Penguin, by Fleetwood Mac

by Stephen Rose on October 22, 2013

Fleetwood_Mac_Penguin_01_cover_small

Penguin is the seventh album by British rock band Fleetwood Mac. It features Bob Welch on guitar and vocals, Christine McVie on piano and vocals, the rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass, plus new additions Dave Walker on vocals and guitar, and Bob Weston on slide guitar.

Fleetwood Mac underwent several transitions during their storied history, from 60’s blues rockers led by Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, to psychedelic folksters guided by Danny Kirwan and Christine McView, followed by the jazzy mid-70’s adult contemporary sound of Bob Welch, then culminating with the chart busting mega-success achieved by its late-70’s lineup featuring Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

Penguin, released in March 1973, was the first Fleetwood Mac album after the departure of Danny Kirwan, who was fired for his alcoholism, and for an incident with other band members during the Bare Trees tour. (As the band was preparing to play a concert, Kirwan smashed his guitar following a disagreement with Bob Welch and refused to go on stage.)

Fleetwood Mac (1973)Dave Walker (formerly of Savoy Brown) and Bob Weston (formerly of Long John Baldry) were brought in to replace the departed Kirwan.

Penguin, named for the band mascot favoured by John McVie, was the highest charting Fleetwood Mac album in the US at that time, peaking at #49 on the charts.

It features several outstanding Christine McVie romantic numbers including ‘Dissatisfied,’ and the opener ‘Remember Me.’ Bob Welch’s laid back style is on display in ‘Bright Fire,’ and ‘Revelation.’ He also contributes the mystical ‘Night Watch,’ featuring an uncredited Peter Green on guitar. McVie and Welch co-wrote ‘Did You Ever Love Me,’ performed with a calypso rhythm section and steel drums.

Dave Walker sings lead on a rocking cover of Junior Walker’s 1966 hit ‘(I’m A) Road Runner,’ highlighted by his wailing harmonica and John McVie’s thumping bass.

In June 1973, during the recording of the album Mystery To Me, it was mutually agreed upon that Dave Walker’s vocal style and attitude “did not fit in” with Fleetwood Mac and he was asked to leave.  Bob Weston was released in October 1973 when it was discovered he was having an affair with Mick Fleetwood’s wife Jenny.

[In 1977 Dave Walker was hired to replace Ozzy Osborn in Black Sabbath, then was dropped after Osborn returned to the band. In January 1978 he performed with Black Sabbath on the BBC Midlands TV program Look Hear, performing their hit ‘War Pigs,’ plus an early version of ‘Junior’s Eyes.’]

Bob Welch was born and raised in Los Angeles, then moved to France to attend college. He joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971 as rhythm guitarist to replace Jeremy Spencer, and recorded five albums with the band. His song ‘Angel’ was a highlight of the Future Games album in 1971; ‘Sentimental Lady’ was featured on Bare Trees in 1972; and ‘Hypnotized’ was a standout on Mystery To Me.

Bob Welch

In April 1974, Welch was instrumental in convincing the band to relocate from England to Los Angeles in order to be closer to Warner Brothers while negotiating a new contract, and to help resolve legal problems with Clifford Davies their manager.

[In January 1974, while the band was on sabbatical, Clifford Davies hired replacement musicians to perform as Fleetwood Mac.  The fake Mac played two weeks of a scheduled ten-week tour before disbanding. ]

Bob Welch quit the band in late 1974 after the release of Heroes Are Hard To Find. The album was their highest charting to date, reaching #34 on the charts, and featured his song ‘Bermuda Triangle.’

In January 1975, Fleetwood Mac hired Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to replace Welch. Rumours, released in 1977, produced four U.S. Top 10 singles, and remained at No.1 on the American albums chart for 31 weeks.

In 1976, Bob Welch recorded two albums with a power trio called Paris, then found success in 1977 with his solo debut entitled French Kiss. It included a reworking of ‘Sentimental Lady’ which reached #8 on the charts, and the song ‘Ebony Eyes,’ which reached #14. [French Kiss included contributions from Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood.]

In 1998 Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sans Bob Welch.   Welch committed suicide at his home in Nashville in 2012.

Fleetwood Mac (1973)

Links
Fleetwood Mac Star Bob Welch Commits Suicide, Aged 66
http://www.mtv.co.uk/news/fleetwood-mac/356514-fleetwood-mac-rob-welch-suicide-dead
Video

Fleetwood Mac – Hypnotized (1973)

Fleetwood Mac – Miles Away (Midnight Special, 1973)

Christine McVie – Remember Me (The Roxy, 1981)

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