Orlando Sentinel Review of BTM
May 11, 1990
Bill Henderson of The Sentinel Staff
** Fleetwood Mac, Behind the Mask (Warner Bros.): Once upon a time, a king named Fleetwood Mac ruled over the land of Blues-Rock. But the mighty ruler's health was declining.
First, the appendix (Peter Green) was excised, and the patient was healthier. Later, the lungs (Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan ) had to be removed, and the transplants (Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) were much stronger. The patient thrived. But, alas, one lung (Buckingham) finally gave out. Instead of replacing it, the doctors substituted Billy Burnette and Rick Vito for King Mac's heart and brain. Now the fallen ruler lives in a state of creative limbo.
It has become obvious that Lindsey Buckingham was the soul of Fleetwood Mac. Sure, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks can write catchy songs that rival the best of Bucking-ham's, but it was he who consistently pushed the group into new musical areas. Each new release was a wonderful surprise, even when it failed (Tusk).
Despite Christine McVie's mature input, Behind the Mask is a failure, period. Vito and Burnette cannot measure up to Buckingham, either musically or lyrically.
Songs such as ''In the Back of My Mind'' and ''Stand on the Rock'' have all the Fleetwood trademarks, but they just don't add up. We're talking standard rock filler here. If these songs weren't on a Fleetwood Mac album, they wouldn't have been heard outside the studio.
As usual, McVie comes through with some nifty songs. ''Save Me'' is vintage McVie - her voice gets stronger with the years, and her songs become old friends. The drone guitar in ''Skies the Limit'' recalls the pioneering work of Robert Fripp. Even the title song features harmonies and hooks galore. It's too bad the same can't be said for Stevie Nicks' contributions - her songs have begun to sound like parodies of themselves.
As usual, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie provide solid backup. They're like Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones: a foundation strong enough upon which to build almost anything, except paper houses.
Burnette's rockabilly influences smother the zydeco-like ''When the Sun Goes Down'' and the Beatles clone ''Hard Feelings.'' His attempts at songwriting quickly become annoying.
Fleetwood Mac's democratic efforts prove almost fatal. At times, the group comes across as a rock version of the Highwaymen, each member given a turn. Well, some members are more equal than others. Behind the Mask is a bad Fleetwood Mac album, covering up a darned good Christine McVie solo effort.
The king is dead; long live the queen.
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