Kiln House

Fleetwood Mac

Reprise, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Throughout their storied career, Fleetwood Mac has been in an almost constant state of flux. Band members have come and gone so often that one almost needs a scorecard to make sure they are viewing the correct lineup.

In 1970, Peter Green had left the band. Jeremy Spencer—who had had minimal input on their previous effort Then Play On—was back in the fold, albeit briefly. And waiting in the wings was a young Christine McVie.

Kiln House was the culmination of this period of disarray for Fleetwood Mac; Spencer would depart the band after this album, while Christine McVie provided some uncredited keyboards and backing vocals, as well as the cover art. (She would become a full-fledged member on the next album.) But as Nietzsche said—or maybe it was Howard Johnson from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Blazing Saddles—“out of chaos comes order.” Simply put, this album should not be as strong as it is.

Musically, Fleetwood Mac was beginning a stylistic shift. There are still plenty of blues barn-burners like “This Is The Rock,” “Station Man” and “Buddy’s Song.” Yet the rumblings of more pop-oriented numbers is heard clearly as well, as on “One Together” and even partially on “Station Man.” You can’t make any claim that Spencer was behind the blues numbers and Danny Kirwan behind the pop tunes, as each guitarist seamlessly crosses genres on their own works.

Blues purists were undoubtedly soiling themselves in anger that Fleetwood Mac would be moving away from their roots. But, it does seem like a natural progression for the band to have begun working in a popular music feel into the veins of Kiln House. Take “Tell Me All The Things You Do,” a number that successfully walks the line between both musical genres. Granted, it’s nothing like the AOR material that post-1975 Fleetwood Mac would produce, but it’s an interesting amalgam of worlds, and it succeeds on all levels.

If there is any misstep on Kiln House, it’s the pseudo-country “Blood On The Floor,” a song that just does not fit Fleetwood Mac circa 1970 in any way, shape or form. But one mistake is fairly simple to overlook.

I’m not going to pretend that Kiln House is the easiest album to approach, especially if one only knows the band from 1975 and beyond. But if one approaches this disc with an open mind, the 34 minutes you’ll have with the disc (less one minor slip) will undoubtedly surprise you and make you realize there was more to Fleetwood Mac. Easily their best album to this point in their career, it’s well worth re-discovering.

Rating: A-

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