Fleetwood Mac – Mystery to Me (1973)

FleetwoodMac_MysteryToMe3.5 out of 5 Stars!

Prior to achieving worldwide superstardom, Fleetwood Mac had churned out music for years and years, first creating some fine albums in the (originally) Blues Rock genre with spectacular guitarist Peter Green at the helm, then (during its second phase) releasing a handful of additional albums that contained a more commercial, laid-back sound with only a hint of Blues Rock. This often-forgotten second phase of the group saw guitarist/vocalist Bob Welch and the ultra-talented keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie (gosh, I adore this woman!) joining up for the ride.

But despite the two new members bringing with them their advanced songwriting skills, and the group’s relatively stable line-up during this period, Fleetwood Mac still couldn’t quite generate mega-stardom status. That wouldn’t happen until Welch left the group and the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks team came aboard for the band’s third “heavily soap-opera drama” phase.

Regardless, I always enjoyed Fleetwood Mac’s second phase, and still listen to those five 1971-1974 albums on a semi-regular basis, especially this particular platter. On Mystery to Me, the band included more than a handful of its finest, most memorable songs from this era, including Welch’s “Somebody,” “Emerald Eyes,” “The City,” and “Hypnotized,” and a decent cover version of the classic Yardbirds’ track “For Your Love.” But for me, McVie’s songs are typically the special ones, and in this case, her compositions such as “Just Crazy Love,” “Why,” “The Way I Feel,” and “Believe Me,” though perhaps not as brilliant as her future endeavors, still sounded as if they could have easily appeared on any of the classic albums during the Buckingham/Nicks years.

Meanwhile, Bob Welch and Christine McVie’s instrumental and vocal skills are in tip-top shape, while John McVie and Mick Fleetwood prove once again to be a “wonderfully tight though nothing-too-fancy” rhythm team. And Bob Weston, his contributions to the band often underappreciated or dismissed, plays some surprisingly tasty lead guitar throughout, especially his subtle riffing on the bluesier “Somebody,” the slide guitar intro on “Why,” or on the harder-rocking “The City” and “Miles Away.” Additionally, with the now-legendary Martin Birch (Deep Purple/Wishbone Ash/Jeff Beck/Faces/etc.) now handling production duties instead of just engineering like he did on the band’s previous three albums, the sound here is rich and full, probably one of Fleetwood Mac’s best and most consistent during this period.

By the way, I continually roll my eyes in amazement and chuckle when I hear or read comments by supposed music-lovers who still seemingly have no clue that Fleetwood Mac even existed before the appearance of Stevie Nicks. What a shame for them, since Fleetwood Mac delivered a stream of enjoyable and catchy, diverse and often-imaginative music prior to 1975, especially on Mystery to Me.

Get The Album Now!

Landmarq – Entertaining Angels (2012)

Landmarq_EntAngels4.5 out of 5 Stars!

When singer Damian Wilson (Rick Wakeman/Star One/Headspace/Threshold) left Landmarq after the band released the exceptional album The Vision Pit back in 1995, I prayed the group would be able to fill his shoes with another fine vocalist and continue onward.

Thankfully, my wish was granted, and in spades. Not only did Landmarq continue, but recruited a female vocalist to replace Wilson, one of exceptional talent named Tracy Hitchings (Quasar/Strangers on a Train).

After releasing an album in 1998 with Hitchings, the band took a lengthy break and finally returned in 2012 with Entertaining Angels.

The album’s title says it all, since not only is this collection of tracks more than entertaining, but with Hitchings’s angelic voice once again featured, the album ended up being a near masterpiece. Songs such as the opening title track, as well as “Mountains of Anglia,” “Turbulence (Paradigm Shift),” the two-part “Glowing,” the sixteen-minute epic “Calm Before the Storm,” and the stunningly beautiful “Prayer (Coming Home)” will likely appeal to fans of female-fronted Prog-Rock acts such as Magenta, Lana Lane, Introitus, Scarlet Hollow, IOEarth, and Janison Edge.

The luscious melodies and often-grand instrumentation, along with the soul-stirring vocals appearing throughout Entertaining Angels, are simply superb!

Final note: If seeking out this album, be certain to grab the “Special Edition” version, which includes four extra songs, equaling more than twenty-eight minutes of additional music.

Get The Album Now!

Adramelch – Broken History (2005)

Adramelch_BrokenHistory4 out of 5 Stars!

Italy seems to produce a ton of better-than-average bands (both past and present), especially in the genres of Progressive Metal (or Prog-Rock in general), so there must be some magic in the drinking water since the country definitely has its lion’s share of creativity. And after listening to this album, I’ve concluded that the members of Adramelch have imbibed plenty of whatever mystical brew the country has to offer.

Although I find nothing in particular on Broken History that will likely set fans of the genre into a tailspin of insanity or controversy, I nevertheless savor every moment of what the band has produced. On heavy-hitting tracks such as “Beloved Jerusalem,” “Ten Wiles (Much More Than Begged Mercy),” “Different Times, Different Places,” “I’ll Save the World,” “Darts of Wind,” and the lighter “Heap of Bones,” the performances by all involved are more than commendable. I appreciate the way the musicians and vocalist constructed and orchestrated the various tracks and melodies, maintaining both combustible heat and moodiness to the occasionally epic atmospheres, lending intricacy and variety to the arrangements, and adding unexpected rhythmic shifts throughout, while all the while keeping each song tuneful and spicy.

Therefore, on Broken History, talent obviously abounds, occasionally bringing to mind the classic sounds of groups such as Queensrÿche, Balance of Power, Time Machine, and Iron Maiden. Therefore, to Adramelch, bravo!

Get The Album Now!