Oh Well (song)
Cover of the French release
|Single by Fleetwood Mac|
|B-side||"Oh Well, Part 2"|
|Released||19 September 1969|
|Length||3:22 (Part 1 original)
2:22 (Part 1 reissue)
5:39 (Part 2)
8:56 (Then Play On version)
|Fleetwood Mac singles chronology|
"Oh Well" is a song recorded by Fleetwood Mac in 1969, and composed by vocalist and lead guitarist Peter Green. It first appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in various countries in 1969, and subsequently appeared on revised versions of that year's Then Play On album and the Greatest Hits album in 1971. It later featured on the 1992 boxed set 25 Years – The Chain, and on the 2002 compilation album The Best of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. A slightly different version of the song was included on the 1998 compilation The Vaudeville Years.
"Oh Well" was composed in two parts, "Part 1" being a fast electric blues song with vocals (lasting 2:19), "Part 2" being an entirely different instrumental piece with a classical influence (lasting 5:39). The original 1969 single featured first minute or so of "Part 2" included as a fade-out coda to the A-side and then "Part 2" begun again on the B-side of the single. Later releases varied. At concerts, only the first part was played, and live versions of the song have been released on many Fleetwood Mac live albums throughout their career such as Live and Live at the BBC, as well on the B-sides of singles. After Green's departure, the song was sung by various other members, including Bob Welch, Lindsey Buckingham, Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. The first part of the song features a fast blues guitar riff played by Green, joined subsequently by Danny Kirwan and bassist John McVie, before a musical silence, punctuated only by Mick Fleetwood's cowbell percussion. Green sings a brief verse with no musical accompaniment, before the riff begins again and Kirwan takes a solo. Another silence precedes a second verse, and a replay of the riff. Where the second part follows, there is a brief pause before Green's sombre, Spanish-style acoustic guitar and low electric guitar, leading to further instrumental passages of recorder, cello and piano, the latter played by Jeremy Spencer. This was Spencer's only contribution to the song, as he was absent from the recording of "Part 1", and Green played all the other instruments heard during "Part 2".
"Oh Well, Part 1" has been viewed by some critics as one of the early crossovers between blues rock and heavy metal, along with songs by others such as Led Zeppelin. Although recorded on a multitrack recorder the song is not available in true stereo. Possibly this is because the stereo master is lost or erased, but since this post-Blue Horizon period has never been revised or remastered, it's more likely that the track simply has never been remixed. (This also explains why a B side track (to "Dragonfly") like "The Purple Dancer" has never been reissued on CD, although this was a stereo recording.)
After the single was released, US versions of the Then Play On album were updated to include the song. The album edit of "Oh Well" simply joined the two sides of the single as one track, entitled "Oh Well" (lasting 8:56), so that "Part 2"'s beginning is heard twice. This was repeated on the worldwide original CD release. A 1972 US reissue of the single featured just the electric "Part 1" without the coda. Other reissues of the song including the Greatest Hits album and the 2013 Deluxe Then Play On generally feature the original single releases of Part 1(with coda) and Part 2 as two separate tracks.
An excerpt from the song can be heard in the Doctor Who story Spearhead from Space. This was filmed around the same time the single was in the charts, and transmitted in January 1970. The song was omitted from later video releases of the story, but finally reintroduced on the DVD release in 2011. Part II was also sampled by The KLF for their "Chill Out" album.
The single's peak position in the UK Charts was No. 2 for two weeks in November 1969, spending a total of 16 weeks on the chart. In the Dutch Top 40, it peaked at No. 1, staying in the chart for 11 weeks. It also reached the top 5 in Norway, New Zealand and France, and the top 10 in Germany and Switzerland.
"Oh Well" was not a big hit in the USA, although it received some airplay on many FM rock stations. It did reach No. 55 on the US singles charts, although its reputation has grown in the years since its release. It has been also re-released in many countries as a 'Golden Oldies' single.
"Oh Well" has been covered on record by many other artists and groups, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Gordon Giltrap, Joe Jackson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Rockets, Big Country, Tribe of Gypsies, Ratt, Tourniquet, McCoy, John Parr, Oh Well and Haim. The song was also played live by Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes and released on their 2000 album Live at the Greek. Australian singer-songwriter Rick Springfield performed a version of the song in July 2013 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series. Also, this song has been covered by former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch on his 2008 Greatest Hits album
- Peter Green – vocals, guitar, dobro, cello, tympani, clash cymbals
- Danny Kirwan – guitar
- John McVie – bass guitar
- Mick Fleetwood – drums, cowbell, congas, maracas
- Jeremy Spencer – piano (B-side only)
- Sandra Elsdon – recorder (B-side only)
- Netherlands – Reprise RS27000, No. 1
- UK – Reprise RS27000, No. 2
- France – Reprise RV20231, No. 2
- Norway – Reprise RS27000, No. 3
- Ireland – Reprise RS27000, No. 5
- New Zealand – Reprise RO.27000, No. 5
- Germany – Reprise RA27000, No. 7
- Australia – Reprise 0883, No. 17 (Go-Set chart)
- USA – Reprise 0883, No. 55
- Also issued in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico (as "Ah Bueno"), Portugal, Spain (as "Muy Bien"), South Africa and Venezuela (as "Oh Bien") on Reprise Records; Greece on Warner Bros. Records and Malaysia on Jaguare Records.
- Oh Well at Discogs.com
- Oh Well 1972 reissue at Discogs.com
- Details of 41 different recordings of "Oh Well" by Fleetwood Mac's various iterations
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics