Fleetwood Mac — “Oh Well” — Reprise — RA2700 — 1969 It took quite some time to come to terms with liking Fleetwood Mac. And it involved quite a bit of denial and a slow peel of layer upon layer of prejudice. The Fleetwood Mac that was popular when I first became aware of them (and boy were they ever) was the Rumours Fleetwood Mac, loved by Normal People everywhere, and their parents. I was not normal. I was edgy. Off-beat. (At least, I was in my head.) At war with normalcy, wanting to flee from normalcy as far and as quickly as I could. Fleetwood Mac was, to me, the ultimate in anodyne, insipid, pantywaist normality, not just in the music per se, but in the associated lifestyle that it was (as it seemed to me) the soundtrack and emblem of. Boomer parents in their hot tubs, soft-focus beach scenes, crystals, passing around a joint and discussing charter schools after the kids were safely in bed, sensitive men with ponytails, women in filmy scarves talking about enneagrams and vegetarianism and “earth shoes”; i.e., the California lifestyle that surrounded me. I was vaguely aware that the band had a past — all bands do — but I was never curious enough to explore it, and it wasn’t till pretty late in my music appreciating life indeed that I actually did and had my proverbial mind blown. I like to think that, had I heard the first three FM albums even back then I’d have seen their worth. But maybe not. I was pretty contrarian then, as I am now. (And in fact, collecting all the Fleetwood Mac records now, openly and candidly and sincerely, manifests a trace of the same contrariness, if I’m honest.) Anyway, I didn’t. There were long-standing cracks in the edifice, though. For example, when I learned that “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight”, an established staple of punk rock and very highly regarded by me, was in fact a Fleetwood Mac cover, coming to the punk world via the Rezillos by way of the Count Bishops. I couldn’t bring myself to believe it, but it was true. And today’s song, “Oh Well,” was vaguely familiar to me from the cover by Detroit’s Rockets, a staple of late-70s rock radio by a band with a solid rock and roll Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels pedigree. As with SGGTHKIT, I hadn’t realized “Oh Well” was a cover at all. But I knew the riff, and played it pretty much whenever I picked up a guitar. At some point, after many many years of doing this, someone in the room said, offhand “hey Fleetwood Mac.” And in an uncharacteristic lack of obtuseness on my part, the full horror my position became suddenly apparent. There was no other conclusion. As with “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight,” I had been enjoying, and playing, a Fleetwood Mac song without realizing it. This was before the internet made such investigations easy. To confirm that the riff originated from a Fleetwood Mac song meant scouring record stores hoping to find the item in question, buying it on faith, taking it home, and hoping for the best. Fortunately I lived in an area with lots of record stores. And it turned out, the riff, and the song whose backbone it formed, was indeed Fleetwood Mac. And the recording, “Oh Well,” was a killer. https://youtu.be/J0ag8DkipmQ I mean, even after all these years it’s still thrilling. Those sounds are so cutting, so immediate, the arrangement simple yet, when it gets going, swirling right to the edge of going out of control, then reining in abruptly. I cannot think of a more perfect rock recording. That silence with the cowbell in the middle. That lonely Peter Green vocal, as affecting as any fake blues has ever been. Those faux blues lyrics even spoke to me, as lyrics. (I loved the Rolling Stones, but their fake blues lyrics never did that.) Even the weird, ethereal mood soundscape of part two grabbed me, and the fact that it abruptly stops and you have to turn the record over to resume, at which point it starts over, appealed to my sense of absurdity. So, I got it. I started acquiring the albums. And I even revised my opinion on Rumours, which is, it’s great. But pretty much nothing can match this single. notes: — The Rockets — “Oh Well”: https://youtu.be/SzQtW81SYpE — out of all the covers of “Oh Well,” only Joe Jackson’s really moves me: https://youtu.be/2O7ie9sJuMw — Fleetwood Mac — “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight”: https://youtu.be/X0U-eef6OyQ — The Count Bishops — “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight”: https://youtu.be/eruP1c4O6I4 — The Rezillos — “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight”: https://youtu.be/-8hDw6mS2pI [This was originally posted here on minds.com on the Vinyl Collector group, but I was unable to locate it because, well, this content isn't indexed and can't be searched for. Wanted to repost it on the occasion of Peter Green's death so I'm doing it again here like this.]