Then Play On
(BMG / Warner Records)


Offering a Stateside perspective from an original fan, and now in 2020 hindsight, that first self-titled Fleetwood Mac album from early 1968, (the one with the garbage can cover) released in the U.S. on Epic Records, failed to raise interest from the teenyboppers of the day, yet it was to be that second Epic album, a compilation and a harbinger, English Rose from later in 1968, that seized the reigns of Fleetwood Mac in a way that established English Rose as, even till today, among the greatest of all Mac albums. Then, in the Fall of ’69, Epic was history and Reprise Records stunned the music world with the L.P. release of Then Play On, the album classic that was reissued again, not on Reprise this time, but on BMG in 2020. The album was/is a brilliant showcase, less for Peter Green and more for Danny Kirwan, the late, great guitar genius, who, while recently dying in 2018, wrote many of the best tracks on Then Play On. That said, Fleetwood Mac’s singles, cut from that same sometime in 1969 era, were tragically mis-promoted at the time and thus, the album wasn’t instantly viewed as Fleetwood Mac’s Abbey Road, although it was the final album that Peter Green and that fabled, original lineup played and wrote on. There wasn’t any “Black Magic Woman”, here replaced by the sardonic love connection of “Rattlesnake Shake”, and no chart-topping rock instrumental like “Albatross”, supplanted here by a series of equally memorable instrumentals composed by Green, Kirwan, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. All the rarities of the era are on this BMG / Warners special 2020 reissue of Then Play On, including the CD-closing instrumental, the super-rare (at least back then because no one even heard it), "World In Harmony", a Fleetwood Mac curio credited to Kirwan & Green and like so many tracks here, unheard on radio at the time. Of course, the best songs here weren't even on the original L.P. release. As he appears in that famous inside cover art, the great Jeremy Spencer is also here, while noting that Jeremy, who is a fabulous singer-songwriter, that didn’t write anything for Then Play On, yet in a twist of fate, it is he that is still alive and well in 2020, and is still recording a number of albums with instrumentals in the spirit of Danny and Peter, who both died respectively in 2018 and 2020. It’s a credit to Reprise Records Svengali Mo Ostin, appointed as the original head of Reprise Records by label owner Frank Sinatra in 1960, to have stuck by and expertly worked and then reworked the Fleetwood Mac name from that sound reinvention in 1969 thru to the 1975 era when Mick and McVie found the brass ring needed to get the band to the level of fame they would achieve by 1975, albeit with a different fan base and a different lineup of songwriters and singers. Like so many of the great bands of the era, including original lineups of the Beatles, King Crimson and that first version of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, that perished in 1969, are forever remembered best from the music of that unforgettable year. Also, worth noting in the album credits here is musical genius Martin Birch, the late great recording engineer who gave Fleetwood Mac their fabulous studio sound right then at the start of it. Rhino did a great job with their 2013 Then Play On and clearly BMG and Warner Records have done a equally fine job on this 2020, 18-track hardback edition, adding in slick new packaging, with 2020 liner notes by Mick Fleetwood and Anthony Bozza. www.fleetwoodmac.com






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