On Danny Kirwan – ‘Although the Sun Is Shining’ Part I

Less than a month before his nineteenth birthday, and nine months after joining Fleetwood Mac, Danny Kirwan and the band were in the De Lane Lea Studios to continue cutting tracks for their third LP.

Signed at the time to Immediate Records, this will be their first session without Mike Vernon supervising as producer.  Peter Green now takes that role, most likely by default and Martin Birch retains his position as engineer.

They will cut four tracks this day, three of them Kirwan compositions.  Kirwan’s three songs run the gamut from full band, ‘Coming Your Way’, to a duet with Green, ‘Like Crying’, to a solo performance, ‘Although the Sun is Shining’.

With the release of the “Fleetwood Mac – The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions 1967 – 1969” (Blue Horizon 1999) we found out that the first two numbers had already been cut  with Mike Vernon seven months prior, in October of 1968 , but having left the Blue Horizon label, the band now had to rerecord them.

In his book “Strange Brew – Eric Clapton and the British Blues Boom 1965 – 1970”, Christopher Hjort writes that ‘Although the Sun Is Shining’ dates back to Kirwan’s Boilerhouse days; I have been unable to find the original source for this claim or a second with which to verify it, leaving me unable to comment on the accuracy of this statement.

Was it written during that time, and then carefully stored away for future use?  I would find it a strange choice for a relatively unknown band to perform live, unless it had an entirely different arrangement.  There are no known concert recordings of Kirwan performing the number with Fleetwood Mac; just two studio recordings and one for broadcast on the BBC.

The songs that Kirwan had recorded prior to this were rooted in the blues or in the case of ‘One Sunny Day’ and ‘Coming Your Way’, rock.

This number finds him moving towards the “pop” balladry that he only recently begun to explore.  In the studio, he would continue in this direction during Green’s final year with the band.  Kirwan delved more deeply into this style on the three post-Green Fleetwood Mac LPs that he played on and it achieved full bloom on his solo albums.

Danny Kirwan

Danny Kirwan: guitars & vocal

Recorded April 18, 1969 De Lane Lea Studios, released 2000

Available on: The Vaudeville Years of

Fleetwood Mac 1968 – 1970 Vol. 1 (Receiver 2000)

Although the Sun Is Shining (D. Kirwan) (2:24)

https://soundcloud.com/rich-orlando-532653821/although-the-sun-is-shining-unissued-version

It is difficult to say with certainty whether this performance is an “out-take”, a finished version that was “rejected” in favor of another attempt at the song, or if this was a “rehearsal”, possibly a “guide” track that Kirwan could play for Green to help him learn the song.

A good amount of work has been put into this recording, with Kirwan overdubbing the guitar parts and the background vocals.

It is only in listening to the rhythm guitar that one gets the feel that Kirwan viewed this as a “first attempt”.  The lead guitar parts flow beautifully, but the rhythm feels slightly studied in comparison; one can almost feel him thinking as he plays, carefully choosing the notes.

Vocally though, he holds nothing back.  He knew how to make the most of his soft voice, and it is the vocal, that gives this performance it’s terrible beauty.

There is a sense of innocence in his acceptance of his unending sadness, as if, having always felt this way, he is unaware that there is any other way to feel.  The darkness is always with him; the sun is shining, but he knows that the storm is on the horizon.  He has found a someone to love, but his love for her becomes yet another source of despair.  Thinking of her, he can only anticipate the pain of her leaving.

 

In the liner notes to “The Vaudeville Years of Fleetwood Mac 1968 to 1970” on which this track first appeared, Martin Celmins quotes Martin Birch as saying that after finishing a track, Kirwan would want to get Green’s opinion, but that Green’s only comments would be something along the lines of “If you like it, it’s fine with me.”, wanting Kirwan to make the final decision on his own work.

This can come off as insensitive on Green’s part, but I believe that for Green, he was paying Kirwan the highest compliment (at least in his own mind) by acknowledging that only Kirwan could say if his work met the standard the he set for himself.

Yet, Kirwan may have felt himself “abandoned” once again.  He had been asked to join the band and yet after ‘Albatross’, Green’s gaze turned further inward, and numbers such as ‘Before the Beginning’ and ‘Show-Biz Blues’ were self-contained creations, leaving Kirwan increasingly on his own in the studio to develop his songs alone.

It is to Kirwan’s credit that he persevered, and we’ll take a look at the version released on “Then Play On” in the next installment.

For Tina

1 Comment

  • comment-avatar
    Tina Jones-Heard May 14, 2018 (4:26 pm)

    So much to be said of Danny Kirwan and much more to be learned . This is a ‘life-saving song’ for me and so appreciate the recognition given to a most wonderful, creative & talented musician . Looking forward to Part 2 ! Thank you, Richard.