Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fleetwood Mac: Oh Well

I am planning to end this blog in 25 posts on September 26, 2012; however, if you would like see it continue, register your feelings in the survey found at

For many people, Fleetwood Mac started in 1975 with the Buckingham-Nicks era of the band. While that began the hit era of Fleetwood Mac, the band released nine original albums and three compilations prior to its new era.

The band also released numerous singles since 1967; however, only two charted prior to the 1975 incarnation: “Albatross, which was a number one record in the UK, made Billboard’s Bubbling Under Chart at #104; and “Oh Well, Pt. I,” which peaked in the UK at #2, but only charted at #55 in the US.

“Oh Well” was the band’s highest charting song in America until “Over My Head” peaked at #20. Because “Oh Well” was 8:56, it was too long for a single; Reprise Records split the song into two parts on the single as “Pt. I” and “Pt. II.” Unlike most split singles, “Oh Well” has two movements that made the task easier.

The first movement which was a fast blues number ended up being what was played by the band live. It features all of the band members except Jeremy Spencer. This Peter Green composition features a riff that is repeated over with Green starting on guitar and guitarist Danny Kirwan and bassist John McVie adding to Green’s riff. Green’s guitar has a unique tone and I am wondering if it is a resonator guitar.

The second movement, or “Pt. II,” features Green playing most of the instruments except the piano, bass, and drums. Jeremy Spencer handled the piano with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie on respectively on drums and bass. “Pt. II” starts with a Spanish style acoustic guitar accentuated by low notes on an electric guitar.

Green also plays a soprano recorder that reminds me of the “Theme from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” He also plays ‘cello which comes towards the end of the second movement. With the instrumentation, it would be difficult for the band to reproduce live – an thus, it was omitted from their shows.

Following the British tradition of releasing singles separate from the album, “Then Play On” did not included “Oh Well” when the album was issued in the US in September 1969. With the minor success of the “Oh Well, Pt. I” single in the US, Reprise reissued “Then Play On” with the song and eliminated two Danny Kirwan numbers (“When You Say” and “My Dream”). The two songs are on the CD version of the album.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I enjoy this, I love the version by The Rockets. It's absolutely incendiary...

    FWIW, I just stumbled across this blog today. I'm quite glad you decided to keep going. I am rather enjoying it and can see myself whiling away some hours here...