Friday, 21 October 2016

"Fleetwood Mac" by FLEETWOOD MAC (2004 Reprise 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Seasons Of My Life..."

LP titles like "Kiln House", "Heroes Are Hard To Find" and "Bare Trees" aren’t exactly household names - unlike the mega-group Fleetwood Mac.

With Peter Green's departure in 1969 for a solo career from the early Bluesy incarnation of the British Super Group – 1970 to 1974 proved a lean time for the Mac. But when American songwriters/lovers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined forces with Brits Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – magic was in the air. Their 1975 self-titled album "Fleetwood Mac" introduced a smoother more radio-friendly sound and a new beginning and by 1977's "Rumours" would make them one of the biggest bands on the planet. Here are the landslides...

UK released March 2004 – "Fleetwood Mac" by FLEETWOOD MAC on Reprise 8122-73881-2 (Barcode 081227388126) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster that comes with Five Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (62:25 minutes):

1. Monday Morning
2. Warm Ways
3. Blue Letter
4. Rhiannon
5. Over My Head
6. Crystal
7. Say You Love Me [Side 2]
8. Landslide
9. World Turning
10. Sugar Daddy
11. I'm So Afraid
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Fleetwood Mac" – released August 1975 in the UK on Reprise K 54043 and in the USA on Reprise MS 2281. Produced by Fleetwood Mac and KEITH OLSEN.

12. Jam No. 2
13. Say You Love Me (Single Version)
14. Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win) (Single Version)
15. Over My Head (Single Version)
16. Blue Letter (Single Version)

Recorded across three months at Sound City Studios in California – Producer Keith Olsen had no fears about material with three songwriters in the band – Christine McVie, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. In fact it was Olsen who was a principal mover for the mega-band when he played Mick Fleetwood a track from the "Buckingham-Nicks" debut album on Polydor in 1973 to demonstrate the studios great sound quality. Mick Fleetwood immediately heard that Lindsey guitar and then Stevie's haunting vocal phrasing and knew these guys were the 'fresh blood' his band needed.

The chunky 20-page booklet is a pleasingly fact-filled affair with loads of period photos of the new five-piece line-up (black and white and colour shots including outtakes from the cover shoot with the two men larking about in the doorway), the lyrics in the same type-face as the LP insert and a new set of liner notes by PARKE PUTERBAUGH and a beautiful Remaster from long-time tape engineers for Rhino and WEA - BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH. 

Reprise Records chose the gorgeous sexy groove of Christine McVie's "Over My Head" as their lead off 45 in September 1975 with Lindsey's "I'm So Afraid" on the B-side. It was a smart move – the remixed Reprise RPS-1339 (different to the album cut) hit Top 20 in the USA and suddenly old and new American fans were listening to Fleetwood Mac again (Lindsey's trademark guitar harmonics bolstering the song's impact). But it Stevie's mesmerising "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)" that really caught the public's ear – giving the band their first decent hit in February 1976 by making No. 11 on the Pop Charts (Christine McVie’s chipper "Sugar Daddy" was the flipside) and a song that stamped their new 'sound'.

The album was huge in the USA hitting the coveted No. 1 spot – but it would take until November 1976 for the LP to seize any real chart action in their own Blighty where it crawled up to No. 23 almost a year after its release. And that only happened after Reprise hammered the UK market with an unprecedented four new Mac singles – waking the public up to the quality of the new record - "Warm Ways" in October 1975 (Reprise K 14403), "Over My Head" in February 1976 (Reprise K 14413), "Rhiannon" in April 1976 (Reprise K 14430) and "Say You Love Me" in September 1976 (Reprise K 14447). It was the last "Say You Love Me" that finally cracked the UK charts - albeit a modest 7" hit at No. 44. 

Re-listening to it now and apart from the more famous singles - you’re taken by the album cuts too – the great Buckingham/Nicks duet vocals of "Crystal" – the opening bopper "Monday Morning" – the Acoustic Blues chug of the fantastic "World Turning" (similar to "Big Love") and best of all – the heart-breaking ballad "Landslide" – quite possibly Stevie Nicks' best song and surely one of her most beautiful melodies (why wasn't this chosen as a 45?).

"...Mirror in the sky...what is love...can the child within my heart rise above..." – Stevie sang longingly on the beautiful "Landslide". In 1977 that voice and journey would take the world by storm. Start your journey here...

PS: there's also an April 2012 180-Grams Remastered VINYL LP on Reprise 530137-1 (Barcode 093624952305)

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