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1971

Show Me A Smile

As 1971 opened, Fleetwood Mac was in its fifth incarnation. As luck would have it, however, it was not destined to last. In February, as Fleetwood Mac was in Los Angeles during another US tour, Jeremy Spencer walked out of his hotel room. Since he missed that night's gig, the crew went looking for him. By the time they found him, two days later, Jeremy's hair had been shorn and with glassy, brainwashed eyes announced that he had joined the Children Of God, one of L.A.'s many religious cults, and was quitting the band. Although clearly a shock to the band and its entourage at the time, this move was in fact long in coming. Never very comfortable in the new leadership role thrust upon him by Green's departure, Spencer, who'd been known to carry a bible sewn to the lining of his jacket, gradually began to lean more heavily on this aspect of his personality.

Green, ironically enough, was drafted to fill out the rest of the tour dates, but ardently declined to play any of the songs that made him (and the band) famous. The shows, as a consequence, consisted mostly of extended jamming, with Green allegedly ambling up to the microphones yelling "Yankee Bastards!" and laughing at the audience.

The only recorded work to come out of this incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, actually released a month after the Spencer departure, was the single "Dragonfly". Released only in Britain, it is Kirwan's (never a strong lyricist) sentimental ode to an insect. Better is the flip side, "The Purple Dancer", which features some strong guitar work from both Spencer and Kirwan, as well as each trading vocal segments.

Cut down to a foursome again by Jeremy Spencer's exodus, Fleetwood Mac for the first (and so far last) time held auditions for a replacement. After auditioning several guitarists, they decided on a Californian named Bob Welch.

Welch, a veteran of a number of unrecorded American soul and R'n'B groups, was hired not so much for his considerable guitar prowess, but because he got along so well with the rest of the band. Expecting to reel off the group's Greatest Hits, he was a bit flabbergasted when he learned that he had to provide original material as well for the next album.

That record, Future Games , shows just how capable Welch was in fulfilling his part of the bargain. Considerably different than any of its predecessors, Future Games indicated a change of direction for the band, eschewing blues in favor of a mellower, more ethereal sound. Welch's West Coast influences are prominent, as well as his interest in the supernatural, particularly in the title song. Not to be outdone, Kirwan also rose to the occasion, coming up with some of the best music and lyrics of his career. Christine McVie, now fully integrated in the band, also holds up her end admirably.

The original release of this album sported a sleeve with a light yellow background. This was inexplicably replaced with green background for the newer pressings. The front cover shows a photograph of Mick's sister Sally's children, and the back shows photographs of the band members along with a brief synopsis of their careers to date. For John McVie, however, a penguin, photographed by McVie, was substituted. This became their trademark, in fact virtually every subsequent album they released had one of the sea birds pictured somewhere.

For whatever reason, 1971 was also a big year for reissues of Mac-related material. In the early part of the year, RCA rereleased some more of the Immediate records catalog in its British Archives series, which include two previously unreleased Jeremy Spencer tracks, presumably recorded with his old band The Levi Set, and the LP debut of the unique (not to mention bizarre) "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight".

Another album of previously unreleased material, The Original Fleetwood Mac , was released in Britain at this time (it would wait until 1977 for a US release). This record included outtakes from 1967 and 1968 as well as the song "Fleetwood Mac" which came from Green, McVie, and Fleetwood when they were all still in the Bluesbreakers. Other previously unreleased Bluesbreakers songs (this time with John Mayall) came out on the Thru The Years compilation, including some songs written and/or sung by Peter Green.

Green's output of new material was trickling down to almost nothing by now. One single did come out, "Heavy Heart", with the cooperation of one Nigel Watson. Green also participated in the B.B. King in London sessions, playing guitar on "Caldonia".

Two albums of previously released material also came out. In the U.S., the first two American albums were rereleased as a two-record set titled Black Magic Woman (and was, in turn released again three years later as Fleetwood Mac/English Rose ) which is notable for its cover artwork (a lace-clad cutie with a boa constrictor). In Great Britain, Greatest Hits was released, gathering together virtually all their U.K. A-sides (except for the first) released up to that point.

Also in 1971 yet another personnel change affected Bob Brunning's old employer, Savoy Brown. Savoy Brown had by now transmogrified itself into a power-boogie band under the continuing leadership of Welsh power guitarist Kim Simmonds. Dave Walker, a veteran of a number of British bands including Idle Race, was recruited in the lead vocalist slot. His first recorded output with Savoy is the album Street Corner Talking , and the single that followed, "Tell Mama", which is one of the closest things to a hit single in the band's history, getting as high as No. 83 on the Billboard charts.