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Roots
Fleetwood Mac
Roots
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
 

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Fleetwood Mac
Title: Roots
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: PAIR
Release Date: 9/27/1991
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Blues Rock, British Invasion
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 088826120829

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CD Reviews

Spencer centered
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 03/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 1988 CD represents one of the first releases of Fleetwood Mac's February 5-7 concert recordings at the Tea Party venue in Boston. The most comprehensive collection of tracks from that series of four concerts would appear to be the three CD, thirty-track box set released by Snapper UK in 1999, but that collection is not definitive. It contains, for example, one rendition of 'Green Manalishi', but more than one version have been released on other discs. It's likely that there are numerous recordings from those four concerts still lying in the vault, and since there is probably a very limited market for alternates of many of the tracks already released, they may never see the light of day. So the real question regarding this fantastic treasure of tapes, is how does one assemble the most comprehensive collection of the best renditions at the best price?

At this point, I own a remastered disc released in 2002 called 'The Vintage Years'. It features some of the hardest blues-rock tracks from the Boston concerts, including 'Green Manalishi', 'Black Magic Woman', 'Sandy Mary', and the twenty-four minute epic rendition of 'Rattlesnake Shake'. The disc being reviewed here, 'Best of British Rock: Live in Concert -- The Roots of Fleetwood Mac', contains alternate versions of all those titles, with the exception of 'Black Magic Woman'. If just listening to the alternate versions isn't enough to convince you that different recordings were chosen for each disc, consider the significant differences in running times for comparable tracks, as well as differences in between song banter from the band and the audience. The version of 'Green Manalishi' included here contains a beautiful, several minute conga performance in lieu of a portion of John McVie's bass solo that is well worth the price of the disc itself. Other tracks that double, such as 'Got To Move' are noticably different as well. This version of 'Got To Move' is decidedly steeped in boogie rather than the deep blues version on 'The Vintage Years'.

All of that being said, the 'Roots...' disc is more heavily focused on the work of Jeremy Spencer, both his covers of classic blues artists such as Elmore James ('Stranger Blues' and 'Red Hot Mama') and Little Richard ('Keep A Knocking'), as well as his comic portrayal of Earl Vince, 1950's crooner. These tracks are crowd pleasers thanks to the scathing rockabilly guitar riffs on 'Stranger Blues', and Spencer's slide guitar work on 'Red Hot Mama'. Spencer's slide also takes center stage on the opening track, a cover of Elmore James' classic 'Madison Blues'. The middle of the disc features Spencer's take-off on the sounds of the 1950's, the finest of which is a clone of an Elvis Presley-like slow ballad titled 'Teenage Darling'. Robust renditions of 'Great Balls of Fire', 'Jenny Jenny' and 'Tutti Frutti' add to the at-the-hop atmosphere.

The offerings from Danny Kirwin and Peter Green, though fewer in number, stand as some of the most impressive tracks. Kirwin contributes a funky, but flawed (weak sound level on the vocal), blues-rock track, 'Loving Kind'. Green, the focal point of most of Fleetwood Mac's pre-1970 endeavors, is responsible only for 'Sandy Mary' and 'Green Manalishi', but his wicked trademark guitar leads are laced throughout the set.

As with many CD's produced in the late 1980's, the liner notes are extremely spartan. There are 3 track listings, several paragraphs of uncredited comments on the songs featured on the disc, and one photo of the band. While much was made of the remastering of the master tapes for subsequent releases of the Tea Party perfomances in the late 1990's and early in the second millennium, I don't find the sound quality to be substantially lacking. The recordings on 'The Vintage Years' are certainly bolder and brighter, but 'Roots...' is still miles ahead of vinyl and cassette technology, enough to satisfy this aging Baby Boomer. While the disc probably appeals more to Fleetwood Mac collectors, it should also serve as an inexpensive way for the casual listener to obtain some of these truly vintage live recordings.
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