1983: I'll Dance Alone

Nineteen eighty-three began with the band on hiatus, a period that would stretch for an unprecedented four years. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the music did not stop. Instead, solo projects became the order of the day, with four-fifths of the current Fleetwood Mac individually (and occasionally in twos and threes) in the studio during the year.

Lindsey Buckingham began work on the follow-up to Law and Order, and these sessions produced a couple of songs that were used for the soundtrack of the summer comedy film release National Lampoon's Vacation, and were featured on the accompanying album. One of them, the breezy "Holiday Road," even scored a minor hit for Buckingham, making it to #84 in the US. The British and American B-sides are different, too. In the US, the B-side is a non-Buckingham song "The Trip," but in the UK "Mary Lee Jones" (from Law and Order) is featured. The other new song, "Dancin' Across the U.S.A.", was not issued as a single.

He also managed to find time to perform on Randy Newman's Trouble in Paradise and to lend his vocal and guitar skills to Walter Egan's album, Wild Exhibitions.

Christine also sang on Egan's "Such a Shame," from the same album. She was mostly busy in 1983 completing her forthcoming album, the first solo album for her in fourteen years, but she (and Buckingham as well) did make time to guest on Mick's second solo effort-- more on that later.

By Spring, Stevie was ready with the follow-up to Bella Donna. This new batch of recordings was introduced with "Stand Back", an up tempo, danceable track. The song seemed to cash in on the aerobics craze that was sweeping America and Western Europe at the time. It rode that wave to #5 in the US. In the video, and air blown Stevie is portrayed, in her omnipresent leg-warmers, singing the sound while dancing on a moving treadmill. One can't help but wonder how many takes it took to get that one right! The B-side, "Garbo" was a non-album track that finally made it to the Enchanted box set fifteen years later.

The album that followed in June, The Wild Heart , followed the very successful formula established with the preceding album. Her collaborations with Jimmy Iovine and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers continued as before. What was new this time out was the appearance of Sandy Stewart, a strikingly beautiful (wow!) singer/songwriter in her own right. She cowrote three songs with Stevie on the album, including the next two singles, "If Anyone Falls" and "Nightbird" (the latter features a vocal and piano solo by Stewart, and the single is credited "Stevie Nicks with Sandy Stewart"), as well as performing keyboards throughout. Both were, as might be expected, hits, making #14 and #32 respectively. Sandy is pictured on the album's inner sleeve along with Stevie and her stalwart backing singers, Lori Perry and Sharon Celani. Another innovation in The Wild Heart is the final track, the exquisite "Beauty and the Beast," which does not feature the usual rock 'n' roll backing instrumentation. Rather, Stevie is accompanied by a 24-piece classical ensemble.

Future Mac Rick Vito is featured on lead guitar throughout on Jackson Browne's hit album Lawyers in Love . This album, riding on Browne's newfound popularity thanks to the success of last year's Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack, is the most commercially successful album in Browne's entire catalog. Browne, who has since the early 1970's been highly regarded as a sensitive singer/songwriter, finally found a new niche as a commercial rock star. The album spawned three hit singles, the title track, "Tender is the Night" (whose video featured Browne's then-girlfriend, the beautiful actress Daryl Hannah), and the humorous "For a Rocker." Rick also is featured on former Eagles Timothy B. Schmit on his album Tell Me the Truth.

Another future Mac, Dave Mason, surfaced from his semi-retirement to sing for another ex-Eagle, this time Don Felder, on his new album, Airborne.

Looking in the other direction, that of Mac's past, came a rerelease on UK's budget Charly label. This was a 10" EP of The Shotgun Express, which includes the four tracks, long out-of-print, that Green and Fleetwood had a hand in.

Over a year and a half after Bob Welch was released, his second RCA album was issued in July. Eye Contact contains more Welch-penned tracks than its predecessor, though unfortunately most of the tracks are pretty much formulaic, synthesizer-heavy pop love songs. Only "Can't Hold Your Love Back" and "I'll Dance Alone" (both also released as singles) have anything of consequence to them. It also spawned the lead single, "Fever," but neither it nor the album nor either of the other two singles charted. This despite the fact that "I'll Dance Alone"--the last of the three--had a nice performance video released along with it. The buyers wouldn't make eye contact with this one (sorry, couldn't resist). At this point RCA seemed to have also had enough, and dropped Bob. His career goes the way of Bob Weston at this point--he continued doing studio work and eventually moves to Nashville--but his next recorded output, apart from reissues and a one-off track on a "Best of" album, won't be for another sixteen years.

His erstwhile labelmate Mick Fleetwood teamed up with some other musicians (Steve Ross, Billy Burnette, and from The Visitor sessions, George Hawkins) to form his part-time ensemble, Mick Fleetwood's Zoo. Their first release, I'm Not Me , came out in August. Unlike The Visitor, I'm Not Me is clearly within the popular/rock canon. Christine and Lindsey help out on the proceedings and Stevie even appears briefly in the video for Lindsey's "I Want You Back," returning the favor. Mick had already appeared as the same hooded character in her "If Anyone Falls" video, which came out at about the same time. The collection is a very diverse collection of songs sang and written by Burnette, Ross, and Hawkins. Some solid rockers and convincing ballads, all solidly anchored by their leader, liven up the mix. The quality is high throughout. They even cover the old hit by Burnette's dad and uncle, "Tear It Up" and the old Lloyd Price chestnut "Just Because." The Zoo is the first time that Mick and Billy Burnette recorded together. This pairing of talent will assume greater importance in the future. Indeed The Zoo might even be considered a sort of "minor league" Fleetwood Mac, as Mick would more than once tap this pool of talent when his other band needed fresh members.

Sadly, however, and despite heavy rotation on MTV of the "I Want You Back" video, the record- buying public failed to take notice of this minor classic, and correspondingly, neither I'm Not Me nor its singles--both "I Want You Back" and "Angel Come Home" made it onto 45--charted.

And now we turn to Peter Green. It seems that, like the White Sky album before it, there was a huge time-lag between the recording of material and that material's first commercial availability. Nowhere is this more evident than with this collection, named Kolors. Actually recorded in late 1981 through early '82, the album in question did not appear until September 1983. I will refer the reader to Martin Celmins' excellent authorized Peter Green biography Peter Green: Founder of Fleetwood Mac for the full story of this confusing time. Briefly, however, the White Sky band had by this time evolved, under the direction of Jamaican percussionist Jeff Whittaker into a sort of funk-fusion group. After a few tepid UK gigs, one witnessed by Green's horrified ex-manager Peter Vernon-Kell (who had himself entirely dropped out of the music business following the Whatcha Gonna Do? sessions), they received sufficient backing to tour and record again. This time, however, Green's health had again deteriorated. Undeterred, the Kolors band gigged extensively throughout continental Europe and even Israel. But things started to go awry. The studio recordings they made over a two-month period in the winter of 1981-82 languished in the vaults of their backers while a much hoped-for record deal with Phonogram came to nothing. Attempts at getting these tapes turned violent. A meeting was arranged between Whittaker and his backers at a pub in Richmond, England. When Whittaker arrived outside he was set upon by three men and beaten up--his jaw and wrists broken. Healed up, Whittaker and Green and the rest of the band continued touring Europe throughout 1983, with both Green's health and playing increasingly erratic. At length, the tapes were finally retrieved and nine of the sixteen tracks were released as Kolors. The other seven songs didn't make release until early 1988, as part of the Legend album. While Kolors is a fairly decent effort over all, it's fairly easy to see that Green's normally fluid playing style had gotten very choppy and inconsistent of late. Ron Lee's overblown, echo-laden production which was probably intended to hide these problems in fact only draws attention to them.

Probably Kolors' best overall tracks are "Big Boy Now" and the two traditional blues tracks, "Same Old Blues" and "Liquor and You". But overall, one can't help but wonder what PG was thinking when he recorded "What Am I Doing Here," or indeed most of the songs in this collection. For indeed he seems lost--out of place in this funk-heavy effort. Green is credited with writing only two tracks: the instrumental "Bandit" (along with his brother) and the tape excerpt "Funky Jam." Mike Green handles the other tracks.

By the end of the year, though, Green and Whittaker had ditched the rest of the band and began working with another outfit, eventually called Katmandu. But, true to form, their recorded output would take another four years or so to come out.