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Chicago Sun Times (06/25/2003), Big Mac Attack < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Chicago Sun Times (06/25/2003), Big Mac Attack

Chicago Sun Times, June 25, 2003

Big Mac attack
BY Jeff Wisser Staff Reporter Advertisement

There are no rumours this time. And that's fine with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Bucking-ham and fellow members of the band.

Of course, it wasn't always this way.

Down on its luck back in the mid-'70s following guitarist Bob Welch's departure, Mac charter members Mick Fleet-wood and John McVie and McVie's singer-pianist-songwriter wife, Chris-tine, enlisted the relatively obscure California duo of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join the band.

"Our managers were trying to get us on the steakhouse circuit," Buckingham says, laughing at the recollection of Buckingham-Nicks at the crossroads. "But we actually had some regional success. ... After weighing the pros and cons and the $200 a week they were offering us, we just opted to do it.

"We had no idea what to expect." No one could really imagine that they could.

After a bit of touring, they entered the studio to record "Fleetwood Mac," an album that would, over the next year and a half, become an overnight sensation, spawn hits including "Rhiannon," "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me," and lead to astonishing stadium-rock success. And very publicly break up the McVie marriage as well as Buckingham and Nicks.

"We looked back on the success of the 'Fleetwood Mac' album, and, under most circumstances, most couples would have just said, 'Later,' " Buckingham said. "But this thing had become such a large thing, had taken on such a life of its own, that I had to go through this exercise in denial in terms of not really being over Stevie and having to do for her everyday and work for her everyday. That went on for years.

"We had to persevere on a professional level. But it was very difficult to persevere on a personal level. You had to sort of kill off parts of yourself; you had to categorize your feelings and wrap them up and put a little ribbon on them."

It didn't help that the band was being observed like some sort of sideshow attraction despite its stash of hits and considerable musical chops.

"There was a certain point of departure," Buckingham recalls, "beyond which the appeal really was about the musical soap opera, the subject matter of the songs, the fact that we were bringing out the voyeur in everyone."

Then came "Tusk." A double album on vinyl (now a single CD), the startlingly challenging disc would be a commercial disappointment after "Rumours." (What wouldn't after a 15 million seller?) But it would also serve as a sonic, emotional exorcism for studio wunderkind Buck-ingham, whose Brian Wilson-influenced touches dominated the record.

"If you're going to be famous, then you make 'Rumours II' and you slowly lose your honesty and you lose touch with the reason that you did this in the first place.

"It was such a jolt. I could never really imagine what would have happened if we had made an album that was trying to do exactly what 'Rumours' did. Because as much as you try to make something again, it's never going to be the same. It's never going to be as good, so why try. But there's this image in the business that if it works, run it into the ground. And I was just very wary of that.

During the making of "Tusk," punk rock had broken in America, much to the consternation of his bandmates. But Buckingham found it oddly liberating.

"I was given a little more courage to try what I wanted to try by the existence of that new stuff."

Buckingham would work up demos at home and put them before the band, a giant departure from the band's previous, more egalitarian model but one the other members eventually warmed to.

The process begat an album stunning in its scope and reach. And just as stunning in its inability to match the record-breaking sales of "Rumours."

"It was only after the album came out and didn't sell 16 million copies that there was this kind of backlash from other members of the band saying, basically, 'Well, we're not going to embrace that process anymore.' That's when my outlet for doing that became doing solo albums."

Years later, Buckingham feels vindicated by the staying power of "Tusk." The album's reputation has grown over the years, and indie rockers Camper Van Beethoven even released a "Tusk" tribute record last year.

Now, on the heels of a quickie reunion record and tour, comes "Say You Will." A musically engaging collection that began life as a Buckingham solo project, the record brings together the best of the singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer and his Macmates. And at 54, Buckingham seems genuinely pleased to be touring with Nicks, Fleetwood and McVie (Christine McVie is sitting this one out) behind a tough new recording with his inventive playing and mad-genius studio touches all over it.

"What's nice about this record," Buckingham says, "is that you have enough stuff that has a comfort level for people and then you have a lot of edges and other things that expand the landscape and really move away from anything safe and anything pop. That's a lot of what's valid about what we're doing these days. We've taken the best elements of 'Rumours' and the best elements of 'Tusk' and put them together."

He seems to take pride in working with his former lover again.

"I don't think there's anyone else who knows what to do with her songs in the way that I do. ... Certain things that you have as instincts and insights just click with somebody else."

Things are clicking onstage, too.

"A lot of people have continually been surprised by the fact that we're a rock band onstage. ... We're having fun out there. The audience wants to make contact, and you try to play off that when you can. I've always sort of jumped around onstage and been sort of tasteless onstage and continue to do that."

And, finally, away from the band, the rumours have died down. It's an older, wiser--and happier--Buckingham bringing the Mac attack these days. Some chains are broken. Some never can be. And that's fine with him.

"I have a wife and a 41/2-year-old son and a 2-1/2-year-old daughter, and we just moved into a beautiful new house. There's so much good energy in my life right now that I would say that even though the 'Rumours' time was exciting and all of those years were larger than life, they were not the happiest times of my life. This probably is the best time of my life. What can I say? I must have done something right."

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge.

Date: 2003-06-25         Number of views: 1358

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