Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Classic Album Review: Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

So much has been written about Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours over the years, it feels almost redundant adding my own two cents worth here. But I’m revisiting the album at present, because in a couple of days I’ll be amongst a heaving throng of thousands at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, watching Fleetwood Mac perform the second of three (2015) concerts in New Zealand … the band’s ‘On With The Show’ tour. I’m quite excited about that, and right now, Rumours seems like the most natural thing in the world to be listening to.

Unlike most of the rest of the world’s music obsessives, I’ve never seen Fleetwood Mac live before. And I’m breaking some rules to get there. I usually get pretty hung up on the idea of seeing bands well after their prime. Hung up, as in precious and anal. I’ve blogged about that before. About my refusal to attend gigs based purely on a sense of nostalgia.

With Fleetwood Mac though, it feels different. It feels like I’ve got nothing to lose by seeing them at this stage of their career, well after their peak years. I guess that’s mainly because my relationship with Fleetwood Mac has always been based on a large helping of nostalgia. And because Rumours itself represents a comforting feeling of warmth and familiarity, carried forward from my childhood. You see, my Mum had this album when I was growing up. And Fleetwood Mac represent her generation, not mine. I’m going not because the band is precious to me, but because I’ll probably never get another chance to honour that formative (very early) period of my life in quite the same way.

My older sister and I thrashed Rumours while both in our early teens. She was probably a much bigger Fleetwood Mac fan than I was at the time, but I’m quite sure I adored Stevie Nicks every bit as much as she did … even if it was for a different reason.
Teenage Kicks/Stevie Nicks

More than that, as much as I’ve always loved Rumours, I’ve never been a massive fan of Fleetwood Mac in a widescreen sense. It was Rumours or bust, Rumours or nothing. If you can appreciate the difference. I’m a Rumours fan, Fleetwood Mac is merely the vehicle to deliver it. Mac albums like Tusk (1979), or Mirage (1982), say, I couldn’t care less about … but Rumours is special.

Fleetwood Mac and Rumours always felt like a guilty pleasure for me. Not a love I’d share openly with too many people. It wasn’t punk, “new wave”, alternative, or fresh enough to be considered a band I’d admit to liking. The band was a commercial radio staple. They were everywhere. It was mainstream, and beyond saturation point. So I kept it close, and it took years for me to be honest with anyone about just how much I love the huge-selling Rumours.

Rumours is an album with a little bit of everything.

The back story; two sets of couples, one British, one American, one recently divorced, and the other going through a process of breaking up while the album was being made. And the odd man out, a drummer trying desperately to hold it all together. You’ve heard it all before, or at the very least, you’ve read about it all before. And there was an undeniable chemistry there. Like some sort of demented unwashed Transatlantic rock version of Abba (plus one) gone badly wrong.

And what about those songs?

Beautiful songs about fading and failed relationships. Songs about intimacy and infidelity. Songs about hope. Songs about despair. Songs about trying to hold it all together. Even the odd song about nothing very much at all really.

Musically the album is a hybrid of styles; from straight-up pop, to ballads, to hippy folkie stuff, to hard driving rock. It had singles that charted, and album tracks that became iconic simply because they were epic album tracks off Rumours.

Fleetwood Mac had a few different incarnations over the years, and as such the band will mean different things to different people (see the Peter Green or Bob Welch years), but the five individuals who made Rumours represent the ultimate in Fleetwood Mac line-ups … the perfect core. And it’s the line-up I’ll see in Auckland.

I do hope they remember to play something from Rumours.


  1. I think Mick was more than simply a drummer trying to hold it together... He'd shagged both his female bandmates, hadn't he?

  2. you may be right, but I'm pretty sure he hadn't at *that* stage. I read somewhere recently he wound up doing that, but in 1976 prior to the release of Rumours in early '77? ... I'm not so sure.