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Music

The Fleetwood Mac song that helped kickstart punk

@TylerGolsen

Fleetwood Mac went through so many different incarnations and lineups before their most successful iteration with Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks that they were more or less a completely different band in the late 1960s. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie held down the rhythm section the entire time, but they very rarely wrote songs or dictated the musical direction of the band. That was usually left to whatever guitarists and singers that band brought into the fold.

In 1969, that still consisted of blues god Peter Green, who would only stick around for another two years. Sensing the initial cracks of volatility in Green, and always on the prowl for more guitar, Fleetwood Mac brought in Jeremy Spencer as a second guitarist and vocalist for the band’s original lineup. Spencer was a blues purist, often looking to cover Elmore James and clashing with Green’s desire to evolve the band in a more diverse direction.

The solution was to hire teenage guitarist and singer Danny Kirwan, with whom Green immediately connected with. Spencer was left in his own world, choosing not to play on songs like ‘Man of the World’ and the UK number one hit ‘Albatross’. On the former single, the guitarist decided to broaden his palate by bringing in an old-school rock and roll pastiche that featured Spencer doing his best Elvis Presley.

‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ was a jovial jaunt complete with violent bar-brawl imagery and rollicking honky tonk piano, all courtesy of Spencer. The guitarist would later expand on this style with his 1970 debut solo album Jeremy Spencer, but these parodies and throwbacks didn’t really have room in the Fleetwood Mac discography. ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ would be featured on the B-side to the ‘Man of the World’ single, but it was not often considered a certified classic of the early Fleetwood Mac era.

In 1978, however, the song saw new life thanks to a cover by punk-new wave band The Rezillos. Being featured as one of three souped-up covers on the band’s debut album Can’t Stand the Rezillos, along with The Dave Clark Five’s ‘Glad All Over’ and Gerry and the Pacemakers’ ‘I Like It’, ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ represented The Rezillos unmatched ability to turn old-school rock and roll into pure punk.

By that point, Spencer had left Fleetwood Mac to join the Children of God religious cult. Spencer abruptly left the band during a 1971 stop in Los Angeles and refused to return, requiring a fragile Peter Green to come back before the band hired Bob Welch to help spearhead their next lineup. Spencer remains devoted to the cult to this day, but has recently repaired his relationship with his ex-bandmates enough to participate in a 2020 tribute concert to Peter Green that also featured Fleetwood.

Check out both versions of ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’ down below.