Monday, March 31, 2008


Listen to SENTIMENTAL LADY by Fleetwood Mac.
Listen to SENTIMENTAL LADY by Bob Welch.

People seemed to like last week's edition of jukebox classics so we might as well run out a few more.

Today we have a death match of sap: two versions of Sentimental Lady, the first recorded by Fleetwood Mac, then second by... basically Fleetwood Mac. The writer and singer of both is Bob Welch. Welch was a guy from L.A. with a pretty interesting career, with at least a couple of high points, as you're about to learn.

The first would be his involvement with Fleetwood Mac in the early 70s. The band had just lost Peter Green and their status as one of the biggest bands in England, and was kind of casting around for a new direction. They recruited Bob Welch (and Christine McVie), and he was instrumental in pushing them away from the bluesbreakers style of Green and towards what eventually became the multibillion-selling pop monsters of the mid-to-late 70s.

Welch was involved in four Fleetwood Mac albums, my favorite being "Bare Trees," an album broadly acknowledged as being one of the band's strongest.

Sentimental Lady was originally written for "Bare Trees," and to be fair, this version isn't that sappy. Welch's vocals (and lyrics, but especially the vocals) are just a little too awkward to sound contrived. It very much sounds like the chance for the sideman to get his moment in the sun, and you want to root for it like you do Ringo's (or George's early) songs.

"Bare Trees" came out in 1972. A couple years later, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, effectively forcing Welch out. By 1977, Welch was recording a solo album. The thing about Sentimental Lady is that it's a helluva great melody. Welch obviously thought it was too, because he re-recorded it, with his old band mates (McVie and Buckingham are prominently featured on backing vocals), and for maximum commercial effect. It's this version you've probably heard before, because it sold a lot of records. It's pretty unstoppable pop, but it doesn't have the charm of the early version. Listen to both and see if you agree!

Photo: Merritt Parkway (1).


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