Good Times Magazine (03/26/1984) The Biggest Mac Of Them All...Christine McVie
The Biggest Mac Of Them All…Christine McVie
By Barry Millman
They are, if you think about it, one of the most amazing collaborations in the history of rock. Between them they’ve released more albums as solo artists than they have as a group. Marital strife, crippling personnel upheavals and unfathomable stylistic shifts have failed to tear their partnership asunder. They are the creators of some of the most popular albums in recording history and yet are seldom certain the group exists from one day to the next. And always the question looms-how much longer can it all last?
For Christine McVie, keyboardist/songbird of Fleetwood Mac, the volatile dynamics that go with being a member of the on again-off again circus that is the Mac have long since become old hat. Like living next to the railroad tracks, the ominous rumblings of rumor and doubt continually parading past have simply ceased to be. From her peculiar perch amidst the swirling currents and eddies of pop superstardom, McVie has settled into the envious role of bemused observer. Only once, many moons ago, did the petulantly precarious nature of her unique professional situation prompt her to walk away for other creative outlets; a solo LP entitled The Legendary Christine Perfect. Commercially and personally a dismal failure, it was to be the last time she would seek such solitary musical fulfillment. And so it has been.
Not surprisingly, though, the band’s recent extended hiatus and its impact on the ebullient McVie and, once more, the old itch for the studio returned. The result: Christine McVie, ten songs penned or co-penned by the willowy soultress and featuring guest performances by Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper and Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham, supplementing her latest bandmates lead guitarist Todd Sharp, bassist George Hawkins and drummer Steve Ferrone. Both a single, “Got A Hold On Me” and the LP are poised in the Top Twenty with bullets and a massive tour is under way. One might think such a pyrotechnics return to the rock arena would be a shattering experience following such an elongated lapse in performing. But to hear her tell it, the rash of activity is a breath of fresh air.
“We recorded the record in Montreaux, Switzerland,” she breathes, the awe of the experience still fresh in her memory, “It was the most beautiful place on earth to be. My band and I got along famously, which I’d been a bit nervous about beforehand. But I needn’t have worried. I don’t treat them like I’m the boss or anything and they’re very supportive and cooperative, always giving bits of advice and helping out with the little things. I’ve added an additional keyboardist to the touring band so that I can get out from behind the boards more and be a front person, which I’ve never really done before. It’s quite exciting, actually, and very rewarding.”
Without intending to, McVie brings up the point of visibility onstage; a subject not lost on fans of the Mac who have viewed firsthand the less than conspicuous role Christine has played in the past. Fellow vocalist Stevie Nicks, her photogenic stage persona commanding most of the audience’s gazes in concert, would frequently seem to upstage the sanguine McVie, tucked unobtrusively behind her keyboards, despite the nearly equal vocal contributions of the pair. It follows in their solo careers, then, that comparisons would be practically inevitable-the brilliant success of Nicks’ The Wild Heart and Bella Donna LPs giving Nicks a formidable head start, with McVie’s explosive leap out of the gates constituting an effective counter attack. As it turns out, however, McVie’s perception of the relationship between herself and the other half of the Mac’s female contingent harbors no traces of professional competition.
“It’s funny how so many people get that impression of Stevie and me. The truth of it is quite different from the way I suppose it seems. I always got to sing almost as much as her. I never resented the fact that she was out front and I was sort of hidden. Each of us has a job in the band and mine is to stay seated and play and hers was to stand and sing. There were never any conflicts in that department. When it came time to sit down and write songs I always had my say in things, put my ideas into the music and so forth. Individually, I consider us very good friends. I don’t know if you’ll believe me, but I’m really a very outgoing, outspoken person offstage. Onstage, though, I’m a little shy, so I never had any reason to envy Stevie.” She pauses for a moment, allowing herself a demure giggle, then adds, “But I wouldn’t mind it if my album made more money than hers.”
She exhales thoughtfully, pondering her line of reasoning silently. After some seconds, she probes further. “My album is very rocky, juicy rock ’n’ roll. Stevie’s music is more ethereal, much more improvisational. Her songs just sort of start in the middle and don’t really have an ending, whereas mine have a very distinctive beginning, middle and end. I love writing good, commercial songs. Songs with a very definite form and substance to them. I’m not sure I really quite understand a lot of Stevie’s music. I’m mainly writing love songs without much in the way of inner struggle. Not all of them are autobiographical, but they could be. Next time I think I’d like to try doing a blues album. You know, your typical white English girl blues. And I think next time I’d also like to try producing my own record. It seems like such a satisfying process to be able to produce yourself. I’m very happy, though, for the time being, just carrying on writing songs.”
Carrying on might very well be a feat in itself, however, considering the low profile the Mac has been keeping of late. Could it be Christine’s decision to solo at this point in time was a hedge against an unpredictable, perhaps even nonexistent future for the band?
“To the best of my knowledge, we’re still a band,” she offers coyly, “I mean, for our entire history it’s always been like that; just assuming that since I hadn’t heard anything to the contrary, we were still together. I hope we’re still a band, that’s for sure. I don’t consider this solo thing a new career or anything. You know what’s strange? I was sitting in a room with Lindsey and Mick the other day and we were talking and it suddenly dawned on us that we’d been playing together for ten years almost to the day. And then somebody made the comment that it was the first time we’d all three been in the same room together in over two years. It was a pretty weird feeling. I haven’t seen Stevie in so long that when I tried to call her a few months ago, I found out she’d moved and I didn’t even have her new phone number. The three of us were talking about maybe going back into the studio together soon, but there’s nothing definite planned for now. I’ve heard some rumors that Stevie’s going to start recording her next record soon, so I really don’t know if it’ll happen. We’ll get in touch with each other one of these days and then I’ll find out exactly what’s going on. It would be a very interesting, challenging project, to say the least. It could turn out fantastic with all of us wondering why we didn’t do it sooner or we could all wind up hating each other’s guts. Everybody’s been involved in so many different things since the last time we recorded together; I just don’t know how it would turn out. It would have to be a very orderly situation where we could all introduce our ideas equally. The moment it became heated or upsetting, I think it would just fall to pieces and that would be the end of the band.” She briefly considers the possibility, then just as easily dismisses it, “I don’t think the worst would happen. Still, nothing would surprise me in this band. Who knows? Some pretty odd things have gone down with us, and with me personally. When I recorded my first solo album, I really wasn’t prepared for the pressure. I’d just married John (McVie, Mac bassist) and I really wanted to be alone with him for a while. When I hear that album nowadays, I shudder. It doesn’t have any content as far as I can tell. I wreak of musical immaturity. I can’t even compare the new record to that one. The new one is very honest and we worked real hard on the vocal arrangements, which turned out to be a royal pain in the butt. But it’s honest. My housekeeper’s 56 years old and she loves it.”
The joy welling from her obvious contentment with her present stage of affairs, however, belies a creeping doubt; a faint trace of suspicion that the big balloon will one day burst. For the 40-year-old star, the day is one to be avoided at all costs. She’s ready to deal with it, though, in refreshingly honest terms.
“Lots of rockers are pushing the limits of age back all the time, but I don’t think I’ll be among them. I can do this for maybe another ten years, but I can’t imagine taking it much further than that. I still have plenty of time left to have some fun.”
She laughs easily once more, taunting only half-seriously, “I know I’m no spring chicken, but hey-they can’t get rid of me that easily.”
Contributed by Mary Anne
1984-03-26 Number of views: