Fleetwood Mac, ‘Do The Shake’ (Rattlesnake RS 299)
Rattlesnake Shake – Underway / Stranger Blues / Phyllis (aka The World In Harmony) / Tiger / The Green Manalishi (With the Three Pronged Crown) / Great Balls Of Fire / Twist And Shout
BBC Paris cinema studio, London, England, April 9th, 1970.
Back in the days when radio still held the musical margin over TV and the BBC had taken up the reigns of popular light music over the pirates who might have struggled to get a lot of their acts to come on board, never mind stay and play through of their live rendition through the wobble and thrust of those choppy waters from where they broadcast, the British Broadcasting Corp were able to distil their output over various different programmes, slotting some of their wilder diversions in to the later evening schedules for the heads who might be more inclined to listen deeper in to the album tracks. The very benefit of the BEEB broadcasting these shows though was that bootlegging was still in it’s infancy so they thought nothing of not spoiling the atmosphere by laboring a voice over by the main presenter, obscuring some of the music or the chatter between songs.
The set tonight, from the first incarnation of the Fleetwood Mac band, is widely varied to show off their musical chops from the pulsing electroplate doom of ‘Rattlesnake Shake / Underway’ – an extraordinary slab of deeply moody, driven blues – If you’re a Beatles digger, you’ll know what I mean when I say it put me in mind of the bruised and brutal jamming after George’s departure in mind January, 1969 but without Yoko’s wail over the top – The lyrics, some seemingly improvised on the moment, edge in introducing Mick Fleetwood.
Interestingly, The tape begins without introduction, beginning straight from the start of the track, jolting us straight in to the music. After listening to a number of live sessions and hearing the band led on to the stage with a little bluster as they drop in, it makes a refreshing change.
‘Stranger Blues’ is a quicker paced rocker, it’s groovy elasticity whipping and jiving around the studio while hopping excitedly from foot to foot. From here we have the first introduction and chatter between Danny Kirwin, somewhat reluctant to bother to talk, ‘Phyllis’ or, as it would end up being titled, ‘The World In Harmony’ is revealed as being untitled at the time but gets it’s name appropriated at the end through an inspired little bit of improv between Kirwin and David Symonds. Shades of ‘Albatross’ but with rougher-hewn edges, shimmer and chime from this track.
Appearing for a little more traditional rock and roll, ‘Tiger’ is closer to what the band no doubt heard in their infancy, no posture or pandering to a modern sound, all balls and boom from this speedy little romp in an Elvis “Jailhouse Rock” style.
One of Peter’s own tracks, ‘Green Manalishi’, arguably one of the ‘Macs most famous early era tracks that held throughout some of their later excesses feature next – Apparently written by Green after a drug fuddled dream, the longest track played on this session and possibly the darkest – Their Grateful Dead inspired jamming flowing like water through junctures, changing periodically and quickly.
The set ends with two rock and roll standards, firstly ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ consumes the house with a frenetic rendition and a dizzying flying guitar solo, ‘Twist And Shout’ is much slower than, say, the Beatles version but it allows for much more improv on the bands part, the audience clap along behind the beat giving the impression of a wedding party style and gives the song a neat little twist to it’s oft’ played style.
The appearance has been uploaded to the internet before and desktop bootlegged as, ‘London Underway’, also pressed by the Genuine Pig as ’They Play On’, wrongly dated January 1970, the CD has also seen appearance as a grey area release, ’Showbiz Blues’ (Receiver Records Limited) (Where the source is said to be a little rough), ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ appearing on Fleetwood Records, “Live At The BBC” muting the point as to whether Rattlesnake should have given us another release of this show. The grey release now long out of print and not available from any of the known streaming or download services justifies it’s release on silver disk for those of us that like their silvers.
The artwork is an eight page booklet of various Fleetwood images from around the same era in colour and black and white. The text of the groups name on the spine is a little too dark to read properly but it’s a small aesthetic grumble at best, really.
Another nice release from the ‘Snake, especially if we’re getting an upgrade!If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)