Fleetwood Mac

Reprise, 1973

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Penguin was a unique Fleetwood Mac LP in that its lineup only existed for this one album. Danny Kirwan had been fired after a number of years of yeoman’s service to the group. New members were vocalist Dave Walker, formally of Savoy Brown, and guitarist Bob Weston.

While both additions were talented musicians, their blues-rock style did not match the musical direction that Bob Welch and Christine McVie envisioned for Fleetwood Mac. Therefore, Penguin is really two different albums, the Welch-McVie material and the Walker-Weston material. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Christine comes into her own with the release of Penguin. Her two solo songs are equal to any she would later produce. “Remember Me” is Christine at her best, with great vocals laid against a rocking guitar, while “Disssatisfied” allows Christine to return to her Chicken Shack rock roots. This is one of the great soaring McVie vocals; I really believe that beginning with Penguin and extending through Rumours and beyond, Fleetwood Mac’s musical vision was ultimately hers.

“Did You Ever Love Me” is a Welch and McVie production. On Penguin, Bob Welch and McVie  form a solid musical relationship. In retrospect I can’t help but wonder what kind of pressure their musical relationship put on the group, particularly Christine’s husband John McVie. On the other hand, “Did You Ever Love Me” shows two talented musicians who worked and created well together.

For his part, Welch produces some straight-ahead guitar rock with “Bright Fire” and “Revelation,”  while “Night Watch” has some pop hooks and hints at the direction his solo career will follow.

The Bob Weston and Dave Walker contributions are solid and have pleasurable moments but seem out of place when taken in the context of the rest of Penguin. Also, to be fair, this fact seems more apparent since Fleetwood Mac is not usually remembered for their blues-rock style. The old Motown warhorse “(I’m A) Road Runner” is a good vehicle for Walker’s bluesy voice and excellent harmonica work, as is his original tune “The Derelect.” Weston’s “Caught In The Rain” is the weakest song on the album, it should be noted.

Penguin rocks more than the other early 1970s Fleetwood Mac albums, yet the real highlight is the emergence of Christine McVie. Her continuing development during this phase of Fleetwood Mac’s career is worth the price of admission.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 David Bowling 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 Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.