Fleetwood Mac In Chicago/Blues Jam In Chicago vols 1 & 2 was the result of a recording session in early 1969, at Chess Records in Chicago (home to Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, et al) with Fleetwood Mac, a British (electric) blues band, and some of their Chicago blues mentors.
Mentors: Otis Spann (vocals, piano); David Honeyboy Edwards, Buddy Guy (guitar); Walter "Shakey" Horton (harmonica); J. T. Brown (tenor saxophone); Willie Dixon (acoustic bass guitar); S.P. Leary (drums).
Recording venue: Chess Ter-Mar Studios, Chicago, Illinois (January, 1969).
This set, recorded at Chess Records' Ter-Mar complex in Chicago, pairs Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac with some of the Windy City's blues legends including Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Buddy Guy, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Put together on short notice, and recorded in one day, the sessions have something of a ramshackle feel, but the energy of the performances transcends any shortcomings on this date. Dixon oversaw the proceedings, and can be heard during the between-song banter giving directions and chastising Walter "Shakey" Horton for missing his cues. Since the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac was so directly influenced by Chicago blues, the session acts as a kind of stylistic homecoming for the band. Bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood contribute driving rhythms while guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer lend both rhythms and the occasional lead. Green's stunningly fluid guitar work is at the fore, as usual. But the real treat is picking out the Chess players--Otis Spann's piano on "I Got the Blues," J.T. Brown's tenor sax on Elmore James's "I Can't Hold Out," or Guy and Edwards, who go toe-to-toe with Green on "Red Hot Jam," one of the session's indisputable highlights.
Like volume one, Blues Jam in Chicago vol. 2 documents collaborations between some of Chess Records' most prominent bluesmen and the late-1960s version of Fleetwood Mac (the blues-rock power outfit, as opposed to the commercially successful soft-rock incarnation from the '70s). Given that the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac was already deeply rooted in Chicago blues, the project proved to be a natural for the group, with Green's blues-drenched leads and the chops of Mick Fleetwood (drums), John McVie (bass), Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer (guitars) providing a perfect framework for contributions by Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, among others. Green and company bring an edge to the proceedings, playing with the kind of muscle and unbridled energy associated with rock music. Volume two has greater variety in the lineup than volume one, with Dixon substituting on bass for McVie on a number of tracks, along with much swapping of vocal duties. The latter move gives the second installment the edge over the first, with Edwards singing on his own tunes ("Honey Boy Blues" is a highlight), and the inimitable Spann singing "Someday Soon Baby" and "Hungry Country Girl." This is one of the finer snapshots of British blues-rock meeting its source.