Jo V. (Jo) from BOISE, ID Reviewed on 8/19/2006...
Great Fleetwood Mac from their years between being a blues band and the advent of Stevie and Lindsey.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
The journey towards pop continued, but this is no RUMOURS
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 03/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The exact point at which Fleetwood Mac went from blues-rock towards sunny California-style pop is hard to pinpoint. But you could say that when Jeremy Spencer disappeared from the band to join a religious cult, not to mention leader Peter Green retiring into a drug-induced seclusion, Fleetwood Mac needed to carry on, even if that meant changing their musical approach. In the early 1970s, Fleetwood went through personnel changes galore, with Mick Fleetwood & John McVie the only constants from the original lineup. Christine McVie had officially become a permanent part of the group, but she was still a newcomer basically.
An American by the name of Robert Welch was the unofficial leader by the time of 1973's MYSTERY TO ME, which even with its sound even further removed from the Mac's blues-rock beginnings, it still failed to turn a profit. In fact, a standing joke around Warner Brothers was that Fleetwood Mac's albums made enough money to pay their electric bills. While in a few short years Mac would soon be able to do more for Warners than that, with MYSTERY TO ME they were still journeymen at best.
Welch, who would go on to solo success with hits like "Sentimental Lady" & "Ebony Eyes", dominates the album by writing 7 of its 12 songs. Not all of them are winners, but those that are include "Hypnotized", "Somebody" & the early concert standard "Emerald Eyes". All of these songs have a certain sexiness to it that is only helped by the snaking rhythm that powers these songs. They also prove that Welch had a good chance of making it as a solo artist, even if it only lasted a short while. Welch also sings on the cover of the Yardbirds' classic "For Your Love", which was from when the legendary blues-rock pioneers started their journey towards pop that would lead Eric Clapton to depart the group. The Mac's version is a likeable one, but it doesn't exactly threaten the Yardbirds' chance of retaining it for their own.
Christine McVie takes up the slack on 4 more songs that predate the bouncy pop that would soon become her stock in trade on the Mac's classic work. "Believe Me", "Just Crazy Love", the all-too-short "The Way I Feel" & the closing ballad "Why" prove McVie as the band's saving grace whenever they came up short on an accessible song that could make a good hit single. She also sings lead on Welch's "Keep On Going", which is one of the songs that doesn't quite add up.
MYSTERY TO ME, in essence, was basically just another entry in Fleetwood Mac's extended transitional period that saw them winning next-to-nothing in the way of commercial success. Creatively, they were still in a holding pattern, just beginning to get the hang of the new pop sound that would help make them one of the biggest-selling bands in music history. After the 1974 follow-up HEROES ARE HARD TO FIND, Bob Welch left the group to go solo, as did lead guitarist Bob Weston. The remaining 3 members of the Mac then moved to California, where they heard an album by a duo named Buckingham-Nicks. Enchanted, they enlisted the duo to join the group. They recorded their self-titled 1975 album & the rest, as they say, is music history. After that, Fleetwood Mac's success would be a mystery to no one."
Almost the best album of FM's Middle Years...
Mr. x | Anywhere, United States | 01/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, this is where Welch really shines on this album.His Emerald Eyes and Hypmotized are his strongest efforts from his tenure with Fleetwood Mac - save for Future Games and Sentimental Lady.Christine McVie adds some of her unmistakeable pop charm with Believe Me, Just Crazy Love, The Way I Feel, and Why.But this is Welch's spotlight album. He rocks out on some tracks as well such as City, Miles Away and Somebody.The band also does a cover of For Your Love, a song made famous by The Yardbirds.Bottom Line: The album is the peak of the band's middle years and the peak of Welch's input with the band. Classic stuff on here folks!"
Best Album from the Best Line-Up of Fleetwood Mac
Brian P. Colwell | Mansfield, Massachusetts United States | 06/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nothing against Lindsay Buckingham or Stevie Nicks (who have alot of awesome music out to begin with), but I personally liked the Bob Welch-led set with FM. It was not so polished and radio-friendly; instead it had an innocent glaze to it that was made to appreciated in scope, rather than individual "Hit Singles". To give credit where credit is due, Mr. Welch really started carving out the pop-ish legacy that FM would later generate worldwide with the entrance of Buckingham/Nicks. "Hypnotized" is crafted so well both in sound and lyrics that it makes one wonder how it was not further recognized or appreciated. "Emerald Eyes" is gifted too, with riffs that are reminiscent of Eric Clapton. The blues roots that FM started in their 1960s debut was still kept alive here, with "Why" as a clear example. Christine McVie shines magically here with "The Way I Feel" .... a truly raw/honest telling from the heart that makes me sit back in complete every time I hear it; her piano playing is stronger than ever (to anyone who might doubt her ability) and nearly Carole King-like in nature. Mick's drumming and John's bass were always the foundation to the band's craftsmanship, and this album is no exception or disappointment to that fact. All the songs travel in warp speed to the consciousness .... when a track begins at a slightly slow pace (such as "Believe Me") the moment changes to a highly-charged follow-up in musicianship that makes the listener free and willing to dance around a bit."
One of their best--and not overplayed, either!
Michael Topper | Pacific Palisades, California United States | 04/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Mystery To Me" is almost unquestionably the best album Fleetwood Mac had made up to that point, and fares well in comparison to the later Buckingham-Nicks material, making it one of the best albums in the group's entire career. It has been called the "Rumours" of the Welch era, and there is some truth to this--the production is crisp and professional, and at least half the cuts are top quality. Welch takes the primary songwriting helm, offering up pop gems like "EmeraldEyes" (with its building, circular chorus), the classic "Hypnotized" and the rocking "Miles Away" (with some scintillating guitar by Bob Weston). His lyrics here tend to the mysterious and spiritually-tinged, with a slightly cynical edge (as in "Miles Away") to balance it out. McVie offers up four of her finest songs to date, all of which show her style reaching rapid maturity and providing the blueprint for her work on "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours": "Believe Me" and "Just Crazy Love" are two catchy pop-rockers that foreshadow massive hits like "Say You Love Me" and "Don't Stop", while "The Way I Feel" and "Why" are tender, heartbreaking ballads that feature her voice at its warmest. "Why", the album's closing number, is one of the best Fleetwood Mac songs ever and worth the price of the album all by itself; it is an equal signature work to "Songbird". Indeed, both "Hypnotized" and "Why" were considered strong enough to stay in the group's setlist as late as 1978. The overall mix of serious but catchy pop-rock found in "Mystery To Me", with lyrics that mix eerie mysteries (the Welch tracks) with relationship turmoil (Christine was already having problems with her husband John, and it shows in "Believe Me" and "Why"), does indeed sound like the formula that made the group's late 70s albums such mammoth successes. It should have been more popular at the time (although it was their highest-selling release in the US up to that point), and remains underrated to this day--although the fact that it is not an overplayed, over-discussed behemoth is part of its charm. There are two or three filler cuts ("Forever", "Somebody") which could have been left off the album (at 48 minutes, it was lengthy for the days of vinyl), but overall it and "Bare Trees" prove that the group was capable of putting out some fine music during this period."
A Very Pleasant Surprise
L. Everitt | Washington, DC | 03/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One week ago, I was one of you...a fan of FLEETWOOD MAC, RUMOURS and TUSK that had never delved into the band's past catalogue. I had heard rumors of good stuff, sure, but never really gave it a listen. Then "Hypnotized" suddenly appeared on my AOL Radio one day and I was like "OK, I love 'Sentimental Lady' and it's time to give the Bob Welch era a chance."
I'm glad I did. This album is absolutely wonderful. Welch had his weaknesses--he's not the strongest singer and his guitar playing is forgettable--but the man could write songs. McVie more than makes up for him in the vocals department, though, and Bob Weston is just incredible on this album. So good that I'm surprised the fans on here don't talk more about him. His lead work is just amazing--both on electric and in an amazing acoustic solo on "Keep On Going." He makes every song far richer than it otherwise would have been. John McVie is his standard great self on bass and Mick--well Mick is solid, but not at his best here.
The songs are wonderful and will appeal to all (in my opinion) who like the similar pop of the group's Buckingham/Nicks period. Trust me...I worshipped Lindsey before hearing this--but an open ear will grant these songs the due they deserve.
The truth--and I'm only beginning to fully appreciate this--is that John and Mick apparently were unbelievable judges of talent. Throughout their career, they associated themselves with tremendous guitarists, vocalists and songwriters--and that's why they've lasted as long as they have.
Don't cheat yourself. Find "Hypnotized" and "Emerald Eyes." See how stunningly beautiful McVie was pre-commercial success with songs like "Why," "Way I Feel" and "Believe Me." It's musical, it's experimental, it's bold, it's artistic. And it's no longer a MYSTERY TO ME."