Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster
Then Play On is the third studio album by blues-rock band Fleetwood Mac, first released in September 1969. It was the first of their original albums to feature Danny Kirwan and the last with Peter Green. Jeremy Spencer did not feature on the album apart from "a couple of piano things" (according to Mick Fleetwood in Q magazine in 1990). The record, appearing after the group's sudden success in the pop charts, offered a broader stylistic range than the classic blues of the group's first two albums. The title is taken from Duke Orsino's opening line, "If music be the food of love, play on," from William Shakespeare's comedy play Twelfth night.
This was the band's first release with Warner/Reprise after being lured away from Blue Horizon and a one-off with Immediate Records. Forty years on, Fleetwood Mac remain with Warner. The album, which at its original UK release had an unusually long running time, has been released with four different song line-ups.
The painting used for the cover of the album is "Domesticated Mural Painting", by the English artist Maxwell Armfield. It was featured in the February 1917 edition of The Countryside magazine, which states that the mural was originally designed for the dining room of a London mansion.
This Peter Green-led edition of the Mac isn't just an important transition between their initial blues-based incarnation and the mega-pop band they became, it's also their most vital, exciting version. The addition of Danny Kirwan as second guitarist and songwriter foreshadows not only the soft-rock terrain of "Bare Trees" and "Kiln House" with Christine Perfect-McVie, but also predicts Rumours. That only pertains to roughly half of the also excellent material here, though; the rest is quintessential Green.
The immortal "Oh Well," with its hard-edged, thickly layered guitars and chamber-like sections, is perhaps the band's most enduring progressive composition. "Rattlesnake Shake" is another familiar number, a down-and-dirty, even-paced funk, with clean, wall-of-sound guitars. Choogling drums and Green's fiery improvisations power "Searching for Madge," perhaps Mac's most inspired work save "Green Manalishi," and leads into an unlikely symphonic interlude and the similar, lighter boogie "Fighting for Madge." A hot Afro-Cuban rhythm with beautiful guitars from Kirwan and Green on "Coming Your Way" not only defines the Mac's sound, but the rock aesthetic of the day.
Of the songs with Kirwan's stamp on them, "Closing My Eyes" is a mysterious waltz love song; haunting guitars approach surf music on the instrumental "My Dream"; while "Although the Sun Is Shining" is the ultimate pre-Rumours number someone should revisit. Blues roots still crop up on the spatial, loose, Hendrix-tinged "Underway," the folky "Like Crying," and the final outcry of the ever-poignant "Show Biz Blues," with Green moaning "do you really give a damn for me?" Then Play On is a reminder of how pervasive and powerful Green's influence was on Mac's originality and individual stance beyond his involvement. Still highly recommended and a must-buy after all these years, it remains their magnum opus.
♦ Peter Green – vocals, guitar, harmonica, six string bass, violoncello on "Oh Well, Pt. 2"
♦ Danny Kirwan – vocals, guitar
♦ John McVie – bass guitar
♦ Mick Fleetwood – drums, percussion
♦ Jeremy Spencer – piano on "Oh Well" (Pt.2)
Additional Uncredited Personnel
♦ Christine Perfect – piano
♦ Big Walter Horton – harmonica
01. "Coming Your Way" (Kirwan) – 3:47
02. "Closing My Eyes" (Green) – 4:50
03. "Showbiz Blues" (Green) – 3:50
04. "My Dream" (Kirwan) – 3:30
05. "Underway" (Green) – 2:51
06. "Oh Well" (Green) – 8:56
07. "Although the Sun Is Shining" (Kirwan) – 2:31
08. "Rattlesnake Shake" (Green) – 3:32
09. "Searching for Madge" (McVie) – 6:56
10. "Fighting for Madge" (Fleetwood) – 2:45
11. "When You Say" (Kirwan) – 4:22
12. "Like Crying" (Kirwan) – 2:21
13. "Before the Beginning" (Green) – 3:28