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The Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 21, 1997

LET'S DANCE

by Michael Norman

Lindsey Buckingham wasn't contemplating a Fleetwood Mac reunion when he invited his old colleague Mick Fleetwood into the studio last year to play drums on the follow-up to his 1992 solo album "Out of the Cradle."

But within a few months, that's just what it turned out to be.

Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie stopped by to jam, along with his ex-wife, vocalist-keyboardist Christine McVie. The three had such a great time playing together again that they asked vocalist Stevie Nicks to join them.

It was the first time the five of them had been in a studio together in more than 10 years. And Buckingham, who sings and plays lead guitar, was impressed.

"The magic, the energy, the pure joy of working together was stronger than ever," said Buckingham in a recent telephone interview from a Fleetwood Mac tour stop in Palm Beach, Florida. "But I still wasn't sure if a formal Fleetwood Mac reunion, with a new album and a tour, was a good idea."

Buckingham, who left the group after 1987's "Tango In The Night" album, says he was quite happy going his own way. His new solo album was close to completion, and he was worried about how a Fleetwood Mac reunion would be perceived by fans. Most of all, he was unsure about the social situation within the band. Hanging out in the studio for a few weeks is one thing. Making an album and going on a high-profile tour increases the stakes (and the tension) considerably.

In many ways, a Fleetwood Mac reunion was even more unlikely than the Eagles' appropriately named "Hell Freezes Over" project, says Buckingham. The band has a tumultuous history, and was on the verge of breaking up during the making of its popular 1977 album "Rumours," because of personal conflicts among its then-married members - Buckingham and Nicks and John and Christine McVie.

"I knew we could still play the music," says Buckingham. "But I wasn't sure about the other stuff. There were a lot of issues to put to rest, issues that I just couldn't deal with in 1987 when I left the band."

Warner Bros. Records chief Russ Thyret eventually prevailed on Buckingham to give the reunion idea a try. And things have worked out remarkably well so far.

The band made its return in August with "Fleetwood Mac: the Dance," an MTV concert special taped over several days in front of an invited audiences at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. The show was a major hit, and a live album of songs taken from those sessions was released Aug. 19.

"The Dance," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album charts and has remained in the Top 10 ever since. It features newly recorded versions of the band's best know singles ("The Chain," "Don't Stop," "Go Your Own Way," "Rhiannon," etc.), plus four new songs. Buckingham contributed two new tracks - "Bleed To Love Her" and "My Little Demon."

A 44 city US tour to promote the album kicked off in September. It has become one of the most popular concert attractions of the year, selling out sports arenas and outdoor amphitheaters across the country. The band will perform Monday in front of a sold-out audience of more than 18,000 fans at Gund Arena. Buckingham say he'll use his free time in Cleveland to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The band learned last month that it will be inducted into the rock hall at the 1998 induction dinner in New York.

"Everything has gone great," says Buckingham. "The album debuted at No. 1 and the tickets are selling out. We're getting along better than ever, too. I went into this thing only willing to commit to the 44 concert dates. But we're having such a great time and playing so well that there's a good possibility we'll do more dates, then maybe even go back and make a new studio album."

Could the Mac be back for good?

"We'll have to wait and see," says Buckingham. "But I care about the people in this band. I enjoy being around then, now more than ever. Fleetwood Mac is a complicated scheme - a careful balancing act. But when we get it right, there's nothing quite like it."