Fleetwood Mac released Mr. Wonderful a mere seven months after their self-titled debut. Much like that album, they proved to be extremely popular in the United Kingdom, reaching number ten on their charts. I have to say it featured one of the ugliest jackets in rock history. The album was revised and renamed English Rose in The United States with an equally ugly cover, but received little attention and did not chart.
Their second release had some high points but not the consistency of the first. The core band of drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and guitarists Peter Green & Jeremy Spencer were still in place. A number of additional musicians were on hand, including four saxophonists and harmonica player Duster Bennett. The most notable session player was keyboardist Christine Perfect of Chicken Shack, who would go on to have a long and storied history with the band.
When Fleetwood Mac was on, they were very good. But there was trouble in paradise, as Green and Spencer did not play with each other on five of the songs.
The best two tracks are “Trying Hard To Forget,” which combines the acoustic guitar talents of Green with those of harp player Duster Bennett, and the traditional blues tune “Dust My Broom,” which does not include Green but does include terrific slide guitar by Spencer. The two tracks present both sides of Fleetwood Mac separately, which did not bode well for this line-up.
The best of the other Spencer tracks are “I’ve Lost My Baby,” and “Evenin’ Boogie.” Spencer is one of the lost treasures of the late sixties and early seventies slide guitar, and he shines here.
Peter Green’s main advantage was the caliber of his vocals plus the fact he was a more versatile guitarist who created one of the purist sounds in rock music at the time. His “Stop Messin’ Round,” “Love That Burns,” and “If You Be My Baby,” are all examples of his smooth style.
Fleetwood and McVie were beginning to jell as the rhythm section and they were a constant on this album. They would also remember Christine Perfect’s contributions.
Mr. Wonderful was a competent, if not exceptional album. Green would recognize the need for change and would make a big one before their next album was released.