Mojo Magazine (Match 2018)
By Mark Blake
FLEETWOOD MAC DELUXE EDITION
A fine romance
Starcrossed lovers 1975 hits album just before divorce proceedings began now expanded
Has there ever been any more serendipitous album then Fleetwood Mac? At the end of 1974, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie’s group were drawing their last breath. The boom years with guitarist Peter Green over, and the previous years trippy West Coast influenced Heroes Are Hard To Find was the latest in a long line of poor sellers.
It was make-or-break time, when Fleetwood hired unknown singer/ songwriter Lindsey Buckingham and, despite Fleetwood’s initial reluctance, Buckingham’s girlfriend Stevie Nicks; a story Nicks’ has rightly dined out on ever since. A year later, the rebooted Fleetwood Mac were basking in the success of a US number one hit. This deluxe edition contains fewer previously unreleased studio tracks but more live numbers than 2016’s things remastered Tango In The Night. The ‘White Album’ (as it’s often known) doesn’t have to sleep-deprived, teeth-grinding tension of his successor Rumours or a song as gleefully bombastic as The Chain. It’s warmer, slightly less druggie, and none the worse for that.
The original album contains three songs which between them templated the future sound of Fleetwood Mac. As anyone has heard 1973’s Buckingham Nicks album will confirm, the couple bought existing ideas to the table. They even re-recorded one of its songs, Crystal on Fleetwood Mac.
But the difference is immediate on Buckingham’s Monday Morning, with his trademark twanging guitar is meshed to Fleetwood’s twitchy rhythms and McVie’s elastic bass runs; a trick they’d repeat to ever increasing returns in the years ahead. Elsewhere, Nicks proves how essential she was to the new line-up with the spooked-sounding ballad Rhiannon, the first of many spooked-sounding ballads to follow.
Keyboard player Christine McVie conferences as a writer had been slowly growing. But on Say You Love Me, McVie sounds like she’s truly found her voice. It’s one of those great sunny Fleetwood Mac pop songs and probably doomed to appear on a TV ad, like Everywhere and Don’t Stop, before long. Among the bonus tracks is a live reading of McVie’s Why, originally from 73’s Mystery To Me. Hearing it repurposed with Nicks’ keening backing vocal is like hearing a different song entirely.
Equally, the Buckingham/McVie collaboration World Turning is a reminder of their great unsung partnership. While Buckingham and Nicks revitalised Fleetwood Mac, the seasoned bandmates brought great splashes of colour to the duo’s songs. Everyone benefited.
The original LP’s final track, Buckingham’s I’m So Afraid, signposts to sadness to come. The group is too romantic relationships were already unravelling, and the drama would be examined in excruciating detail on 1977’s Rumours. In the meantime, Fleetwood Mac is the sound of the band enjoying a fleeting honeymoon period. It’s the calm before the mother of all storms.
Thanks to Stéphane Blanc for providing this review