Some bands, like AC/DC, do not alter their sound much in 40 years of playing. Many bands experiment and change as they grow as artists, but don’t stray too far from their roots. Fleetwood Mac, however, were almost a completely different band in 1977 – at the release of what many consider their best album, Rumours – to what they were in the mid-sixties when they formed.
Peter Green, a blues guitarist, formed Fleetwood Mac (a combination of the drummer’s and bassist’s last names) in 1967. Their early recordings were a ‘heavy’ blues sound, much akin to contemporary British blues-rockers like Cream, Free and the Yardbirds. Over the course of time and embittered relationships, however, the lineup changed (Mick Fleetwood being the only remaining original member) along with the band’s sound, to the stage where Rumours is much more pop than rock.
Rumours was recorded at a time where the band had developed a tempestuous dynamic, and as such the three song writers (Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie) frequently worked independently of each other, developing lyrics pertaining to personal struggle (Nicks’ ‘Gold Dust Woman’) and the aftermath of broken relationships, such as ‘Dreams’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’. Further, the latter of the two is widely considered to be one of the album’s strongest tracks. The band did actually all collaborate on one song – ‘The Chain’, another stand-out song with excellent, closely worked harmonies that compete with The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
The best song of Rumours is Christine McVie’s optimistic ‘Don’t Stop’, a message that is highly different from others in the album. The music compliments the positive lyrics well, with upbeat keyboards from McVie and Buckingham’s best guitar efforts. ‘Don’t Stop’ is followed up by ‘Go Your Own Way’, a song whose strength is heightened by the juxtaposition of these recordings.
The second half of the record (signified by the turning over of the LP!) starts with hit song ‘The Chain’, but goes steadily downhill from there with the funky ‘You Make Loving Fun’ and the surprisingly upbeat-sounding ‘I Don’t Want to Know’ acting as the last of the ‘great tracks’ on the album. It’s fair to say that, in comparison, the last two songs are relative let-downs.
If you missed out on seeing the current line-up of Fleetwood Mac on their tour, this album is your best bet on hearing them at their pop-prime. However, listeners looking for a more rocking sound are much better off with something from earlier on in their discography. If Fleetwood Mac were never stylised as a blues band, this album would have had an even greater reception, but some would listen wanting that fantastic early blues sound from the band.
3 stars ★★★✰✰
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