After last week’s voyage into what for me was the virtual unknown, Jim has us back on terra firma this week with his post Sorrowful Lament, in which he invites us to play some blues music. I didn’t really need to look this one up but out of curiosity I did anyway. I knew that blues music had been around for a while, but didn’t realise that its origins went back as far as the 1860s, when it came out of the Deep South of the US, at a time when the area was suffering economic hardship after the end of the Civil War. It has been the inspiration for many forms of music, and one later incarnation was what became known as British blues, a form that originated in the late 1950s and reached its height of mainstream popularity in the 1960s. Wikipedia tells us that in Britain blues developed a distinctive and influential style dominated by electric guitar, and made international stars of several acts, including the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and the band I’m featuring today. Those of you who only know that band from their mid Seventies onwards lineup may be surprised to see them, but back in the Sixties they were very much the genuine article here and in much of Europe, and to a lesser degree in Australia, though I don’t think they had much success in the US. I’m playing you two of their songs, though there are many more that tempt me. Here’s the first:
Is that good, or what! In those days the band were known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, and that is the man himself on lead guitar and vocals. The lyrics, before I forget them, go like this:
Need someone’s hand to lead me through the night
I need someone’s arms to hold and squeeze me tight
Now, when the night begins, I’m at an end
Because I need your love so bad
I need some lips to feel next to mine
I need someone to stand up and tell me when I’m lyin’
And when the lights are low, and it’s time to go
That’s when I need your love so bad
So why don’t you give it up, and bring it home to me
Or write it on a piece of paper, baby, so it can be read to me
Tell me that you love me, and stop drivin’ me mad
Ooh, because I, I need your love so bad
Need your soft voice, that talked to me at night
I don’t want you to worry, baby
I know we can make everything alright
Listen to my plea, baby, bring it to me
Because I need your love so bad
Songwriters: John Jr. Mertis, William Edward John
Need Your Love So Bad lyrics © BMG Rights Management
The song was written and originally performed by Little Willie John in 1955. This cover version was recorded in 1968, and became the band’s fourth single. It peaked here at #31 in August of that year, but didn’t make the US charts. According to Mike Vernon, who produced the record, he suggested that a string section be added and contacted Mickey Baker, who played guitar for Little Willie John, to write an orchestral score for it. I think it underscores the song well, though purists may disagree! The band took off in a really big way with their next release: the dreamy instrumental Albatross, which was a UK #1 and was one I didn’t actually buy: my Mum beat me to it!
Their previous single had been their first to chart in the UK, getting to #37, and was a band original written by Peter Green. This may come as a surprise to some, but Santana DIDN’T do Black Magic Woman first! The original is more raw in its feel, and I much prefer it. See what you think:
A British blues band at their best, and I should perhaps have introduced them to you. In addition to Peter, there were Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer on guitars, plus the two who took their part of the name into the AOR version of the band: John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums. I loved them then and still do. Those early records often get an airing: even though I’m a big fan of the later version of the band there is something about these that appeals to me. So much so, in fact, that one of their songs is still right up there in my all time top three favourites. Did I say I was playing you two tunes today? Make that three – how could I leave this one out:
Man Of The World was another Peter Green original composition. It was released in the UK and Europe as a single in April 1969 and peaked at #2 in the UK, but wasn’t even released in the US until 1976! I really think you guys missed out, as those days were for us a classic period. That was a momentous year for me personally, about which I have written before, and hearing this song always brings those memories flooding back. Isn’t that one of the reasons we all love our music so much?
That’s it for today, but if you’ve enjoyed these you really should check out this era of the band, as there is more to them than just the mid Seventies version. For many this incarnation has been overtaken by the big successes, though huge sales aren’t, for me, always an indication of comparative quality.
See you again for Tuesday Tunes, with a North American feel this week.