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Fleetwood Mac: Preaching The Blues

Back to their roots.

Back before the days of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, floaty dresses, tambourines and the gorgeous, hazy California soft rock of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac were all about the blues, as this 1971 live album amply demonstrates.

The polar opposite of the slick later material that made them megastars, Preaching The Blues is raw and indebted to the genre it takes its title from, despite a surprisingly decent sound for a live album from a whole 40 years ago.

By the time it was recorded, original frontman/guitarist Peter Green had succumbed to schizophrenia and left the band, and Christine McVie had joined on keyboards. The set-list is as chaotic as the line-up, from the grungy Purple Dancer to the ultra-blues of Don’t Go, to the spun-out jam of Please Stay, to a loungier, funk-flecked I’m On My Way from the soulful Christine McVie.

But then, with a lip curling cover of Jailhouse Rock, it all gets a bit weird, guitarist Jeremy Spencer metaphorically donning his very best rhinestone-clad jumpsuit for the spoken-word The King Speaks (Narrative), an impression of Elvis Presley probably best saved for drunken family weddings and cheap bars on the Las Vegas strip.

Nevertheless, Preaching The Blues is an interesting snapshot of a band in transition.