Spotlight: On Jeremy Spencer –

‘My Baby’s Sweet’

Peter Green is understandably the considered the nucleus of the band that he founded (in spite of his desire not to be seen as such).

Easily forgotten is how integral Jeremy Spencer’s contributions were to the band in their earliest days.

It was a Spencer lead number ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t Long’, that was released as the A-side of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’s debut single.  Green’s ‘Rambling Pony’ was the B-side.

I wrote about the first single here:

Depending on the country, CBS handled the distribution of Blue Horizon’s singles until 1969.  In May of 1968, the label released a single in various countries (but not in the U.K.) featuring two Jeremy Spencer tracks; ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’, backed with ‘My Heart Beat Like a Hammer’. 

It was their second release in Norway; when it was released in June of that year, it would be the band’s maiden release in Germany; and it was their third single in the Netherlands, released in August of that year.

If these two numbers as your introduction to the band, you would have had no way of knowing that it was Green’s band, or that Green considered them to be a blues band.

The picture sleeve of the German release invites the listener to “Rock ‘n Roll with The Fleetwood Mac” and the words “Rock ‘n’ Roll” also appear on the sleeve of the Dutch 45. 

On May 03, 1968, the band embarked on a week-long tour of Scandinavia, that would see them play in three countries and five cities in nine days.  Also on the tour were Ten Years After and The Nice with American provocateurs The Fugs, headlining.

Fleetwood Mac started the tour at the NRK-TV studios in Oslo, Norway where they were filmed for a music show called “Popcorn” miming the two sides of the single in an empty theater.

The next day they were in Copenhagen, Denmark taping another television appearance, this time for a show entitled “Toppop”.  Other than the fact that they performed on the show, I have not been able to find any information related to this appearance.  I cannot find any information as to which song(s) they performed.

Two songs from the third date of the tour became available on-line in January of 2016: one each from the band’s two lead players.

Jeremy Spencer performs Homesick James Williamson’s ‘My Baby’s Sweet’

Homesick James Williamson

James Williamson: vocal & guitar /

Lafayette Leake: piano /

Milton Rector: bass / Clifford James: drums

Donald Hankins: baritone saxophone

Recorded July 23, 1963Released, B-side ‘Crossroads’ USA single (1963)

Released in U.K. August 14, 1964B-side ‘Crossroads’ Sue single (1964)

Homesick James Williamson – My Baby’s Sweet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrp3eVWhnOE

The song had been in his repertoire from the band’s beginning, with the first available version found on “Live at the Marquee” featuring Bob Brunning on bass.  To the best of my knowledge, they never attempted the song in the studio.

The performance at the Marquee is unique in its arrangement and vocal approach.  Spencer supercharges the number, both on guitar and his belted delivery of the lyrics. 

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Jeremy Spencer: vocal & guitar /

Peter Green: guitar /

Bob Brunning: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded August 15, 1967 – Released, “Live at the Marquee” (Receiver 1992)

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – My Baby’s Sweet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBXwiImkL2A

Compare this with the next available performance nine months later for the BBC (available on “Show-Biz Blues Fleetwood Mac 1968 – 1970 Volume 2” – not available of YouTube as of this writing) 

Spencer has transformed the number, slowing it down to a lazy lope, and introducing piano (which he overdubbed).  The new arrangement mirrors Williamson’s original recording and in my opinion, surpasses it. 

                The next live performance was recorded eleven days after the BBC session at the Regent Street Polytechnic (“London Live ‘68”). 

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Jeremy Spencer: guitar & vocal /

Peter Green: guitar /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded April 27, 1968 – Released, “London Live ’68” (Thunderbolt 1986)

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – My Baby’s Sweet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEpuqSFQshM

Spencer has kept the slower tempo, but as if realizing it may be a bit too slow, he sings the chorus faster than the band is playing.  He also takes an extended break, his slide temporarily quieting the restless crowd, with some even beginning to clap along, but that is quickly abandoned.  He sings another verse and then plays a lovely outro, earning an enthusiastic response. 

                This “new” (previously unavailable) recording was made less than two weeks later, during their first Scandinavian tour.

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

Jeremy Spencer: guitar & vocal /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded May 10, 1968 by Henry Björklund

Folkets Hus, Kongresshallen, Stockholm, Sweden

Originally posted on YouTube January 15, 2016

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac My Baby’s Sweet (3:48) (4:10) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYiuMTWeIU4

                Spencer has slowed the tempo to a crawl and his only support (that can be heard) is John McVie’s thrumming bass.  Percussion is provided by the audience who join in clapping almost from the opening notes.

                The music is so skeletal that it almost sounds as if he is singing a capella.  He holds the listener’s interest through changes in volume and emphasis. 

The break runs just under a minute, and he refuses to be rushed.  He just takes his time keeping the number moving through minor changes in force and phrasing. 

He does one more verse and chorus and then slips into an extended outro.  Halfway through the audience begins to applaud as if he were finished, but the number goes on, only to be brought to an abrupt close. 

Björklund mentions an audience member getting up on stage with a flute (could that have been what the clapping was for?) and Jeremy angrily stopping playing.  This could be what we are hearing.

This number would continue to evolve through the last recorded performance at the Royal Albert Hall just under a year later.  Jeremy’s vocals would loosen up and the rhythm section (especially Fleetwood) experimented with different approaches.  The best recorded live version and thankfully one of the best performed can be found on the “Shrine ‘69” collection.  

Fleetwood Mac

Jeremy Spencer: guitar & vocal /

Peter Green: guitar / Danny Kirwan: guitar /

John McVie: bass / Mick Fleetwood: drums

Recorded January 25, 1969, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA

Released on “Shrine ‘69” (Rykodisc 1999)

Fleetwood Mac – My Baby’s Sweet – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulz_P3rFV54

Two of the last performances, from shows recorded in Denmark and Sweden in early 1969 find the song morphing into an almost Western-Swing number; a far cry from the arrangement heard on “Live at the Marquee”. 

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