One of the true timeless classics from the R’n’R era, Albatross reached No.1 in the British singles charts in 1968 but its inspiration came from another No.1 single, Santo and Jonny’s 1959 hit Sleep Walk. In turn Sleep Walk was inspired by Sigmund Romberg’s 1927 tune, Softly As The Morning Sunrise written for the operetta The New Moon and this might be the reason that The Beatles Sun King from Abbey Road, inspired by Albatross, is so named.
All this inspiration passed on through the ages, each peace a worthy tribute to the past, not copying but reinterpreting, reinventing the artists’ song that went before. And somehow this is not the same as stealing, ripping off other artists ideas, it isn’t plagiarism because the song is different enough to stand on its own.
Albatross was a hit in England again in 1973 reaching No.2 on the chart but the song has been released and rereleased many times in many different countries and is widely accepeted as a perennial masterpiece. Danny Kirwan’s contribution to Albatross is as usual underplayed next to Peter Green’s dominance in the group. (My version of the single had Kirwan’s excellent Jigsaw Puzzle Blues on the B-side). Jeremy Spencer appears in the clip playing slide guitar but did not in fact play on the record, here he is miming Peter Green’s overdub.
Note the amazing playing here of Jeff Beck, the great songwriting of The Beatles, the exploration of Miles Davis and the raw inspiration of Fleetwood Mac under Peter Green’s direction in this period. This is also probably the first time that most people that read this will have heard Santo And Johnny – Fender Triple neck steel guitar – hard to forget.