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Fleetwood Mac
Reprise 2225
Released: July 1975
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 148
Certified 5x Platinum: 10/13/86

Fleetwood MacNot only is Fleetwood Mac no longer blues oriented, it isn't even really British: The two newest members, Lindsey Buckingham (guitar and vocals) and Stevie Nicks (vocals, acoustic guitar) are American, and all five members are now based in Los Angeles. The band began its spiritual journey to L.A. a half-dozen albums ago -- on Future Games -- when it was led by the often dazzling guitarist/singer Danny Kirwan. Kirwan is long gone but his inspiration lingers in the songs and singing of Christine McVie (who's also developed into an effective keyboard player) and in the electric guitar playing of Buckingham, who likes to interpose aching, Kirwanesque leads and textured, Byrds-like rhythm lines. Thanks to their efforts, Fleetwood Mac is easily the group's best and most consistent album since Bare Trees, the last to feature Kirwan.

The four songs written and sung by Christine McVie make it clearer than ever that she's one of the best female vocalists in pop, and a deft song craftswoman as well. "Say You Love Me," "Over My Head," "Sugar Daddy" and "Warm Ways" transform conventional pop-song structures into durably attractive and believably genuine pieces -- each sounds like an ideal radio song. McVie's singing -- slightly husky, not beautiful but unaffected -- is simply captivating; she does everything right.

Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac
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But her contributions have been a strong point since she first appeared with the group on Kiln House; what makes this album a marked improvement over the last several are the efforts of Buckingham, who gives Fleetwood Mac a distinguished and fitting guitar and vocal presence, something the band has lacked since Kirwan's departure. Of the four tracks he dominates, "Monday Morning" has the most initial appeal, but the hard-edged guitar song, "World Turning" (a McVie/Buckingham collaboration) and the gorgeously somber "I'm So Afraid" stand out more and more as the album grows more familiar.

Nicks, on the other hand, has yet to integrate herself into the group style. Compared to McVie's, her singing seems callow and mannered, especially on "Landslide," where she sounds lost and out of place -- although to be fair, this is more a problem of context than of absolute quality. Her "Rhiannon," colored by Buckingham's Kirwan-style guitar, works a little better and "Crystal," on which Buckingham joins her on lead vocal, suggests that she may yet find a comfortable slot in this band.

Thanks to the rapport that is evident between McVie and Buckingham, Fleetwood Mac adds up to an impressively smooth transitional album.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 9/25/75.

Bonus Reviews!

Those erstwhile English straightforward rockers continue to evolve as a Los Angeles group whose keynote is sophisticated versatility. The members are becoming studio harmonic texture virtuosos on the level of the Doobie Brothers. Their hard-working tour schedule has won them a lot of friends and this LP zeroes them in more closely on AM hit material and the ensuing wider success. Best cuts: "Monday Morning," "Rhiannon," "Say You Love Me."

- Billboard, 1975.

Why is this Fleetwood Mac album different from all other Fleetwood Mac albums? The answer is supergroup fragmentation in reverse: the addition of two singer-songwriters who as Buckingham Nicks were good enough -- or so somebody thought -- to do their own LP for Polydor a while back. And so, after five years of struggling for a consistency that became their hob globin, they make it sound easy. In fact, they come up with this year's easy listening classic. Roll on. A-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

This album hit the American No. 1 spot in 1975 and stayed in the charts for a total of one hundred and twenty two weeks, generating singles hits like shrapnel.

Remastering for Compact Disc release has produced a powerful sound with a strong bass pulse that may overwhelm some hi-fi systems, notably the kick drum and electric bass thumps in the introduction to "World Turning." Cymbals seem to have been given a treble lift which makes them fizzle. The sound quality is well above average for the period and well treated on CD, voices sounding particularly fine -- Stevie Nicks' vocals, on her own hit song "Rhiannon" and "Landslide" for instance, reproducing with remarkable breathy clarity. The wailing electric guitar in this song now plays from a great distance at the back of the mix -- all these songs are mixed with care over perspective and space.

- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.

Timing is everything, and this may have been one of the best timed releases in the history of pop music -- enormously influential, if not overwhelmingly substantial. John Rockwell, writing in Connoisseur Magazine, called it a "rock landmark," one of "seven records that define a musical age." Rockwell's comments have the ring of truth; particularly when one considers how pervasive the Fleetwood Mac sound was in the FM-oriented mid-Seventies. And this is material of enduring value -- it exhibits fine writing, singing, and guitar work, as well as one of the best (and most experienced) bass/drum combos in the biz -- and don't let anybody kid you, the flash may be out front, but the really great rock bands are built from the bottom up. The CD's sound does justice to the material -- spacious and beautifully detailed in the vocals and strings. A-

- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.

The addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks plus the increasing quality of Christine McVie's songs, results in massive success. This #1 album, one of the finest collections of pop/rock in the decade, contains the hits "Rhiannon," "Over My Head," and "Say You Love Me." * * * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

With "Landslide," "Rhiannon," "Over My Head" and "I'm So Afraid," Fleetwood Mac nearly matches the mainstream pop standard that would later be set by Rumours. * * * * 1/2

- Steve Holtje, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

Amazing how a band can reinvent itself and release an incredible "debut" over seven years after it formed -- enter Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks with her voice of gold, and the rest is history. Their infusion showed how brilliant Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were at putting together combos, Christine McVie's vocals blend with the newcomers' gloriously and the good white witch knows how to write a song -- together they make magic before your eyes. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and his missus, Christine, had been through myriad lineups before finding California couple Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Surmounting "cultural differences" (Buckingham's description), the group clicked, generating big radio songs such as "Say You Love Me" and "Rhiannon," and Buckingham contributed solid guitar work, arrangements and vocals that bridged the wildly divergent styles of McVie and Nicks. "We would get to know one another as friends only to a certain point," Buckingham remarked. But that didn't prevent them from going on to record 1977's Rumours, one of the biggest records ever.

Fleetwood Mac was chosen as the 183rd greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

The first Fleetwood Mac album to feature the newly arrived pairing of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac saw the band veering off the bluesy path upon which it had been travelling since its inception eight years earlier, and into a pop/folk/rock area that for the original members -- drummer Fleetwood and the husband and wife team of Christine and John McVie -- was uncharted territory.

The new band members -- and the subsequent diversion they prompted -- make the effort well worth the creative shift. Although in sales terms the best was still to come, Fleetwood Mac gave the band their first Number One album in the US, spending 148 weeks in the charts, while it reached Number 23 in the UK.

Nicks brings to the band an ethereal grace, used to stunning effect on "Rhiannon," while Buckingham's guitar and songwriting talents create a rockier, more transatlantic sound, for example on the album's opener, "Monday Morning" and "I'm So Afraid." This material, together with the contributions by Nicks, neatly counterbalances the lilting love songs of main songwriter Christine McVie. It is McVie's songs, however, which provides the album's warmth, notably on "Warm Ways" and "Over My Head."

The album gained its fifth platinum certification in October 1986 and in 2003 Fleetwood Mac was chosen as the 183rd greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine.

As of 2004, Fleetwood Mac was the #45 best-selling album of the 70s.

- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.

The Meeting, as it is known in Fleetwood Mac lore, took place over margaritas. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie had been kicking around Los Angeles in search of a new guitar player, and had invited a young guitarist and songwriter, Lindsey Buckingham, and his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks to have a drink. Fleetwood had been listening to Buckingham Nicks, the duo's sparkling debut, and he wanted to hire Buckingham as a guitarist. He sensed that Buckingham could take Fleetwood Mac away from the vaguely spacey music (see Bare Trees, from 1972) that the band had made wih just-departed guitarists Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan.

Buckingham was interested, but insisted that Nicks be included as well: Nicks joined Christine McVie, then John's wife, in a vocal blend that became the Mac's new trademark. The group singing wiped away any lingering blues traces from previous Mac incarnations, replacing them with California sunshine. After revamping "Crystal" from Buckingham Nicks, the individual members wrote new songs with the expansive harmonies in mind. The hit-making incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was born.

The history books say that this band peaked with Rumours, the 1977 internecine romance chronicle that became one of the top-selling albums of all time. Certainly Rumours is accomplished. It's also a tad too straightforward -- the refrains are pleasant in a nondemanding way, the rhythms patter unobtrusively around in housecoat and slippers. Fleetwood Mac, by contrast, burns a little bit. "World Turning" surrounds an ageless blues cry with crackling banjo lines, while "I'm So Afraid" and "Landslide" look at vulnerability from different angles. "Rhiannon," the best of Nicks's witch-goddess odes, moves through time with paranormal grace.

Also well worth tracking down is Buckingham Nicks. In some ways a template for Fleetwood Mac, it's filled with low-key ruminations featuring two people who find thrills singing in close harmony. The album's performances are intimate, yet as is true of everything Buckingham touches, poised and methodical -- qualities not usually associated with debut records made on shoestring budgets. Despite petitions from devoted fans, it has never been issued digitally in the United States. That's wrong: This is one quiet gem that deserves to see daylight again.

- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.

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