Mystery To Me

Fleetwood Mac

Reprise Records, 1973

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


True fans of Fleetwood Mac are aware that 1975’s Fleetwood Mac was not the group’s first album (nor even their first eponymous album); rather, it was merely a reboot to introduce the wildly successful formula that included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. But for those who wish to dive back into the pre-Buckingham/Nicks Mac and search for gold can find a bewildering array of albums, both studio and live, to choose from. The group cycled through members like an NFL defensive line under a tight salary cap, and their sound ranged from straight blues to British pop rock before landing on the Southern California sound.

Preferences on what iteration of the pre-Buckingham/Nicks groups is best will depend much on your taste in music. If you love gritty blues, you may be drawn to the late ‘60s Peter Green stuff. Others really seem to love guitarist Danny Kirwan. I've never found anyone who absolutely loves the Rick Vito/Billy Burnette version after Buckingham left, but there may be someone out there who proves me wrong. For me, I prefer the Bob Welch period (1971 to 1974). And of that period, 1973’s my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mystery To Me is the best. This release covers a wide expanse of sound (all recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, by the way) and holds together as a solid, complete work in a way that other Welch era albums like 1973’s Penguin and 1974’s Heroes Are Hard To Find do not.  It also has some great album artwork!

Bob Welch brings a couple of psychedelic sounding tracks to the table with “Emerald Eyes” and the griping and catchy “Hypnotized.” I don’t care how long it’s been since you’ve heard the song, the moment you hear Mick Fleetwood’s opening rhythm track, you know exactly what it is. Welch also chips in a couple of rock/blues tracks with “The City” and the ripping “Miles Away.” But there are also two calypso-flavored tracks with “Forever” and “Somebody.” He definitely covers some diverse ground with his contributions to this album.

Mystery To Me is also where Christine McVie comes into her own as a songwriter, turning in some of the best songs of her entire Fleetwood Mac career. “Believe Me” is a quality piano rock number and “Just Crazy Love” is pure pop sugar. “The Way I Feel” is a piano love ballad that rivals her classic “Songbird” on 1977’s Rumours. “Why” is a great lamenting orchestral ballad with a one-minute long slide guitar introduction. I'm usually not one to like long self-aggrandizing instrumentals, but this one works, and the jump from slow introduction to the meat of the song is beautiful. McVie also lends her superb vocals to Welch’s “Keep On Going,” which is an equally powerful track.

The group chose to cover the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love,” which is a nearly note for note copy of the original. This track replaced another Bob Welch tune "Good Things (Come To Those Who Wait)." The switch was actually made so late in production that the album covers were already sent to print with the Welch song listed rather than the Yardbirds song. I actually have a promo version of this record on vinyl that has this issue. Welch recorded a version of "Good Things (Come To Those Who Wait)" as “Don’t Wait Too Long” on a later solo album, but Mac fans would love to hear this original version if it still exists.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



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