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Rumours
Fleetwood Mac

Warner 3010
Released: February 1977
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 134
Certified 13x Platinum: 3/1/89

John McVieMick FleetwoodChristine McVieStevie NicksLindsey BuckinghamRock & roll has this bad habit of being unpredictable. You never can tell when a band will undergo that alchemic transmigration from lead to gold. The medium of transformation is almost always a hit single, but such turnarounds often swamp a band in notoriety it can't live up to.

But in Fleetwood Mac's case the departure of guitarist Bob Welch -- who'd reduced the band to recutting pointless and pretentious versions of old standards -- amounted to the biggest break they ever had. With that and the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac suddenly became a California pop group; instead of laborious blues/rock jams they started turning out bright little three-minute singles with a hook in every chorus.

Christine McVie now leads a classic vocal group working out of the oldest popular tradition, love songs. Vocal harmonies are the meat and potatoes of California's pop identity, and Fleetwood Mac is now one of the genre's main proponents, with three lead singers of comparable range. Taken individually, only McVie's voice has much character, but she anchors their vocal arrangements, since Nicks' low range and Buckingham's high range approximate here dulcet, evenhanded timbre.

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Despite the interminable delay in finishing the record, Rumours proves that the success of Fleetwood Mac was no fluke. Christine McVie sounds particularly vital on "You Make Loving Fun," which works for the same reason "Over My Head" was a smash. The formula is vintage Byrds: Christine sings the verse simply, with sparse instrumental background, and the chorus comes on like an angelic choir -- high harmonies soaring behind her with 12-string electric guitar counterpoint ringing against the vocals.

The Byrds touch is Lindsey Buckingham's province, and it's used most successfully on the single, "Go Your Own Way," which employs acoustic guitar backing throughout, with best effect of the choruses. Mick Fleetwood's drumming adds a new dimension to this style. Fleetwood is swinging away, but not in the fluid roll pattern most rock drummers use. Instead of pushing the rhythm (Buckingham's acoustic guitar and John McVie's bass playing take care of that) he's punctuating it, playing against the grain. A touch like that can turn a good song into a classic.

Buckingham's contribution is the major surprise, since it appeared at first that Nicks was the stronger half of the team. But Nicks has nothing on Rumours to compare with "Rhiannon," her smash from the last album. "Dreams" is a nice but fairly lightweight tune, and her nasal singing is the only weak vocal on the record. "I Don't Want to Know," which is pure post-Buffalo Springfield country-rock formula, could easily be confused with any number of Richie Furay songs.

Buckingham's other two songs here are almost as good as "Go Your Own Way." "Second Hand News," ostensibly about the breakup of his relationship with Nicks, is anything but morose, and completely outdoes the Eagles in the kiss-off genre. Again the chunking acoustic guitar rhythm carries the song to a joyful chorus that turns average voices into timeless pop harmony. It may be gloss, but it's the best gloss to come along in a long time. "Never Going Back Again," the prettiest thing on the album, is just acoustic picking against a delightful vocal that once again belies the bad-news subject matter.

Fleetwood Mac's change from British blues to California folk-rock is not as outlandish as some might think. The early Sixties blues scene in England had as much to do with rural American fold music as the urban blues sound, which was predominantly a guitarist's passion anyway. Christine McVie is much closer to a singer like Fairport Convention's Sandy Denny than to any of England's blues shouters. Without altering her basic sensibility McVie moves easily into the thematic trappings of the California rock myth. She's always written love songs, and sings here ballads with halting emotion. "Songbird," her solo keyboard spot on Rumours, is elevated by its context from what would have been referred to as a devotional blues into a pantheistic celebration of love and nature.

So Fleetwood Mac has finally realized the apotheosis of that early-Sixties blues crusade to get back to the roots. It's just that it took a couple of Californians and a few lessons from the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Eagles to get there.

- John Swenson, Rolling Stone, 4/21/77.

Bonus Reviews!

Fleetwood Mac's astonishing breakout success of 1976 is consolidated and verified by the group's latest product, which already has a red-hot single in "Go Your Own Way." The album solidifies the group's brilliant use of two female lead voices and male background singing against a crisp, medium-hard rock instrumental backing that can go softly lyrical and haunting when the material calls for it. Many of the songs here deal with the painful freedom of being separated from a love partner, which reflects the personal changes among the two couples in the quintet. But overall the tone of the LP is a rueful optimism that fits perfectly within Fleetwood's English-folk-influenced rocking. Excellent use of photos on the cover and inner lyric folder helps bring out the style of individual group members. Best cuts: "Go Your Own Way," "The Chain,"' "Dreams," "Oh Daddy."

- Billboard, 1977.

After a decade of personnel changes and hard-earned journeyman status within the pop world, Fleetwood Mac was faced with the most delightful problem yet -- how to follow up an album that scored quadruple-platinum sales. The answer, of course, was to make an even better one. Where Mac's last album found new members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks -- he of the muscular guitar and she of the bewitching "Rhiannon" voice -- deftly feeling their way, Rumours finds them fully integrated into the band. With sharper production, "Go Your Own Way" -- the first single from an album filled with them -- fairly jumps from the speakers with rocking intensity, while Stevie's "Dreams" offers another dose of ominous romanticism. Although Stevie has inspired almost as many rock 'n' roll crushes as album sales, veteran Christine McVie possesses the sexier vocal tones. Her delicate "Songbird" and the lusciously seductive "You Make Loving Fun" are enough to make a hard-rocker weep. While Mac's huge commercial success invites mass-culture comparisons to the hamburger of the same name, Rumours offers a special sauce to make Ronald McDonald envious.

- Playboy, 6/77.

Why is this easy-listening rock different from all other easy-listening rock, give or take an ancient harmony or two? Because myths of love lost and found are less invidious (at least in rock and roll) than myths of the road? Because the cute-voiced woman writes and sings the tough lyrics and the husky-voiced woman the vulnerable ones? Because they've got three melodist-vocalists on the job? Because Fleetwood Mac and John McVie learned their rhythm licks playing blues? Because they stuck to this beguiling formula when it barely broke even? Because this album is both more consistent and more eccentric than its blockbuster predecessor? Plus it jumps right out of the speakers at you? Because Otis Spann must be happy for them? Because Peter Green is in heaven? A

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

One of the best-selling albums of all time, Rumours marked the second peak of Fleetwood Mac's hard-to-believe career. John McVie and Mick Fleetwood left Britain after their highly successful late sixties band fell apart. They concentrated on America while going through several personnel changes.

When Fleetwood was checking out a studio the engineer, Keith Olsen, played him something recently recorded there, Buckingham-Nicks. Mick asked the duo to join himself, John and Christine McVie. Their first work, Fleetwood Mac, was a multi-million seller. Rumours went through the roof.

This record topped the US chart for a total of 31 weeks, the longest stint in the seventies and the best since West Side Story did 54 weeks in the early sixties. "Dreams" became the band's only American number one; "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun" reached the Top 10. In Britain the statistics are slightly less impressive but the album still made number one. It took on a new lease of chart life in the mid-eighties as a budget item.

Although accurate international accounting is sadly not possible in the music business, it is clear that as of 1987 Rumours has surpassed over 26 million in sales and has probably now overtaken Saturday Night Fever on the all-time hit parade. This tussle has become less important since Thriller surged past them both.

Sound and lyrical content alike helped make Rumours the mega-success it was. Its soft rock style suited ageing hipsters and hippies who now preferred a more mellow and, they like to think, sophisticated sound. The songs concerned two rocky romances within the band, making for perfect musical soap opera.

In 1987, Rumours was chosen by a panel of rock critics and music broadcasters as the #26 best rock album of all time.

- Paul Gambaccini, The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books, 1987.

Mac's second massive bestseller Rumours was reported in 1980 as being the second best selling album of all-time with over 21 million discs sold worldwide. Written against a background of breakups in the relationships that powered the group, Rumours charted lost loves and heartaches in a direct and honest way without sentimentality.

"Second Hand News" has a rather dead sound quality while songs like "Dreams" show the same lifted upper bass and treble present on the 1975 Fleetwood Mac CD. The advantages however are clarity in the multi-tracked vocals on "The Chain" and a sharpening of the propulsive drum smack; the famous bass guitar build-up is also tighter. The cymbal crashes which introduce "You Make Loving Fun" now jump right out of the speakers. The auditorium acoustic around voice and piano in "Songbird" is now vividly relayed.

With the long production runs of LPs many copies of this album are in circulation that have a disappointingly dull sound. CD copies of Rumours have one great advantage in that they will not wear with the repeated playing this music deserves.

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

Fleetwood Mac, released in 1975, was a huge selling album for its time, with over four million copies sold. By the Eighties, when Michael Jackson's Thriller sold over ten times that number, Fleetwood's earlier numbers seemed a bit diminished; but there's no accounting for taste or the power of the tube for that matter. Rumours, released in 1977, sold over two and a half times as many copies as Fleetwood Mac and while it may not have been two and a half times better, it was an improvement over its predecessor; all the virtues of which were preserved, but, this time out, enhanced by more inventive compositions. The CD's sound provides some enhanced detailing, but is burdened with hiss and is generally compressed. A

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

Among the best-selling albums of all time, this brilliant song cycle about the travails of love features "Dreams," "Don't Stop," "Go Your Own Way," and "You Make Loving Fun." * * * * *

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

With 11 great songs and no duds, Rumours is as good as mainstream pop gets. * * * * *

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

A winning mixture of catchy melodies, sunny harmonies and a smooth A.O.R. veneer helped Rumours to sales of over 25 million world-wide and over 450 weeks on the U.K. listings. It would be so successful that it would almost destroy the veteran British blues band. With Rumours they became the biggest, richest band of the day. The inter-group relations failed as the album grew. There were hits a-plenty on it. "Don't Stop" is perfect freeway music, a good-time boogie with optimistic lyrics and driving drums; "Go Your Own Way" maintains the mood, with off-kilter drums, powerful harmonies and a searing solo. "Songbird" is Christine McVie's pièce de résistance -- a simple arrangement of echoing piano and haunting vocal complements the poignant lyrics. Check out the enigmatic cover: Fleetwood and Nicks in theatrical garb -- the latter as her stage persona, the fairy-like Rhiannon -- and that crystal sphere from the cover of Fleetwood Mac. The brooding "Gold Dust Woman" features sitar-like guitars, eerie keyboards and a shivery vocal from Nicks, alongside folksy harmonies. But these tracks only made the sunshine songs all the brighter. Released a full year after punk had hit Britain, Rumours proved to be the last call for hippies the world over. And they all bought it.

- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours hasn't become a dated Seventies artifact, mostly because it sounded odd even then. Its brainy guitar solos were rather more frequent than those of other Southern California sunny soft-rock outfits; and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham pushed the production into a magnificent combination of intricate and spare, an alloy comfortable to drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, who thought they had formed a blues band back in 1967.

The group's second album with its most famous lineup -- Fleetwood, Buckingham and his then-girlfriend, singer Stevie Nicks, and McVie and his ex-wife, singer and keyboardist Christine McVie -- Rumours tracks the twin couples as they split; it wasn't built as a soundtrack to whatever heartbreak you're trying to sing along to. But it's their breakup record, and in its idiosyncratic way it mirrors all the lost loves of the world. The two couples confess, blame, sigh and ride a deep, chugging groove toward some kind of resolution.

You can see the outlines of the couples' relationships -- both musical and romantic -- in the rubble. Here is the cool tenderness with which Nicks inserts her harmony on the words "been tossed around enough" during Buckingham's "Second Hand News"; here is Christine McVie coming out all generous like the sun on her smiley-face ballads "Songbird" and "Oh Daddy" and the mellow boogie "You Make Loving Fun." When Nicks isn't being tough on hits such as "Dreams" and, particularly, "Gold Dust Woman" -- as nasty a bit of business as her cute, torn voice ever got into -- she's inviting the whole group in for the countryish "I Don't Want to Know." Nothing explodes when it promises to: not the chorus of "Go Your Own Way," no matter what Fleetwood does to his drum kit; not the full-band invocation of coming darkness and cramped emotional interdependence on "The Chain." Instead, Rumours is splendid and pleasant and somehow not too dense, like being trapped in an open meadow. * * * * *

- Arion Berger, Rolling Stone, 5/23/02.

Seamless and timeless, this blockbuster combines incredible writing with sweet music: Buckingham's banjo-style guitar playing cut new ground, while Mick and John were the best rhythm section in R&R. With Nicks at her smoky-voiced best, it documents five people working as one in the face of two bitter breakups among band members. The emotion screams out, especiallly in the palpable tension between Lindsey and Steve, resulting in the timeless treasures "Dreams" and "Go Your Own Way." * * * * *

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




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Rumours dominated pop and rock radio with Lindsey Buckingham's acerbic "Go Your Own Way," Stevie Nicks' melancholy "Dreams" (the band's only number one single in the U.S.) and Christine McVie's mellow but funky "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun." "The Chain," not a hit single at the time, is still often heard on the radio, and has gone on to become something of an anthem for the ever-evolving band.

Rumours was voted the 16th greatest album of all time in a VH1 poll of over 700 musicians, songwriters, disc jockeys, radio programmers, and critics in 2003.

- Brian Ives, VH1's 100 Greatest Albums, 2003.

The sixth-best-selling album of all time owed its success to Fleetwood Mac's willingness to turn private turmoil into gleaming, melodic public art. The band's two romantic couples -- bassist John and singer-keyboard player Christine McVie, who were married; guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks, who were not -- broke up during the protracted sessions for Rumours. This lent a highly charged, confessional aura to such songs as Buckingham's "Go Your Own Way," Nicks' "Dreams," Christine's "Don't Stop" and the group-composed anthem to betrayal, "The Chain." The Mac's catchy exposés, produced with California-sunshine polish, touched a nerve; Rumours, a landmark Seventies pop album, ruled Billboard's album chart for thirty-one weeks.

Rumours was chosen as the 25th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

Rumours is Fleetwood Mac's 11th and best-selling album. A Number One album on both sides of the Atlantic, Rumours debuted at Number 10 and went on to spend 31 weeks at Number One in the US and almost a year in the Top Five, the longest stint in the 1970s. The record produced no fewer than four hit singles for the band -- "You Can Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop," "You Make Loving Fun" and the US Number One single "Dreams" (which reached Number 24 in the UK). The record spent 450 weeks on the UK listings.

The group's second album with its most famous lineup -- Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend, singer Stevie Nicks, and John McVie and his ex-wife, singer and keyboardist Christine McVie -- Rumours tracks the twin couples as they split. The record features Nicks at her huskiest, and contains bittersweet love songs such as "Go Your Own Way" and "I Don't Wanna Know."

The songwriting duties were once more shared amongst the band, with Buckingham and Nicks penning the achingly beautiful "Songbird," among others. Rumours was chosen as the 25th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in December 2003.

As of 2004, Rumours was the #3 best-selling album of the 70s.

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

The Lazarus-like renaissance and transformation of a London-based blues band into the cutting-edge Los Angeles-based world champions of Adult Oriented Rock is one of the greatest stories of rock's rich history.

Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass player John McVie had been there since the start in 1967, and with McVie's wife, Christine (née Perfect), on keyboards since 1970, had weathered major personnel changes. In 1974, they met singer/songwriter/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his girlfriend, vocalist/songwriter Stevie Nicks. This infusion of new blood resulted in an eponymous 1975 album that briefly topped the U.S. album chart and included three U.S. Top 20 singles. Its successor, Rumours, almost immediately topped the U.S. album chart, where it reigned supreme for 31 weeks, was certified 13 times platinum, and won the 1977 Grammy award for Album Of The Year. The breezy West Coast harmonies, tighter-than-tight musicianship, and hook-laden AOR made for a great combination. "Go Your Own Way," "Dreams," "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun" were U.S. Top Ten singles, while "Dreams" was a million-selling U.S. No. 1. For years "The Chain" introduced the BBC's Grand Prix coverage.

Scratch the surface of these smoothly produced gems, however, and there is a darker subtext. Recording took place while the McVies, and Fleetwood, were in the throes of divorce; Buckingham and Nicks were also splitting up (her cold-eyed "Gold Dust Woman" was later covered by Hole). A blizzard of cocaine further racked up the tension. And all this collective trauma provided the album's title -- John McVie once observed that the songs sounded like gossip or rumors.

- John Tobler, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

(2013 Expanded Edition) If you're one of the 45 million people who've bought Rumours, you know its glories -- the uncanny fusion of pop hooks, 1950s rock exuberance and heavenly harmonies: Stevie Nicks in "Dreams," revealing the poison dart beneath her faerie wings; Lindsey Buckingham baring his fangs in "Go Your Own Way"; the scent of Laurel Canyon sycamores (and Humboldt County pot) wafting over it all. This edition adds a disc of live cuts from the Mac's 1977 tour, a 140-gram vinyl copy of the original LP, a documentary with glimpses of the famous intraband tensions, and outtakes like "For Duster (The Blues)" that capture the band's roiling blues-rock magnificence. The real revelations are recordings that part the curtains on the making of Rumours, like Christine McVie's solo-piano-demo rendition of "Songbird." Then there's the country-rock lament "Silver Springs," a B side that would have been another band's lead single. * * * * *

- Jody Rosen, Rolling Stone, 2/28/13.

Forget that you've heard these songs ("Go Your Own Way," "Dreams") a million times -- the emotionally stormy, immaculately produced Rumours remains the near-perfect apex of dissolute 1970s Jacuzzi rock.

Rumours was chosen as the 29th greatest album of all time by the editors of Entertainment Weekly in July 2013.

- Entertainment Weekly, 7/5/13.

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