Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours

Rarely does such internal struggle and strife lead to insane amounts of musical and commercial success. Such a thing is normally the undoing of any group, be it musical or not. However, in the case of Fleetwood Mac, skyrocketing success is exactly what happened after the release of their 1977 hit album Rumours. Recorded primarily at Record Plant in Sausalito, CA at the time, the band was wanting to further their commercial success after having put out a well received album Fleetwood Mac in 1975. This became difficult however when the band started fighting amongst themselves, as many of them were in failing relationships with one another (guitarist Lindsey Buckingham with singer Stevie Nicks and keyboardist Christine McVie with bassist John McVie. Drummer Mick Fleetwood was also having troubles with his own wife at the time).

Rumours of course got its title from all the rumors flying around in the press during the recording of the album regarding the fighting as well as a 10th anniversary tour for the band with all of its original members. These intense situations however provided the inspiration for almost the entire album lyrically which is why the title itself was suggested by John McVie when saying to the band that all the songs they were writing sounded like journals/diaries they were writing to one another. By the end of the drug ridden and emotionally intense recording sessions however, Fleetwood Mac had come up with something the likes of which the world had never heard before, spawning four hit singles and other commercially successful tracks. Despite the band being in such miserable shape, they were very creative in their approaches to recording technique-wise and song writing.

The music itself on Rumours is a very impressive blend of both acoustic and electric instruments. Buckingham on many of the tracks played both acoustic and electric guitars to give the songs a more powerful and melodic feel. Christine McVie primarily played a Hammond B3 organ, but also did many tracks on a standard piano as well. What REALLY made a lot of the album shine was the three part vocal harmonies on tracks like The Chain between Buckingham, Nicks, and Christine McVie.

One of the most well known tracks from Rumours has GOT to be Go Your Own Way. It's played on every single rock and pop radio station even to this day. You can't even go into a department store without hearing it at least once. Buckingham wrote the song about his relationship with Nicks and how it wasn't doing so well (go figure). The verses are pretty straight up palm muted power chords, due to the focus being on what is being sung. When the forever immortalized chorus kicks in however, the vocal harmonies come in and the rest of the band picks things up instrumentally. Even if you aren't much in the way of a music aficionado you can get into it by just dancing around and singing along to the easy to learn chorus.

The Chain while somehow NOT one of the singles released from the album is another one of Fleetwood Mac's most famous songs that also gets a lot of radio airplay even to this day. It is one of the most musically complicated due to multiple acoustic and electric guitar tracks done with lots of flashy finger picking, the triple vocal harmonies, and the structure of the song itself. It starts off with just acoustic that has almost a ghostly feel to it. Of course gradually other instruments come in, but again it's the triple vocal harmonies between the three vocalists that give The Chain its shine. In a sense it almost feels like a polished up bluegrass song, but in a good way. The only reason I would find this peculiar at all is because the band is half British. However, it definitely ends in a rocking way when at the end the tempo picks up with a bassline from John McVie that is so thick that you could hold it. Then of course Buckingham wails away on electric guitar while the vocals and the rest of the song gradually fades out.

All in all, even those who don't care much for pop music could appreciate the fine workmanship that went into Rumours because despite what many people think it takes some serious skill to put out a pop rock album of that caliber. Plus, the fact that five musicians who were having such a difficult time getting along and were also strung out so much from partying could work together to make something that is still selling many copies to this day is a very respectable and remarkable thing. There really isn't a single track on there that is actually bad or even filler. It's rare that I would say this, but Rumours really is one of those albums that EVERYONE needs to have, even if they aren't a music nut.

Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Secondhand 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

Buy the album on Amazon:

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