By Andy Stevens,
Wednesday 20 May 2015
From Rhiannon to Silver Springs, our round-up of the top ten Fleetwood Mac tracks from the Stevie Nicks era. Plus, read our in-depth Stevie Nicks interview in Saga Magazine.
Fleetwood Mac became – and remain – giants of transatlantic adult-orientated rock. In fact, if that genre was patented, they could confidently lay claim to owning the term. But the band are defined by two distinct, successful eras.
First, there were the (arguably) hairier, hippier British blues-rock years of Fleetwood Mac’s late Sixties incarnation, led by Peter Green. Here, the band variously plugged-in, progged-up and blissed-out with hits including Albatross, Man Of The World, Oh Well and the memorably-titled The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown).
But Fleetwood Mac’s career banked high into the commercial stratosphere in the mid and late Seventies when American singer Stevie Nicks flounced onto the scene to transform the band into global stadium fillers, her voice at once ethereal and earthy while oozing western promise.
Fleetwood Mac’s gazillion-selling 1977 Rumours album remains a credible counterweight to the punk era in its biggest and noisiest year, and is recognised more so as years pass.
And here’s a thing: take a straw poll of first generation punks and we bet many would have had a copy of Rumours in their record collections at the time, a heavily-played guilty pleasure lurking behind The Clash and Sex Pistols’ first albums.
We’ve picked out ten of the best tracks from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks era for your listening pleasure here. And we’ve done so with the shamelessly commercial premise in mind that some of the most popular and biggest-selling songs become both of those things for a reason.
Do you prefer Fleetwood Mac when they were full of Nicks’ appeal? Or do you think they should have packed it in when Peter Green unplugged his amp for the final time, before the band revamped to shift albums by the ship-load?
Here are ten top Fleetwood Mac tracks from the Stevie Nicks era:
A passionate uptempo live 1976 version, which sees Stevie Nicks positively own her breakthrough self-penned parable in a stunning all-round performance by the band.
Say You Love Me
Buoyed along by Christine McVie’s more bluesy singing style, a country-tinged sunny singalong steeped in mid-Seventies optimism.
Stevie Nicks hits the sultry button on a track which showcases her sweet-but-stellar vocal range, with slide guitar, electric piano and band harmonies to the fore above a steady-as rhythm section.
Gold Dust Woman
A blistering live concert version of arguably’s Fleetwood Mac’s greatest track from Rumours. A slow-burner with an almighty final third in a seven-plus minutes’ long opus, with Stevie Nicks pulling out a powerhouse performance. A song of, ahem, substance. Had it been recorded ten years earlier, then Jefferson Airplane’s name would surely have been on the sleeve.
A lesser light from 1979’s Tusk album, Brown Eyes is a stripped back, slow keyboard shuffle which subtly points towards another stylistic shift which was to gift the band a hatful of huge hits in the Eighties.
Distinctly middle-of-the-road slow-pacer, also from 1979, hallmarked by Stevie Nicks’ languid storytelling songsmith schtick – and no worse for that. Note too, that hirsute drummer Mick Fleetwood uses brushes. Only on the drums, not the hair, silly.
Go Your Own Way
You can imagine the band knew in an instant that this track had the distinct kerching of commercial crowd pleaser stamped all over it. The hook is the hit and the hit is the hook – that is all. Written by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who cranks up the vocal line from the off.
Surely this must be on some curriculum or test paper somewhere as the answer to the question ‘what encapsulates the classic Fleetwood Mac sound?’. Laid-back guitar harmonics complement Stevie Nicks’ drawly and floaty soft-focused mysticism.
A favourite among Fleetwood Mac devotees which amazingly failed to make the final cut on the Rumours album. A country style ballad of serious craftsmanship with an impassioned Stevie Nicks giving it folksy.
You Make Loving Fun
Fleetwood Mac’s horizontal rhythm section hold things steady, with guitar on full lick-alert, as Christine McVie’s rangy vocal powers through proceedings with an infectious chugging keyboard groove.
To read an in-depth interview with Stevie Nicks click here