My Heart Beat Like a Hammer - Fleetwood Mac
In 1969 my sister began to go steady with one Robert, a bloke who to me looked the spitting image of the picture of Peter Green on the back cover of their first album, entitled, unsurprisingly "Fleetwood Mac", which came out in 1968. Maybe this was deliberate on his part as he was the guy who introduced me to the album. He had bought it after seeing the group at the 1967 National Jazz and Blues Festival at Windsor. According to him, Fleetwood Mac, then an unknown band, had "stolen the show" on the second and final day which had a line-up that included Cream and Jeff Beck. This would explain then, why six months after the festival, a blues album by what was effectively an unknown group reached number 4 in the UK LP charts. The line up was Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, who had all been together in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and Jeremy Spencer, lead guitarist along with Green and specialist in slide or bottleneck guitar playing.
Make no mistake about it, this is a blues album from beginning to end, the raw, raunchy, stark tone set from the first note of this, the opening track, a Jeremy Spencer song, with Spencer on vocals and slide guitar, and Green laying down an exquisite rhythm line.
The first lines of nearly every track on the record are pure blues gold:
"Gotta keep movin', gotta keep movin', hellhound on my trail"
"I got a feeling, the blues gonna be my only way"
"I don't look for no worries, worries and troubles come around"
and best of all
"It was a cold black night, and the rain was coming down..."
"My Heart Beat Like a Hammer" is no exception:
"I woke up one morning, awaking with the rising sun" - a riff on the classic blues opening line, "I woke up this morning", the first statement of a new group - and they never looked back. Well, they did actually: Through line-up after line-up after Green's departure three albums later, they were haunted by the ghost of their former leader. As one of their many subsequent lead guitarists Bob Welch said when interviewed by the BBC for their documentary on the band:
"Peter Green most definitely haunted them. It was never expressed in so many words and actually I would probably have been more happy if it had been - umm, I knew there were certain guitar licks you did not try to play".