Music by Turner

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Music by Turner: Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' still flying 36 years later

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Forty million people weren’t wrong. Rumours, one of the greatest-selling albums in the history of music, has just been reissued in a “35th Anniversary edition” that includes all sorts of bonus goodies for Fleetwood Mac fans.

John McVie and Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac, perform in March 2009 in New York. The band kicks off a 34-city U.S. tour April 3, with a stop in Atlanta on June 10.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
John McVie and Stevie Nicks, of Fleetwood Mac, perform in March 2009 in New York. The band kicks off a 34-city U.S. tour April 3, with a stop in Atlanta on June 10.

Of course, when the majority of the band was going through breakups and divorces during the year it took to record Rumours, it was either going to result in lameness or greatness. Can you imagine singing songs about your ex with your ex while your personal life is in such turmoil?

That’s exactly what the band was experiencing throughout the recording of Rumours.

But somehow, the band persevered and crafted an album that will be enjoyed (as the Moody Blues once wrote) by our “childrens’ children children.” It undoubtedly already is.

It’s a marvelous three-disc set that features the original album, a slew of outtakes and demos, and a dozen in-concert songs from the Mac.

Some of the live material was recorded in Columbia in 1977, so there’s a good chance some of you just might have enjoyed those firsthand at the Carolina Coliseum. What an unforgettable evening that was!

It’s interesting to note that the superb Stevie Nicks’ number Silver Springs has been added to the original album, where it belongs. When Rumours was first issued (actually 36 years ago) Silver Springs was relegated to the B-side of Go Your Own Way because of vinyl space limitations.

It’s difficult to fathom that the two ladies in the Mac were much older at the time than most everyone thought. Christine McVie, then a youthful 34, had already been in the band for almost seven years when Lindsey Buckingham and Nicks joined.

Even more surprising to many is that Nicks, who was a waitress when she entered the Fleetwood fold, was already 28. Yes, she looked way younger than that!

The demos and outtakes are fun to listen to for many reasons. For example, Nicks’ demo of The Chain is sparse and actually quite uneventful. But Buckingham’s stellar arranging skills took a very simple song and made it into an extremely powerful piece of work.

Never Going Back Again was originally called Brushes simply because Buckingham didn’t want Nicks to hear the final lyrics until late in the recording process. A working version of the song and a lovely instrumental version are included in this edition.

I found it extremely amusing that the working title of Nicks’ haunting Dreams was Spinners, simply because it reminded the band of a song by the soul group The Spinners that the band had heard. It’s not unusual for musicians to write or drastically change lyrics late in the recording process.

McVie’s You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy and the mega-hit Don’t Stop prove just how much the band today misses her “warm ways” in the studio and on the road.

Her stunning rendition of Songbird was said to have brought her former husband, bassist John McVie, to tears when he heard it for the first time.

This new edition does have some problems. The remastering of the album is a little too heavy on the bass and the packaging is a wee-bit flimsy. Not only that, the live disc contains only 12 songs, so it makes no sense that they left off other material performed during that spectacular tour of the United States.

If you want to know more about this classic album, I strongly suggest that you check out producer Ken Caillat’s captivating book Making Rumours that came out last year. It is a spellbinding read as it documents in detail the crazy, drug-fueled sessions from someone who was present during the entire process.

Yes, the Ken Caillat who produced Rumours is the father of Colbie Caillat, a Grammy Award winner just like her dad! She’s best-known for her hits Bubbly and Lucky and her fine long-player debut Coco.

Fleetwood Mac is currently rehearsing for a world tour that begins in April. The band, now down to just four members since Christine McVie retired more than a decade ago, will play at Atlanta’s Philip’s Arena on June 10.

In the meanwhile, longtime Mac fans can once again savor an album that will certainly never go out of favor. As Buckingham later wrote in his solo hit Go Insane “the Rumours were flying,” and 36 years later, they still are.


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