"...remember when Fleetwood Mac was still a blues band? Before Buckingham and Nicks came along to water down the group's sound into a syrupy pop outfit that cranked out one album of lowest common denominator top 40 music after another? For anyone who has never heard the band in the early years, nearer their origins, the experience could come as a shock. There's a lot to be said for the argument that the band should have changed their name when they took that radical turn into pop music......but this album is near the beginning, and it's a joyful experience. The amazing Peter Green (guitar, vocals), the steady rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), all fresh from some serious schooling in the ranks of the legendary John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, formed Fleetwood Mac in 1967, joined by guitarist Jeremy Spencer, and, just before this set was recorded, guitarist Danny Kirwan. Their first couple of albums [FLEETWOOD MAC (1967) and MR.WONDERFUL (1968)] were well-received by critics and fans alike in theie native UK -- with THEN PLAY ON, the band began to expand their songwriting horizons, while remaining true to their blues roots.The guitar work from the triumvirate of Green/Spencer/Kirwan is stunning, as are their vocals -- each infusing his own compositions with a unique personality, yet fitting into the overall sound of the band at the same time. There are some memorable unbeat, rockin' tunes here -- but what stands out for me after all of these years are the slower, moodier pieces -- vocals and instrumentals alike.Green's 'Closing my eyes', the second track on the album, is one of the most heartfelt expressions of loneliness and despair I've ever heard -- but it's not maudlin. He can sing '...one day I'll die -- maybe then I'll be with you' and it doesn't come across as trite for even a second. Danny Kirwan contributes three tunes in this laid-back but strongly emotional vein as well: 'Although the sun is shining' has an achingly beautiful, unusual chord progression -- 'When you say' and 'Like crying' are gems as well. The instrumentals -- Kirwan's 'My dream', Green's 'Underway', are things of beauty, and the two jams 'Searching for Madge' and 'Fighting for Madge' allow the bandmembers to stretch out a bit in a more upbeat vein.There are rockers here as well -- notably two classics from Peter Green, the classic 'Oh well' (presented here in its entirety, it didn't even appear on the original lp except as a bonus 7" included in early copies) and the playfully nasty 'Rattlesnake shake' (I remember that the 'underground' FM station in my home town wouldn't even play this track -- they were SO adventurous).This is a truly classic recording -- from the band's finest hour. It's no RUMOURS -- and that's a good thing...!"
HORRENDOUS CORPORATE DISRESPECT FOR A CLASSIC RECORDING!
BOB | LOS ANGELES, CA | 03/19/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
Yes, Warner Brothers, I mean you.
With all of the advances in remastering technology over the life of the CD format, you should be ashamed to offer such a classic recording that sounds this bad. And that is why I'm giving a one-star rating to a five-star album.
Imagine my dismay when I slipped this great album into my CD player, cued up "Oh, Well", and was greeting with the tinniest, noisiest (hiss), most distorted and worst sounding presentation of this song I've ever heard. Whatever master this travesty was spawned from sounds many times removed from the original recording.
Granted, the original recording has inherent noise and distortion, but even the LP I had back in the 70's sounded better than this. And the technology certainly exists, and has existed for years, to bring this wonderful recording properly into the digital domain.
To properly judge how bad this CD sounds, all one has to do is A/B "Oh, Well" from "Then" against the remastered single version on the now-defunct "The Chain" box set.
This is a textbook example of why consumers have complained about the CD format for so long. In this case, this is horrible neglect of a classic recording, and a pathetic corporate culture at Warner's in refusing to utilize modern technology to improve the listening experience for the consumer for almost 30 years.
WB, where is your soul? When exactly did you lose it (maybe that black day 25+ years ago when you fired Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison and a host of talented others in the same day?). Haven't you sold enough copies of "Rumors" alone to afford to properly re-master this classic?
But then again, I am speaking to the company who has steadfastedly refused to bring its catalog into the digital age until the late 90's - over two decades since the introduction of the CD format.
As I said before, Warner Brothers, you should be ashamed. You dishonor your company, the artists whose true genius cannot be fully (audibly) appreciated, and the legacy of the pioneers of your company who found and nurtured those artists, all for the sake of the allmighty buck."
Still incredible but lousy mastering job
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Then Play On" was Peter Green's masterpiece fronting Fleetwood Mac. Featuring the amazing "Oh Well", "Rattlesnake Shake" and other classic Green songs, it continues to improve with time. While I appreciate Eric Clapton and can marvel at Jeff Beck, Green was THE BEST blues guitarist to come out the UK. Complimented by Jeremey Spencer and Danny Kirwan, this three pronged guitat attack greated one of the most powerful incarnations of the Mac and that's saying something considering how many variations the band has gone through over the years.
Bluesy, soulful and, at times, heartbreaking, "Then Play On" sounds horrible on this CD issued by Warner. Clearly the mastertapes weren't used here and this album which was mastered back in 1987 is in desperate need of remastering. It also might help to restore some of the material released on the original UK version of the album. I'd suggest re-releasing this great album with its original line up and bonus tracks. I'd love to hear "The Green Manalishi" added and remastered for this set (the boxed set "The Chain" has that and more. Sadly, that version has only the first half of "Oh Well" which was the A side of the original single).
It Holds Up
Randy Blythe | Birmingham, Alabama USA | 10/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't say exactly why I was so fascinated by this record 31 years ago when I bought it (the earliest American release, sans "Oh Well") at a Woolworth's for somewhere around $3.50. I was probably drawn to the cover, which was certainly colorful and mysterious. (In those days, I could afford to buy interesting-looking music just because of the album cover.) After a couple of puzzled listens, I decided this would be my favorite rock album of all time. Again, I can't say exactly why. Perhaps it was the blues at the heart of it or the enthusiasm in the music. Except for Green, the musicians possessed no more than the talent you'd expect from a rock record, but there was something different about it, something genuine, even heartfelt. Later, much later, after delving into these guys' lives and subsequent extremely checkered careers, I came to understand that it was their sheer good fortune at the time to be thrown together during a period of extreme (and often acid-fueled) ferment in music (as well as everything else). They came out of the blues, but they listened to the Dead, the Doors, and any number of other innovative bands, and they put that extensive, authentic, dangerous, diverse experience to good use. This is still my favorite rock album, and for more than sentimental reasons. It holds up."
One of the most underrated masterpieces of the 60's..despite
P. Alemparte | Toronto,ON | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First and foremost, Jeremy Spencer does not play on this album. Although a great player, (Kiln House is his best contribution to the band) the sounds you hear were created by Kirwan and Green. I cant begin to say how fresh this album sounds, every time I put it on. While still able to bring you back to that warm 60's sound, it never sounds dated. This is FM's first serious departure from the straight blues which appeared on previous efforts thanks to, IMHO, Kirwan's presence. Just a young lad of 20 his maturity as a song writer is brilliantly evidenced in the first track "coming your way". The song changes from a groovy little number to a heavy ending, reminiscent of I want You (Shes so heavy). Only heavier and louder. From here Kirwan flawlessly moves from said number to the dreamy instrumental "my dream" and other beautifully sad songs like "When you say' and "Although the sun is shining". How is it possible for him to get no recognition in the annals of music history? To me its simply an indication that people simply dont know their music, and are too willing to accept the Claptons, Santanas and (insert other overrated player) as "the" guitar players. Kirwan constantly gets labelled as "Green's protege" when in fact Kirwan could keep up with Green's masterful playing as demonstrated on Fighting/Searching for Madge. As a songwriter, Kirwan tapped into music in a way that only the most talented musicians could do. He looked to the past for influece, while still incredibly ahead of his time, writing songs the likes of Cobain would write 20 years later. To write songs like he did, and play as he did, at such a young age, is a testament to his brilliance. Speaking of brilliance, enough cant be said of Green's guitar playing either; not to mention his singing. If he had to leave after an album, Im glad it was this one. "Before the beginning" is one of my favourite album closers and "Oh well" has to be one of the greatest rock riffs ever written. Listen closely to Green and Kirwan interplay; these guys were meant to jam together. Page(not overrated)was hugely influenced by Green; just compare "Showbiz blues" to Zep III. Green's playing had a raw power, a really special quality that no other guitarist, save Kirwan, could harness. This album demonstrates this ability all too well. This of course could not be so without one of the best rhythm sections in music history. They are the rare breed of musician who knows when to shut up and when to speak up. Every note, every beat is exactly as it should be. Transitions are flawless, (F/S for Madge, ending of "coming your way") and this album makes them sound full, heavy and just plain ol' great! Come to think of it, I believe I may have already reviewed this album(or was it Kiln House, Future Games or Bare Trees?...cant remember, but you should get these anyway) Either way, listening to this album does just that; it makes you want to tell people about it over and over again. I hope that this lineup, which is shrouded by that monster "Stindsay Buckinnicks", will earn their rightful place as the lineup representing this band's creative peak. That is to say, once Danny Kirwan left the band, they lost that sound that made this band so special, and gained two members who were so generic, so bland, so very "easy listening". Please enjoy!"