Then Play On

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Then Play On
Then Play On.jpg
Studio album by
Released19 September 1969
StudioCBS Studios, London and De Lane Lea Studios, London[1]
GenreBlues rock, psychedelic rock, folk rock
ProducerFleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac chronology
Mr. Wonderful
Then Play On
Fleetwood Mac in Chicago
Singles from Then Play On
  1. "Oh Well"
    Released: 26 September 1969
  2. "Rattlesnake Shake"
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Blender5/5 stars[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA–[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[6]
The 1000 Best Pop-Rock Albums4/5 stars[7]

Then Play On is the third studio album by British blues rock band Fleetwood Mac, released on 19 September 1969. It was the first of their original albums to feature Danny Kirwan and the last with Peter Green. Jeremy Spencer did not feature on the album apart from "a couple of piano things" (according to Mick Fleetwood in Q magazine in 1990). The album, appearing after the group's sudden success in the pop charts, offered a broader stylistic range than the classic blues of the group's first two albums. The album went on to reach #6 in the UK, subsequently becoming the band's fourth Top 20 hit in a row, as well as their third album to reach the Top 10. The title is taken from the opening line of William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night — "If music be the food of love, play on".

This was the band's first release with Warner/Reprise after being lured away from Blue Horizon and a one-off with Immediate Records. All subsequent Fleetwood Mac albums have been released on Warner. The album, which at its original UK release had an unusually long running time, has been released with four different song line-ups. The original CD compiled all songs from the two US LP versions, both of which omitted tracks from the original UK version. In August 2013, a remastered edition of the album was reissued on vinyl and CD, restoring its original 1969 UK track listing. This version reached No. 112 on the UK Albums chart.


The band's previous albums had been recorded live in the studio.[8] For the recording of Then Play On, editing and overdubbing techniques were used extensively for the first time.[9] Green had recently introduced improvisation and jamming to the band's live performances and three of the tracks on the album, "Underway", "Searching for Madge" and "Fighting for Madge", were compiled by Green from several hours of studio jam sessions.[8]

Although "Oh Well" was a hit in the UK, that song was not the group's first single released in America. Instead, Clifford Davis, who was Fleetwood Mac's manager at the time, selected "Rattlesnake Shake" to be released in the US since he thought it would become a big hit,[10] although it charted nowhere. After the failure of "Rattlesnake Shake", "Oh Well" was chosen as the second single, and fared much better, becoming the band's first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Mick Fleetwood ranked the song in his top 11 favourite Fleetwood Mac songs list.[11]

It incorporated the freedom to go off on a tangent, to jam – the classic 'Do you jam, dude?' We learned that as players. You hear that alive and well in the double-time structure that I put in at the end, which on stage could last half an hour. It was our way of being in The Grateful Dead.[11]


The painting used for the cover of the album is "Domesticated Mural Painting", by the English artist Maxwell Armfield.[12] It was featured in the February 1917 edition of The Countryside magazine, which states that the mural was originally designed for the dining room of a London mansion.[13][14]


Contemporary reception of the album was mixed. Writing for Rolling Stone, John Morthland said Fleetwood Mac had fallen "flat on their faces", and later dismissed the album as mostly "nondescript ramblings".[15] On the other hand, Robert Christgau was more positive. He described the album's mixing of "easy ballads and Latin rhythms with the hard stuff" as "odd" but "very good".

Modern reviews are highly positive; The New Rolling Stone Album Guide labeling the album as "cool, blues-based stew"[6] and considered it as the second best Fleetwood Mac album. The Telegraph described it as a "musically expansive, soft edged, psychedelic blues odyssey".[16] Clark Collins of Blender gave the album five stars out of five, and described "Oh Well" as an "epic blues-pop workout".

Track listing[edit]

Original UK LP, September 1969
Side one
1."Coming Your Way"Danny Kirwan3:47
2."Closing My Eyes"Peter Green4:50
3."Fighting for Madge"Mick Fleetwood2:45
4."When You Say"Kirwan4:22
5."Showbiz Blues"Green3:50
7."One Sunny Day"Kirwan3:12
Side two
1."Although the Sun Is Shining"Kirwan2:31
2."Rattlesnake Shake"Green3:32
3."Without You"Kirwan4:34
4."Searching for Madge"John McVie6:56
5."My Dream"Kirwan3:30
6."Like Crying"Kirwan2:21
7."Before the Beginning"Green3:28


  • "When You Say" was covered by Christine McVie on her LP The Legendary Christine Perfect Album.

Original US LP, September 1969[edit]

The two songs ("One Sunny Day" & "Without You") deleted from the US version of the LP had already appeared on the US compilation English Rose.

Side one
1."Coming Your Way"Kirwan3:47
2."Closing My Eyes"Green4:50
3."Fighting for Madge"Fleetwood2:45
4."When You Say"Kirwan4:22
5."Showbiz Blues"Green3:50
Side two
1."Although the Sun Is Shining"Kirwan2:31
2."Rattlesnake Shake"Green3:32
3."Searching for Madge"McVie6:56
4."My Dream"Kirwan3:30
5."Like Crying"Kirwan2:21
6."Before the Beginning"Green3:28

Revised US LP, November 1969[edit]

When the double-sided single "Oh Well (pts 1 & 2)" (released November 1969) became a hit, the US LP was re-released in a revised running order to include "Oh Well", dropping Danny Kirwan's "When You Say" and "My Dream" to make room for it. The two parts of "Oh Well" differ widely, the first being hard rock, the latter a meditative instrumental, on which Green played cello.[17] The first minute or so of "Part 2" was included as a fade-out coda to the A-side of the single. For the album, "Oh Well, Parts 1 & 2" were crudely spliced together, so that the coda is heard twice. Without the repeat, the whole piece runs only 7:58. "Part 1" of "Oh Well" has remained a regular concert feature to the present day, sung variously by Bob Welch, Lindsey Buckingham, Billy Burnette and Mike Campbell.

Other changes include putting the two edits from the "Madge" jams back-to-back, fading down between them. The giggle that previously linked "My Dream" to "Like Crying" ended up, in the previous edit, following the end of "Fighting for Madge" instead. Madge, the press were told at the time, was a female fan of the group, immortalised in two long instrumental jams finally released in their entirety on 2002's The Vaudeville Years.

Side one
1."Coming Your Way"Kirwan3:47
2."Closing My Eyes"Green4:50
3."Showbiz Blues"Green3:50
5."Oh Well"Green8:56
Side two
1."Although the Sun Is Shining"Kirwan2:31
2."Rattlesnake Shake"Green3:32
3."Searching for Madge"McVie6:56
4."Fighting for Madge"Fleetwood2:45
5."Like Crying"Kirwan2:21
6."Before the Beginning"Green3:28

CD track listing[edit]

The CD release mostly sticks to the order of the revised US track listing, but re-inserts the two deleted songs ("My Dream" and "When You Say") in new locations. The giggle is now tied to the end of "Fighting For Madge" instead of the beginning of "Like Crying" by the previous edit. "Oh Well" still contains the repeated minute. The two songs that appeared only on the UK LP are still missing.

1."Coming Your Way"Kirwan3:47
2."Closing My Eyes"Green4:50
3."Showbiz Blues"Green3:50
4."My Dream"Kirwan3:30
6."Oh Well"Green8:56
7."Although the Sun Is Shining"Kirwan2:31
8."Rattlesnake Shake"Green3:32
9."Searching for Madge"McVie6:56
10."Fighting for Madge"Fleetwood2:45
11."When You Say"Kirwan4:22
12."Like Crying"Kirwan2:21
13."Before the Beginning"Green3:28
2013 Deluxe Edition Rhino Records CD
1."Coming Your Way"Kirwan3:45
2."Closing My Eyes"Green4:51
3."Fighting for Madge"Fleetwood2:42
4."When You Say"Kirwan4:31
5."Showbiz Blues"Green3:51
7."One Sunny Day"Kirwan3:13
8."Although the Sun Is Shining"Kirwan2:25
9."Rattlesnake Shake"Green3:30
10."Without You"Kirwan4:35
11."Searching for Madge"McVie6:56
12."My Dream"Kirwan3:31
13."Like Crying"Kirwan2:25
14."Before the Beginning"Green3:30
15."Oh Well, Part 1" (Bonus mono track)Green3:22
16."Oh Well, Part 2" (Bonus mono track)Green5:39
17."The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)"Green4:37
18."World in Harmony"Kirwan, Green3:26

Unreleased Bonus EP: The Milton Schlitz Show[edit]

The original intention was to include a bonus EP in the Then Play On album. The EP was to be compensation for the fact that Jeremy Spencer barely appeared on the album. The EP consisted of Spencer's parodies of doo wop ("Ricky Dee and the Angels"), Alexis Korner, country blues ("Texas Slim"), acid rock ("The Orange Electric Squares"), and John Mayall. It was finally released on Fleetwood Mac's The Vaudeville Years compilation in the 1990s.

1."Jeremy's Contribution to Doo Wop"Jeremy Spencer4:23
2."Every Day I Have the Blues"Peter Chatman4:23
3."Death Bells"Spencer5:05
4."(Watch Out for Yourself) Mr. Jones"Spencer3:35
5."Man of Action"Spencer5:21


Fleetwood Mac

Additional uncredited personnel


  • Fleetwood Mac – producers
  • Martin Birch – engineer
  • Dinky Dawson – sound consultant


Year Chart Position
1969 UK 6
1970 US 109

SinglesBillboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1970 "Oh Well – Pt. I" Pop Singles 55


  1. ^ Unterberger, Richie (1 September 2016). Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 9780760351765 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ "Blender :: guide". 19 October 2006. Archived from the original on 19 October 2006.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (30 September 2013). The Virgin Encyclopedia of The Blues. Random House. ISBN 9781448132744 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Then Play On; Bare Trees; Fleetwood Mac; Rumours; Tusk; Time". 18 April 2003.
  6. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (24 August 2017). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743201698 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Acclaimed Music". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b Mick Fleetwood with Stephen Davis (1990). My Life and Adventures with Fleetwood Mac. Sidgewick & Jackson, London.
  9. ^ Mick Fleetwood (30 October 2014). Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-1-4447-5326-4.
  10. ^ Morthland, John. "Fleetwood Mac Then Play On Album Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  11. ^ a b Bosso, Joe. "Mick Fleetwood: my 11 greatest recordings of all time - Rattlesnake Shake". musicradar. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Friday Gem from the Stoddard – Templeton Design Archive: Maxwell Armfield". University of Glasgow Library. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  13. ^ The Countryside and Suburban Life magazine, February 1917
  14. ^ "The Countryside". Archived from the original on 9 December 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  15. ^ Morthland, John (13 December 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone (48): 50. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Fleetwood Mac's albums: from worst to best".
  17. ^ a b "Startside 2005". Archived from the original on 11 March 2005.
  18. ^ Rooksby, Rikky (2004). Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Guide to Their Music – Rikky Rooksby – Google Books. ISBN 9781844494279.
  19. ^ Rooksby, Rikky (2004). Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Guide to Their Music – Rikky Rooksby – Google Books. ISBN 9781844494279.