We’re back with the vertical gatefold sleeves for a couple more instalments. This should not be construed as an attempt to show every specimen, but simply present further examples that have caught this record collector’s eye.
First off we have a very recent addition to the genus. Bob Masse is a legendary Canadian-born artist and poster designer, active since the Sixties and still going strong. He designed the cover for a 2017 Record Store Day release of some archival early Grateful Dead material. The music is good, but not as good as the album cover.
Next up is a contrasting manifestation of Madame Muse from heavy rockers Uriah Heep (who have featured in Vertical dispatches previously with a very different cover). Released in 1978, Fallen Angels illustrates the fondness of heavy rock for fantasy themes. And semi-naked women. The art is by Chris Achilleos.
After two female subjects, two males.
The first is a rustic art-craft representation of Mick Fleetwood, who, with John McVie, co-founded the band that bears their surnames. The second needs little introduction, but much explanation. Why the belly button and squashed nose, David? Why the bandaged hand and the extreme pigeon toes? Alas, we’ll never know.
To keep the music quotient up, let me tell you about the Fleetwood Mac album.
Fleetwood Mac Live At The Boston Tea Party is a 2009 release on the Vinyl Lovers label. The material has been compiled many times before, but this four-record set claims to have ‘most’ of the recordings. I imagine in a year or two there will be a six disc version with recordings of Peter Green tuning up or John and Mick ordering drinks at the bar, but until then this is all you need. In fact it is more than most people need.
Housed in a book-style cover with four cardboard pages (each holding a record), this legendary three guitar line-up of the Mac includes the aforementioned Mr Green, the recently arrived Danny Kirwan and the soon to depart Jeremy Spencer. It’s mainly Peter Green’s show, as far as solos are concerned, and that’s the reason most would spring for this monster set. The Jeremy Spencer contributions are unremarkable blues and R&B covers that, frankly, are not very interesting. But there are joys herein, make no mistake. “The Green Manalishi” tears your face off, “Jumping at shadows” tears your heart open, “World in harmony” is a rarity that introduces Danny Kirwan (as does “Coming your way” on side seven), and last—but certainly not least—the fabulous “Oh Well”.
The first three sides cover the band’s first set, while D, E, and F chronicle the second. The final two sides have rarely seen the light of day, and include some great jams, including one with Joe Walsh (later of The Eagles, then of James Gang). If the Little Richard covers are dispensable and the Elmore James tunes uninspired, the rest makes up for it.
Without doubt the double hearts at the centre of this rambling monster are the two side-long versions of “Rattlesnake Shake”. This 1969 (Then Play On) Peter Green chestnut is, at first glance, a straightforward blues about onanism.
I know this guy, his name is Mick
He don’t care if he ain’t got no chick
He do the shake, the rattlesnake shake
Pure poetry, innit? But the extended instrumental jam is fabulous. Peter Green wanders and returns, jumps, sighs and steams. He duels with Kirwan and they soar together. Anyone who loves the long-form workouts of the Grateful Dead or the Allman Brothers will love these side-long freight trains of blues rock. Forget the grotty lyrics, this is electric blues at its live best and ensures Fleetwood Mac In Concert, 5, 6, 7 February 1970 is a worthy addition to any collection of British blues.