Although we continue to mourn the recent passing of Peter Green, the gods of synchronicity at least offer us one small consolation, in the form of a lavish, and richly deserved, deluxe edition of his final album with Fleetwood Mac, 1970’s Then Play On (BMG).
It’s spread over four sides of vinyl, doubling its size from the first time around; first by splitting the original 14 track U.K. pressing over three sides (the original U.S. edition dropped two tracks) and then appending both sides of the band’s last couple of singles across side four. Remembering that two of those tracks, “Oh Well” parts one and two, were also added to later pressings of the LP (replacing two more of the original’s contents), it really is the whole thing in one place.
The immediate consequence of such benevolence, however, is to open out the sound way beyond what we are accustomed to.
While a 14-track album offered great bang for the buck (or stomp to the sterling, if we are to be strictly accurate), the sound quality did suffer as all that music was crammed on to one disc. Here, it broadens out, and even if one must make allowances for the digital, as opposed to analog, mastering, this is a lovely sounding disc.
Adding the single “Green Manalishi”/“World in Harmony” also completes the picture of Green and Mac at their absolute peak. In fact, the only complaint can be that these last two songs should have been flipped; “World In Harmony” is not the great conclusion such a magnificent album deserves.
That’s the music — what about the packaging? It’s excellent as well; a hardbound outer casing tucks the vinyl into a pocket at the back, allowing for a 20-page booklet to spread words and pictures throughout.
True, the accompanying essay could have gone deeper into the actual making of the album, as opposed to the circumstances that led up to it — Green himself spoke openly over the years about Then Play On, and the pressures he was under throughout its creation, and that is as much a part of the story as its chart success. In fact, we read more about “Green Manalishi,” which wasn’t on the album, than we do about any of the songs that were. Which is a bit like writing an essay about Sgt. Pepper, and focusing on “Penny Lane.”
No matter. It’s a gorgeous package for a wonderful album, and while we await a full tribute to Peter Green (this edition entered planning a year ago), this is perfect.
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