My favorite 100 albums of all time: #51 ("Rumors")
Rumors is an album I'm not really aware of being introduced to at any specific point. Fleetwood Mac's defining album was just ever-present when I was growing up, I'm not sure if any of the songs on Rumors escaped heavy rotation on album oriented rock (AOR) stations like KSD and KSHE. By the time I got around to listening to the entire thing start to finish, all of the songs were ingrained in my conscience.
This post is going to be a bit shorter than I originally planned, as I got delayed by several hours on my way to LinuxCon Toronto. Instead of flying into Toronto, I'm stuck overnight in Detroit and getting checked in significantly later than planned. But I do want to talk a little about just how damn good Rumors really is.
Separately, all the members of Fleetwood Mac (circa Rumors) are damned impressive in their own right. Mick Fleetwood is a beast of a drummer, maybe not quite as primal as Keith Moon or as bombastic as John Bonham, but damned powerful. John McVie's bass playing is solid, melodic, and perfect for rock/pop music that will get you dancing, swaying, or just humming along.
Christine McVie is a fine songwriter and has a beautiful voice. Lindsey Buckingham is an even better songwriter, and a ridiculously good guitarist. And then there's Stevie Nicks, who has delivered some amazing songs, but her whiskey-soaked voice may be the best thing about Fleetwood Mac.
But really, the best thing about Fleetwood Mac is that they all come together like some musical Voltron to form something greater than its parts. None of the solo work by McVie, Buckingham, or Nicks quite reaches the work they did in the mid-70s as a band.
Take "Dreams," which features harmonies from all three. It's just amazing. The same with their work on "Go Your Own Way," but the real kicker on that song is the bass/drums combo.
For those of us who lived through Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, you might think that "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" would have worn out its welcome. For a while, for me, it did. But after a rest, I find I enjoy visiting with it again. It's not the song's fault that somebody basically stuck it on replay for what seems like most of the late 90s.
The only song on Rumors that I could give or take is McVie's "Songbird." It's a lovely song, but it feels isolated and inconsequential next to "The Chain" or "Gold Dust Woman." Of course, on any other album, it would be some of the best material. This is sort of the "George Harrison" problem, really – great songs sitting next to legendary songs.
Last year I had the opportunity to see Fleetwood Mac live, and much of Rumors made it to the stage. For a band that's getting on in years, they've lost little of their ability or presence. They might have spent a little less time reminiscing, Buckingham probably could have cut back on the soloing just a bit, but they were still magnificent. So, as it happens, is Rumors even after 40 years.