Houston Chronicle Dance Interview
HEADLINE: Re-linking the chain;
Fleetwood Mac sets concert, tour
BYLINE: BRUCE WESTBROOK; Staff
Like the Eagles, KISS and other groups before them, Fleetwood
Mac is reuniting to make money. It's an inevitable lure, and
there's no shame in it.
But unlike many bands that have returned as mere oldies acts
faintly echoing their past, Fleetwood Mac's rebirth is fueled
by a remarkable vitality and creativity.
For evidence, tune to MTV at 9 Tuesday night for ''Fleetwood
Mac: The Dance,'' a 90-minute concert that's as potent and
purposeful as the band sounded in its heyday.
It's just a part of a big Mac attack that includes two VH1
specials, a new live album due Aug. 19, a home video of the
concert due Aug. 26 and an American tour that should bring the
group to Houston this fall.
MTV's show has 13 songs, all of which appear on the album,
which is also dubbed The Dance. That disc has 17 tracks,
including four new songs.
Two were written by guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, whose return
to the lineup after 10 years is what made this reunion take
Fleetwood Mac has had many incarnations since its birth as a
British blues band in 1967. But the group didn't explode in
popularity until 1975, when Americans Buckingham and Stevie
Nicks (then romantic partners) joined Britishers John and
Christine McVie (then married) and Mick Fleetwood.
Their second recording, 1977's Rumours, is one of the
best-selling albums of all time. It was No. 1 on Billboard's
charts for a record 31 consecutive weeks and sold 25 million
But their personal lives weren't so glowing. Nicks and
Buckingham split, as did the McVies. Even Fleetwood's marriage
was collapsing at the time.
Such traumas inspired their music - but also took a toll.
Weary of the interpersonal tensions and the drug-laced,
fast-track rock 'n' roll life, Buckingham quit in 1987.
The band added Rick Vito and Billy Burnette for a late-'80s
album and tour, but the old magic was missing.
A prolific songwriter, Nicks continued with solo albums, while
Buckingham pursued a less commercial but more critically
acclaimed solo career. It was his fourth solo recording that
led to this reunion.
""I ran into Mick, and he wasn't the person he was in '87,''
Buckingham said by phone from Los Angeles. ""So we cut some
tracks for my album, with him playing drums.
""When our first bass player didn't work out, we tried John,
and that worked incredibly well. Then I was looking for
objectivity for my vocals, so we had Christine come down. The
chemistry was still there. All that was missing was Stevie. ''
When the band's old label, Warner Bros., got wind of this, ""I
think a big light bulb went off over there,'' Buckingham said.
So with Warner's prodding, Buckingham reluctantly put his solo
album on hold. The classic lineup re-formed and re-signed.
The old Fleetwood Mac was back.
Buckingham discounted the group's one-song reunion to perform
Don't Stop at President Clinton's 1993 inauguration.
""That was so limited. It was just a show-biz event,'' he said.
""We couldn't really assess things then.
""But this time it felt good from the start. All the old
agendas had pretty much gone away. ''
To launch its return, the band played three shows for invited
crowds in Burbank, Calif., filming them for MTV and taping
them for its album.
Mostly they did old hits. But they also played Nicks' new
ballad Sweet Girl, Christine McVie's lilting new
Temporary One and Buckingham's rousing new Bleed to Love
Her and My Little Demon.
Along with such fresh material, the band reinvented some older
songs, including Say You Love Me.
""That started with me saying we should do a song a cappella
where we're all up front singing,'' Buckingham said. ""It went
from there to a folk version, with me playing banjo, which I
hadn't played in years. ''
Buckingham also performed a vastly revised Big Love,
singing alone while furiously playing acoustic guitar.
""I played that and my solo song Go Insane back to back,
solo and acoustic,'' he said. ""It was a great little
eight-minute showcase for me. But the collective wisdom
dictated we put more recognizable songs on the album. ''
So Buckingham gave up Go Insane, and Nicks surrendered her
1982 hit for the band, Gypsy.
In their place are more ""obvious songs'' such as Rhiannon
and Go Your Own Way, as well as The Chain, which
epitomizes the romantic rifts of the Rumours era.
It bothered Buckingham that six songs from The Dance were
on the group's first live album in 1981.
""Because of that album, at first I thought this should be a
more eclectic collection, with different songs that were a
little more surprising,'' he said. ""But Warner was very upset
about that. They wanted more hits. They felt a live album from
1981 was irrelevant, and I guess they were right. It really
has been a while. ''
The Chain had to be included. With its line ""I can still
hear you saying you would never break the chain,'' it's the
defining Fleetwood Mac song.
Although Buckingham and Nicks embrace after the tender
Landslide, for The Chain she still sings accusingly
toward her former lover.
""Yeah, I guess that's part of the drama of the group,''
Buckingham said. ""But I think she feels more comfortable about
singing toward me now than when there really was something to
accuse me about. ''
Before, the band's life ""was an exercise in denial. You had to
cram all the unpleasant things into a little corner of your
psyche and get on with it. Now we have the comfort of being
able to acknowledge those things on a more open level, while
the bad feelings aren't really there. ''
As Buckingham reveals in on-stage confessionals, much change
and growth has occurred, without which a reunion couldn't have
""In the 10 years I was gone, I got rid of whatever baggage I
had and worked on reinventing myself,'' he said. ""Then you've
got Stevie and Mick approaching their lives differently. These
are people I recognize again - people I didn't know when I
left, but who have their act together now.
""I guess we're all striving slowly to become adults,'' he said
with a wry laugh.
But youth is still on their mind - at least in terms of
demographics. The group felt an MTV forum would provide a new
""There may be a whole generation of kids who know the music on
record but haven't seen a show,'' Buckingham said. ""They know
all the Top 40 songs, but they'll be surprised that this is a
real rock band. ''
Indeed, Fleetwood Mac has one of rock's best guitarists in
Buckingham and best rhythm sections in Fleetwood and John
McVie. For all its studio artistry and pop allure, this band
commands a stage. In order to reestablish that, the group
released its concert to cable and video before starting a
tour, a reversal of usual procedure.
""We felt we needed to introduce ourselves again,'' Buckingham
said. ""It was important for people to see this was the
Fleetwood Mac they remembered, not whatever convolutions have
gone down in the past 10 years. ''
But that doesn't mean the glory-days lineup will continue
beyond this project - not if it's up to Buckingham, who seems
to be the key figure. When their tour ends after about 40
dates, he said his first priority will be to finish his
almost-done solo album.
As the song says, Go Your Own Way. ""For now, this is all we're doing,'' Buckingham said. ""I'm not prepared at the moment to see this as an ongoing enterprise.
Of course, a year ago if you'd asked me if I'd be doing this,
I'd have said no, and here I am. So you never know. ''
At the least, Buckingham felt the high visibility of a reunion
""would help open some doors for me. When I decided to do this,
it seemed like a good career strategy.
""But since we've gotten back together, a whole other element
has kicked in: We're actually having a good time. So if
something is pulling us toward a greater picture, I'm not
going to discount it. ''
1997-08-11 Number of views: