Mr. Wonderful

Fleetwood Mac

Blue Horizon, 1968

http://www.fleetwoodmac.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/07/2007

The more I listen to early-day Fleetwood Mac, the more I’m convinced they could have easily been one of the best Chicago blues bands who wasn’t even from the Windy City. Hell, they weren’t even from the right continent.

Taking the lessons they had learned from their debut effort, Peter Green and company tightened up both their performances and their songwriting and expanded their lineup slightly on their sophomore effort my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mr. Wonderful -- a disc that wouldn’t see the shores of the U.S. until the addition of a few songs, another new band member and a new title (along with even more hideous cover art than Mick Fleetwood shirtless, looking rather startled.)

At first, I wasn’t crazy about the horn section that permeates some of these tracks, but after closely listening to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, their addition to the sound seems like the natural progression for the band. Adding one Christine Perfect on keyboards for additional help doesn’t hurt, though it often seems like her work is buried in the mix -- sometimes, to the weakness of the song.

Critics used this disc to claim the limitations of guitarist Jeremy Spencer -- and I will admit that having two songs that sound exactly the same (“Doctor Brown” and “Need Your Love Tonight”) one after the other might not have been the smartest move. But I happen to like the Elmore James-influenced sound and the slide guitar work -- it reminds me a lot of Hound Dog Taylor, of whom I can’t seem to get enough. So, bring on another cover of “Dust My Broom.” I like it all.

Critics be damned (uh, yeah, err…), Mr. Wonderful is an improvement on an already good thing. From the opening blasts of “Stop Messin’ Round” to the all-out rollicking good time on “Evenin’ Boogie,” Fleetwood Mac quickly proves that they were, quite possibly, the best blues band to come out of that British musical phase, all respect to John Mayall.

Having listened to this before tackling the American version English Rose, I can’t tell at this time which is the better investment. (Guess you’ll have to check that review for that comparison.) But fans of well-performed, energetic yet slightly rough around the edges blues will find precious little wrong with Mr .Wonderful.

Rating: B

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© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Blue Horizon, and is used for informational purposes only.