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Washington Post, September 3, 1997

HEADLINE: Fleetwood Mac Celebrates Its Rumoured Past

BYLINE: Richard Harrington, Washington Post Staff Writer

Fleetwood Mac can't stop thinking about yesterday. The group's just-released album, "The Dance," a 17-track live retrospective with four new songs, has opened at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. That's a level the band grew accustomed to in the mid-'70s but didn't get close to with 1987's "Tango in the Night," which was the last time the "classic" Fleetwood Mac lineup recorded.

That lineup -- Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie -- was actually the 10th or 11th configuration of what had started out in 1967 as a British blues band (only drummer Fleetwood and bassist John McVie are constants). The classic status was attached 20 years ago with the release of "Rumours," the third-best-selling album of all time. It spent 31 weeks at No. 1, sold 25 million copies and was the Grammy Awards' Album of the Year.

It should have won an Emmy for best musical soap opera as well, since the rumors weren't half as strange as the facts. The album was made as the McVies were divorcing, Nicks and Buckingham were splitting, Fleetwood's wife was running off with his best friend, and drugs and alcohol were putting a glaze on everything. "Rumours" captured the band's inner turmoil and estrangements, particularly on Buckingham's dismissive "Go Your Own Way," Nicks's naive "Dreams," Christine McVie's "You Make Loving Fun" (written not for John but her new partner) and "The Chain," written by everyone as group therapy.

The group somehow managed to hang on for another decade until Buckingham decided it didn't take five to "Tango" and left in 1987, followed three years later by Nicks and Christine McVie. The group reunited for one song during the 1993 inaugural festivities in Washington -- the Clinton campaign had adopted "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" as its campaign song -- but there was no Beatles-style groundswell for a reunion.

Now Fleetwood Mac is following a path cleared by the Eagles, another intensely conflicted '70s supergroup: reunite for a concert aired by MTV, release the affair as an album and then embark on a much-hyped "reunion tour" (it comes to Nissan Pavilion Sept. 27). Serve up faithful versions of your best-loved material, toss in a few new songs and talk about how everybody's so much more mature now.

"The Dance" (Reprise) will certainly satisfy the band's old fans. It offers three songs -- "Landslide," the ethereal "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me" -- from 1975's "Fleetwood Mac" album, which first introduced the rich, smooth harmonies and songwriting skills of Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie. The five "Rumours" tracks ("Dreams," "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop," "You Make Loving Fun" and "The Chain") are augmented by an outtake from that album, Nicks's flowing "Silver Springs." The title track of 1979's overweight "Tusk" album is heard once again with the 85-piece University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band. The marching band also appears, for no apparent reason, on this album's version of "Don't Stop."

The new songs are Buckingham's "My Little Demon" and "Bleed to Love Her," Nicks's "Sweet Girl" and Christine McVie's "Temporary One." Unfortunately, none of them approaches the quality of their writers' best past work. Nicks and Buckingham have solo albums in their futures, so they may have saved the best new material for themselves. The best old material is what makes "The Dance" worth cutting in on.