FLEETWOOD: FACT OR RUMOR
By Samuel Graham
Crawdaddy Magazine, April 1977

This year, FM find themselves in what is for them a unique position. Time was, only the hard-core cared much about new Fleetwood releases, and half of them only looked forward to cataloguing the inevitable personnel shifts. But once those cash registers start ringing, things change fast. Record execs who used to yawn at the very mention of FM throw huge parties for their new stars and smile expansively when the weekly sales figures appear. Disc jockeys actually get excited about the latest single. Record store clerks hear daily inquiries as to just when the new album (which SHIPPED platinum) will be released. Random Notes gets all hot and bothered every time Stevie Nicks' puppy dog farts.

A lot of idiotic speculation about this band has focused on their romantic problems and how the music would be affected by them. Would Nicks' love songs really be thinly disguised odes to Paul Kantner, Don Henley and certain unnatural acts with barnyard animals? Would there be muffled sounds of furniture breaking as John and Christine McVie went at each other in the studio? Would it be, as McVie himself described it, "Mary Hartman on wax"?

Pack it in, you Rona Barretts of rock. (Rona Barrett was a gossip columnist at the time) Fact is, FM's alleged soap operatics have made their music stronger.

Songwriting is an obvious but effective means of dealing with a broken relationship, so the Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham and McVie splits ARE apparent. Buckingham's frame of mind progresses from the initial reactions of "Second Hand News" to the bitter "GYOW" (Shacking up is all you wanna do) to the resigned "Never Going Back Again." Nicks counters with "Dreams" ("Now here you go again, you say you want your freedom"). Chris McVie, perhaps the best of the three writers at putting things in proper perspective ("Don't Stop"), would rather celebrate new love (Songbird, You Make Loving Fun) than mourn the old. Rumors is a group effort all the way---the backing vocals, for instance, are vastly improved. And when one considers what making the album must have been like at times---four-fifths of the band going through romantic withdrawal and having to deal with each other on that emotional/irrational level as well as with the required objectivity of cooperating musicians --- coming through with more unity than at any point in the last two years becomes a feat.

The veteran rhythm section of bassist McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, playing like the proverbial gloved hand, are the guts of FM. Unlike, say, Kim Simmonds or Roger McGuinn, founding members who held groups together for years, Fleetwood and McVie don't write, sing, or play the solos, but still exert a huge influence on the sound. Fleetwood especially defines the flow with his little shifts in emphasis (GYOW is a perfect example). Together they embody the band's ten-year ethic of solid, honest simplicity. And with Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie added, all the bases are covered in style.

Guitarist Buckingham really comes into his own on Rumours. His "Second Hand News" opens the album much the way "Monday Morning" launched "Fleetwood Mac", with a touch of Buddy Holly on the hard stuff. Those who thought the latter tune could have been a hit single should be more than just satisfied by GYOW, a tract so hot it makes you sweat just thinking about it. The combination of his ringing 12-string acoustic and spare electric is a good indication of why Buckingham fits so neatly into the long line of FM string-men. While not as outstanding a soloist as the long-departed Peter Green or Danny Kirwan (THEY said that, not me, Ledgies!) he's more versatile. As George Harrison used to do with you-know-who, Buckingham plays in the right style for each song. His acoustic work is a constant joy, as the music-box picking of "Never Going Back Again" attests.

Before B/N signed on, Chris McVie was the most accessible writer in the Mac, consistently coming up with catchy love songs. Rumours is no exception. "Don't Stop" continues in the rollicking style first heard on "Dissatisfied" from Penguin a few years back, while "You Make Loving Fun" (a good bet for their next single) matches one of her most lyrical choruses ever with angelic background vocals. Her two ballads, "Oh Daddy" and "Songbird" are lovely and expressive. And McVie is another instrumentalist who knows just what should go where; her organ on "Dreams", clavinet on "You Make Loving Fun" and piano on "Don't Stop" reveal an intuitive feel for texture.

Stevie Nicks completes the impressive triple-edged approach. "Dreams" and "Gold Dust Woman" preserve the hypnotic drive that made "Rhiannon" such a winner; both could easily develop into similar concert tours de force. As well as being the best lyricist, Nicks specializes in taking a simple repeated pattern and building it into a fever pitch, and she's got the right voice for it, emotive and just raw enough. The variety and quality of ALL the singing, from the countryish "I Don't Want to Know" to the haunting "The Chain" (a bit of editing wizardry sown from the seeds of several songs), is one of the keys to FM's remarkable resurgence.

And this is just the beginning: watch the charts when FLEETWOOD COMES ALIVE debuts this summer.

Thanks to Kaydee for posting this to the Ledge.