Spann: "The Biggest Thing Since Colossus"
January of 1969, British power blues quintet Fleetwood
Mac came to Chess Records studios to jam with
the likes of Willie Dixon, S.P. Leary, Honeyboy Edwards,
and longtime Muddy Waters' pianist Otis Spann.
The sessions were so rich and fruitful that three-fifths
of the Mac (specifically bassist John McVie and guitarists
Peter Green and Danny Kirwan) impressed Spann enough
to cut a record with them at the same sessions. While
the classic "Country Girl" and a seven-minute
"Someday Soon Baby" (which features a lengthy
intro from Green on which Spann can be heard barely
off mic telling the rest of the band to "let him
play on") ended up on the Mac's Blues Jam at Chess
double set: remaining cuts included "Dig You"
and "Walkin'" and are a near perfect match
of Spann's exciting, emotive singing and the Mac's youthful
muscle. The Biggest Thing Since Colossus was released
on Mac manager/producer/strongman Mike Vernon's
London-based Blue Horizon label. "
Mac: "Fleetwood Mac"
Mac's debut LP was a highlight of the late-'60s British
blues boom. Green's always inspired playing, the capable
(if erratic) songwriting, and the general panache of the
band as a whole placed them leagues above the overcrowded
field. Elmore James is a big influence on this set, particularly
on the tunes fronted by Jeremy Spencer ("Shake Your
Moneymaker," "Got to Move"). Spencer's
bluster, however, was outshone by the budding singing
and songwriting skills of Green. The guitarist balanced
humor and vulnerability on cuts like "Looking for
Somebody" and "Long Grey Mare," and with
"If I Loved Another Woman," he offered a glimpse
of the Latin-blues fusion that he would perfect with "Black
Magic Woman." The album was an unexpected smash in
the U.K., reaching number four on the British charts."