Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Night Esoteric YouTube Set: Danny Kirwan's Fleetwood Mac

So Feral Mom’s talking about getting a Fleetwood Mac cover band together – Rumours-era, naturally. Which set me to thinking about all the early stuff Fleetwood Mac did in its various incarnations, stuff that’s largely forgotten nowadays, except by rock geekmos like myself. And, thought leading to action, as it does about 1 in 1,000 times in my case, I threw together a quick YouTube set featuring one of the great songwriters and guitarists from the pre-Nicks/Buckingham days.

As everyone knows (they still teach this stuff in school, right?), Fleetwood Mac is regarded as having three major phases – the early blues band formed around Peter Green, the “transitional” period, and the Mac lineup we’ve all been overexposed to for most of our lives. Tonight's subject, Danny Kirwan, factored heavily in the “transitional” phase. Kirwan, in my opinion, is one of the big “shoulda beens” of rock and roll – solid songwriter, great guitar player, but he just never became a household name.

Danny Kirwan joined Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac in 1969 and played on this Peter Green–written single from 1970, shortly before Green left the band:

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – The Green Manalishi

Here’s a blues song in the early style of the band, written by Danny Kirwan and recorded in 1970:

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – Like It This Way

Unfortunately, there isn’t much YouTube material from the first post-Green album, Kiln House, where Kirwan really begins to make his presence felt. But here’s a pretty good live performance from 1975 by the best-known lineup of the band, of the song “Station Man,” (co-penned with Jeremy Spencer and John McVie), which originally appeared on that disc.

Fleetwood Mac - Station Man

I can’t find anything from 1971’s Future Games LP, and until a few days ago there was nothing from 1972’s underrated Bare Trees, either. That album heavily featured Kirwan’s songwriting, including the following (a personal favorite):

Fleetwood Mac – Bare Trees

The following trippy video from 1971 is notable for the early, if … overly trippy images of the band in what I call its “middle period.” The song is "Dragonfly," released only as a UK single and turning up on a “best of” compilation or two:

Fleetwood Mac – Dragonfly

And, to round out the mix, here’s a solo single released in the UK in 1979:

Danny Kirwan – Only You

Kirwan’s health reportedly declined in the late '70s and he’s been out of the music biz for a long time. According to that unassailable font of truth, Wikipedia, there have been rumo(u)rs of a reunion by the early members of Fleetwood Mac. John McVie was quoted as saying that Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer might be up for it, but Danny Kirwan probably would not participate.

ADDENDUM: I can also toss out a Bob Welch post, if there's any sign of interest.

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