Spotlight: On Danny Kirwan – Part 3 –

Spotlight: On Danny Kirwan – Part 3 –

‘Crazy For My Baby’  a.k.a ‘Without You’ –Home recording / BBC session, August 27, 1968

The second “home recording” that we have was almost certainly recorded at the same time as the first and although I have no way to confirm, or disprove this conjecture, I believe these recordings were made by a French film crew filming a television special broadcast as  “La Nouvelle Vague de la Pop Music”.

 Along with clips of many other British bands (Pink Floyd, Small Faces, The Hollies) there is footage of Kirwan and Green “rehearsing” in Green’s parent’s apartment.  Standing, facing one another, they play the first two verses of ‘One Sunny Day’ before the scene is cut.

When next seen, the band is going on stage at the Bank Holiday Bluesology Festival at the Chateau Impney in Droitwich, Worcestershire (this is the source for the b & w footage of the band playing ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’).  The festival footage was shot on September 02, 1968, so if the other scenes with the band were filmed around the same time, probably no more than a few weeks, if not days, before or after, we can guesstimate when these tracks were recorded.

 Although the title was changed to ‘Without You’ when released, the number was logged as ‘Crazy For My Baby’ at their August twenty-seventh session for “Top Gear” as well as on the tape box when it was recorded in the studio by Mike Vernon that October.

Danny Kirwan and Peter Green

Danny Kirwan: vocal & guitar / Peter Green: harmonica

Source: home recording

Possibly from Peter Green’s home (his parent’s) in Putney, England mid-1968

Originally posted March 05, 2010 – YouTube – no longer available

(Discussion) / Crazy For My Baby (D. Kirwan) (0:15) / (2:30)

a.k.a. Without You –

Photo: John Slade

The recording starts off with a mumbled dialogue between Kirwan and Green but I cannot make out what they are saying (anyone care to have a go at it? – any help would be appreciated) and then Danny counts them in.   

 As with ‘Wet Weather Blues’, as played here, it is a collaborative effort with Green’s harmonica joining Kirwan’s guitar from the first note.

The plangent minor chord progression, drifting like dust motes in a shaft of light in an otherwise dark and empty room, gently played by Kirwan and the wounded whisper of a vocal (most likely elicited as much by the setting as the song) clearly identify it as Kirwan’s number.

 The vocal produces an almost disquieting sense of intimacy (even with the Yoko Ono-like arrhythmic chirping of the Green family parakeet in the background)

Green’s harp is equally understated, unfurling with Kirwan’s vocal, following the lead line, gently bandaging its bruised plea, the quick fills between the verses stinging like the application of an astringent. 

With the end of the lyrics, Green continues to explore this haunted landscape but Kirwan drops out before too long and the recording is quickly faded. 

As stated, I believe that the “home recording” was made just a few weeks (more likely, days) before it was performed on “Top Gear”.

If my assumption is correct, this BBC performance further illustrates what incredibly intuitive musicians these young men were (not that any was asked for or needed).  The guitar duels and jams that what come later and for which they are rightly acclaimed, excite through shock and awe, but this performance displays a sense of collaboration, showcasing each of the three lead players, in a way that they were never able to achieve again.

Fleetwood Mac

Danny Kirwan: vocal & guitar / Jeremy Spencer: piano /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Peter Green: harmonica

BBC session, BBC Radio 1 “Top Gear”

Recorded August 27, 1968 – 201 Piccadilly Studio 1 — Broadcast November 24, 1968

Available on: bootleg

Crazy For My Baby (D. Kirwan) (3:14)

a.k.a. Without You

Recorded six days after he had made his live debut with the band (and not long after the “home recording”), the shoot and bud of the earlier version has blossomed into breathtaking rose, distracting the eye from the thorns it is nestled within.

Mick Fleetwood’s brushes gently patter on the drumhead like rain against a windowpane.  A touch of reverb have been added to Kirwan’s vocal and guitar matched by Spencer’s beautifully sensitive piano accompaniment and fills (replacing Green’s harmonica on the “home recording”)

The number becomes suffused with a majestic melancholy; the downward pressure from the anticipated recurrence of Kirwan’s guitar line and the sense of loss and his seeming inability to understand just how this has happened conveyed in his vocal was simultaneously lessened and heightened by the piano.

It is Green’s harmonica break, a minute in length (and most likely incomplete on this recording), joining the others that finally provides the necessary relief.  Not a burst of fury, but a slow exhalation of all that has been held back; a release of the tears that needed to flow. 

It is an extraordinary performance with everyone in the band contributing to its success, but somehow the band rarely followed through on the promise shown here.

Mick Fleetwood has said that it was his idea to have Kirwan join Fleetwood Mac because he knew that Green needed someone to bounce ideas off of; but even their collaborations (in the studio) were short lived.

Green was quoted as saying, “I never would have done ‘Albatross’ if it wasn’t for Danny.  I never would have had a number one hit record.”

And yet, when it came time to record what would become that single’s B-side, he couldn’t, or wouldn’t return the favor, “He worked it out on guitar so that I could play on it…but I couldn’t do it properly.  I can’t play that sort of big band Prohibition-time thing.  My style wasn’t all that satisfactory to Danny, but his style wasn’t all that satisfactory to me.”

In a live setting, (even when playing for a BBC broadcast, they would come together as a band, joining together for a collective result, whereas in the studio, each player worked alone on their particular patch of ground. 

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