Jeremy Spencer, an original member of Peter Green’s incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, will release the limited-edition, double-vinyl album “Bend in The Road” on April 21, which is also Record Store Day.
While in Fleetwod Mac, Spencer sang and played slide guitar. He was the first member of the group to record a solo album, 1970’s “Jeremy Spencer.” In addition to songwriting, playing guitar and playing piano, Spencer also is an accomplished illustrator and artist. One of his watercolor paintings graces the album’s gatefold cover.
Later this year, Spencer will take part of the Legends Tour in France. June 6-9, 2012, he will share the stage with John Helliwell, Jesse and Bob Siebenberg from Supertramp, Jon Anderson from Yes, John Wetton from King Crimson, Martin Barre from Jethro Tull and Les Holroyd from Barclay James harvest.
“Bend in the Road” showcases Spencer’s love of the blues; Spencer shared track-by-track, “behind the music” takes on each of the songs he recorded.
Homesick: I have long wanted to record this song since hearing it over 45 years ago, but I couldn’t get a copy until recently. I twas written and recorded by Elmore James’ cousin, James Williamson, in 1952, himself a slide player. The song made the American R&B charts at the time and gave the artist his stage name, Homesick James.
Cry For Me Baby: Although I was familiar with this Elmore James track from years gone by, I had given it another listen before going into this session and felt inspired to try it, as Elmore’s accompanying guitarist did some catchy stuff that I thought would fit Brett Lucas’ style. It came off bright and happy, and I like the way all the musical parts ‘interlocked.’ It also gave me another chance to overdub piano!
Whispering Fields: I got this Americana/Stephen Foster-style country blues tune not long after joining Fleetwood Mac in 1967. After some rather lame lyrical attempts over the years, I decided to just let it go as an instrumental for this album.
I Walked A Mile With Sorrow: I cannot take credit for such great lyrics! I based this song on a poem by Robert Browning, and the spoken verse on the words of King Solomon and Jesus.
Earthquake: The style of this song is inspired by Eddie Cochran’s material; in particular, ‘Nervous Breakdown,’ and I wrote it in Greece in 1981 after experiencing an earthquake. I was sitting in a tent watching a movie with some friends, and I thought the fellow behind me who had his foot on the back of my chair was violently shaking his foot! Then someone shouted out, ‘It’s an earthquake!’ We were living in a campground, and consequently we were not as affected as nearby Athens.
Aphrodite: In the early days of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green and I, outside of our blues passions, shared an understanding of painting musical ‘pictures.’ That is, seeing the images in our minds’ eyes that the music was depicting, especially in instrumentals. I got the ‘Aprhodite’ tune in 1979, and I felt it had a Greek vibe. Later, while working with some musician colleagues, we put lyrics to it. The words were good, but 20 years later, I reworked it as an instrumental, and tried to illustrate that ‘picture’ mythically, imagining Greek galleys of old and the mythical goddess stepping ashore! Maybe it’s a matter of suggestion, but I hope that the recording captures that essence for the listener.
Secret Sorrow: Same with this ‘sorrow’ song regarding lyrical credit (at least the opening line)! I based it on the following quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” I finished most of the rest of the lyrics while sitting at a garden party in Germany with my wife’s friends and relatives.
Jambo: At the end of the first set of sessions in January 2010, we (the band and I) decided to jam on a simple old-time swing idea I’d had for a while. I often like to play the licks and imitate the sounds of a trumpet or a sax, which I did on this track, by simulating a Louis Armstrong tone. Brett takes the cue of ‘Go, Jambo, go,” to contribute some nifty guitar work.
The Sun Is Shining: If I had not heard this blues number by Elmore James back in 1964, I would not be playing slide guitar today! I wanted to give it another go using a chord turnaround between the verses over which I improvise.
Stranger Blues: Another Elmore oldie that has been in my repertoire over the years and I have wanted to record with a Latin-style treatment.
Strange Woman: Shades of ‘Black Magic Woman’ set to an Albert King-style riff, and lyrics based on an account in the book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon; drawn from his own experience, I presume!
Blind Lover: I got this tune during the early ’90s while in Brazil, with a vague idea for the lyrics after reading about a lover who is like a blind person, unable to see the faults of his beloved. Someone has asked me if this song is ‘autobiographical;’ in a way it is, in that I have been privileged to experience the patient overlooking of my faults. During one of the recording sessions, I worked on the lyrics with Brett Lucas’ help, specifying the application to a man-woman relationship. He, taking a Claptonesque Strat approach, and I had a good time trading licks on the tail of this track.
Come to Me: While rehearsing some of the material for recording, I came across the original inspiration for this song that I had recorded with garbled make-do lyrics on my mp3 player. Brett and the rest of the band pushed me to finish the words and record it. I wish to make it clear that the lyrics, with the enduring promise they claim, do not refer to me, but to the one who said, ‘Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!’
Merciful Sea: Although I can’t swim, I have always loved the sea. I spent my the first 10 years of my life up in West Hartlepool by the North East coast, and until today, I miss knowing the ocean is close by when living inland. Paintings of the sea fascinated me, and I would try to capture it in drawings. I especially liked a Penguin paperback cover picture of Nicholas Montserrat’s novel, ‘The Cruel Sea.’ The title of that book motivated my using a positive description for this tune.
Refugees: Some of you may be familiar with this tune as I originally recorded it in 1978 under the title ‘Flee’ for an ill-fated album of the same name for Atlantic records. Even then, I felt the lyrics could have been stronger, and even since I have wanted to rewrite it and redo it musically with a steadier, straight-ahead beat that projected the theme’s urgency.
Bend in the Road: I came across a poem with this title written by an obscure poet name Praveen — no surname (sounds Indian). I found the them and flow fascinating for a song, and after working over and boiling the lyrics down to make them more song friendly, I was happy with the results. It came to have a special meaning to me during a certain ‘bend’ in my own life’s road, and has proven to be a favorite for many.