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Newsweek, May 10, 1976

Hey, Mac!


Fleetwood Mac is the tortoise of rock 'n' roll.  After nine years of respectable but unphenomenal success with records and concerts, this bluesy, basically British band has at last hit the top. Its latest album, "Fleetwood Mac," has reached platinum status and sold 1.5 million copies.  The record has been on Bill-board's Top LP's chart (where it is currently No. 7) for 41 weeks and has spun off hit singles like the rhythmic love song "Over My Head" and "Rhiannon," an eerie ballad about a Welsh witch.  Last week 115,000 fans filled California's Oakland Stadium when Fleetwood Mac shared a bill twice with Peter Frampton.

"We're your everyday soap opera," chirps Christine McVie, one of two women vocalists in the five-member, Los Angeles-based band.  Before its American debut in 1970, the group had racked up a string of hits in Britain.  But after that it just plugged along in the face of a series of setbacks that would have split most rock groups, producing eight decent-selling albums in the U.S. but no hit singles and making several tours but only as the opening act for bigger-name headliners.

Groceries: Early on, one of the founding members quit, claiming that material gain conflicted with his religious convictions.  Soon afterward, another one disappeared in the middle of a tour only to be found three days later with the Children of God.  "He went out for groceries and ended up quoting the Bible," says John McVie, another founder.  McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood (the two gave the group its name) filled the breach with McVie's wife, Christine, and an American guitarist, Bob Welch.  Then the group got embroiled in a lawsuit with a former manager who launched a band of unknowns with the same name.  Welch quit and a new, new, new Fleetwood Mac regrouped with the addition of a struggling American duo, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and a female singer named Stevie Nicks.

The result is a surprisingly smooth blend of such influences as Steve Wonder, the Beatles and James Taylor that carries no message but is infectiously easy to listen to and understand.  Fleetwood says he likes "music with earth in it, something basically simple and warm.  I don't like something that is as cold as a lump of steel."

Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie write most of the songs - mellow, melodic, rhythmic, the rock sound a little harder than it was in the group's earlier days.  McVie's are formula love songs like "Over My Head": "You can take me to paradise,/And then again you can be cold as ice./I'm over my head,/But it sure feels nice."* ("My words," she says, "don't bash away at your brain cells, but they're bouncy.") Buckingham's and Nick's are a little more freewheeling but equally straightforward, and onstage Nicks supplies a souped-up vivacity that transfixes audiences and nicely complements the reserve of the group's British members.

Fleetwood Mac has not lost its ability to persevere in the face of adversity. Last year it survived the breakup of the McVies' marriage, and it also seems likely to withstand the breakup, two weeks ago, of Buckingham and Nicks's six-year relationship.  The group is midway through recording a new album, and it feels the pressure to produce another best seller.  Most of the songs are about the problematic relationships in the band.  "It's going to be Mary Haryman on wax," says John McVie.

Thanks to Anusha for sending it to us.