The 70s had some of the greatest album’s. When I think about great album’s of the 70s, both mainstream and critically acclaimed albums such as Led Zeppelin IV Queen’s A Night at the Opera, The Eagle’s Hotel California, or Toto’ s Hydra come to mind. But a distinct region carried over success from the 60s. That place was California. No other sound of the 70s dominated the decade than the California sound. Made popular by acts like The Eagles or Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood Mac, initially a British blues-rock band with Peter Green, went through many incarnations. They had Bob Welch as their frontman which placed them in relatively minor success in America. However, it wasn’t until Fleetwood Mac added the duo Buckingham Nicks (Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) to their group that gave them a more pop-rock sound that dominated the mid to late 70s.
Their signature album Rumours was released and spawned numerous hits that remain popular in American culture and music period over the last four decades. Songs such as “Go Your Own Way”, ” You Make Loving Fun”, ” Dreams”, “The Chain”, and “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” all of these songs are regulars on classic radio. It’s virtually impossible to go through a list of ranked album’s and not find Rumours listed as a critically acclaimed and commercial masterpiece.
With many great albums, the behind the music is more tumultuous. The group consisting of one married couple (Christine and John McVie) and one dating ( Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) they managed to insert their relationship struggles into very catchy popular songs. If you pay very close attention to their songs, which are attributed to specific songwriters in the group, you can pick up on turmoil and the recording environment. Plus drugs. Can’t forget about those.
Some time ago, I watched the Classic Albums segment on their album and was astonished to realize how laced their album was fused with their pitfalls.
“Go Your Own Way” by Lindsey Buckingham (song aimed at Stevie Nicks)
“Loving you Isn’t the right thing to do…If I could…Maybe I’d give you my world”
“Never Going Back Again ” by Lindsey Buckingham (the song was made about a relationship with a woman while recording the album)
“She broke down and let me in…Made me see where I’ve been…You don’t know what it means to win…..Come down and see me again”
“You Make Loving Fun” by Christine McVie (song detailing an affair She had )
“Sweet wonderful you. You make me happy with the things you do”
Whenever I listen to the album, I hear the consequences of the drugs, rock & roll culture that consumed many artists in the 70s. This is typified in their song “Gold Dust Woman” which is a myriad of mystery, possible drug references, and everything in between.
Some of Fleetwood Mac fans dropped off from the fandom of their catalog after Rumours. Post-Rumours, the band created the much anticipated new-wave inspired album Tusk which didn’t generate as much acclaim as it’s predecessor. The group eventually went their separate ways for solo careers and came back together for two more album’s in the mid to late 80s (Mirage and Tango in the Night). These two albums, although with radio-friendly hits, weren’t exactly Rumours. But artists grow and mature. If I had to listen to Rumours 2.0 again, you’d obviously notice their attempt to play it safe. I think Queen did this with their 1976 release A Day At the Races that mimicked it’s predecessor to a large degree.
Regardless, Fleetwood Mac has managed to captivate audiences young and old with their album that’s about 40 years old. The television show Glee even dedicated an entire episode to Rumours. Numerous artists have covered their songs and have been influenced by its enduring legacy.
Since its release, it has managed to always reprise itself on the Billboard 200. Something about the nature of introspection and lyrics that capture the highs and lows of relationships. Oh yeah, Bill Clinton and his campaign in the 90s used the song “Don’t Stop” as his song and managed to get the group to perform it for him (Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks temporarily left the group after Tango in the Night).
Rumors carry one of the torches of pop culture. It has everything that makes a good album, in my view, of that era: impressive vocal harmonies, adept guitar skills, perceptive lyrics, and songwriters that knew how to make us think while we listened.
Follow me on Twitter @Menny_Thoughts