Chicago Tribune, Friday, December 25, 1981

BUCKINGHAM REACHES BACK TO THE '40S FOR INSPIRATION

by Lynn Van Matre

With his strikingly offbeat contributions to "Tusk," Fleetwood Mac's most musically diverse album to date - and a relatively new, intense stage image marked by freshly cropped hair, a fixed stare, and jerky movements - guitarist Lindsey Buckingham emerged sometime back as the Mac's quirkiest component - an adventurous musician whose experiments provided some of "Tusk's" most distinctive moments.

"Law and Order," Buckingham's newly released solo album - the third such project by a Mac member this year - is distinctive, too, but in a curious way. Buckingham, 32, it turns out, is in many ways an old-fashioned boy. And while "Law and Order" is contemporary enough in its sound that commercial success seems assured ("Trouble," the single from the album, is currently in the Top 20, where it's practically rubbing shoulders with Mac member Stevie Nicks' "Leather and Lace"), the ideas that inspired much of it were drawn not from the 1980s, but the 1940s.

The sentiments have more to do with innocence than experience, while the album title itsef refers not to "law and order" in the Dick Tracy sense, but rather to what Buckingham calls "the setting of certain standards, certain disciplines or moral codes for yourself by which you try to live . . . a personal sense of law and order." In other words, what are often written off as "old-fashioned" values.

The singer-songwriter, who wrote seven of the 10 songs on the album, sees the general theme of "Law and Order" as one of innocence.

If the sentiments on "Law and Order" are largely Buckingham's own, the overall sound owes much to a stack of 78 rpm records from the 1940s that had belonged to Buckingham's late father.

"They'd been at Mom's place, up in Northern California, since he died," says Buckingham, who lives in the Los Angeles area, "and I just got around to picking them up last Christmas, not long before I started working on the album.

"I remembered hearing most of them when I was a child, but I wasn't really able to appreciatre them then," adds Buckingham, who at the time preferred his older brother's records by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. "I wanted to sit down and listen to them again in a more knowledgeable context to see what I could learn from them now - not lyrically so much as the roles the various instruments played, and the style in which they were recorded. It took me a while to find a turntable that takes a 78 needle, but it was worth it. There's a certain style about '40s music that's very romantic, and I tried to include a little of that in a lot of the tunes I wrote." Buckingham isn't the first to find inspiration in the sounds of the 1940s.

Joe Jackson, Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt, among others, have all delved into the decade in the last year or so, with varying degrees of success, mostly modest to minimal. (Ronstadt ended up scrapping her album of vintage blues and jazz, saying it wasn't good enough to release.)

"If you turn the radio on these days and listen to what's going on, you'll find that everything's already been done, pretty much," says Buckingham, speculating on the recent rash of fondness for '40s music. "I think people are looking for something fresh. When I started listening to my father's old record collection, they sounded fresh immediately. It wasn't just the style of the songs. It was the way they were recorded, too. Everything about them seemed new."

Buckingham, who has a two-album deal with Elektra-Asylum Records, has half of the material for his next solo project already written as well as four songs for the new Fleetwood Mac album.

"I'm going through a very positive period right now," he says. "This has been, probably, the most creative period yet for me in terms of growth - if you're any good at all, you know you can be better - and in terms of just being able to get a perspective on different things. I'm having a good time, and I'm looking forward to doing another solo album."

As for the forthcoming Fleetwood Mac album, Buckingham describes it as "sort of a reconciliation of opposites, a blend of the things we learned from 'Tusk' and the things we learned from 'Rumours.'

"Nothing reactionary at all," he adds. "I think a lot of people will be pleased with it."

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.