleetwood Mac"]
11. Coming Home [as above]
12. Albatross [on "Pious Bird Of Good Omen"]
[As you can see - in order to sequence "English Rose" in remastered form you will need 3 CDs from the 6CD box set - "Mr. Wonderful", "The Pious Bird Of Good Omen" and "The Original Fleetwood Mac"]

Musically, "Mr. Wonderful" only half works for me - it feels like a poor-man's version of the debut (the USA "English Rose" compilation LP has a far better track run). Also over half the album - tracks 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 11 do 'not' feature Peter Green at all (and suffer for it). The others appear to be hijacked by Jeremy Spencer's obsession with Elmore James to a point where "Doctor Brown" and "Need Your Love Tonight" sound exactly like the same song repeated literally one after another. It's not that the album is bad - it just somehow lacks something. The last song, however, redeems things a bit - it's "Trying So Hard To Forget" and has Peter Green on Guitar with label mate DUSTER BENNETT on Harmonica - just the two of them - and it's a peach.

The bonuses turn out to be excellent too - especially the two previously unreleased Jeremy Spencer tracks - the very slow blues of "I Held My Baby Last Night" and the jaunty boogie-guitar instrumental of "Mystery Boogie". And as with the box set, the DUNCAN COWELL remastered sound is exceptionally good - blasting out of your speakers with all the power of the band live in the studio.

As a stand-alone disc, it's great value for money - I'd say BUY IT and then go for 2 to 5 as well...they're all magical in their own way. Or just buy the box set outright - it's such great stuff anyway and will allow you to sequence both "Mr. Wonderful" and "English Rose" as separate albums.

While it might feel like you’re stating the obvious – but any Fleetwood Mac from this period in your life is a good thing...

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, Honey Boy Edwards, S.P. Leary. Originally a 2LP set on release in the UK, it was broken into 2 volumes in the USA and renamed in May 1970 as “Blues Jam In Chicago Volume 1" and "Blues Jam In Chicago Volume 2". It was also reissued twice thereafter in the USA – 1971 and 1975 as “Fleetwood Mac In Chicago” (both charted). The CD reissues are based on the 1970 releases and names – but are the ‘Expanded Editions’ from the 1999 6-Disc Box set with rejiggered tracks. It is ONLY these singular re-sequenced releases that are available today.)
5.  The Original Fleetwood Mac (1971)
(Although released in 1971, this LP has recordings from August 1967 through to October 1968, all of which were previously unreleased at the time)

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