Thursday, September 18, 2014

25 Rumours (1977) Fleetwood Mac

1. Second Hand News
2. Dreams
3. Never Going Back Again
4. Don't Stop
5. Go Your Own Way
6. Songbird
7. The Chain
8. You Make Loving Fun
9. I Don't Want to Know
10. Oh Daddy
11. Gold Dust Woman

I know I'm supposed to be snobby about this album. I should be all sniffy about it and write something that looks down it from on high. Because this is pop and it could be blues.

Many people don't realise that Fleetwood Mac started life as a blues band fronted by a fantastic guitarist named Peter Green. Green was one of the UK's great guitar players and deserves to be mentioned along with Clapton, Page, Beck etc as one of the best white blues players taking the genre into brave new places. They released a collection of albums which you could describe as a bit repetitive but their live shows are just amazing. The three Disc Boston Tea Party shows are among my favourite ever albums and I listen to them constantly if only for the steaming versions of Oh Well, Rattlesnake shake and Black Magic Woman.

Green eventually succumbed to Acid and left the band. LSD related psychosis kept him out of the music business for decades and he reportedly grew his fingernails so playing the guitar was impossible and would shoot at anyone who tried to deliver his royalty checks with a BB gun.

After he left Fleetwood Mac, the two other founding members, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, turned their back on the blues and embraced the more commercially successful world of pop music. They replaced Green with Lindsey Buckingham and introduced two female vocalists and transformed themselves into a pop band who totally rejected the music that originally inspired them.

As someone who loves the blues, loves Peter Green and doesn't enjoy pop much, I'm duty bound to point out that this is a commercial sell out and total crap and turn this entire blog into a rant about how good The Mac were and how crap they became "once the women got involved".

But the truth is I have to admit that this is really very well done pop. I'm not pop's biggest fan but if you're going to listen to pop then this is definitely what you should put on your turntable. Nicks and McVie have fantastic voices and could both write a great song. Buckhingham isn't my favourite male vocalist but he's a mean guitar player and could definitely write a tune. To my mind this is the way Pop should be done. It's played on real instruments and sung by people who were chosen for their vocal abilities and not their looks (which is not to say that Nicks and McVie are anything other than attractive).

Possibly the album's main strength is the songwriting. Fleetwood Mac were lucky enough to have three members who could write a good song, which is two more than a lot of other great bands could manage. Nicks contributed the funky ballad Dreams which contains the line "Thunder only happens when it's raining" which is catchy but a meteorological inaccuracy. McVie submitted the rocky Don't Stop which was written about her failed marriage but somehow became Bill Clinton's theme-song. Buckingham wrote Go Your Own Way which joins the other three as staples on AOR radio stations all over the world and have people singing along whenever they come on the radio.

The three songwriter and three lead vocalist approach does create a slightly disjointed feel with some tracks (the opening one most notably) not really fitting in that well with the rest of the album but you could argue that's part of its charm and appeal. It's a mixed bag but doesn't have any resounding clunkers in its running time and there's something interesting on every track.

Rumours deprives snobs like myself of an opportunity to get sniffy which is an impressive effort. It's a great piece of pop history and while it might not have been the Mac's most comfortable and enjoyable recording experience it's definitely their finest studio album. (Although it does have the worst cover. What the hell is going on with Fleetwood's pose and those weird balls hanging between his legs? Seriously?) Greatest pop album ever? Quite possibly so.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review: "I listened to this album, and my eardrums popped. Stevie Nicks' vocals are so high, he sounds like a girl. Seriously, sing like a man, like Chad Kroeger from Nickelback. Oh, and another thing wrong with this album is that there is no 'U' in 'Rumors.'"

-Two things will never cease to amaze me about Amazon customer reviews. The first is just how many people enjoy making obvious joke reviews, and the second is how many people fall for them.

So is this a good album or is it's brilliance just a rumour? Let me know below.

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