"As a collective group, the original Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer) had talent to burn. When they added a young kid with roots in Texas blues (Danny Kirwan), it would become an overpowering all-star lineup. Try and find another band with three scorching lead guitar players who were also adept as singers in their own individual right. Regretfully, the price they paid for so much abundance was seen in the reshuffling of their lineup: it seemed like they couldn't stand to be together (on stage or in the studio) for too long. With this literal game of musical chairs, it's amazing that they completed the projects that are their legacy. When founder Peter Green split for a religious retreat in 1970, Kirwan and the circus showman-like Spencer remained. It was hard to live up to Green's overwhelming authority and expectations (especially as a blues perfectionist), and there is no doubt that the others felt intimidated by him. Freed of the personality challenges, the result was Kiln House, a disc that is a mother lode of riffs, tributes, and all-out joyfulness. Jeremy and Danny really led each other to new displays of vibrato magic and chunky chord displays that made it a 'different' sound. More importantly, the vocals (especially Spencer's eclectic identity changes) make this more approachable, and there is background help from a future player, Christine Perfect (McVie). Spencer's composing skills were rejuvenated with a variety of styles, including his recognized bottleneck work and piano, and the other band members (McVei and Fleetwood) also received credits. The tunes start off with the Elvis-splashed "This is the Rock," a nifty shuffle that reminds us about the heart of the matter of this thing called rock 'n roll. With an off-beat percussion tumbling away, "Station Man" displays the group's superb voices against challenging squawks of slide and lead, and salsa-thick chords that literally chomp away like a hand saw through wood. This was one of my favorite "mystery" songs that I vowed to identify when I first learned about the magic of FM music. Jeremy always enjoyed displaying a variety of alter egos on stage, and he keeps the engine stoked with a couple of humorous numbers, including the country-western "Blood on the Floor" and the raucous, sneering "Hi Ho Silver," with writing credits to "Fats" Waller and Ed Kirkeby. (I just saw Paul McCartney do "Silver" at a reunion visit broadcast in the Cavern in Liverpool, and it's a crowd-pleaser.) Going back to rock's early influences, he and Danny buzz on guitar as Buddy Holly and the Crickets get a salute with "One Together," and a song kindly credited to Holly's mother, "Buddy's Song." I'm sure the town of Lubbock, Texas, appreciated the acknowledgement of their late native son.When Danny Kirwan took the microphone to sing, he could be charming and mild, or tough and aggressive. On "Jewel Eyed Judy," he does both, and the guitars sting and burn with pain from a broken heart. His guitar playing was really something to admire, especially with his wah-wah splashes and laser-beam lead lines that offset Spencer's fire on "Tell Me All the Things You Do. " Both men show delicate touches on "Earl Gray," and throughout this entire set, Mick Fleetwood toned down the drumming in the more muted style that he would use with the future incarnation of the band in the '80's and '90's. With chimes and a romantic chorus behind him, Spencer sails off with a final Holly-like vocal on "Mission Bell," perhaps indicating the blues and bravado of Fleetwood Mac would soon be transitioning to a more mainstream sound. In fact, his departure was soon to follow.
If you liked the Beatles and Abbey Road for its range of ideas and terrific guitar licks (like "Golden Slumbers"), then Kiln House should be its complement. All bands face a transition phase, and these guys made it safely to the other shore with this set. With the turmoil(s) that this band faced, they only could have done this once in their careers; thankfully, it has kept its listening appeal."
Timeless Garage Band Music for the Masses
Tony Leuzzi | Rochester, NY | 12/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At a time when the Rolling Stones were about to enter the studio and self-consciously rediscover their "roots" with the over-hyped Exile on Main Street,Fleetwood Mac were playing music for the love of the music and nothing else. A bit weirded out by the late guitar god Peter Green's departure, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie didn't opt to enlist a new guitar hero. Instead, they pooled their collective talents to produce the this thoroughly unpretentious and charming record. Whether the band, fronted by Spencer, is doing a Buddy-Holly send-up ("Buddy's Song") or an Elvis tribute ("This is the Rock"), each performer sounds relaxed and assured in this down-home, low-production element. When Kirwan takes the lead, however, the band cooks with fire. His "Station Man" is a slow-burning, riff-rocker, while "Tell Me All the Things You Do" is an inspired guitar jam built around a tight song structure. All the tracks sound honest and lively. And there are even a few twists: Spencer's rendition of Howlin Wolf's "Hi Ho Silver" is rougher and raunchier than one would expect from this slide master. Kirwan's "Jewel-Eyed Judy" is modeled not on Freddie King but Lennon-McCartney. Kiln House is a rare, one-of-a-kind record. The band never sounded like this beofre it, and it never sounded like this since. A must buy."
The Real Fleetwood Mac
A. Calabrese | NJ--United States | 01/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never much cared for the more popular incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. Kiln House was made after the exit of Peter Green and as a result has a much softer edge. But, every tune on this album will have you tapping your feet and singing along. This is Fleetwood Mac's tribute to rockabilly, with a bluesy edge. I remember hearing this release after driving my best friend from NJ to Wisconsin. Every song rocks, but I especially like "Tell Me All The Things You Do" and the surreal "Earl Gray." Even with the loss of Peter Green both Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan still do a great job. If you like me disdain the nasal machinations of Stevie Nicks, pick up this album, you'll feel better."
Last Great One Before Commercial POP success
Blue Note Teddy | New York metro area | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the last "Truly Great" album put out by the "Great" Fleetwood Mac - that is the Fleetwood Mac of the Peter Green era! Even though he's not on the album - his spirit is there and supported by his close buddies Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, and lets not forget the great John McVie and Mick Fleetwood themselves! This album was put together shortly after the tragic exodus of Peter Green and the hard times that followed till the band found themselves new singer/songwriters in Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham which propelled them into the tops of the POP charts, certainly a far place from their Blues roots of the Green era. This album is a treasure full of great blues derived rock n roll which will fill many an empty space for those interested in rock n roll.
I am so glad I was able to find this gem on CD as my vinyl collection is getting very worn! I've now got this on my iPod and along with many other great bands (such as Savoy Brown, Paul Butterfield, John Mayall, early Climax Blues Band, and King Biscuit Boy and others), can now listen to truly great music once again!"
Kiln House Burns
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 04/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fleetwood Mac's original driving force was guitar god Peter Green. But Mr. Green was a tortured man and he abruptly departed the band before they started work on this album. Jeremy Spencer assumed the leadership role in the band and they moved away from the hardcore blues that Mr. Green was passionate about towards a more rock sound. Kiln House is a great early Mac album with some killer tracks like the simmering "Station Man", the rockabilly of "This Is The Rock" and the Buddy Holly tribute "Buddy's Song". Kiln House is much crisper and cleaner than their earlier work and it signaled a major change in the band's direction, one that would lead them down a much more mainstream road."