KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Forty Year Friday – FLEETWOOD MAC “RUMOURS”

Artist: FLEETWOOD MAC
Album: RUMOURS

[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]

Ever heard of this one? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last four decades, chances are you either own it, know most of its songs or claim to hate it because it’s “so overplayed.” Rumours, the second album by the Fleetwood Mac lineup of guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, keyboardist/singer Christine McVie, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood was not only their second consecutive chart-topper but also became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time. Its track listing of 11 songs (12 on the expanded version) features 4 hit singles and at least that many album tracks that have become radio staples & concert favorites. Created in the midst of personal turmoil, including the dissolution of the McVie marriage and Buckingham-Nicks relationship as well as Fleetwood’s marital problems, there’s a lot of bitterness & vitriol to be found in the lyrics, many of which are hidden behind a veil of catchy, upbeat pop/rock music. Co-producers Ken Caillat & Richard Dashut crafted a sonically gorgeous album which perfectly blends acoustic & electric instruments and lush harmonies, and showcases their inventive & incredibly tight rhythm section (Mick Fleetwood & John McVie don’t often get the recognition they deserve for their contributions behind the three vocalists). Songwriting is split about equally between Christine McVie, Buckingham & Nicks, with Buckingham often pitching in to embellish the others’ songs.

The first side of the original LP is dominated by Buckingham. He wrote three of the six songs and his influence (and voice) is all over two others. The chugging “Second Hand News” opens the album with a sparse, bouncy rhythm track, tight harmonies from Nicks, a biting guitar solo, memorable scat singing before the chorus and some great melodic hooks (i.e. “Won’t you lay me down in the tall grass & let me do my stuff”). The sweet & peppy “Never Going Back Again,” with its refrain of “Been down one time, been down two times,” is a Buckingham solo acoustic number. His “Go Your Own Way” was the first single released from the album toward the end of 1976, reaching the Top 10. It’s highlighted by a staggered rhythm during the verses, strong 3-part harmonies and some melodic guitar soloing. McVie’s two contributions to Side 1 couldn’t be more different: “Don’t Stop” is their ubiquitous Top 5 hit with a midtempo shuffle groove and McVie & Buckingham trading off vocals at “don’t stop” and “thinkin’ about tomorrow.” Unless you listen carefully it’s hard to tell that it’s not the same voice. McVie’s “Songbird” is essentially a solo piano song with Buckingham adding a very subtle guitar part. This gorgeous ballad was recorded on a Steinway grand piano in an auditorium, which gives the track its unique ambience. Nicks may only have one track on that side of the album but it’s a huge one: the stunningly produced “Dreams,” which became their first (and I believe only) #1 hit in the U.S. Anyone who dismisses this era of Fleetwood Mac as “soft rock” is probably pointing at this song, but the lush recording hides some biting lyrics (aimed directly at Buckingham). This might have been the first Fleetwood Mac song I ever heard and it still sends shivers down my spine whenever I play it.

Side 2 begins with “The Chain,” the only song credited to all five band members. It’s more of a collection of shorter pieces than a true collaboration, taking us through several distinct sections: the foot-stomping back-porch intro with Buckingham plucking the dobro & sharing close harmonies with Nicks; the vocal-drenched chorus (“I can still hear you sayin’ you would never break the chain”); McVie’s memorable bassline leading into the final uptempo vocal-and-guitar-solo section. Nicks’ “I Don’t Want To Know” is a melodic pop nugget that always sounded to me like it was written at a different time than the rest of the songs on Rumours. Apparently that was the case as it dates back to their pre-Fleetwood Mac days as Buckingham Nicks. Her “Gold Dust Woman” is a moody, haunting way to close out the album, with strong-yet-subtle accompaniment from the rest of the band. McVie’s joyous “You Make Loving Fun,” the album’s fourth Top 10 hit, is also one of its most upbeat tracks, although Mr. McVie couldn’t have been pleased about this paean to his estranged wife’s new lover. Her final contribution, the lush ballad “Oh Daddy,” is probably the most overlooked song here, with a mysterious quality similar to “Gold Dust Woman” but warmer & more inviting. On any other record it would have been a standout track, but here it unfortunately gets lost in the shuffle. Nicks’ pretty ballad “Silver Springs” is the odd-man-out; a nearly 5-minute song that was cut from the track listing due to time restrictions (much to her annoyance), but has since been included on several reissues, either in the middle of the album or tacked on at the end. It’s another winner that could have easily been a hit. There aren’t many albums as jam-packed with classics as this one. As I stated above, some people might complain that most of the songs have been overexposed, but remember how it sounded the first time you heard it and think about how many listeners have been inspired by it over the last 40 years.

 

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34 comments on “Forty Year Friday – FLEETWOOD MAC “RUMOURS”

  1. kevin
    March 24, 2017

    Buckingham and Nicks get a lot of credit for revitalizing this band, deservedly so, but I always though Christine McVie was their (not so) secret weapon. I am a big fan of the songs she wrote during the Bob Welch years and she comes up huge again here with “Don’t Stop,” ‘You Make Loving Fun” (super-beautiful chorus), and, as you mentioned, the often over-looked “Oh Daddy” – my favorite on this record. Yeah, this record is pretty good.

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    • Hi Kevin. There’s no doubt that Christine McVie has been an unheralded contributor in Fleetwood Mac compared to her American counterparts, at least to the general public. We record collectors & music lovers have always appreciated her, and I agree that she came up huge on Rumours. I’m glad we have another one in common.

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      • kevin
        March 24, 2017

        I’m really curious to hear the new Buckingham/McVie album, which I guess started out as a new FM album until Nicks bowed out. Mick and Lindsay have both said that Christine has some amazing new material (wonder if Stevie got jealous).

        Have you read Ken Caillat’s book ‘Making Rumours’?

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      • I’m also looking forward to that Buckingham-McVie album. I wonder if any other members of F-Mac will be part of that project. I’ve loved pretty much everything Buckingham has released. I haven’t read Caillat’s book. I imagine it’s a good one but I rarely have enough time for reading. These days it takes me a year or more to finish a book. I’m hoping that changes after renovations are completed later this year and free time will return for the first time in two years.

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  2. 80smetalman
    March 24, 2017

    Many a song from “Rumours” got plenty of airplay, not just in 1977 but for the rest of the 70s. After all these years, I still chuckle at the lyrics for “Second Hand News” and “Go Your Own Way” should be covered by a metal band. Buckingham was such an underrated guitarist. Like most of the world, “The Chain” has my all time favourite bass line. This album is as good now as it was 40 years ago.

    Like

    • You’re absolutely right that some of those lyrics would work well in a metal setting. How has that not been done yet? Good call on the bass line from “The Chain.” It really pushes the song into a higher gear.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Phillip Helbig
    March 24, 2017

    This brings to mind so many things:

    In 1978 I remember a girl at school saying that her brother was going to take her to see Fleetwood Mac. I knew about rock music then (hard to avoid it in the 1970s, when it was much played on radio), but didn’t get into it until a couple of years later (when seeing a Beatles tribute act called The Mahoney Brothers at an amusement park).

    I saw them on their last tour. I think it grossed $200 million or whatever. Sure, it was a long tour, but still. I think also the most I have ever paid for a concert. But it was worth it. The set list was of course a “greatest hits”, but that is what most people came to hear. I did find it a bit strange that the programme only had covers for only the albums after Buckingham and Nicks joined.

    Their joining is the classic “(the right people) in the right place at the right time”, or what Louis Pasteur meant when he said that luck favors the well prepared. With the band down to just the core three (two Macs and Fleetwood), they were looking for something new and were testing some studios. To demonstrate the equipment, the engineer put on a random tape—-which was Buckingham Nicks.

    I saw John Mayall last night. He’s 83! Played a two-hour show with no break. The first time I’ve seen him without an additional guitarist. (Legendary is the time with Walter Trout (whom I’ll be seeing in the same club in May) and Coco Montoya.) He played some guitar himself, some organ, but mostly piano, and of course did all the singing and played quite a bit of harmonica. Both Fleetwood and Mac were once in his band, as well as a host of others (Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Robben Ford, Hughie Flynt, Aynsley Dunbar, Keef Hartley, John Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Sugarcane Harris, Andy Fraser, and many others).

    About 25 years ago (how can it be that long?) I saw a concert by a band called Jellyfish. I think that this was the last time I managed to fit into my 1970s flared trousers: below the knee enough room for three legs, above the knee too little room for the one leg. 🙂 They were good, but were clearly based on the drum patterns from “Go Your Own Way” and “Jet” by Wings (play those two back to back).

    Me 25 years ago (well, almost):

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    • Phillip Helbig
      March 24, 2017

      And on the tour, Fleetwood was dressed the same as on the cover of Rumours, including the well placed clacker balls. (Who remembers when they were all the rage?)

      In a book, I once saw a really good picture of Mike Rutherford impersonating Mick Fleetwood. Sadly, I can’t find it on the internet now.

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      • Who had the clacker balls? I can’t imagine Fleetwood could play drums with those. Wondering how Rutherford “impersonated” Fleetwood. Did he just dress like him?

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 28, 2017

        “Who had the clacker balls? I can’t imagine Fleetwood could play drums with those. Wondering how Rutherford “impersonated” Fleetwood. Did he just dress like him?”/I>

        I read somewhere that he always takes them to gigs. Actually, they are not clacker balls (a 1970s fed) but from some toilet chain or something. Hey, those were the days!

        The impression was basically Rutherford just doing Fleetwood’s facial expression.

        Time for a relevant quote of the day:

        [Stevie Nicks and I] used to get grand pianos craned into our bedrooms. But I
        didn’t redesign my [hotel-room] colour scheme. Stevie did for a while.

        —Christine McVie on touring with Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s

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      • Thanks for clarifying the clacker balls story. Although I’m not sure if I’m even more confused now. 😀

        Good quote from Christine McVie. I always thought it was Stevie who had pianos craned into hotel rooms. Nice to know the other band members were self-indulgent too.

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    • Hi Phillip. I assume by their “last tour” you mean the one where Christine McVie was back in the band, right? I can only imagine how much money they made for that tour…and how much they charged for tickets. I’ve never seen them but I’ve watched lots of concert videos over the years. They always put on a great show, and that rhythm section is very underrated.

      I discussed the Buckingham Nicks album in my second One And Done post where I briefly mentioned how it caught Mick Fleetwood’s ear (via the engineer at the studio). Amazing how that affected so many people in a positive way.

      Amazing how Mr. Mayall is still going strong at 83. As you mentioned, he’s put the spotlight on so many amazing musicians over the years. As much as I love Clapton’s heralded work with Mayall, I was always more impressed with Peter Green’s contributions. Not only did he fill the void left by Clapton but he took it to another level. Too bad he lost the plot but at least he returned to music making after many years in the wilderness. And I’m glad this conversation about the mid-’70s Fleetwood Mac turned to the guy who started it all a decade before.

      As for Jellyfish, I was a huge fan right from the start. Saw them open for World Party on their first tour, and then headlining for their second album before they disbanded. I wrote a glowing review of those two albums in my Two And Through post. Good call on their influences, by the way.

      Did you see Robert Plant when you looked in a mirror back in your long-hair days? Haha.

      Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        March 28, 2017

        Yes, last tour with the classic lineup.

        “that rhythm section is very underrated.”

        True, but what other bands are named after the rhythm section?

        “Did you see Robert Plant when you looked in a mirror back in your long-hair days?”

        I had much better hair than Plant. 🙂

        Back in the late 1980s, the sister of my then girlfriend had a 1970s-themed party. My girlfriend was a couple of years younger than I and her sister about my age. So, we were alive in the 1970s, but children or in our early teens. There were about 100 people there. I knew only a couple and had seen maybe 3 more, so by the same token most had never seen me before. Everyone was in flared trousers, caftans, beds, headbands—the works. I got up from a sofa to get something to drink and heard someone whisper “Hey, that guy actually looks real!” 🙂

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      • That’s quote an accomplishment, to have better hair than the “golden god.” Years ago a friend & I considered the possibility that Plant sold his soul to the devil to keep that head of hair intact, and in return he gave up his voice. That’s not to say he can’t still sing…I love just about everything he’s done in the 21st century…but he lost his soaring Zeppelin voice a long time ago. I guess that’s a fair tradeoff but if I could sing like that I would never give it up.

        Last week I saw The Zombies on their 50th anniversary Odessey & Oracle tour. I’ve seen them, as well as Blunstone & Argent, several times over the last two decades, and I always leave the show marveling at how Colin Blunstone somehow has a stronger voice than he did when he was younger. There aren’t many vocalists who can say that, at least the ones with traditionally strong voices. I’ve heard that he takes incredible care of his voice, doing warm-up exercises before soundcheck and before the show.

        I loved your anecdote about that ’70s-themed party. Thanks for sharing.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        March 29, 2017

        “There aren’t many vocalists who can say that, at least the ones with traditionally strong voices.”

        One who blows me away is Klaus Meine. Sounds exactly like he did 40 years ago. I’ve seen the Scorpions a few times, and of course there is a lot going on, but even at an unplugged concert with reasonable volume, it was clear that he still has it.

        My vote for most improved voice goes to Simon Nicol. He is the only founding member in the current Fairport Convention lineup (which went through a period with no original members—not something that many bands can do credibly), though Dave Pegg has been there since 1970 and Gerry Conway had played in sister bands since even before that (e.g. in Fotheringay with Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue, both of whom were later with Fairport, and with Sandy, who had been in Fairport and would return later—and with Steeleye Span, and Jethro Tull). He is something like the seventh main singer the band has had, but, with the exception of Sandy Denny, the best. In the old days a high, nasal voice—fine for finger-in-the-ear folk, of course—but these days a deep, strong, expressive voice. And an extremely underrated guitar player.

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      • I haven’t kept up with The Scorpions but I’ve been impressed by Meine’s voice whenever I’ve heard something new from them over the years. As for Fairport Convention, I can only pick out Thompson’s & Denny’s voices on the early albums. I don’t know who sings which songs on any of the later recordings I own. I suppose I would be better at picking out those voices if I saw them live, which I know you have many times. I did catch them briefly at The Bottom Line, a much-loved (but sadly long gone) venue in New York City, in the mid-’90s. Unfortunately it was a rare time when I was too drunk to remember the show (actually that’s probably the only time it ever happened). I believe we were asked to leave the venue because we were talking so loudly. Not something I’m proud of, but it’s part of my history…and my only direct connection to Fairport Convention.

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  4. Alyson
    March 24, 2017

    Wondered how long it would be before this one cropped up and wondered what you would say about it! My last year in high school was ’77/’78 – I had the same boyfriend for the duration and this was the album he gave me as a Christmas present that (academic) year. Although I loved it at the time, I have at the moment heard it just once too often and many of the tracks have been used for adverts and telly programme theme tunes which makes them just a bit over-familiar now. Did love it back in the day however and will again in the future I’m sure.

    Funny thing was that back in ’77/’78 the boys we hung out with were really into this new fangled thing called punk and started to dress like their heroes (in a watered down version) whereas we girls wanted to look like Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt – yes it was the era of shaggy perms and peasant skirts. Happy days!

    It’s a thumbs up for this one though so I think we’re at 7/12 now

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. I had a feeling this album would be another one we had in common. I can understand why it might not strike the same chord now after years of exposure but, as I pointed out in the post, that doesn’t take away from the album’s brilliance. I always try to imagine how certain music sounds to someone hearing it for the first time years later. Rumours has still got to be pretty impressive to most new listeners. What a combination of songwriting, musicianship, vocal harmonies & production.

      By the way, we boys were very happy that girls of that era emulated Nicks & Ronstadt. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. stephen1001
    March 25, 2017

    It was definitely one of those albums that when I finally heard it, I felt like I knew it already!
    Love the Chain – it might be Exhibit A on why some albums should be side 1/2 rather than a continuous running order.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Geoff. When did you finally hear Rumours? Was your familiarity with most of the songs a good thing? I agree with your point about certain albums working better as two distinct sides, but that’s what I grew up with so it’s not surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

      • stephen1001
        March 26, 2017

        I think I heard it 10 years ago or so, but then formally reviewed a few years ago.
        I think the familiarity was more of a surprisingly fun feeling (how do I know these already?!) and it’s an album I’d argue has that elusive synergy, where 2 + 2 = 5, the good tracks add up to a great album

        Like

      • “2 + 2 = 5”. Well stated, Geoff.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. DanicaPiche
    March 26, 2017

    These are all wonderful songs and it’s especially impressive they appeared on the same album. It must have been quite a treat to hear them for the first time on the one album.
    Another excellent feature, Rich!

    Like

    • Thanks, Danica. There are probably a lot of people who think this is actually an early Greatest Hits album by Fleetwood Mac. That’s how consistently great it is.

      Like

  7. keepsmealive
    March 27, 2017

    You nailed it, Rich. I reviewed this at KMA and really liked it.

    I just got a 3CD set of it, and a book about making the record too…

    Like

    • Thanks, Aaron. I hadn’t seen your Rumours review until today. I’m glad I wasn’t off the mark when I suggested that people might confuse it with a Greatest Hits collection. The 3-disc version is excellent with strong bonus material. I also have it on DVD-Audio in surround sound. Unsurprisingly it’s pretty awesome.

      Like

  8. J.
    March 29, 2017

    I have this one. It’s one of those albums that you know without knowing it. For sure. I bought a copy on vinyl a while back and was mighty happy about that… well, until I’d discovered that Gold Dust Woman looped due to a pin hole through it. Been looking to replace that copy since, but the price hasn’t been right.

    Great write-up.

    Like

    • Thanks, J. I’m not a format snob (nor am I implying that you are) but I agree that this is an album that looks & sounds great on vinyl. I hope you find a clean copy with a playable “Gold Dust Woman” soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        March 30, 2017

        So do I. In the meantime I still have the CD and MP3 to fall back on.

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      • Glad you’ll be able to survive with Rumours in just two configurations. 😀 Do you at least have a version with “Silver Springs”?

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      • J.
        March 31, 2017

        Afraid not! I need to rectify this?

        Like

      • I was surprised to learn that a lot of fans consider “Silver Springs” the best song on the album. I don’t quite agree but I love it and think it fits in perfectly.

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      • J.
        March 31, 2017

        I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a cheap copy of one of the expanded versions. My CD copy is a bit dull sounding, so might be worth looking at a replacement.

        Like

      • You’ll probably find one pretty easily since it’s been reissued in expanded form more than once. Good luck with your search.

        Like

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