Albatross

Album: English Rose (1969)
Charted: 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • An albatross is a bird that sailors believed brought bad luck, hence the expression "An albatross around your neck." The albatross appears in the poem The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green read the poem as a child, which gave him the idea for the song.
  • This song is the biggest-selling selling rock instrumental of all time in the UK.
  • Peter Green says in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "I heard John Mayall's Bluebreakers cover of Blues singer Jimmy Rogers 'The Last Meal.' I thought I would take it and develop it."
  • From start to finish, this contains only two guitar chords: Emaj7 and F#m.
  • Musically, this inspired the Beatles song "Sun King" on their 1969 Abbey Road album.
  • A Chuck Berry instrumental from 1957 called "Deep Feeling" has many of the same elements Fleetwood Mac used on "Albatross," including a call and answer style of guitar playing, and constant bass in the background. Berry was an influence on many British Blues musicians.
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Comments: 14

  • Gerard from 'straliaHi from 'Stralia - the state formerly known as 'Down Under' Capricorn.
    Not sure about the discussion time stamps below, but in Sep'18 I would like to add the following:
    1. Sergovia arguably the finest classical guitarist of all time, defined Fleetwood Mac's 'Albatross' as a master piece
    2. WRT influencing sources for 'Albatross' please also consider good old Chuck Berry's tune 'Deep Feeling' from the original Chess recordings.
    Finally, 'Supernatural' is bloody good too (refer a previous post by Wayne - Salem, Va) and... Fleetwood Mac and Christine Perfect when in Savoy Brown ALL great bands!!!
    Cheerio from Down Under Capricorn
  • John from Oxford, United KingdomPeter Green was wrong. When Albatross hit number one in the UK, some of the Blues purists lambasted him saying he and the band had 'sold out'. What rubbish. Peter responded at the time saying that Albatross would still be being played by music lovers in 30 years time. They're still playing it today, way beyond his 30 year forecast! What a band. I remember vividly walking up the front of Bournemouth sea front, June 26 (my birthday) in 1969 up the slope to the Ritz (later the Hive) ballroom with this wonderful bluesy sound of Little Richard's Tutti Frutti blasting out - it was Fleetwood Mac - Mick, Jeremy, Danny, John and Peter giving it their all. God was that sound good. Great venue too, large bay fronted and up to 1000 fans (incredible) so they made enough money at low fees to employ the top bands. Great, great era the late 60s and the 70s. Peter did say at the time of Albatross that he took his cue from Santo & Johnny's 'Sleepwalk'. What he said later should not be taken as fact because you have to consider Peter had suffered years of his ill health and his 'Manalishi'.
  • Curd from Mannheim, GermanyAs a guitar player you might think Albatross is a very simple piece. But it educates your perfection. The vibrato is so perfectly synchronal that still today after almost 50 years of guitarplaying I cannot tell if the part was played only by Kirwan or as a duo with Green. Both cases would be hard to believe. Just imagine an albatross "standing" in the wind wings spread, and you´ll know why the song is named Albatross. No religion, no symbol, no philosophy here!
  • Harold from San Bernadino, CaMac was one of the best blues bands to come out of England at that time----great track, great band!
  • Jude from Baltimore, MdBy the way, Gilmour recently played a version of "Albatross" on the Jools Holland show: http://www.neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk/index.php/news/351-bbc-jools-holland-albatross
  • Jude from Baltimore, Md"Albatross" was a clear influence on Pink Floyd's David Gilmour's playing style, from the single-note bends, the rhythmic pulsing bass and harmony guitars, to its spacey ambience. Put on PF's "Ummagumma" album, its outtake "Embryo," or "Echoes," and the influence is clear.
  • Reed from New Ulm, MnI've always preferred Fleetwood Mac from this particular era, when they were one of the true blues bands in England.
    they did alot of great material back then.
  • Wayne from Salem, VaHey Clint from Mount Vernon,MO. You're wrong,"Albatross" by The Original Fleetwood Mac is not boring. It is in fact a great and beautiful instrumental. Read what Malicious Matt from Squatney wrote. He tells it perfect to a tee. One also has to appreciate and respect the original band. Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan and of course John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. A friend of mine alerted me to them years ago. And I have since purchased all of the original bands recordings. Buy "Shrine 69", it is a live recording from The Shrine Auditorium in L.A. in 1969. They do "Albatross" and it is great! This is a very good tune and they were a very good band. I would rather listen to the original group over the Lindsey, Stevie and Christine version. They were very good too mind you. I saw them in concert in 1982. But Lindsey Buckingham was no Peter Green. I read once that The Beatles tune "Hear Comes The Sun King" from Abbey Road was inspired by "Albatross". Listen to the both of them and you will hear it. Also "Clint, a number 1 in the UK in 1969, yes indeed. Alot of songs or tunes that hit No.1 are not always that good. Some are pure crap to be honest. But "Albatross" is a good tune. And was worthy of it. "Black Magic Woman" was also on the English Rose album. It is just a straight forward jam under 3 minutes. And Santana had a huge hit off of a Peter Green song. I have the boxed set "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions". In this you get The Pious Bird Of Good Omen cd (formerly English Rose). And "Albatross" and "Black Magic Woman" are both on there. Also anyone interested in how Fleetwood Mac came to be? Then buy "A Hard Road" by John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers. This features Peter Green and John McVie. And a great Peter Green instrumental "The Super-Natural", plus other good tunes. Thanks,
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaThis would have to be one of the most perfect pieces of music I have EVER heard. I listen to it when I cant get to sleep so it's kinda like a soothing little lullaby for me. I think its a life song for me, it definately makes me think about life and other beautiful things. *sigh* i love it.
  • Clint from Mount Vernon, MoI dont want to sound mean but I am kind of a fleetwood mac fan and when I saw this page I was excited to go listen to it. But then I listened to it and it was pretty boring. It was just the same thing. How was it number 1 in the UK?
  • Malicious Matt from SquatneyIn my opinion "Albatross" is the most perfect band performance I have ever heard. By any band. The reason I say this is because no particular band member ever stands out. Its perfectly balanced. Its not only a lovely tune, but a masterful performance because of the great subtlety required to play it right. The slightest bum note would be VERY noticable in a tune like this. The slightest bit of showing off by any band member, even one note too many, would ruin the overall feel of the song.

    Albatross is the perfect example of putting the music first and your ego second.
  • Glenna from Guilford, CtThis sounds like Jonah in the Bible story.Jonah didn`t do what Jonah was told and misfourtune came upon the ship,then Jonah(Aries) was tossed overboard and swallowed by a fish(Pises)that would be the Mother Elizabeth.And spewed up as John the water Baptizer(Aquirius).And the whole town got saved.Nivia was the towns name. If I am not mistaken.~Peace Glenna MacDonald~
  • Phil from WalsallRE; An albatross is a bird that sailors believed brought bad luck, hence the expression "An albatross around your neck."

    The Albatros was, acording to myth, believed to be the souls of a lost Saliors and to kill the bird would bring bad luck.
    "An albatross around your neck." Did come from "The Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner." The "ancient mariner shot an Albatros and misfortune imeadiatley befell the ship ( the ship was becalmed) As a punishment The 'Ancient Mariners' fellow saliors hung the dead bird around his neck. It wasnt untill the entire crew (except the Ancient marriner) had died that the curse was broken and the dead bird fell from his neck.
    In reality Saliors would often kill and eat Albatrosses.
  • Walter from Antwerp, BelgiumStrange. I can't hear any connection with Rogers' 'My Last Meal'. I read somewhere, Peter Green took his cue here from the Santo & Johnny instrumentals from the late fifties, which makes much more sense to me. Give 'Abatross' a listen after playing their 'Sleep Walk' and be your own judge.
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