There was such animosity between Fleetwood Mac band members Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer that they refused to even play together in the recording studio. 1969’s Then Play On found Spencer virtually absent from the recording process. Danny Kirwan was brought in as a third guitarist and he and Green formed a formidable duo. 1970 found Green missing and Spencer back on board. Bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood remained in place. Christine Perfect McVie was back as an unaccredited vocalist who also provided the album’s cover art. She would become an official member of the group shortly after its completion.
Kiln House is the beginning of the transition for Fleetwood Mac. Green was an accomplished blues purist while Kirwan had some rock leanings. Spencer was unique and basically did what he wanted, which was very apparent on this release. I have always found it interesting that the further they moved from the blues during this period of their existence, the less popular they became in their home country while increasingly becoming more popular in The United States. Kiln House was their lowest charting album to date in The U.K. (39) and their highest in The USA (69).
Kirwan and Spencer were both excellent guitarists but were just different and their contributions show these differences very clearly.
Spencer’s work had a fifties rock feel. “This Is A Rock” is basically a rockabilly piece. “Hi Ho Silver” is tongue in cheek. Spencer wrote the track but credited it to Fats Waller and Ed Kirkeby. “Buddy’s Song” is likewise credited to Buddy Holly’s mother. It was a creative and amusing take on “Peggy Sue Got Married” with new lyrics which included a number of Buddy Holly song titles. “One Together” is about the most normal of the Spencer creations.
Kirwan’s songs shared the limelight with Spencer’s. “Jewel Eyed Lady” features some excellent guitar playing. “Earl Gray” is an instrumental that shows his skills well. “Tell Me All The Things You Do” is another fine performance by Kirwan.
The best track, “Station Man,” was written by Kirwan, Spencer, and McVie and is a hard driving rock song. One can only wish that this lineup could have produced more material like this.
Kiln House is a unique release in the vast Fleetwood Mac catalogue as it was their first move toward a mainstream sound. If you could never make up your mind whether you liked the blues or pop/rock Fleetwood Mac, give this album a try as it contains elements of both.
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