Scene Magazine, August 21 - 27, 1997

By Victor Cooke

Fleetwood Mac
THE DANCE
Reprise

Along with the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac epitomized the 1970s West Coast pop/rock sound. Best known previously as a top-flight English blues act, the relocated and updated mid-'70s lineup hit it big with FLEETWOOD MAC in 1975 and then dwarfed that achievement with 1977's RUMOURS. One of those once-in-a-career monster albums that also manages to define an era, RUMOURS was a marketing colossus even by '70s standards, selling over 25 million copies worldwide - roughly equivalent to the global tally of Pink Floyd's THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

Recorded live last May, THE DANCE marks the 20th anniversary of RUMOURS and the first time the classic formation of Fleetwood Mac has recorded together since 1987's TANGO IN THE NIGHT. Not coincidentally, TANGO was the last of the group's albums to make any sizable impact anywhere - when guitarist/vocalist/songwriter extraordinaire Lindsey Buckingham flew the coop after that album's release, Fleetwood Mac went straight into a creative and commercial tailspin. Unfortunately, Buckingham's solo career languished, as well, this despite a wall-bustingly brilliant 1992 album called OUT OF THE CRADLE. (One of the best albums of the decade, friends. If you don't own this, find it. Now.)

Buckingham's return to the fold is crucial to making THE DANCE sound the way it does - as much as the return of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. This importance is best illustrated by the difference in quality between the two new Mac tracks "Temporary One" (blandly disposable in the same way as 1990's "Save Me) and "Sweet Girl" (ditto) versus the two new Buckingham gems "Bleed To Love Her" and "My Little Demons." "Bleed" is actually a pleasant rewrite of CRADLE's magnificent "You Do Or You Don't," while "Demons" is a frenzied rocker reminiscent of "Wrong" or "Doing What I Can."

As for the golden oldies, the restored Mac lineup dishes 'em out with classic manic energy. The magic is definitely still here - especially so when Buckingham steps forward and commandeers the ship about midway through with a fiery lead on "I'm So Afraid" followed shortly by a blistering solo rendition of "Big Love" that reduces the studio-slickened original to a flashy indulgence.

Nicks sounds in top form, as well, shining brightly during a moving rendition of "Landslide." McVie is even better - hell, she sounds like the last 20 years never happened on "You Make Loving Fun," "Everywhere" and "Say You Love Me." The "surprise" appearance of the USC marching band during "Tusk" and "Don't Stop" provides for a rousing close to the festivities and better yet, a wish to hear more from this revitalized lineup.

A little predisposed to explanatory gab between tracks, THE DANCE is otherwise a sparkling production job (especially in the percussion and guitars department). This is about as "live" as live albums can get.

While the performance and sound quality of THE DANCE earn it a solid recommendation as one of the best live albums in recent years, it's hard to say if this is going to be a Big Event release in the same way as, say, HELL FREEZES OVER. Whether or not the big Mac sinks or swims, do yourself a favor by picking up THE DANCE and then taking in their energetic live show when it hits town.

Thanks to Karen for posting this to The Ledge.