- Excellent sound from beginning to end with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Tubey Magical smooth sound is key to the best copies, and this copy delivers, with the analog richness the music needs
- Three of the best songs Fleetwood Mac ever did are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy
- A grossly underappreciated album from Fleetwood Mac’s awesome post-Peter Green period
- Danny Kirwan is brilliant here – Kiln House is the last of the Mac’s grungy guitar-based albums
This is a favorite Fleetwood Mac album of ours here at Better Records and one that’s very hard to find with anything resembling good sound. Grungy guitars and punchy drums in a huge acoustical space. The louder you play it the better it sounds.
This period Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House through Mystery to Me (both are the kind of records I would take to my Desert Island), has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience, having played a dozen copies of Kiln House practically all day at some pretty serious levels for our shootout not that long ago, it is a positive THRILL to hear the album sound as good as it does right here.
The Sound of Vintage Analog
This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
A Round Of Applause For Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan
Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first album they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone, Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. Apparently, he was quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are excellent: straightforward and unerringly melodic.
The co-leader for Kiln House is Danny Kirwan, and he rocks the hell out of this album. Three of the best songs Fleetwood Mac ever did, regardless of incarnation, are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy, all written by Kirwan (with the help of others). His guitar work on these three songs is blistering.
Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without these tracks. Of course they are consistently missing from all such compilations, at least the ones with which I am familiar. The sad fact is that few people miss them because few people have ever heard them.
It’s amazing to realize that this album was made by just four guys. Actually that’s not true. Christine McVie (known as Christine Perfect at the time) not only did the lovely artwork for the cover, but she sings uncredited background vocals on some of the songs. Her contribution to Station Man is especially lovely. She would officially join the band on their next album, a personal favorite of mine, Future Games.
What We Listen For on Kiln House
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Martin Birch in this case — would have put them.
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
This Is the Rock
Blood on the Floor
Hi Ho Silver
Jewel Eyed Judy
Tell Me All the Things You Do
Fleetwood Mac’s last two records, Kiln House and Future Games, have between them provided me with perhaps a hundred hours of enjoyment. And that’s the ultimate test of a record’s worth. Personally, I was never interested in early Fleetwood Mac, the British blues band; but this Fleetwood Mac has little in common with that group except for the drums and rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.
The closest thing I can think of to the kind of music the new Mac plays is moody rock of the middle-period Beatles. Kiln House is similar to Beatles ’65 in its dual concerns with vintage rock ‘n’ roll and muted, romantic pieces. Jeremy Spencer took care of the former area, while Danny Kirwan extended the style best represented by McCartney’s “I’ll Follow the Sun.”
Since Spencer left, the band has been forced to re-orient itself somewhat: Kirwan has become the sole focal figure, and this central role has forced him to deal in the visceral as well as the moody areas. But Kirwan had already shown on Kiln House that he was well equipped to handle both. His “Jewel Eyed Judy,” “Tell Me All the Things You Do,” and “Station Man” are among the best examples of the soft-hard rock song, with their lovely, silky vocals and smoking guitars. If Kiln House holds up somewhat better than the gentler Future Games, Kirwan’s dynamic songs are at least as responsible as Spencer’s presence on the former album.