6/3/15

Fleetwood Mac - Sung by Danny Kirwan (1968-72)

After Alan Wilson and John Locke, here's the third composer for whom I extract and compile the songs he wrote while in a band to reveal more clearly the genius he was. The story of Danny Kirwan is maybe still more dramatic than the premature death fate of the Canned Head leader. He was recruited in Fleetwood Mac by Peter Green to be the 3rd guitarist (with Jeremy Spencer) of the band during their pure blues period, but soon he became the leading force after Spencer and Green left although he had to share the composing role with the new recruited Bob Welch and Christine McVie. There's something extremely fragile and delicate in Danny Kirwan's approach of music, a deep humanity that travels through times and styles, even a magical touch in his weakest or less personal songs. He quickly quitted the blues heritage to move toward more floating and atmospheric horizons, influenced mainly by Brian Wilson and Ray Davies. His lyrics became more and more intimate and interesting. Like Alan Wilson, sadness and depression are never far even from his apparently most serene songs. His problem was not the usual drugs that destroyed most of musicians of this era but a more conventional one: alcohol. According to those who knew him at the times, he was less and less predictive and easy to cope with. What I read made me think of another great loss guitarist of that same years: Paul Kossoff. Kirwan's guitar style was not flamboyant or spectacular, but was to the service of the song. Finally he was more modern than his contemporaries and more in the vein of what Johnny Marr would be for the Smiths. After he was sacked by the band, he changed physically, lost his blond angel physionomy and recorded 3 solo rather unsuccessful LPs between 1975 and 1979 (maybe I'll post them here I'm not sure) much more mainstream pop-song oriented (say Nilsson) that what he composed during his Fleetwood Mac period. What's next is obscure. It seems he became more or less homeless and is still alive somewhere. Strange nobody provides any information but everyone has the right to have his anonymity respected. Here's a compilation of all the officially released songs (hope I didn't miss one) during his presence in FM, singles included. I tried to respect the chronology of the songs, for example in placing some tracks from Then Play On that were recorded in more ancient sessions before the other songs from this album. Not perfect (nothing to do with Christine) but a tribute for this great composer and his sad destiny. Catch it here.




9 comments:

Slidewell said...

Wonderful tribute to sadly under-recognized talent. Really looking forward to listening to Danny's songs, from out of the shadow of the colossal Peter Green. Thanks!

billy said...

what a great idea i liked the mid period FM albums-bought them and his 3 solos as well as bob welch's.thanks a lot

jsayers said...

Thanks you for taking the time to compile this comp of Danny Kirwan tunes - I'm a big fan myself. It is my favorite FM period, and I actually made a similar comp a few years ago. The only things missing here that I used were two unreleased songs or demos of his that were on the 2 cd set "The Vaudeville Years" : "Tell Me From The Start" and "Love It Seems", both very good DK songs, imho. Nice that you included Trinity and Purple Dancer - nice!

Tom said...

This looks like a good listen but the Mega link doesn't work. It says "Temporary Error", "Retrying" but doesn't ever start working. I tried links for some other posts with the same result. Hopefully it really is just temporary. I'll try another time.

dkelvin said...

I tried it just now and it worked. Don't know where's the problem.
dk

Brian Fischer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Fischer said...

In addition to the previously-mentioned "Love It Seems" and "Tell Me From the Start", there's a few more of Danny's songs that didn't make it to albums. "Like It This Way" was recorded properly, and appears on the companion set to Vaudeville Years, Showbiz Blues. It was also recorded on Blues Jam at Chess and the Boston Tea Party gig. Showbiz Blues also has "Mind of My Own", and he sings two other songs on the Chess album, "World in a Tangle" and "Talk With You". "Loving Kind" was only recorded in Boston, and "Only You" was recorded in Boston and at the BBC (and later recorded for his final solo album). The BBC had a few more of his songs, "When I See My Baby" and the next Mac song until Spencer's departure, "Down at the Crown", where he splits lead vocal duties with Christine.
Interesting list of songs, and if you haven't heard them, they are as good as his other material, though the earlier songs are more primitive.
His solo albums are extremely hard to come by. Second Chapter is available, but the best I've managed with the other two is low quality audio files. Second Chapter is a solid album, though not always the kind of music you'd expect from him, and a few songs get too cheesy. I'm rather fond of Midnight In San Juan, which is more straightforward rock with some progressive elements, notably a well-used synth. Hello Big Boy has a few songs that catch my ear, but he was in decline, not even playing guitar, and many of the songs were not written by him, plus it's over-produced, but that's a result of Danny's involvement decreasing.

dkelvin said...

Thx for all these details. I didn't mean to do an exhaustive compilation so I won't change it now but I'll try to get the songs you cite maybe for a small addition later on.
dk

Ilia Fe said...

Thanks