Daily Mail Online
By ADRIAN THRILLS
24 January 2013
FLEETWOOD MAC: Rumours (Rhino, Expanded and Deluxe editions)
Verdict: Rock’s greatest soap opera revisited Rating:
Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours wasn’t so much a rock record as a fully fledged soap opera.
Fuelled by drugs and tangled romances, it chronicled the five members’ raw emotions with classic songs like Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way and Dreams.
Keyboardist Christine McVie described the sessions as a ‘nightly cocktail party’ while drummer Mick Fleetwood said they were ‘crucifyingly difficult’.
But the Anglo-Americans pressed on to finish ‘the most important album we ever made’.
On Monday — 35 years after its original release — Rumours is back. The landmark album is being re-issued in two packages with bonus material, out-takes and live recordings to mark the band’s reunion tour (UK dates are expected to be in late September).
A three-CD version, selling at around £12, contains the original album, bonus tracks and the live material. For Mac maniacs, a ‘deluxe’ edition, close to £50, is bolstered by further outtakes, a DVD and copy of Rumours on vinyl.
So how does it all stand up three-and-a-half decades on? Very well indeed. Echoes of the album’s radio-friendly hooks and harmonies can now be heard in modern bands like The Pierces and Haim.
The album has even been the focus of a TV episode of Glee, while an a cappella cover of Don’t Stop is currently heard on a Seat cars’ advert.
The main reason why Rumours continues to fascinate is the way it vividly documents the band’s twisted relationships. Mick was in the throes of a painful divorce from Jenny Boyd and would go on to have an affair with Mac singer Stevie Nicks.
Bassist John McVie and keyboardist Christine had just broken up after eight years of marriage, while Stevie and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham were heading for the rocks following a five-year romance.
The band poured the trauma into their writing: Buckingham’s Go Your Own Way was a hurtful parting shot at Nicks, who responded with Dreams; Christine McVie aimed Don’t Stop at John to show him how she had moved on; he suggested the title Rumours because the group, without admitting it, were all writing songs about each other.
The songs pushed founder members Mick and John away from their roots in British blues to something that sounds contemporary even today.
The rollicking Don’t Stop remains a radio staple while The Chain is the BBC’s theme tune for its Formula 1 coverage.
Stevie once told me: ‘What I remember aren’t the bad nights when we weren’t speaking to one another but the night Dreams was written.
‘I walked in and handed a rough cassette to Lindsey. He was mad with me at the time but he played it and looked up at me and smiled.
‘We knew what was going on was very sad. We were couples who couldn’t make it through the perils of fame but we still looked on each other with a lot of respect. It was a shame we had to break up but we got Go Your Own Way and Dreams out of it all. How upset can you be about that?’
The bonus material is strong — especially the songs left off the original album. Of the alternate versions of album tracks, the picks are an early incarnation of Dreams and a new version of I Don’t Want To Know. Less impressive are the jam sessions on the deluxe edition, while the live songs from 1977 don’t add anything.
But the real joys are to be found by listening again to the original, 39-minute album. It’s no wonder Fleetwood Mac were so keen to overcome the tribulations and finish a record with some of the catchiest, most intriguing songs of the Seventies.
RUMOURS AND FACTS
- The album topped the U.S. chart for 31 weeks — and has now sold 40 million copies worldwide.
- The sleeve features Herbert Worthington’s black-and-white photo of Stevie Nicks and soon-to-be-lover Mick Fleetwood.
- Rumours won a Grammy for album of the year in 1978.