Fleetwood Mac

1977: Warner Bros 3010-2

  1. Second Hand News
  2. Dreams
  3. Never Going Back Again
  4. Don’t Stop
  5. Go Your Own Way
  6. Songbird
  7. The Chain
  8. You Make Loving Fun
  9. I Don’t Want to Know
  10. Oh Daddy
  11. Gold Dust Woman

It’s a quirk of my adult life that I keep this album (metaphorically) in a wooden box, latched and kept on a high shelf, out of sight. Certainly it’s an album that doesn’t deserve to be so withheld and so uncelebrated. I just celebrated it so much in a certain context in the mid-1980s that it’s become a bit too strongly intertwined with my experiences of those times, and as a result enjoying it now requires a certain effort to disconnect the associations.

The album’s legendary, iconic status also complicates listenings. In that, Rumours is, appropriately, like a drug: after the initial period of ecstasy and delight, future encounters demand not just a repeat performance but a repeat of the high the first listenings held. Individual tracks break out and go on little solo tours of their own (how appropriate that metaphor is…), and the album as a whole loses its containing bubble.

Having said all that by way of apology for my own quirks, of course I will chime in with the general consensus that Rumours is a musical landmark. What it marks is another matter. For me I’d say that it’s a brilliant photograph of an explosion: there’s creativity here not just converging but briefly fusing into a whole, yet all of the individual elements are still distinct…I suppose this is the moment where the ingredients jelled and a Fleetwood Mac equivalent of Stonehenge was created. Before this the group was still a soup of disparate elements, and after this the ingredients separated again and moved into different dishes. But what a moment!!!

I’m delighted to discover on revisiting the album (as I said, I tend to keep it on a shelf) that it sounds not just like a fascinating Fleetwood Mac album but simultaneously like a Greatest Hits of Fleetwood Mac’s members. As someone who tended to respond most vividly to the Buckingham/Nicks material, it’s a treat to come back and hear, for example, Christine McVie’s moving artistry—voice, piano, and songwriting—as an equal and still arresting force.

There is a certain amusement to be had—hilarity, even, if you’re in the mood—from the range of styles this album offers. There’s balladry, twangy pre-rockabilly, darkness, sunshiny pop, and threads of elements from pre-and post-Fleetwood Mac members’ body of work. And it sounds like everyone got some time in the spotlight on this album, so maybe it’s a kind of pinnacle to consider (either from the summit or from the viewpoints around it). In any case, it’s well worth considering. Repeatedly.