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Los Angeles Times (06/30/1992), Life After Fleetwood Mac < Lindsey Buckingham < Main Page

Los Angeles Times (06/30/1992), Life After Fleetwood Mac

Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1992

Life After Fleetwood Mac
by Bruce Britt - Daily News Music Writer

It was Dec. 7, 1990, and Lindsey Buckingham looked as though he was having the time of his life. The singer-guitarist sauntered onto the stage of the Forum in Inglewood to join his former comrades in Fleetwood Mac for what would be the band's farewell performance. Dapperly dressed in baggy pants and a stylish shirt, he accompanied Stevie Nicks on a heartbreaking interpretation of "Landslide" and later delivered an edgy encore performance of "Go Your Own Way," the band's 1977 hit. In introducing Buckingham, Nicks expressed the hope that her reclusive former bandmate and lover "might find it in his heart to maybe spend some time with me again."

Nicks' hopes have not come to pass, and judging from the way Buckingham talks nowadays, they probably never will. Having overseen the lion's share of production and songwriting on Fleetwood Mac albums like Rumours, Tusk and Mirage, the singer is savoring his first solo success since leaving the band in 1987. Buckingham's new Warner Bros. Records album, Out of the Cradle, has garnered critical plaudits. The singer hopes to tour with a band big enough to help him realize his deceptively simple-sounding musical concepts.

As for his decision to leave Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham said he "hasn't regretted it for a minute."

"That show was a nice lark," he said, referring to the 1990 farewell concert. "It was unnervingly familiar backstage, with so many people working behind the scenes that I remembered from long ago. It was almost as if I had only dreamt I'd left the band."

The rave notices for Out of the Cradle must also seem like a dream to Buckingham. The album has been hailed as a masterwork that welds Les Paul-like guitar flourishes with Beach Boys-influenced melodies. Subtle calypso and folk inflections help make the album one of the more eclectic pop offerings of the year, even more interesting than previous solo albums Law and Order (1981) and Go Insane (1984).

Buckingham, 42, attributed the album's consistency to the leisurely pace at which it was recorded. "I took a year off just to let the dust settle," he said. "At the end of that time, I had a bigger perspective. And, by keeping the release schedule open-ended, I had the opportunity to keep the level of quality high. "The other solo albums were sort of an esoteric sidebar to what I was doing in the group. Those two albums were me trying to go beyond the mainstream as a way of broadening my scope. After leaving the group, it seemed to me that the most honest approach would be not to take the experimental path just for the sake of that, but to reconcile the experimentalism with the pop part of my character."

True to its title, Out of the Cradle may be the most naive sounding pop album in years. Though a few songs address dark themes, the record mostly consists of wistful lyrics adrift on summery melodies. While critics find relief in the album's winsome songs, it remains to be seen how today's dance and rap-fed radio audience will respond. Though Buckingham admitted the record was off the contemporary pop path, he believes Out of the Cradle boasts a swagger all its own.

"There's an attitude there, it's just not a bad attitude," Buckingham joked. "There is a certain sense of naiveté in the music, but I hope people are ready for that. Though there's a lot less tension on this album than on some of my previous work, there's always a dark undertone to me and my music that makes things interesting. It's just the way I am.

"But what's really most prevalent on this album is a sense of relief. I felt I worked my way through a lot of personal adversity and now I'm taking responsibility for my own happiness. The music is a reaction to that."

That Buckingham would even address the pursuit of happiness might strike longtime fans as odd. From his work with Fleetwood Mac to solo singles with impending titles like "Trouble" and "Go Insane," Buckingham always has cultivated the notion that he was the demented, troubled genius. That notion was reinforced by Buckingham's admiration for Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, perhaps pop music's most tormented living legend. Buckingham said he saw a bit of himself reflected in Wilson's struggle for creative freedom.

"I think I admired, identified and related with his fight to move beyond a commercial format," Buckingham said. "Initially, there was always the need to perpetuate the kind of music he was making, because that was the music that was selling. He had to struggle with a lot of people to go beyond that, and that represented some personal growth for him. In some way, I identify with that. Tusk was somewhat a reaction against the mega-trip we found ourselves on with Rumours. It was a phenomenon far beyond our imagination. That's why it made no sense for me to record a Rumours II. It seemed to me there were so many other things to try that would break the mold and keep us more honest. I can see a parallel there between that and what Brian went through."

Raised in Palo Alto, Calif., Buckingham admitted to having a sheltered musical childhood. A self-taught guitarist, he didn't even join a band until he was out of high school in the late 1960s. But Buckingham quickly made up for lost time. He recorded his first album with Nicks - appropriately titled Buckingham Nicks - in 1973. In January 1975, he and Nicks had joined Fleetwood Mac at the behest of drummer and founder Mick Fleetwood.

The pair's impact on Fleetwood Mac was inestimable. Before the recruitment of Buckingham and Nicks, and despite some hits in the United Kingdom, Fleetwood Mac was in search of a musical identity and a solid lineup.

Buckingham and Nicks gave the band, initially a blues-rock group that showcased guitarist Peter Green, the focus it had long lacked, split evenly between Nick's mystical ballads, Christine McVie's classic pop forays and Buckingham's idiosyncratic roots rock. Consumers responded by making the band's Fleetwood Mac a platinum seller - it yielded three top-20 Singles -- and making 1977's Rumours one of the best-selling recordings of all time.

But touring, creative differences and some well-publicized romantic liaisons within the band took its toll on Buckingham. He announced his departure from the band soon after the release of Fleetwood Mac's 1987 album, Tango in the Night.

"There was a feeling of relief, maybe for the first couple of days," Buckingham recalled. "But the other side was that I had to think 'What do I do now?' When I look at it in reverse, there had been so much pressure. Tango was one of the toughest things I've ever been involved with. I probably saw Stevie 10 days during the whole project, which got me to thinking about the fracturing that had taken place within the band. It was a bit upsetting to me."

Buckingham took a year off to collect his thoughts and renew his interest in music. During that time, the singer rediscovered his first love, the guitar. Out of the Cradle, with its fine-spun string textures, is alive with the spirit of that discovery.

"Recording this album was a revelation," Buckingham said. "I realized that I'd almost forgotten about the guitar. There are some instrumental songs on the album that sort of frame the songs, and they complete the album for me."


Spotlight on . . . Lindsey Buckingham

Birth date: Oct. 3, 1949.

Influences: Brian Wilson, Scotty Moore (Elvis Presley's guitarist), performance artist Laurie Anderson and folk music. "My upbringing was very hermetically sealed. I didn't have lessons, and I didn't even get into a band until I was out of high school. So I learned about things pretty late."

Favorite book: "I like to read biographies about people who have made a mark in history. It's nice to read what they went through. Lately, I've read books on Edward R. Murrow and Charlie Chaplin."

Favorite hobbies: Drawing, swimming and movies. "I love to watch a film 10 or more times and really take it apart."

Thanks to Lesley Thode for the submission.

Date: 1992-06-30         Number of views: 1392

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