Fleetwood Mac

Reprise Records, 1977

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this review appeared in On The Town magazine on April 30, 1996.]

Some bands are simply groups of musicians who enjoy playing together. Others either begin as, or grow to be more like, a family. The problem with the latter situation is, of course, that families have been known to behave somewhat dysfunctionally from time to time. ("No," says the reader, pausing between throwing darts at a photo of her hyper-critical mother-in-law. "Really? Where'd you get my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 that idea?")

The trick, one supposes, is in turning dysfunction into worthwhile art. And the hands-down winner in this category (at least in the subcategory of late 1970s popular music) has got to be Fleetwood Mac. Here we have a band that, at ten years old, had already had more personnel walk in and back out than Madonna's doorman. Add to that two disintegrating long-term relationships (between vocalist/keyboardist Christine McVie and her bassist husband John on the one hand, and vocalist/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks on the other) and just to make sure everyone's involved, let's see what happens if the fifth member's (drummer Mick Fleetwood) marriage falls apart and he has a fling with one of the others on the rebound (Nicks).

Recipe for disaster, right? Fire in the hole; instant musical roadkill. Except that it produced Rumours, an enduring pop classic and one of the biggest selling albums of all time.

This album, shot through from the bittersweet hit "Dreams" to the just plain bitterly autobiographical "The Chain" with equal doses of heartbreak and recrimination, sets hard truths to brilliant pop melodies and knockout three-part harmonies. Buckingham, Nicks and McVie's voices meld so gorgeously on songs like "Second Hand News," "Don't Stop," and "You Make Loving Fun" that you are tempted (momentarily) to overlook the fierceness of the clenched-jaw "Never Going Back Again" and the brutally hard-driving kiss-off classic "Go Your Own Way" (the latter featuring one of the greatest drumming performances in the history of the pop single).

Throw five headstrong, badly wounded people into a situation (the studio) with powder keg written all over it, and they collectively produce the best music of their lives. Maybe there's something to that old chaos theory after all.

Rating: A

User Rating: A-



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