Fleetwood Mac member Jeremy Spencer left the house to buy a magazine and joined a cult on the way home. Enter Bob Welch and Christine McVie, a two-time English vocalist of the year for her work with the group Chicken Shack.
It was McVie, of course, who combined with Danny Kirwan to push Fleetwood Mac into the beginnings of a pop direction. Beginning with Future Games, McVie begins to emerge as a musical force, writing and singing two songs here: “Morning Rain,” a strong pop song combining her vocals and piano set against some edgy guitar background, and “Show Me A Smile,” a raw vocal that is unlike future songs of hers because, here, her voice had not yet taken on the polished refinement. In short, she really wails.
Danny Kirwan contributes three songs on Future Games. “Sands Of Time” shows a smooth vocal and guitar sound. “Sometimes” has some great guitar interplay between Kirwan and Welch. Actually, Kirwan’s value to the history of Fleetwood Mac cannot be underestimated. It was Kirwan who began the transition from British blues band to pop icons. Kirwan was an excellent, clear and precise guitarist that would form the foundation for Fleetwood Mac’s music in the early 1970s, which is proven on “Woman Of A Thousand Years,” which shows what Fleetwood Mac was becoming. Oddly, I have always thought that this song would have served Stevie Nicks well.
The two Bob Welch songs are the weakest on Future Games. “Lay It All Down” and the title track are straightforward rock, for the most part. Typical guitar and vocal interplay and nothing offensive, but nothing more than Welch learning to make his way in the band.
The last song on Future Games is the instrumental ‘What A Shame.” It allows the rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood to lay down a groove while Kirwan, Welch and Christine McVie jam over it. The sax player is not listed in the credits but his or her solo is the highlight of the song.
Unfortunately for the legacy of Fleetwood Mac, all the albums of the early 1970s are considered transitional recordings. They are leading up to the mid 1970s and 1980s when Fleetwood Mac would produce some of the finest pop rock in music history. Future Games, however, can stand on its own. It is an album where some talented musicians are becoming comfortable with each other and, in the process, producing some very good tunes.
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