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If music be the food of love…

On August 20, Reprise Records will revisit the early period of Fleetwood Mac’s history with two new releases: a deluxe, expanded CD remaster of the band’s 1969 Reprise debut Then Play On, and a four-LP vinyl box set Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 containing its first four Reprise LPs in one impressive package.

2013-fm-then-play-on-cropped

Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On joins 1969-1972 box set in August

For many, the story of Fleetwood Mac begins with 1975’s self-titled album. But that album, which introduced Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the group’s line-up, was in fact the band’s tenth. Long before locking into the L.A. pop-rock sound epitomized by “Say You Love Me” or “Over My Head,” the Mac had already experienced a number of transformations, from its blues-based roots to folk, rock and even a retro rockabilly style.

On August 20, Reprise Records will revisit that early period of Fleetwood Mac’s history with two new releases: a deluxe, expanded CD remaster of the band’s 1969 Reprise debut Then Play On, and a four-LP vinyl box set Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 containing its first four Reprise LPs in one impressive package.

Then Play On, originally released in September 1969, was the group’s final album to feature founding member Peter Green. Guitarist/vocalist Green joined Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass), Jeremy Spencer (piano/guitar) and new recruit Danny Kirwan (vocals/guitar). Kirwan, Green, Fleetwood and McVie all contributed songs to Then Play On, which has had quite a convoluted release history. Two songs were dropped from the U.K. line-up when the album was released in the U.S., namely “One Sunny Day” and “Without You,” as both tracks had already appeared on the compilation album English Rose. When the non-LP single “Oh Well – Pt. 1” b/w “Oh Well – Pt. 2” became a hit in November 1969, however, Reprise made the decision to add both sides to the LP as one rather sloppily-edited track, dropping “When You Say” and “My Dream.” (Interestingly, all four dropped songs were written by Danny Kirwan.)  The LP sequence was also shuffled. When Reprise reissued Then Play On as a compact disc, “My Dream” and “When You Say” were reinstated into the revised running order, but not “One Sunny Day” and “Without You.”

The upcoming reissue of Then Play On, for the first time on compact disc, includes not only “My Dream” and “When You Say,” but “One Sunny Day” and “Without You,” recreating the original U.K. 14-song line-up. The merged “Oh Well” has been jettisoned in favor of the original two-part single, now included in the bonus section, and one more non-LP single has been added: “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)” b/w “World in Harmony.” To top off the fully-remastered package, David Fricke has contributed new liner notes.

The deluxe Then Play On arrives August 20. Hit the jump for the scoop on Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 along with track listings and pre-order links!

The vinyl box set Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 brings together the band’s first four albums for Reprise (Then Play On, Kiln House, Future Games, and Bare Trees) in new 140-gram vinyl editions. Each album is housed in a replica of its original packaging, including the lavish gatefolds for Then Play On and Kiln House. As a bonus, the set is bundled with an exclusive replica of the original 1969 7-inch single of “Oh Well – Pt. 1” b/w “Oh Well – Pt. 2.” Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering cut the lacquers for all four albums. The box set LP of Then Play On replicates the 14-song U.K. edition. (There has been no word of a remastered CD edition of the remaining three albums in the box.)

The box chronicles the band’s ultimate move towards pop-rock. With 1970’s Kiln House, Fleetwood Mac began moving toward a more melodic pop sound on songs like “Mission Bell” and “One Together.” Though his fifties pastiches play a major role on the album, it proved to be Jeremy Spencer’s last with the band. Christine McVie, then Christine Perfect, was also present at the recording sessions. She contributed backing vocals and the album’s cover art, but she didn’t become a full-fledged member of the Mac until after the album’s release.

1971’s Future Games introduced Bob Welch (guitar/vocals) and Christine McVie (keyboards/vocals) to Fleetwood Mac. With just eight compositions on the lengthy side – the band actually submitted a seven-track LP but Reprise requested an eighth song, hence the inclusion of the jam “What a Shame” – Future Games didn’t spawn any hit singles, but the shift towards more accessible pop and folk styles was evident via songs like “Show Me a Smile” and “Morning Rain,” both by Christine McVie. Bare Trees was

The line-up stayed the same for 1972’s Bare Trees, which introduced Bob Welch’s timeless “Sentimental Lady.” (In 1977, Welch would re-record the song with a little help from his Mac cohorts Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood along with future Mac member Lindsey Buckingham. It became a Top 10 hit.) With strong songs from Kirwan, Welch and Christine McVie, Bare Trees also signaled an upward swing in the band’s commercial fortunes. Though it only peaked at No. 70, it was certified Gold in 1976 and later went platinum.  Alas, Bare Trees was the final Mac album to feature Danny Kirwan, who was fired during the tour promoting the LP. Four albums followed before the breakthrough Rumours in 1977, but those four albums (from Penguin to Fleetwood Mac) might be a tale for another box set.

Thanks to these two new projects from Reprise, the early part of Fleetwood Mac’s long history is finally getting the attention it deserves. You can order both titles, due August 20, at the links below!

Fleetwood Mac, Then Play On: Expanded Edition (Warner Bros./Rhino, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Coming Your Way

Closing My Eyes

Fighting for Madge

When You Say

Show Biz Blues

Underway

One Sunny Day

Although the Sun is Shining

Rattlesnake Shake

Without You

Searching for Madge

My Dream

Like Crying

Before the Beginning

Oh Well (Part 1)

Oh Well (Part 2)

The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Prong Crown)

World in Harmony

Tracks 1-14 released as Reprise U.K. LP RSLP 9000, 1969

Tracks 15-16 released as Reprise single RS 27000 (U.K.)/0883 (U.S.), 1969

Tracks 17-18 released as Reprise single RS 27007 (U.K.)/0925 (U.S.), 1970

Fleetwood Mac 1969-1972 (Warner Bros./Rhino, 2013) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

LP 1: Then Play On (released as Reprise U.K. LP RSLP 9000, 1969)

Coming Your Way

Closing My Eyes

Fighting for Madge

When You Say

Show Biz Blues

Underway

One Sunny Day

Although the Sun is Shining

Rattlesnake Shake

Without You

Searching for Madge

My Dream

Like Crying

Before the Beginning

LP 2: Kiln House (released as Reprise LP RS 6408 (U.S.)/RSLP 9004 (U.K.), 1970)

This is the Rock

Station Man

Blood on the Floor

Hi Ho Silver

Jewel Eyed Judy

Buddy’s Song

Earl Gray

One Together

Tell Me All the Things You Do

Mission Bell

LP 3: Future Games (released as Reprise LP RS 6465 (U.S.)/K 44153 (U.K.), 1971)

Woman of 1000 Years

Morning Rain

What a Shame

Future Games

Sands of Time

Sometimes

Lay It All Down

Show Me a Smile

LP 4: Bare Trees (released as Reprise LP MS 2080 (U.S.)/K 44181 (U.K.), 1972)

Child of Mine

The Ghost

Homeward Bound

Sunny Side of Heaven

Bare Trees

Sentimental Lady

Danny’s Chant

Spare Me a Little of Your Love

Dust

Thoughts on a Grey Day

Single: Oh Well (Part 1) b/w Oh Well (Part 2) (Reprise single RS 27000 (U.K.)/0883 (U.S.), 1969)

Joe Marchese / The Second Disc / Originally published on July 1, 2013

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