Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fleetwood Mac - Kiln House (1970)

Kiln House is the first album Fleetwood Mac released after the departure of founding member Peter Green. Remaining were the other two core members, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie (on drums and bass, respectively), as well as the two guitarists/vocalists that filled out the band: Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan.

The album doesn't have any major surprises; it's basically a collection of the sort of songs Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan were playing while Peter Green was in the band, including their "vaudeville" imitations of Elvis, Buddy Holly, and the like. Spencer's highlight is the rocking track Hi Ho Silver (which recalls Honey Hush from their BBC Sessions), but it's Kirwan's melodic and soulful tracks that better echo Peter Green's more introspective songs from previous albums.

Tracks like Station Man and the instrumental Earl Gray, or Jewel Eyed Judy and the rocking Tell Me All The Things You Do, are the kind that may not make a greatest hits compilation for the band, but are intriguing deep album cuts that could fascinate an unsuspecting listener who is not familiar with the complicated history of Fleetwood Mac. It seems clear to me that the departure of a driving force like Peter Green opened the door for a more eclectic (and unfocused) sound for the band, and paved the path for an evolution that would culminate with the introduction of a new driving force (in the form of the Buckingham/Nicks partnership) several albums later, that would bring the band fame with a more pop-friendly sound.

Also of note is that Christine Perfect, longtime friend of the band, provides some backing vocals on this album (uncredited), and would soon marry into the band officially as Christine McVie. She also drew the artwork on the album cover for Kiln House, which is a very beautiful fold-out illustration in bright colors, depicting a boy and a girl heading towards the titular Kiln House, in a scene that is cheerful on the surface, yet subtly creepy when you take a closer look. (Why are they headed toward a "kiln house"? Will they, perhaps, meet a fate not unlike the kids who stumble upon a gingerbread house deep in the woods?)...

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