Detroit Free Press, Sunday, September 19, 1982


By Gary Graff, Free Press Staff Writer

Lindsey Buckingham felt it as soon as he walked into the first rehearsal for Fleetwood Mac's current tour. It was nervousness, a feeling foreign to the band that holds claim to the top- selling pop group album of all time (17 million copies of "Rumours") and whose current album sold a million copies one week after release.

Then the group started playing, running through the established tunes like "Dreams," "Go Your Own Way," "Over My Head" and "Think About Me," and polishing the new songs from their current "Mirage" LP for live performance. Confidence began creeping back into the Fleetwood Mac mentality, and poof went the jitters.

"We haven't been on the road for over two years," Buckingham said. "Being in a studio doesn't necessarily reinforce all the good feelings and the real potential of what we have in the same way that playing live does. This should be a lot of fun."

Since Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks joined Christine and John McVie and Mick Fleetwood in 1975 and moved the group from an obscure blues band status to pop superstardom, the band has always keyed on some type of emotion to be creative. When "Fleetwood Mac" came out, the band's personal lives were in great shape - Buckingham and Nicks living together, the McVies married.

AFTER 3.5 MILLION copies of that album made the once obscure Mac as famous as the hamburger with the same surname, the personal end fell apart. The couples split, and 1977's "Rumours" made its mark in pop history with all those millions of discs and a seemingly endless supply of angst- riddled singles.

The double-album "Tusk," released in 1979, showcased the band's musical schism.

Buckingham recorded his songs alone in his home, while Nicks and Christine McVie guided their partners through their song contributions without much discussion. Something still clicked, though; "Tusk" sold more than seven million copies, and Buckingham, Nicks and Fleetwood went off to record solo albums.

So no one was really ready for "Mirage," a pleasantly communal affair that shows Fleetwood Mac to be a band again, each songwriter borrowing ideas from the others for a mixture of the straighter pop approach of the first two albums and the experiments of "Tusk."

"I think after 'Rumours,' doing the 'Tusk' album surprised a lot of people, sort of kept them guessing," Buckingham says. "They were wondering what we were going to do this time, 'Tusk II' instead of 'Rumours II'? We did something in between, a little more progressive than 'Rumours' but also with a small relationship to the 'Tusk' and my solo ('Law and Order') record.

"THE 'TUSK' album was the result of a certain process, the result of my songs being the radical departure and evolving into a different concept of recording, which was basically me at home recording all the instruments. On the 'Mirage' album, that was something I didn't really want to impose on the group because I had done that on one album and though it succeeded on 'Tusk,' it was not enough of a community effort. Now I have a solo album and a solo deal. I can go ahead and pursue that process on my own without imposing it on the group."

What also happened, more than likely, was that the members of the band -- particularly the songwriters -- learned to work with each other. Nicks was accepted as Fleetwood Mac's own siren, a songstress crafting simple love songs and fantasies. Buckingham continued his rhythmic experiments, and Christine McVie continued to write her hybrid blend of blues and rock, taking a few leads from Buckingham for the single, "Hold Me."

"It's a chemistry," Buckingham says. "You've got five people, five big egos. It goes beyond something you can accomplish on a constant level. There was a conscious choice to have much more of a group involvement on my songs and Christine's songs as well."

"That's probably why the albums take so long to make, largely because there are probably too many chiefs," Christine says. "It's not just the band members -- there's also two engineeers to work with. We tend to go back and forth and take a long time to decide on the final product. It's not push-and- shove in a bad way. That's part of the game, really; if you're going to do something you might as well make it the very best that you can and if we ourselves like it, that's the best we can do."

IT TOOK a while for Fleetwood Mac to find this successful chemistry. The band first formed in 1967, when Fleetwood, McVie and guitarist Peter Green split from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to form Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. They found guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer, and as a five-piece outfit they played driving, electric blues that won over the purists.

Eventually, singles like "Albatross," "Oh Well" and "Green Manalishi" established Mac as more than a blues combo, and in 1970 Green left to continue playing the blues. Christine McVie, already established as Christine Perfect, hopped aboard for "Kiln House" and the band began a roller coaster of personnel changes. Spencer defected to join the Children of God religious sect, and guitarist Bob Welch joined the band. Eventually Kirwan left, and vocalist Dave Walker and guitarist Bob Weston floated through the roster.

Come 1975, Welch was gone to form a hard rock trio called Paris, and Buckingham and Nicks, who had released an album as a duo, were called in for what has so far been the longest running lineup in Fleetwood Mac's history.

And the rest, as they say, is history. If the band would call it quits tomorrow, it would still be named in any list of rock trend-setters. But the end of Fleetwood Mac is probably some time off. After the tour, Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie are planning to record solo projects, a pressure valve that promotes group harmony by remaining open.

"Everyone has to compromise; that's what it is in a group like this," Buckingham says. But he adds: "You have to be serious about selling records. Hopefully you can do it with some degree of taste and some degree of artistry. I've got a nice house I want to keep, but at the same time, I don't want to be a whore."

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