English Rose

Fleetwood Mac

Epic, 1969

http://www.fleetwoodmac.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/07/2007

When the early Beatles albums were released in America, some purists claimed that Capitol screwed the releases up by not staying true to the original British versions, renaming them and throwing on additional tracks that were hit singles.

After listening to English Rose, the first Fleetwood Mac album released in America, I finally understand what all that commotion was about.

First of all, they took an album, Mr. Wonderful, which was fine as it is (even if the cover art wasn’t one of the greatest packages known to mankind) and changed the album title and created what is, hands down, the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 ugliest picture to ever grace an album cover. (That’s saying a lot, as I’ve seen mutilated bodies on some album covers for death metal bands.)

Then, they lop off six tracks and substitute new tracks, featuring new band member Danny Kirwan. Granted, some of these songs had become hits in Britain, such as “Black Magic Woman” (yeah, there are still some people who think that’s a Santana original) and “Albatross.” But listening to these next to the original Mr. Wonderful tracks, two things quickly come to my mind. First, the Chicago blues sound that defined early Fleetwood Mac was gone for good. Second, they ruined a perfectly good album and created something far weaker for American audiences.

Make no mistake, the tracks from Mr. Wonderful still put a smile on my face. “Doctor Brown,” “Stop Messin’ Round” and “Evenin’ Boogie” are still quite enjoyable. But intermixed with these are new tracks like “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues,” a track which is about as compatible with the earlier songs as a screen door is on a submarine. The whole organic feel of the music is absolutely ruined.

This isn’t to say that tracks like “Black Magic Woman” and “Albatross” don’t have their own charms -- though I will admit it is very hard to listen to the former without conjuring up the hit version by Santana. And “Albatross” is gentle enough to calm the listener’s now-frazzled nerves. But these come as too little, too late for this disc.

English Rose represents the first misstep by Fleetwood Mac, though one has to question whether the fault belonged to the band or with their record label at the time. To be honest, even I don’t know; maybe I would have found the six replacement tracks more accessible had they been presented in a different setting. But as this one sits, English Rose is more equivalent to stinkweed. Stick to the import of Mr. Wonderful for more enjoyment.

Rating: C

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© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.