Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 09.12.11 in Reviews

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

From the late ’60s to the mid ’70s, Fleetwood Mac changed members so many times that nearly every album features different musicians. So it wasn’t that much of a switch when in 1975 this album featured two singer-songwriters based in Mac’s adopted Los Angeles, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The difference, though, was profound: Now there were pristine harmonies, a consistent emphasis on voices and rhythm, far tighter arrangements, cleaner production and, most surprisingly, a newly interactive band dynamic that complemented disparate writing and singing styles. This lineup meshed like crazy; old-timers Mick Fleetwood and John McVie now played telepathically, keyboardist/singer Christine McVie wrote and sang far more pointedly, and the newbies each had a presence far more individual than any of their accomplished predecessors: Almost overnight, Fleetwood Mac morphed from troupers to superstars.

Morphing from troupers to superstars

Hitting that sweet spot between AM catchiness and FM creativity, the new Mac began generating classic singles that defined their era: “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me” pushed this album to the top of Billboard’s chart more than a year after its release. More importantly, Fleetwood Mac gels as a coherent statement; its sequencing accentuates the band’s varying attributes by playing up its contrasts: Buckingham’s galloping “Monday Morning” announces a rocking new beginning, then McVie’s “Warm Ways” maintains Mac’s post-blues mellow center. Her jaunty piano is front and center in “Sugar Daddy,” then Buckingham’s haunted, multi-tracked guitars take over on the culminating “I’m So Afraid.” Throughout, the band achieves a rare balance of feminine and masculine attributes. Fleetwood Mac now personified the liberation of ’70s-style gender equality, one that would heat up even hotter on Rumours.