Thought I was getting away from the thematic Five Songs and getting back to something “normal” this week. But this post comes on the heels of yesterday’s suicide death of Bob Welch.
Welch, a Los Angeles native, was the first American in Fleetwood Mac — the bridge between their beginnings as a John Mayall-weaned British blues band and their for-better-and-worse next chapter as a California hitmaking machine. He stayed around for four years (1971-75) and three albums, and convinced the band to move to California before he left in favor of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. His main musical contributions were “Sentimental Lady” and “Hypnotized.”
His first solo album, French Kiss, came out in 1977, with studio help from Buckingham and other Mac members, in the midst of the disco era, and it was a solid pop album. It was a rarity — he managed to both hold onto his rock and pop roots and create songs polished enough to hold up well on a dance floor. He redid “Sentimental Lady” and turned it into a top-40 hit the second time around, hammered out a hard guitar on “Hot Love, Cold World,” and delivered three tunes with enough synth-string slickness for any dance club: the hit “Ebony Eyes,” “Carolene” and my favorite, “Easy to Fall.” And this continued into his next album. Three Hearts, just before I graduated from high school in the spring of 1979, with “Precious Love.”
Then came the end of disco, a heroin addiction and other factors that wrapped up his heyday. And for all his troubles, and for being such a pivotal member of the band, he was omitted when Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Old animosities die hard, I guess.
Anyway, Welch was an underrated talent, one who left a lot of what-ifs even in his prime.
Hypnotized — Fleetwood Mac
Sentimental Lady — Fleetwood Mac