2004 Rhino Remaster Notes:
"This is an impulsive band," said keyboardist Christine McVie shortly after Fleetwood Mac's early 1975 realignment, whereby Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the longtime core of Christine and John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.
"We always did everything on instinct," reflected drummer and cofounder Fleetwood in his 1990 autobiography, Fleetwood: My Lite And Adventures In Fleetwood Mac. "People were meant to be in this group."
The two newcomers were not even auditioned. The veteran members' offer to join and Buckingham and Nicks' decision to accept were made over margaritas at a get-acquainted dinner in a Mexican restaurant. However unceremonious the circumstances, this particular personnel shift by the indefatigable Fleetwood Mac skyrocketed them to an almost unimaginable level of popularity. Based on their mystical musical alchemy and intriguing mix of personalities, they became the most popular band on the planet during the mid-to-Iate 1970s. In a way, their triumphs and travails mirrored the moods and mores of the "me decade": the impulsiveness and fun, on the one hand, and the emotional and physical wreckage of an unfettered lifestyle, on the other. It all added up to something that might best be described as sunny angst.
Fleetwood Mac wrapped their alternately loves truck and lovelorn dispatches in some of the most gloriously appealing music of the rock era. The vocals of McVie, Buckingham, and Nicks were individually distinctive and entwined in delectable harmonies. Guitarist Buckingham was a cool craftsman with impeccable influences that included Buddy Holly, The Kingston Trio, and The Beach Boys. The rhythm section of McVie and Fleetwood rolled along as smoothly as fresh tires on newly paved highway. The group was solidly grounded yet intriguingly ethereal.
They were also more uncompromising and hard-working than their casual, California-steeped demeanors might have superficially suggested.
Fleetwood Mac's rise from midlevel success to multi platinum superstardom began with the album you are holding. From its eponymous title on down, Fleetwood Mac heralded a new beginning that took them far from their late-1960s origins as a British blues band. Prior to it, Fleetwood Mac's albums had risen no higher than #34 on the Billboard chart and typically lodged in the 60s or lower. Fleetwood Mac, by contrast, peaked at #1 and paved the way for Rumours, its phenomenal follow-up. That album sold 18 million copies in the U.S. (26 million worldwide) and shattered every sales and chart record. From late 1975 to late 1977, you could not turn on a radio or walk down the street without hearing one of Fleetwood Mac's unbroken chain of hit singles-seven in all, from Fleetwood Ma's "Over My Head" to Rumours' "You Make Loving Fun." They owned the airwaves, AM and FM alike, and were among the first bands to breach that divide. Virtually everyone attuned to pop culture, except for doctrinaire punk-rock aficionados, found themselves subject to the "Mac attack." Their allure was irresistible.
Bassist John McYie theorized this was because Fleetwood Mac covered all the bases: "There are three strong writers, three good singers, plus a well-established and well-respected name," he said. "And it seems the time was right for a rock band with two girl singers.'
Indeed, if you want to talk about women in rock-a feminist insurgency that became one of the principal themes of the new wave era and beyond-it was Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks who opened the door, along with Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, in the mid-1970s.
Prior to the arrival of Buckingham and Nicks, Christine McVie endured a rather recessed role in Fleetwood Mac. Her songs and presence were overshadowed by extroverted frontman Bob Welch, who was the last guitarist left standing after a raft of them-Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, and Bob Weston--departed under somewhat bizarre and even tragic circumstances. Welch himself exited in December 1974, setting the stage for Fleetwood Mac's reinvention as a three-guy, two-girl California-based pop band with British blues roots.
Yet even this lineup maintained a discernible continuity with the band's past, if you knew where to look. Stevie Nicks uncovered the thread that ran through Fleetwood Mac's history, including and entangling even her and Buckingham: "There's always been something mystical about Fleetwood Mac," Nicks told Britain's New Musical Express. Upon joining a band she professedly knew little about, she listened to every album they'd made, searching for a recurring theme. "What I came up with was that ... there was something mystical that went all the way [from] Peter Green's Fieetwood Mac through all of them. It doesn't matter who was in the band-it was always just there. And since I have a deep love of the mystical, this appealed to me."
For his own-part, Lindsey Buckingham fit squarely in the Fleetwood Mac pantheon of distinctive guitarists. Though he had his own uniquely American style, Buckingham shared an understated, folk-flavored approach with Danny Kirwan and sometimes exhibited the moody mysticism of the similarly egoless but powerful Peter Green. From "The Green Manalishi" to "Bare Trees" to "Hypnotized" to "Rhiannon"-songs that span lineups from 1969 to 1975-Fleetwood Mac consistently tuned into the mystic. What set the Buckingham-Nicks lineup apart from their predecessors was the ability to strike an unusually bright, accessible chord as well.
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came to the attention of Mick Fleetwood in November 1974, when he checked out Sound City in Van Nuys, California, as a possible place to record the next Fleetwood Mac album. The group's most recent LP, Heroes Are Hard To Find, had come out earlier that year. Unbeknownst to Fleetwood, their next aibum would not involve Welch but instead introduce a pair of strangers he chanced to meet that day at Sound City.
The then-uncommitted Buckingham and Nicks were recording demos at the studio for what they hoped would be their second album as a duo. The first, Buckingham Nicks, came and went unnoticed in 1973, and they were summarily dropped from the Polydor label. This Intriguing yet overlooked album gave a mostly acoustic glimpse of Buckingham and Nicks' respective strengths. On it, Nicks is identified as "Stevi" and the album is credited to "Nicks & Buckingham" on the label. The duo is backed by an exceptional cadre of musicians, including bassist Jerry Scheff and drummer Ron Tutt (from Elvis Presley's band), drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Waddy Wachtel. (Curiously, considering how huge Fleetwood Mac became with them onboard, Buckingham Nicks has never been issued on CD, despite fans' clamor for it. There's even a Web site, with a signable petition, devoted to its legitimate release on digital media.)
Sound City engineer Keith Olsen played Buckingham Nicks' "Frozen Love" to Fleetwood as a way of showing off the studio's capabilities. ("I remember hearing that guitar and thinking, this guy reminds me a little of Danny Kirwan," Fleetwood wrote years later.) Nicks was cutting a vocal in the studio, and Fleetwood took notice. Buckingham and Fleetwood were briefly introduced that day as well. Fleetwood mentally filed away his favorable impressions of the duo, who popped into his head when Bob Welch's sudden exodus left Fieetwood Mac a needy threesome. The pair were asked to join in January 1975, and the refurbished Fleetwood Mac wasted no time rehearsing material-literally in a garage and then a basement at their agent's office. Next, with a tidy efficiency that definitely would not be replicated on subsequent albums (especially the torturous Rumours), Fleetwood Mac cut their self-titled album.
In hindsight, it can be seen as both a debut and a continuation.
Fleetwood Mac was recorded in three months at Sound City. Keith Olsen engineered and coproduced with the band. Because the group had three skilled songwriters - Buckingham, Nicks, and Christine McVie - material was no problem, and there were plenty of tunes already ripe for recording. Several songs intended for Buckingham Nicks' second album instead wound up on their first with Fleetwood Mac, including "Monday Morning," "Landslide," and Nicks' classic "Rhiannon," an intoxicating piece that would become identified with her and the band like no other. Commencing with haunting fingerpicked guitar chords, "Rhiannon" derived its lyrics from Welsh mythology about a good witch and the birds that bore away her pain. Fleetwood Mac's side one closer, "Crystal," had actually appeared in different form on the first Buckingham Nicks record. "I'm So Afraid" was an angst-filled masterpiece of massed guitars and keening vocals ("Agony's torn at my heart too long") that Lindsey Buckingham had been working on for years.
The newly empowered Christine McVie contributed four songs, more than she'd placed on any previous Fleetwood Mac album: "Warm Ways," "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," and "Sugar Daddy." One of these, the effervescent "Over My Head," pierced the Top 40-the first time this veteran band crossed that threshold in America and a harbinger of hitmaking ways to come. "World Turning" marked a rare collaboration between old (Christine McVie) and new (Lindsey Buckingham) members.
It was also something of a linchpin with the past, being the most reminiscent of previous editions of Fleetwood Mac. "World Turning," a restless, modern-sounding blues, could have fit on the 1969 classic Then Play On, which featured the mighty three-guitar lineup of Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, and Jeremy Spencer. The only song on Fleetwood Mac that came from outside the group was "Blue Letter," a brisk country-rocker penned by Rick and Mike Curtis-aka The Curtis Brothers-who were making demos at Sound City that Fleetwood overheard. (The Curtises had briefly been members of Crazy Horse on that mercurial outfit's third album, At Crooked Lake.)
Mick Fleetwood recalled thinking of the completed album, "This record could be a monster." Having assumed managerial duties with John McVie following a nasty split and legal travails with their former manager, Fleetwood donned a different hat in seeking to turn his gut feeling into reality. First, he set up a meeting with executives at the band's longtime label, Warner Bros., to whom they issued an ultimatum: let us go if you don't share our enthusiasm for the new record. The execs were, in fact, excited by Fleetwood Mac, venturing that it might sell 50,000 or so more copies than the veteran band's customary quarter million. Little did they know. (Look at the low-budget rear photo: a black-and-white shot of Fleetwood Mac posed around sinks in a washroom.) Little did even the optimistic Mick Fleetwood know. Fleetwood Mac wound up selling more than 5 million copies and launching three hit singles: "Over My Head" (#20), "Rhiannon" (#11), and "Say You Love Me" (#11). The album's ascent was slow but steady, setting a Billboard record for most weeks on the chart before reaching #I-a position it held for a single week. Amazingly enough, Fleetwood Mac logged more weeks on Billboard's Top 200 album chart than Rumours, which sold more than three times as many copies.
There was nothing sudden or fluky about the reborn Fleetwood Mac's success. It happened because of careful groundwork and grueling roadwork. After getting the attention of Warner Bros.' top brass, Fleetwood Mac made two strategic decisions: to win converts and fans for the new lineup by touring before the album was released and to hire an independent promotion person to break singles and album tracks on radio, which had theretofore been lukewarm to indifferent toward them. To that end, "Over My Head" was remixed to sound punchier over radio speakers - another savvy move on the part of the band and label.
Although Warner Bros. balked at the thought of Fleetwood Mac touring behind an unreleased album, the idea worked brilliantly. Fleetwood Mac opened at small halls and arenas all over creation for acts like Loggins & Messina and Ten Years After, building a base of support among concertgoers who found themselves entranced by the scintillating freshness of the songs and singers; Buckingham's repository of melodic, rocking guitar licks; and Stevie Nicks' charismatic sorcery. Onstage, Nicks would twirl about the stage in top hat and billowy black chiffon, weaving her mystical spell on live versions of "Rhiannon" that ran to eight or nine minutes.
Fleetwood Mac had finally arrived, after their origins in the 1960s, as the band that best embodied the sensibility of the 1970s. Looking back. it is easy to see both the appeal and mystique that carried Fleetwood Mac to the top. They straddled genders and genres, radio formats and entire continents. There was something for everyone in Fleetwood Mac, the freshness of which remains undiminished more than a quarter century after it stood the world on its ear.
Remastering at DigiPrep
Reissue Art Direction & Design @ gapd
Recorded at Sound City, Van Nuys, CA
Mixed at Sound City, Van Nuys, CA & Kendun Recorders, Burbank, CA
Special Thanks to Ken Perry, Steve Lang & John Strother (Penguin Recording)
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This Reissue/Compilation (C) 1975 & 2004 (P) 1975, 1976 & 2004 Reprise Records, a Division of Warner Bros. Records, Inc. Warner Music Group, a Time Warner Company
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1990 Reprise CD Reissue Longbox Notes:
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Few could have foreseen the dramatic change in Fleetwood Mac's fortunes that took place with the release of Fleetwood Mac in July, 1975. The group was already eight years old at that time. And although they had weathered numerous turnovers in personnel, sold consistently respectable numbers of records and maintained a loyal following, even Fleetwood Mac had to wonder if genuine stardom might not always elude them, at least in the U.S. There were no more doubters once this album was unveiled.
With Fleetwood Mac, longtime members Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie, all natives of England, were joined by two young Americans, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. They began work on the album before ever appearing together on stage, but within weeks they had emerged with a record that would yield three top 20 hits: "Over My Head," "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me". Overall, Fleetwood Mac sold more than four million copies and became the group's first number one album in the States.
Fleetwood Mac was founded in 1967 by Fleetwood, John McVie and guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. They were originally a blues band (three of them had played with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers), but they soon went on to enjoy several sizeable pop hits in England, including "Albatross" and "The Green Manalishi." Christine McVie joined in 1970; other members have included Danny Kirwan, Bob Weston and Bob Welch. Albums such as Then Play On (1969), Kiln House (1970), Future Games (1971), Bare Trees (1972) and Mystery To Me (1973) helped establish them as a solid and durable rock unit but none approached the heights of success later attained by Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood Mac's subsequent albums include Rumours, Tusk, Live and Mirage. Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham and Christine McVie have also embarked on solo careers.