It was a sad day for me when I learned that Bob Welch had passed away. Of all the musicians who were a part of Fleetwood Mac, Welch has remained one of my favorite members of the group. A talented guitarist, songwriter, and singer, Welch made a major contribution to Fleetwood Mac. Five albums were made during the time Welch was a part of the group, and on each album, Welch did his fair share on songwriting. For the albums Mystery to Me and Heroes are Hard to Find, Welch wrote half of the songs for the album, a burden he shared with Christine McVie.
Welch was a strong songwriter through all his years in Fleetwood Mac. On each of the albums, Welch provided some memorable tracks. The following songs are the highlights of his time with Fleetwood Mac.
On his first Mac album, Welch provided one of his most famous songs, “Future Games”. This track is eight minutes long, including some lengthy guitar passages. Something is strange about the vocals. The way the mixing was done, the voices are over to one side. Due to the length of the track, you will certainly have time to contemplate the lyrics, which are thought-provoking. If you don’t mind listening to the guitar work, you may prefer this early version of “Future Games”.
There is a significantly shorter version on Welch’s solo album, The Other One. Instead of the long guitar intro, Welch starts singing early in the track
Welch was well-read, and his influences show up in a number of Fleetwood Mac songs. He would later choose to include Carlos Castaneda references in songs. “Lay It All Down” contains lots of biblical references.
“The Ghost” is Welch’s first song with Fleetwood Mac about a supernatural subject. A flute serves as a counterpoint to Welch’s vocal melody. “The Ghost” is an interesting, mellow track, and the flute’s prominence in the song is an unusual choice.
“Sentimental Lady” is one of Welch’s best known Fleetwood Mac tracks. It appears on a number of song compilation CD’s, such as 25 Greatest Love Songs of All Time. This song features acoustic guitar, and nice backup vocals from Christine McVie.
Welch later released the song as a solo track for French Kiss. In January 1978, the new version of “Sentimental Lady” peaked at number 8 on the Billboard charts.
Although Penguin is not a favorite album for most fans, Welch provided some excellent songs for it. He was always good as a songwriter, but really seems to excel here.
“Bright Fire” is an awesome track. A flute is used in the melody, but is not prominently featured. John McVie’s bass work also stands out here. This song is poetic, with a lot of imagery. Lyrics such as “washed by love and suffering” remind one of a Christian hymn.
“Revelation” is a great track lyrically. It also features some nice guitar interplay between Bob Weston, Welch, and McVie. Weston plays lead guitar in a Santana style
Mystery to Me
When Welch was writing songs for Mystery to Me, he was very influenced by what he was reading. He was studying material about the Bermuda Triangle, and also reading Carlos Castaneda. In “Miles Away”, Welch makes references to Don Juan (a Yaqui sorcerer who Castaneda wrote about), as well as Andy Warhol.
“Hypnotized” is a famous Fleetwood Mac song that is still performed for audiences (with Lindsey Buckingham on vocals). Welch sings about things like astral projection, which again refers to the teachings of Castaneda. The first verse, which mentions a UFO, was inspired by a dream Welch had at the time.
Heroes Are So Hard to Find
“Coming Home” is brilliant Almost the entire song is a nice instrumental piece, with Welch singing only for about 45 seconds. At first the song sounds somewhat discordant and loud. There is a siren sound about a minute into it. After the siren, the song becomes a more pleasurable listen. McVie does a busy bass line here.
“Coming Home” seems to be an interpretation of what heaven may be like. It is fitting that the following song is “Angel”, with lyrics such as “Oh how I wish, I could see an angel”.
Welch does his octave guitar lines on “Angel”. If Welch was striving to create a sense of longing in the music, he certainly met his goal.
Welch did some of his greatest work with Fleetwood Mac. For those who are only familiar with the Nicks/Buckingham period of Fleetwood Mac, take a chance to check out these tracks from the earlier versions of the band.
The Complete Guide to the Music of Fleetwood Mac (by Rikky Rooksby)