Sep 06

FLEETWOOD MAC – “Albatross”

FT + Popular77 comments • 9,188 views

#264, 1st February 1969


The appearance of not one, but two instrumentals in the late 60s lists shouldn’t be taken as any great sign of a revival: the first months of the year are generally the time when minority tastes can break through. This represents a hiccup in their long decline, but the days of pop instrumentals regularly reaching the top had long gone. Those older hits were light, frisky, dance-ready; “The Good, The Bad…” and “Albatross” are both thicker concentrates of pure mood.

In the case of “Albatross” there’s not even a film to prompt you, so its associations need to be even more compelling. Of all the instrumentals to reach number one, “Albatross” is closest to the ‘exotica’ and lounge music that enjoyed 50s and 60s popularity: a collection of ruthlessly pared-down sound-ideas. The tidal throb of the bass and drums, the seaspray brushes and cymbals – this is soundscaping the Martin Denny way, with a one word title setting the tone like a cherry in the cocktail glass.

It teeters close to kitsch (and is no worse for that) but the glory of the record is the marriage of this briney confection with Peter Green’s wistful, wandering guitar line – an element of subdued individuality that is quite foreign to exotica. Green’s appearance in the track is like a single figure on a postcard seascape – it lends the vista scale and makes it feel more wild and mysterious and lonesome, not more human.



  1. 1
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    This is an excellent comparison, soundwise — but I’m not sure I believe that “Albatross” was actually made a HIT by crossover Denny fans in a slow season. Or do you mean that Dennyism was given crossover impulse into a different un-Dennyist market by a group that could plausibly present themselves as interlopers on the lounge niche. ie The post-Stone blues-only audience were given the then-equivalent of the “ironic” figleaf to enjoy a sound they would not have moved towards had a figure less credible than P.Green been involved?

    In terms of artistic heritage, all Brit guitarists of a certain age revered Hank Marvin as GOD, and possibly secretly er hankered to step out and be him. Even after the all the rock vs pop turmoil had renedered him an unperson with their primary audiences.

    (In the other direction, this of course looks forward to Hillage, chillage and all things ambient… )

  2. 2
    Tom on 9 Sep 2006 #

    I’m not sure how much actual Denny fans had to do with it – probably nothing! – I’m saying that the methodology of Dennyism, selecting and applying these particular signifiers advertising style, is what Mac are doing here as well as their lonely bluesman thing. The “minority taste” in para 1 is Mac fans, not (or as well as) instrumental fans – it’s an early example of the January/February fanbase-mobiliser No.1 I think, a la Iron Maiden.

    The KLF actually sample it on Chill Out IIRC.

  3. 3
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    yes that seems much more plausible — also interesting that the “pure blues fanbase breakthrough” actually rides on a relatively anomalous song, puritywise — which can appeal to purists as well their foes, by a kind of triangulation into a third zone, untreatening to either

    there’s possibly lots of other examples of this, actually

  4. 4
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    oh oh and the “third zone” — whatever it might have meant BEFORE it was a hit (different things to different people probably, inc.secret nostalgic marvinism ) — BECOMES and indeed INVENTS ur-chillage once the zone has been created, by the use it’s put to (i mean the BUYERS invent ur-chillage, not the players)

    (possibly the grateful dead had already moved into this territory — long gentle work outs you could spliff up to — but off the top of my head i can’t think who else had yet) (few UIK buyers would know abt the dead in early 69, tho i imagine the mac did)

  5. 5
    Tom on 9 Sep 2006 #

    Yes! (Though “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” may not be one of them).

  6. 6
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    oh haha oops i know who had already broached this territory in the UK: PINK FLOYD of course — because even though their long instrumentals were hugely loud live, you can turn records down quiet

  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Sep 2006 #

    That doesn’t explain it returning to #2 on re-release in spring ’73 though. Interestingly this was pretty much the exact time that the Shadows disintegrated and IIRC there was much dark brooding in the Marvin/Welch quarters of the “oh fuck why didn’t we think of that” variety (even though it’s essentially Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” a decade on and four floors below in the basement, imagining skies, and freedom, and pinkness) – compare minimalist approach of “Albatross” with maximalist, all-strings/FX out approach of “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue,” the Shads’ final single (at that stage), five-and-a-half minutes long, which sold about five copies.

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Sep 2006 #

    plus of course they went on to have two further number two hits in ’69 (“Man Of The World” and “Oh Well Pts 1 & 2”) so it wasn’t just a seasonal blip. The bleakest pair of number two hits I can think of.

  9. 9
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    shadows slaughter recorded at abbey road acc.google! but i can’t work out the date — your post is ambiguous, marcello — is it 1968 or 1973?

    i presume once a breakthrough occurs, an act counts as a a “made” chart project, so doesn’t need the same conditions to apply the second time

  10. 10
    rosie on 9 Sep 2006 #

    I remember this so well. It was a cold February and there was snow on the ground when I went with my older sister to St Albans to buy it on Saturday – it would have been the 1st, the day Albatross hit the top of the charts (if they did that on Saturday – I always thought charts came out on a Friday in them days, but never mind). The following day I woke up feeling lousy – more ill than I’ve ever felt, before or since (and I include waking up from abdominal surgery in that.) Yes, I’d fallen victim to the Hong Kong ‘flu – or ‘Mao’ ‘flu as it was dubbed in those days – and Albatross became the soundtrack to that miserable February for me.

    I liked it, anyway, and I liked its more upbeat B-side Jigsaw Puzzle Blues, and I’d never heard of Martin Denny until just now (no relation tos Sandy Denny then. I was getting to be a big fan of Sandy around about this time.) Even for those who didn’t have the ‘flu it was a dank, cold month and a touch of South-Sea fantasy was probably just what was needed.

    It’s not the best manifestation of Fleetwood Mac’s bluesy incarnation, and it adds fuel to my theory that Number Ones seldom represent the best work of the performers. I loved Oh Well and Man of the World and Green Manalishi, and along with Christine Perfect’s rendering of I Would Rather Go Blind it was the beginning of the process of my falling in love with the Blues which would be sealed a year later when I was taken to see Memphis Slim live at Chateauvallon in France.

    I never learned to love the later ‘pop’ manifestation of Fleetwood Mac, and I’m the only person of my generation I know never to have possessed a copy of Rumours in any form.

    Tom, where do you get your sleeve images from? Unless I was missing something, singles in 1969 were still coming in paper sleeves without particular design – in this case a two-tone blue Blue Horizon sleeve.

  11. 11
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 9 Sep 2006 #

    actually — sorry for posting so much on this!! — rosie’s and marcello’s comments make me think of something else: is this a sad-feel song (as blues-link and subsequent hits would imply) or a glide-away-from-sadness song? albatross = gorgeous bird in flight, but also bird of ill omen

    1967 = happy happy pop-will-save-the-world
    1968 = turmoil and chaos everywhere (which rock culture reflects and expresses)
    1969 = the grim morning after (even if you DIDN’T have the flu)

    so the strong entry into rock-culture pop of a sense of darkness and failure is likely to get a strong response

  12. 12
    Tom on 9 Sep 2006 #

    I was unaware of how successful the rest of this incarnation of F Mac was – thanks Marcello for pointing that out.

    Rosie – sleeve images come courtesy of google images, generally I pick the one which looks – typography and photo-wise – most appropriate to the time (i.e. there are some v.horrible looking 80s FMac reissues called Albatross: these are ignored!). Sometimes – as with the Gary Puckett entry – the image is working a little harder as part of the review, though.

    I’m not sure if I can come to terms easily with the mid-late 80s Fleetwood Mac, as they were a great enemy of mine at the time, but I have been listening to odd songs from the Rumours/Tusk era a lot recently, “Sara” and “Go Your Own Way” in particular.

  13. 13
    Tom on 9 Sep 2006 #

    I think European markets tended to have picture sleeves at this time, which is where they’re actually *from*. A lot of the websites I leech off have .de or .nl domain names, anyway.

  14. 14
    intothefireuk on 9 Sep 2006 #

    A sublime piece which, as has been pointed out, was good enough to sell in vast quantities only 4 years hence. I would very much doubt that sales were driven by blues fans as it easily crosses over into lounge territory. It was an immediately familiar piece which would have stretched its credibility among rock/blues purists. Nearest comparison would be Floyd (set the controls ?) but without the accompanying melodic content and with more psychedelic menace. Certainly can’t see a case for quoting Hank Marvin here – completely different styles ! – However if Hank had dropped a tab or two who knows……….

    BTW Slaughter on 10th Avenue – Mick Ronson released an excellent version as a single in 1974 – after he’d been sacked by Bowie – it did nothing.

  15. 15
    Doctor Mod on 9 Sep 2006 #

    The pious bird of good omen, no less. The phrase comes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner–a lesson to any potential albatross killer. I remember seeing the cover of the FMac album by this name in a trendy little record shop where they actually sold imported LPs. (The ability to purchase non-US albums in local stores was very new back then.) The cover had a very sexy looking woman (dressed as a nun and presumably pregnant) with an albatross (or some such bird, real or otherwise) perched on her hand. I don’t know if the LP had a US release–if it did, surely it didn’t have this cover.

    This is the FMac I actually liked. I’ve never been able to deal with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, who dramatically reduced the collective IQ of the group with their insipid lyrics (not to mention SN’s irritating nasality and the constant soap opera about their intertwined personal lives). (No, Rosie, I’m your age and I don’t have a copy of Rumours either.) I must say, though, that I’ve continued to like Christine Perfect McVie, who has an incredibly sexy contralto voice.

    “Albatross” received a very singular honor before the year was up–its atmospheric quirks were obviously the inspiration for the intro to the Beatles’ “Sun King” on Abbey Road.

  16. 16
    Pete on 10 Sep 2006 #

    Cripes, before any sort of critical consensus gets bricked up here, let me hang my hat firmly on later Mac, especially Tusk era but with an equally strong call out for the singles on Tango In The Night. Any of the Mac Greatest Hits are an impressive line up of tunes, on which Albatross feels almost like the afterthought odd instrumental. But possibly next to You Make Lovin’ Fun anything will sound wistful.

    From a pop-Mac perspective the idea of blues-Mac is both a bit disappointing and turgid. My Mac is about the gurls and the bloke with a gurls name. Without Lindsey Buckingham there would have been no Hall & Oats – but then I guess round here that might be seen as a bad thing too?

  17. 17
    rosie on 10 Sep 2006 #

    Hey Pete, no need to get paranoid! It’s probably best to think of pop-Mac and blues-Mac as separate bands who happened to share an eponymous rhythm section. The latter had Peter Green and that’s good enough for me. By the way, you forgot about the bloke with a gurl’s name!

    As I’ve intimated, by this time I and most of my peers were parting company with the singles charts and taking more of an interest in the suddenly-burgeoning album market and alternative music – the driving force behind this was, no doubt, John Peel’s Sunday afternoon show which formed the backdrop to my weekend homework. It was the time of bitching in school on Friday morning about the eternal crapness of Top of the Pops, the breath of fresh air when they had Blodwyn Pig on not amounting to anything. Somebody must have been buying the pop stuff in droves, but it wasn’t my contemporaries. This for us was the age of Velvet Underground, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa – which we felt to be ‘grown-up’ music. (It would be about this time that some of the lads would wave Trout Mask Replica about – something that it took me many years to come to terms with!)

  18. 18
    Chris Brown on 10 Sep 2006 #

    Yeah, I’d count the two Macs as seperate entities – and I presume that was the intention of the second incarnation (including the gurl with the bloke’s name) when they started with an untitled album.

    This is one of those records that I always think I like but on reflection I wonder how much I’d take to it outside the context in which I’ve most often encountered it; as a soundtrack to something else. I’d probably pick ‘Man Of The World’ as my favourite.

  19. 19
    Chris Brown on 10 Sep 2006 #

    Forgot to say, BTW, about the chart dates – the convention (followed by all the chart books) is to date them with the issue date of the music paper they appeared in, which is always a Saturday. Hence the chart which was announced earlier this evening is officially the chart of 16th September 2006. Of course, nowadays it’s done within hours but I think back then it took them the best part of a week to do all the maths.

  20. 20
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Sep 2006 #

    (multiple sinker xpost) the Shads’ “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” came out early ’69.

  21. 21
    Fleetfoot Mike on 12 Sep 2006 #

    “In the case of “Albatross” there’s not even a film to prompt you, so its associations need to be even more compelling”…

    Not so – there WAS a film – The BBC used it as the soundtrack to a piece of nature footage, after it had just been release, and that’s actually why it made the charts.

  22. 22
    Tom on 12 Sep 2006 #

    Ah! Thanks for that info.

  23. 23
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 13 Sep 2006 #

    I think I’m right in saying, The Ventures did “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” before either The Shadows or Ronno

  24. 24
    Marcello Carlin on 13 Sep 2006 #

    Indeed they did.

    Curiously the Ventures had one of their biggest American hits ever in 1969 with the theme to Hawaii 5-0, which didn’t chart at all in Britain.

  25. 25
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 13 Sep 2006 #

    surfbands passed the uk by entirely, hitwise, didn’t they? (unless you count the shads) (which would be mental)

  26. 26
    Pete on 13 Sep 2006 #

    And the Fatboys…

  27. 27
    Tom on 13 Sep 2006 #

    As I said in the beach boys review, Surf music in the UK starts with the Aphex Twin!

    (OK actually it seems that surfing itself at a hobby started in Britain in the early 60s in Newquay, so the community was far too small to a) make an impact on the charts itself or b) create the kind of glamour-profile which would have led to other people buying records about it)

  28. 28
    Marcello Carlin on 13 Sep 2006 #

    “Wipeout” by the Surfaris was UK Top 10 in ’63, and “Pipeline” by the Chantays UK Top 20 the same year, and Jan & Dean had some minor UK hits but that was about it.

  29. 29
    intothefireuk on 14 Sep 2006 #

    the US had surf music we had Duane Eddy & Bert Weedon.

  30. 30
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Sep 2006 #

    that well known british musician duane eddy

  31. 31
    intothefireuk on 14 Sep 2006 #

    ok just Bert then

  32. 32
    Doctor Mod on 15 Sep 2006 #

    I think the point was that Duane Eddy had a strong appeal in the UK, quite likely more than he did in his own country, where surf music held the spotlight for awhile.

  33. 33
    koganbot on 16 Sep 2006 #

    1967 = happy happy pop-will-save-the-world
    1968 = turmoil and chaos everywhere (which rock culture reflects and expresses)
    1969 = the grim morning after (even if you DIDN’T have the flu)

    She is like a kid in the dark. Then she is the darkness. Dreams unwind and love is hard to find.

    My actuality, btw: 1967, generally unhappy, terrified; despised self, occasional resurrection of esteem as year goes on. 1968, tentatively taking initiative. 1969, flat-out happy, esp. the second half (and on like that through mid 1970).

    U.S. actuality, 1969: Jets and Mets win championships. Everything is wonderful. Billboard Top Ten: 1. Sugar, Sugar, The Archies 2. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In 5th Dimension 3. Honky Tonk Women, The Rolling Stones 4. Come Together/Something, The Beatles, 5. Everyday People, Sly &The Family Stone, 6. Crimson And Clover, Tommy James &The Shondells, 7. I Can’t Get Next To You, The Temptations 8. Get Back, The Beatles W/Billy Preston, 9. Someday We’ll Be Together Diana Ross &The Supremes, 10. Dizzy, Tommy Roe. (Well, not everything is wonderful, but just want to bring in other perspectives.)

    Summer of Love, 1967: Newark, July 12 to July 15, 23 people dead, 725 injured, property damage $10 million. Detroit, July 23 to July 28, 43 dead, 467 injured, property damage $40 to $80 million.

    Not that Mark’s line is wrong for the general movement of the counter culture; listen to the Airplane’s buoyant “Ballad of You, Me & Pooneil” from early ’68 and then to the grim “Ballad of Pooneil Corners” later that year. (Grace, though, got grim before everybody else.) But (1) that’s only the counterculture (“La La I Think I Love You” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy” don’t reflect turmoil and chaos, and there’s a lot more of that on the charts than anything that does; highest ranking rock-that-is-supposedly-not-also-pop-song is “Sunshine of Your Love”), and (2) counterculture mood ’69 not a morning after at all in U.S., but rather, now we resist and organize. And 1969 much more than 1967 has the idea We Are Something New And We Will Win.

    Also, spring ’68 in Europe, spring ’70 in U.S. So, different time-line.

  34. 34
    koganbot on 16 Sep 2006 #

    Very similar guitar instrumental styles were packaged as country guitar boogie, cowboy music, surf music, and spy music. So the fact that (for instance) “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” wasn’t being sold as surf music doesn’t mean you weren’t basically hearing surf-style guitar in it. Hard to think of the Shadows as being different in kind from the Ventures (though I don’t know the Shadows music that well, and I might think otherwise if I did).

  35. 35
    koganbot on 16 Sep 2006 #

    I barely know the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac at all – “Albatross” may be the only track I’ve heard. Don’t even think I’ve heard their “Black Magic Woman.” In 1970 and 1971 I’d visit my friend Hoppity and we’d listen to albums from the next era (what is generally known as The Penguins Fucking Era). I remember liking this but honestly can’t tell you what it sounds like. I’m sure I’ve heard some of the Bob Welch stuff, but again I can’t really tell you anything about it. And way-back-when I owned the famous Clapton-era John Mayall’s Bluesbreaker album, but can’t tell you anything about the bass playing.

    So I’m going to basically make up some things that might connect the early and the late Fleetwood Mac. Let’s say in the mid ’60s McVie and Fleetwood aren’t just listening to “real” American blues music, they’re listening to the Yardbirds and the Kinks and taking in those groups’ experiments with drones and crescendos and with simple note repetitions that erupt out of a song and become the basis for rhythm-built rave-ups. So, whenever it is in late ’74 or ’75 that Fleetwood hears Lindsey Buckingham, he’s hearing something he’s familiar with, a guitarist who uses drones and single-note leads and rhythms to build up an overall sound, rather than one who takes his guitar to the center; so, one who can work with Christine’s piano atmospherics. (Well, Fleetwood’s hearing something I’m familiar with, at any rate. As I said, I’m making this up.) Lindsey and his cute girlfriend (part of Lindsey’s condition for joining the group is that Stevie be invited as well) can also create catchy songs out of such drones and repetitions (e.g., “Dreams,” “Rhiannon”) and can create songs from which drones and repetitions take over (“Gold Dust Woman,” “The Chain,” and live versions of “Rhiannon”, one of which I’ve linked for you). In addition, the cutie-pie girlfriend turns out to be a spitfire of a vocalist. And the group can layer California harmonies atop all. But really, underneath, the form has more in common with the Yardbirds, Kinks, and Velvets than it does with the Eagles or Linda Ronstadt. At least on the songs of theirs I love.

  36. 36

    diff between shads and ventures = glide vs drive? something like that — in the big well-known hits, anyway, the shadows hit that thing which classical music also does, of encouraging you to forget that this is a bunch of guys PLAYING this in real-time: it’s more ethereal and bodiless than that (is that true of the ventures? memory sez no)

    but yes, the point abt a particular appraoch to guitar spreading simultaneously across otherwise disconnected genres is spot-on: i would (partly) explain this by the emergence in the mid-late 50s of new models of amp and pick-up, and recording studio techniques to harness the newly possible sound

    (do musicians listen “cross-genre” more than listeners? probably silly to generalise, but when it comes to “picking up useable tips”, i wd imagine players are just more magpie-ish than the “ideology of genre” inclines fans to be — plus of course fans have no pressure to “pick up tips”, bcz why wd they?)

  37. 37
    Tom on 16 Sep 2006 #

    According to the history of Britain in the 60s I’m reading, the post-67 gloom crash wasn’t just a counter-cultural thing over here, indeed the counter-culture seems to have been a bubble of relative immunity to a wider hand-wringing that accompanied general “Britain in decline” angst (crystallised by the devaluation of the pound towards the end of ’67).

  38. 38
    Mark M on 11 May 2009 #

    So it turns out from that doc they showed on BBC4 the other night that Peter Green says “telly-vision”, which is great. What was lacking was any archive interview with him, so it is hard to know whether he sounded as strongly old East End Jewish in the ’60s as he does now – if so, that would have been a big contrast to much of the rest of the British blues scene, which as a couple of people pointed out in the Blues Britannia programme, was very middle class.
    The classic bit in the Peter Green documentary was Mick Fleetwood sitting there going “John feels very strongly about this…” with McVie right beside him and completely silent.

  39. 39
    Waldo on 3 Aug 2009 #

    This was a rare case of a record being loved by all and sundry in my family including my dear old Edwardian dad, who despised pop/rock and all its works. The old bugger was 48 at the time of “Albatross”, which in today’s money is about 73. I still maintain that this piece of music is superb and will always stand the test of time. I had totally forgotten that it came back in the seventies and got within a whisker of repeating the trick again. As has been mentioned, “Man Of The World” and “Oh Well” followed for Mac and both stalled at number two. Far from finding these “bleak” (Marcello!), the child Waldo thought they were both cracking and, after all, quite different from each other, the former a rather sad, soft little ballad and the latter a Zeppelin-esque rock blast. The fact that we don’t get to discuss either of them in their own right I think is a pity.

  40. 40
    AndyPandy on 3 Aug 2009 #

    My dad loved this too – I’ve got extremely early memories (possibly from the time this was originally big or very soon after) of him saying how much he liked it – and being born in 1933 his taste’s were completely non rock n roll.
    And you’re right it is a classic and a pretty unique type of Number One too.

  41. 41
    Lazarus on 5 Feb 2011 #

    Some interesting comments here on the only Mac song to make the list, but in all seriousness does anyone know if the ‘latterday’ incarnation ever performed this in concert? I can just about imagine Lindsey taking the lead (“tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Peter Green!”) but what would Stevie have done – stood patting disconsolately on a tambourine? Same goes for their other other 60s hits, I suppose it would have been difficult for the ‘classic’ lineup to carry them off. I always liked ‘Man of the World’ though.

    Oh and hello, by the way.

  42. 42
    wichita lineman on 6 Feb 2011 #

    Hello Lazarus. That’s a good question. A quick of their 2009 set list shows Oh Well, which I’d love to have seen. I can’t imagine them doing The Green Manalishi, though.

  43. 43
    enitharmon on 6 Feb 2011 #

    As far as I’m concerned the Peter Green lineup is the classic lineup.

  44. 44
    swanstep on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Amazing record – and amazing that it got to #1. Tears for Fears’s Everybody wants to rule the world has always sounded to me like a 1.5x-speed version of this (and excellent for it). Abba’s (excellent) Eagle also seems indebted. I dunno, from this and Telstar and I Feel Love you can probably compute most of the good, instrumental audio/studio ideas anyone’s ever had in pop.

  45. 45
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Even in the Motown/Stax-a-go-go euphoria of the 1969 chart cheerfully counted down by Blackburn on Saturday’s POTP (well, he has every right to be cheerful about this chart since he was directly responsible for most of it), “Blackberry Way” at number one and this at number two made a suitably sobering, if somewhat deflating, British cherry for the cake; Stevie bursting out of “For Once In My Life” for post-MFK/RFK America, followed by…um, it’s raining, wonder if my Co-Op Dividend Stamps book will be filled up today…

  46. 46
    Erithian on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Poignant BBC4 doco on Peter Green on Friday, detailing the dark experience he had at a drug-fuelled “happening” in Munich which led to his disintegration and mental illness. He took a long time to get to the other side, and you wonder what kind of career he missed out on. You wonder about the band’s reaction when he presented them with “Green Manalishi” too.

  47. 47
    Cumbrian on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #46: Don’t know what their reaction to it initially was but their musical reaction was pretty great – Green Manalishi is alive with malevolence, a really fat groove played loud and driven into the brain. Fleetwood and McVie in particular play the hell out of it. I think Peter Green’s ululations in the fade out sound like what he was about to go through (or at least a decent metaphor of it – the descent into hell, with the spectral vocal lost in the fire). For me, it’s one of the best “drug” records – and, a bit like Renton coming off heroin in Trainspotting or pretty much all of Requiem For A Dream, it doesn’t make them sound like much fun at all.

  48. 48
    Mark G on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Although the doc pointed out it was more about “money”, being green, etc..

  49. 49
    Snif on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Even Kermit the Frog was sympathetic to Pete’s plight….”It’s not easy being Green….”

  50. 50
    Jimmy the Swede on 11 Feb 2011 #

    I could imagine the very pleasant Caroline Lucas being persuaded to give us a chorus of that for the benefit of Children in Need/Comic Relief etc, which seem to come round every other month now.

  51. 51
    Mark M on 27 Mar 2011 #

    Half-overheard in M&S yesterday, possibly do with the anti-cuts demonstration/(Italian, apparently) anarchist hijacking of same:

    Precocious child: “…did David Cameron do that?”

    Know it all dad: “No, it was Peter Green, the owner of TopShop.”

    Immediately start trying to imagine a Britain where Peter Green had been our dominant business mogul…

  52. 52
    Lazarus on 27 Mar 2011 #

    Not the top man at TopShop no, but certainly a leading supplier of chilled and frozen produce. I don’t know if Albert Ross is on the payroll …

  53. 53
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Phil Edmonds, Cricketer(1986)

    Duke of Westminster, property developer(1995).

  54. 54

    some notes i made on the peter green documentary (which was on telly-vision last night)

    like Mark M above, I was amused by Fleetwood speaking on behalf of a glowering McVie, right there beside him: rhythm sections eh?

  55. 55
    Mark M on 31 May 2012 #

    Re 54: In his notes, Lord Sukrat points out that Noel Gallagher is wheeled out in the Peter Green programme to make the case for his enduring importance. Now, I don’t know if he was the only contemporary-ish talking head because a) the producers thought he was a true trump card and no other was needed or b) there was no one else, possibly because (as Sukrat suggests) the British blues boom is a historical irrelevance, not least because (I suggest) nobody under 50 (60?) bar Jack White* believes that rock needs to legitimise itself by establishing its roots in the blues. Also, the idea of a musically tasteful guitar hero is a pretty bizarre one in 2012. The Peter Green story, of course, is an amazing one whatever you think of his music.
    I was thinking of this because by way of contrast, BBC4’s John Cooper Clarke doc was highly thorough in establishing his standing in his own generation, the one that followed (Stewart Lee, Miranda Sawyer, Javis) and ver kids, as represented by Alex Turner and Kate Nash (who were taught JCC in skool) and Plan B, who said he stumbled across Clarke via The Sopranos, and was taken with his flow.

    *And possibly The Roots, here jamming with Green’s successor in the Bluesbreakers, an initially very uncomfortable-looking Mick Taylor.

  56. 56
    Tommy Mack on 2 Jun 2012 #

    I can’t imagine there are many performers in the charts who’ve heard of, let alone are influenced by Pete Green, so it was probably the later. I’ve always instinctively recoiled from ‘good taste’ as it’s often used by the likes of Noel Gallagher to mean an avoidance of excess or looking silly: that is, as John Robb says, good taste is the enemy of the revolution because good taste is ultimately conservatism: it’s all about what you musn’t do. Some of Pete Green’s playing though has a delicacy and beauty to it that feels ‘tasteful’ in a different way: pretty, nuanced and rich and makes me (grudgingly) admit that good taste can sometimes equal great music.

    Jamming with old blues dudes could surely be just as much about having fun playing with a cool old-timer with killer chops as it is about legitimising your music through association with respected elder statesmen, no? (except when Noel G got up with Crazy Horse and then bragged that ‘we’re already respected by bands from the 60s: you don’t see Thom from f*ckin’ Radiohead jamming with the Velvet f*cking Underground’)

  57. 57
    Tommy Mack on 2 Jun 2012 #

    And on the subject of cross-generational collaborations, sad to see Bruce Springsteen doing Hungry Heart with Mumford and Sons: like seeing an obnoxious classmate get picked for a team by a cool teacher you respected…:-(

  58. 58
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 2 Jun 2012 #

    Well we’re going to get plenty of chance to talk about the Gallaghers, sadly. I love John Robb but his grasp of the politics of culture is sketchy at best: how is he not simply arguing in favour of Jedward? He kind of IS Jedward in fact: this is why I love him.

  59. 59
    thefatgit on 8 Jun 2012 #

    Tragic news surrounding Bob Welch’s apparent suicide. He was 66.


  60. 60
    punctum on 8 Jun 2012 #

    Fuckity fuck fuck fuck :-((((((

  61. 61
    Jimmy the Swede on 8 Jun 2012 #

    Oh dear God, this is dreadful. Fuckity fuck indeed.

  62. 62
    lonepilgrim on 18 Aug 2012 #

    Albatross covered by Lee Ranaldo and J. Mascis here http://soundcloud.com/concordmusicgroup/albatross/s-CD79r

  63. 63
    Ed on 20 Aug 2012 #

    That is very cool. I’d always thought another descendant of ‘Albatross’ was that ambient noise stuff like Sunn 0))), and now here are two people from – sort of – the same territory, making that connection.

    Blimey, though: when I do the maths, it turns out that ‘Daydream Nation’ and ‘Freak Scene’ are a lot closer, chronologically, to ‘Albatross’ than they are to ‘Call Me Maybe’. Makes me feel very old.

  64. 64
    wichita lineman on 20 Aug 2012 #

    There’s an excellent connection between this and Elvis on Marcello’s current blog entry. I can’t believe I never spotted it before.

  65. 65
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 Aug 2012 #

    #64 – I may be a bloomin’ thickie but I need you to prod me here, Lino!

  66. 66
    Mark G on 20 Aug 2012 #

    The last two guitar notes of “Heartbreak Hotel”, basically. Now, go read again, slowly…

  67. 67
    Jimmy the Swede on 20 Aug 2012 #

    Aha! Yes, thanks. It was staring at me in the face. And yes, what a good call!

  68. 68
    Tommy Mack on 21 Aug 2012 #

    Lord sukrat @ 58 – was going to respond sooner, but seemed glib in light of Bob Welch’s passing: I don’t think even in John Robb’s sloganeering he was suggesting that bad taste alone is a formula for great art: more railing against the ‘good taste’ of, well, for example, Chris Blackwell diluting Bob Marley’s music to sell it to Led Zepplin fans or Liam Gallagher sneering at Scissor Sisters ‘flashing lights and bright colours’ – good taste as the reining in of excess or otherness.

    If I’m honest though, for a few years in my teens, I did fall into the ‘good taste = bad, bad taste = good’ mentality even though, as a prissy little nerd, I could never through myself wholeheartedly into it; it was always something to which I paid lip-service rather than a religiously observed listening policy.

    The magic ingredient is talent, I guess: most music in ‘good taste’ is boring, most music in ‘bad taste’ is still boring just louder and messier: making something worth listening to is a matter of more than taste. Even after I divested myself of my teenage-binary adoption, I’d always felt that ‘good taste’ tended to mute and shackle whatever talent was there. Getting older, I start to see a better type of good taste: the attention to detail and nuance of a master craftsman like Green.

  69. 69
    hectorthebat on 16 May 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 431
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  70. 70
    enitharmon on 26 Oct 2014 #

    So it’s farewell Jack Bruce, former Bluesbreaker along with Peter Green, and has there been a finer rock/pop/blues musician not to feature at all in these pages?

  71. 71
    Cumbrian on 26 Oct 2014 #

    Yes, as he is featured in these pages. Played on Pretty Flamingo, so managed to get to #1 in 1966.

  72. 72
    lonepilgrim on 3 Jan 2017 #

    I can’t remember if I was fully aware of this in 1969 or during it’s rerelease in the 1970s. I do recall seeing a clip of seabirds accompanying the tune on TOTP.
    It avoids becoming muzak, I think, due to the ominous undertones of the bass and drums and the keening notes of the guitar. That high end/low end combo would help the tune to cut through on radio but there’s also enough going on sonically to appeal to those beginning to invest in hi-fi.

  73. 73
    lonepilgrim on 19 Mar 2017 #

    Danny Baker tweeted a link to ‘Deep Feeling’ a Chuck Berry track that seems like a plausible precedent for ‘Albatross’. Listen for yourself at:

  74. 74
    enitharmon on 11 Jun 2018 #

    And it’s farewell Danny Kirwan, foil to Peter Green on this and other gems of the One, the True Mac (accept no substitutes). Such a sad life, though, for this tormented man.

  75. 75
    Mark M on 11 Jun 2018 #

    Re74: Just a couple of months ago, (for unlikely work purposes) I was trying to ascertain the whereabouts of the members of the One True Mac, and remarked to a couple of people on the possibly surprising fact that despite the well-documented traumas of the three guitarists, the whole line-up was still alive. No more, alas.

  76. 76
    enitharmon on 25 Jul 2020 #

    Very sad to say goodbye to Peter Green. One of the true greats.

  77. 77
    Gareth Parker on 23 May 2021 #

    Beautifully relaxing single from Peter Green. 9/10 from me.

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