Friday, April 30, 2010

Instrumentals: Albatross

Fleetwood Mac: Albatross


This haunting Peter Green instrumental is perhaps more well known in the U.K., where it was #1 hit, than in the U.S., where the Buckingham-Nicks version of the band is just about all that people remember. When it was released in early 1969, it was quite a departure from the straight-ahead blues that had been the Mac's bread and butter up until then. Of course it was the first of many musical changes the band would undergo in the following decade.

Reportedly inspired by Santo & Johnny's classic "Sleepwalk" (and in turn an inspiration for the Beatles' "Sun King"), "Albatross" came together not long after Danny Kirwin joined the band as third guitarist. (The band's second guitarist, Jeremy Spencer, had no involvement in this recording.) It was Green's vision, but Danny helped him bring it to fruition, his and Peter's guitars harmonizing beautifully over Mick Fleetwood's muted drums and swelling cymbals and John McVie's simple, pulsing bass line.

In a year when everything was becoming "heavy", it was a gentle, soothing balm. It still is.

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