Fleetwood Mac & Others — Blues Jam in Chicago

Another new record picked up during a record store crawl this past February, 2020, when going places and being with other people was still a thing. And another new record that gives me a little bit of trouble when it comes to alphabetizing it.

Blues Jam in Chicago front cover
Blues Jam in Chicago front cover — do I file this under “Blues Jam,” or under Fleetwood Mac? Going with Blues Jam for now.

Let’s start with this: on this crawl, I finally got to go to Siren Records in Doylestown, PA, which is legendary around here and among my friends. Have always wanted to go, but it’s like an hour away and for the past couple of years, getting in a car for pleasure has not been my thing. So, I needed the incentive of a social outing to finally find out that my friends, it turned out, were not wrong.

The first thing that I grabbed on this venture, where I was going to remain on a budget, was the brilliant 180 gram re-release of “Animalisms.” Then I tripped on the blues section of Siren, and there was a good chance I was never going to leave.

In most record stores, new or used, the blues section has always been one of the saddest sections. Regarded well below jazz, just barely above comedy and soundtracks, it’s usually a couple of very dog-eared off-label blues compilations, an artist you’ve never heard of, and your aunt’s B.B. King records from the ’80s. There is not usually much greatness to be found. That’s why when I hit the blues section at Siren I lost my damn mind, and this was only the first record that caused me to lose it.

If I knew this existed before that day I found it in February, I had forgotten it. Generally listed as a Fleetwood Mac record, this is a gem from a 1969 session at Chess Records in Chicago, where the originalish Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie) got to play with absolute legends of the Chicago blues: Otis Spann on piano, J.T. Brown on sax, Honeyboy Edwards on guitar, S.P. Leary on drums, Big Walter “Shakey” Horton on harmonica. And freaking Buddy Guy on guitar. And the session was produced and played on by Willie Dixon. Willie Dixon.

These kids from England got to play with Willie Dixon.

So, you could call this a Fleetwood Mac record, and it is true the Englishmen take most of the vocals. But what this really is is a bunch of really accomplished bluesmen having a really sweet jam session. It’s just wonderful, start to finish.

In fact, if there’s been music that I’ve been listening to incessantly during the COVID-19 quarantine, it’s been a combination of early Fleetwood Mac and the blues. The Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac is a discovery of the past few years (and a super pleasant one; of the Kirwan/Welch years, not such a fan). The blues . . . well, that’s been going on for a good long while, but the LPs I picked up at Siren that day surely helped it along. There was this, Grape Jam, The Best of the Chicago Blues, a Blues Project record, and probably something else I’m forgetting. Good music to break out for a pandemic.

In any event, although often credited as a Fleetwood Mac album (and the last one to feature Peter Green), I’m filing this under its title, a device to which I’ve occasionally had to resort — so it’s going under Blues Jam.

Oh, god, I just remembered – Siren sold this to me for $4.99. I don’t usually say “dude,” but . . . dude.

Blues Jam in Chicago back cover
Blues Jam in Chicago back cover – the whole vibe is like Sonny Boy Williamson and the Yardbirds, which is one of my all-time favorite records.
Simple Blue Horizon label
Simple Blue Horizon label

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