This kit was issued as a press release for Christine's 1984 Solo Album release
Christine McVie is a rarity in rock n' roll. A gifted singer and composer of
countless hits, she is also a consummate musician who can hold her own with the best of her peers. She is a musician's musician--skilled, innovative and
constant in both talent and imagination.
As a member of. Fleetwood Mac since 1970, McVie has contributed largely to the band's astronomical success with a wealth of songs, a distinctive keyboard style punctuated by rambling, chunky chord progressions and an unmistakable voice that marries sweetness to sensuality. Those elements are now the foundation for Christine McVie, her first solo album since joining her superstar band.
"I had wanted to do a solo record for a long time, but I was nervous about it," she says. "After all, I'd been so used to being a fifth of a band, and suddenly it had reached a point where this record was expected of me. The only things I was sure about were that I didn't want the responsibility of producing it my- self, and I didn't want to write all the songs on my own."
Joining forces with guitarist Todd Sharp, who plays lead on the record, McVie spent three months preparing the material for the album. "We literally went in- to my music room at my house and played with ideas and riffs that we both had and wrote the music and words together," she explains. "I enjoy writing that way now because when you can inject somebody else's personality as well as your own, the songs come out stronger."
The Christine McVie album was produced by Russ Titelman and recorded at Mountain Recording Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, home of the Montreux Jazz .Festival. "Even though Fleetwood Mac never had a producer, I felt I needed one myself," she says. "I chose Russ because I really like him as a person, and I trust his decision-making process."
She also accepted his recommendation of drummer Steve Ferrone, former member of the Average White Band, and most recently, the drummer with George Benson and Jeffrey Osborne. Guitarist Sharp, who has worked with Hall and Oates, Bob Welch, Danny Douma and Mick Fleetwood on his Visitor album, and bass guitarist George Hawkins, another veteran of The Visitor and Mick Fleetwood's I'm Not Me albums and Kenny Loggins' and Al Jarreau's bands, were Christine's long-time choices to play on her album. McVie herself on keyboards completes the line-up.
"We were so well-prepared that the album only took three months to make," says Christine. "Montreux is a really beautiful place and I loved it there. I treated being away from home as an adventure. I mean, if you're going to make a record, you might as well make it as much fun for yourself as possible."
McVie was born Christine Perfect in Birmingham, England, into a family abundant in musical history. Her grandfather had played the organ in Westminster Abbey and her farther, who aborted a musical career to support his family, eventually earned his teaching degree and became a professor of music at the local university. He still teaches and plays violin with Birmingham City Orchestra and a chamber ensemble.
For young Christine, piano lessons were essential. "I absolutely hated it, and my parents eventually let me stop," she. recalls. Meanwhile she pursued her interest in art, attending a special art school where she studied graphic design, fabric printing, silkscreen and sculpture. When she resumed playing piano voluntarily, she became seriously interested in .classical music until older brother John, himself an accomplished musician, introduced her to the music of Fats Domino, and she began to develop her own version of. his trademark rolling chord style.
Realizing she didn't want to teach after graduating from art college With a degree In sculpture, Christine moved to London and took on a job as a window dresser at a fashionable Oxford Street department store. That career quickly ended when some Birmingham friends asked her to join their new band as the keyboard player and occasional vocalist. Originally called Sounds of Blue, the group changed its name to Chicken Shack and established itself among the British blues bands of the late 1960's, a time when a group called Fleetwood Mac was making its first assault on the British charts.
Christine married Fleetwood Mac's John McVie and left Chicken Shack for a brief solo career necessitated by her being named Top Female Vocalist of 1969 in the annual Melody Maker poll. Urged .to make an album to capitalize on the honor, the result was Christine Perfect --.reissued, in turn, in 1977, to capitalize on her Fleetwood Mac success. It includes her British hit single version of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind."
By 1970, John and Christine got tired of their separate careers causing them to pass each other in hallways, suitcases in hand. Chris had done some uncredited. vocal work as well as the cover art for Fleetwood Mac's Kiln House album, and now she formally joined the band.
As a member of Fleetwood Mac, she began to write music for the first time. Beginning with "Show Me A Smile" from the Future Games album, she has contributed a lengthy string of pop gems to the band's repertoire, including some of its biggest hits, "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," "You Make Lovin' Fun," "Don't Stop," "Think About Me,". "Hold Me" and "Love In Store," among others. It was only with the band's 1982 Mirage album that Christine began to seriously collaborate with other songwriters on her compositions, and with her new solo album, she made it a must.
"I find that writing with someone else gives a different direction to my writing," she explains. "It also seems to lift me out of my own insecurity as a songwriter when there are a few more ideas floating around from someone else." Besides collaborating with Sharp, McVie also went to England twice during the recording to write and .record with old friend 'Steve Winwood' "I've known Steve for about 20 years, and his always been my idol," says McVie. "Of all the people I've ever wanted to sing with, he's the optimum choice."
McVie stayed at Winwood's house in Gloucester where he has a brand new studio in a converted barn, and together they wrote "Ask Anybody," a subtle bluesy number on which she sings .lead and Mick Fleetwood plays drums. While working together, Winwood heard "One In A Million," a McVie-Sharp tune from the album, and asked to sing on it. The finished version is a sultry duet.
The Mac's Lindsey Buckingham is heard playing guitar on "The Smile I' Live-For," the albums one true ballad, and Ray Cooper, best known for his work with Elton John, added percussion in various places. And when Eric Clapton asked, "So what am I going to do on your record?", Christine assigned him the guitar solo on "The Challenge," a song named for now-ex-husband John McVie's boat. "John and Eric started out in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers together so it was kind of a nice connection. there," she says.
The Christine McVie album will surprise many who have taken Fleetwood Mac's earthy blonde, imprisoned behind-a wall of keyboard equipment, for granted these many years. The album showcases her strengths as .a singer, a songwriter and as a musician in one neat package. "It's a very up, rock n' roll record," says Christine, "more gutsy than people would expect from me. The lyrics and songs are very happy and positive. They're not the love-lost, miserable-type songs that I'm accused of writing all the time. I'm proud of this record because I know I've done my very best on it."
Excerpts from Christine McVie Interview, December 9, 1983
Q: What was it like to record in Montreux?
A: It was hardly atypical studio in that it was in a casino. It was in a big, multi-purpose building with a disco in it, a strip club, two bars, a casino, a restaurant and a coffee shop, and the studio. There was a side door to get directly into the studio, or you could walk through the casino to get to it. Everything you could want was right there in one building.
During the first part of the stay in Montreux we lived in a hotel that was literally within walking distance. Montreux is a really small place, overlooking a beautiful lake, Lake Leman, with the Dents-du-Midi mountain range on the other side going all the way around. It's a breathtaking sight.
When we first got there it was summer, and surprisingly humid and hot. You could not wear anything hue shorts and a tee-shirt to work. Then we watched the seasons change, and by the time we left, all the leaves had turned completely. And we saw the snow level coming down the mountains by the day.
It was a short drive to Italy and to France. I loved it there. I treated being away from home as an adventure. I learned that lesson from Mick. He took himself off to Ghana, and I thought I .should get an unusual working environment too.
Of course, we were in a bit of a bubble in Montreux. We didn't have any distractions. We recorded a lot of the basic tracks in the big hall where they hold the Montreux Jazz Festival, and we got some great live drum sounds in there. The big hall was enormous, and we only had half of the room. We set the drums up right in the middle with a partition separating them. The sound there was great.
The engineer, David Richards, had been highly recommended by Arif
Mardin, who had worked with him in Montreux before. He is a master in his art. He recorded everything beautifully, and then Elliot Scheiner mixed it with
Russ Titelman in New York.
Q: Why did you decide to write most of the material with someone else?
A: I felt a whole record of just my music might become tiresome. I'm not putting my music down, but I think the record has so much more variety than it probably would have if I had written all the songs on my own.
It was fun co-writing with someone. I knew that Todd Sharp was the guitar player I wanted, but I wasn't aware when I made that decision that I might do as much writing with him as I actually did. We are very compatible writers, and I think the songs are refreshing. To me, it's an exciting record even bearing in mind that it's just me singing throughout it.
Q: Did the fact that you had a producer make a difference?
A: Yes, and it was wonderful. There was the whole issue of me being alone to make all the decisions, that would have been too great a responsibility. Even though I have had a hand in the production of Fleetwood Mac records because we never had a producer ever, I felt that I needed one for this project. I really trust Russ.
Q: How did the recording with Steve Winwood come about?
A: I met Steve briefly during the old Spencer Davis Group days, about twenty years ago, and he's always been my idol. Since I was doing a solo record I thought I would try to get in touch with him to see if he fancied doing a song with me.
I flew to England, and I stayed at his house in Gloucester where he has a beautiful, brand new studio in a converted barn. At first, we were both very edgy and nervous about working together so we went down to the pub and socked back a few pints, and then we went to his studio. The song really came easily. We just got about six different ideas together and chose the best one. It's called "Ask Anybody."
I was there for about ten days and then went back a second time because we had run out of time. The second time, he added keyboards and all sorts of different things and Todd and I put additional background vocals on it. Steve just sings on a chorus on that one.
Steve heard "One In A Million" and said he wanted to sing on it. So I suggested he take the second verse, and we did that song as a duet. Then he added some other Prophet fills on the ballad, "The Smile I Live For." That's Lindsey playing guitar on it.
Q: How did that come about?
A: Lindsey came over to Montreux for a week. He was in London, looking for an engineer to finish his album, so I asked him to nip over since he was so close by. He sang with me on "Who's Dreaming This Dream?", and he did a lot of other background vocals and odd guitar parts on the solo on the end of "The Smile I Live For."
Mick Fleetwood was in London as well so I got him to play drums on "Ask Anybody." Ray Cooper does a lot of percussion on the record. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet him. I had an appointment that morning, so I missed that session. And Eric Clapton plays guitar on "The Challenge," which I think was the perfect song for him to play on.
Q: Where was the album cover photo taken?
A: The album cover was shot in Wiltshire, two hours outside of London. It was so cold that the frost was about an inch thick on the trees. It looked gorgeous, but we had to be there at six in the morning, and wait for the light to be right. That didn't happen until three in the afternoon. That's when everything was finally right. We also did some studio shots out there for the single sleeve, and then the video was shot back in London in a studio. So, I've been a very hard-working girl to have finished the album, the album cover, the single cover, the video, everything, and to have it all done right on time before Christmas.
Q: Do you thing your experiences will influence future Fleetwood Mac albums?
A: I hope so. Fleetwood Mac has a reputation for taking a long time. It's tough with five people with five relatively big egos because there's an almost constant changing of minds. But everything went to smoothly for me because everybody was prepared and knew what they were supposed to do. I think we should definitely make demos of the songs just before the album is due to commence. It really makes life a lot easier. I never want to spend a year in the studio again to make one record, that's for sure.