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BBC – Music – Review of Fleetwood Mac

Written by on October 18, 2020

Rumours will never die. Many years from now, when physical formats are forgotten and music is delivered directly into the brain via some sort of digital syringe, it’ll be there: re-released for the umpteenth time, complete with a full holographic performance, drummer Mick Fleetwood’s eyes bulging like ping-pong balls.

They’re hypnotising here. Staring from the back cover of this triple-disc repackaging marking the album’s 35th anniversary (and released a year too late for it), the founding father figure dominates their line-up, even beside Lindsey Buckingham’s impressive ‘fro. Arguably it was the drummer who guided the band through Rumours’ troubled gestation, as relationships frayed and failed around him.

But the background of Rumours is well documented, and its songs have been heard the world over. Forty million copies sold – a figure that few present-day acts can dream of matching (although Adele’s 21, with 25 million sales and counting, could be a contender). So what does this release have to offer over past, high-profile reissues?

Disc 2 is filled with12 previously unreleased live tracks, recorded at shows in Oklahoma, Tennessee and South Carolina during 1977. It’s a well-sequenced affair that gels into a most enjoyable “as live” set. The crowd is never too intrusive but always present; interaction between band members is crisply captured; and Rumours’ standouts are present and correct.

Amongst these tracks are three stowaways from Fleetwood Mac’s pre-Rumours commercial high, 1975’s eponymous album. Rhiannon is Stevie Nicks’ most notable moment in the spotlight, a song that will forever sparkle. It’s as effective over almost eight minutes here as it is on its sub-four single edit.

Go Your Own Way’s B side, Silver Springs, is, as on earlier reissues, added to the original Rumours tracklist.

Disc 3 contains “More from the Recording Sessions”, selections that didn’t feature on 2004’s double-disc remaster. Included are several early takes, with vocal annotations included – “Keep it going to the B-flat,” instructs Buckingham, between lines, on Oh Daddy.

Nicks sings beautifully on the lyrically bitter Planets of the Universe, which she released solo in 2001. And a slow, skeletal demo of The Chain is far removed indeed from the Formula-One-famous album version, its tremendous outro yet to take shape.

With its extra content engineered to appeal to collectors and casual fans alike, this is a justified addition to the many Rumours already making the rounds.

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