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Archive for February 11th, 2013

Review: Fleetwood Mac, “Rumours: Expanded Edition”

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Fleetwood Mac RumoursIt never should have worked.

Since its formation in 1967, Fleetwood Mac had endured radical personnel changes, a stylistic shift from blues to rock, even a challenge from a “fake Mac” claiming to be the band in concert.  When guitarist-songwriter-vocalist Bob Welch became the latest member to pass through the Fleetwood Mac revolving door, Mick Fleetwood and the husband and wife team of John and Christine McVie invited two young Californians to bolster the line-up.  Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks first appeared on 1975’s self-titled album, which signified a new start for the identity crisis-stricken band.  With “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me,” the all-new Fleetwood Mac launched the group into the stratosphere.  Its slow ascent up the charts culminated in a No.1 berth on the Billboard 200 over one year after entering the chart.  The stage had been set for Rumours, which would handily surpass its predecessor’s great success.

Whether by design or accident, everybody knows the story of Rumours by now.  The relationship between Buckingham and Nicks was coming apart at the seams, while the threads of Christine and John McVie’s marriage were also fraying.  Not long after the album’s release, Nicks found herself in the arms of Fleetwood, his own marriage having recently crumbled.  In other words, all five members of the band were involved in break-ups and other torrid affairs of the heart while crafting (by most calculations) one of the ten best-selling albums of all time.  The seeds for dissension were there, especially once the L.A. music business culture of hedonism took its toll, but so were the seeds of great strength.  The two-woman, three-man band boasted three strong songwriters, who also happened to be its three vocalists.  Buckingham and Nicks were from California, the other three members were from the United Kingdom.  Each member’s sensibilities were singular, but when they marshaled their powers, it was clear that the sum of their parts was greater than any one individual’s.  (The same could be said for Eagles, the group deposed by Fleetwood Mac when Rumours replaced Hotel California at the top of the U.S. chart.)

Warner Music’s new expanded editions of Rumours (available in 3-CD and 4-CD/1-LP/1-DVD configurations) revisit its creation in high style.  It’s reductive to label Rumours solely as a “break-up” album, so these new deluxe reissues smartly concentrate not on the personal drama but rather on the music, which sounds as fresh and immediate today as it must have in 1977.  The familiarity of such songs as “Go Your Own Way” or “You Make Loving Fun” might make it difficult to appreciate them anew, but the reissue’s producers have opened up the Mac vaults to shed light on each step of the recording process and into the genesis of even these radio staples.

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Written by Joe Marchese

February 11, 2013 at 10:05

Posted in Box Sets, Fleetwood Mac, News, Reissues, Reviews

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