Denver Post (08/1997), Fleetwood Mac Reunites
Denver Post, August 1997
Fleetwood Mac Reunites
by Mark Harden
* The Mac is back with a new album, tour
* An interview with Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie about the reunion.
The Eagles established the pattern: Set aside your bickering, reassemble your beloved band, put on a live show featuring your greatest hits and some new songs, record it for an album and tape it for TV and the video market, launch a reunion tour, and then tote bulging moneybags to the bank.
Now the Fleetwood Mac lineup you remember - singer-songwriters Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, plus the trusty rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie - has reconvened after 10 years and tries the Eagles' trick with "The Dance" (Reprise), due in record stores Aug. 19.
Forget all the squabbles that made the band seem like an episode of "Life With the Bickersons." The Mac is back.
As with the Eagles' wildly successful 1994 reunion album "Hell Freezes Over," most of "The Dance" consists of live recreations of Fleetwood Mac's classic songs.
Nine of the 17 songs on "The Dance" come from the band's landmark late-'70s albums, "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours."
A few tunes originated on other albums, "Silver Springs" was a single B-side, and there are four new songs.
The album and video are drawn from three live performances on a Warner Bros. Studios soundstage in late May in front of a star-studded audience.
MTV will broadcast the show at 8 tonight and rerun it Saturday and Sunday. The special will be released on home video by the end of the month; the video will feature several additional songs not included on the album.
After that, Fleetwood Mac plans concerts in at least 40 North American cities, then may head to Europe.
The band is coming to Denver "for sure," Christine McVie told The Post, but a date has not been announced.
Time has not dimmed the emotional power of these songs, and the musicianship on "The Dance" is still sharp, particularly Buckingham's lightning guitar work and Fleetwood's drumming.
Not all is as we remember it in Macland: Nicks' feline voice has lost some of its youthful fragility and delicacy; she skips the high notes on some songs. But Buckingham's singing has gained in power, and Christine McVie's smoky voice is as rich and wonderful as ever.
A few of the classic songs have been re-arranged, with mixed results. Nicks gums up "Rhiannon" with new, overly melodramatic lyrics. But Buckingham turns "Big Love" into a finger-pickin'-good acoustic guitar workout, while his "I'm So Afraid" has dirgelike intensity the original never had. And the brassand-drum backing provided by the entire University of Southern California marching band gives Christine McVie's album-closing "Don't Stop" new swagger and sass.
Christine McVie's "Temporary One" and Buckingham's "Bleed to Love Her" are the best of the newly penned songs, both bubbling with emotion and lush harmony. While the late-'70s quintet was the most famous Fleetwood Mac lineup, it was by no means the original. Fleetwood and John McVie have been the only constants throughout the group's 30-year history.
Fleetwood Mac began in 1967 as a British blues-revival outfit, with Peter Green as lead vocalist. That lineup recorded the original "Black Magic Woman," later a hit for Santana. After Green quit in 1970, Bob Welch came on board to sing "Sentimental Lady" and "Hypnotized," and Christine McVie - who joined in 1971 - began to emerge as a songwriter.
Welch then left to go solo, and Nicks and Buckingham signed on in 1974.
It's been a decade since the Fantastic Fleetwood Five recorded an album and two decades since they lit up the musical heavens with the albums "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours," the latter being one of the biggest-selling records of all time, with 25 million copies sold worldwide.
During the recording of "Rumours," the married McVies broke up, as did Nicks and Buckingham, and Fleetwood and his wife. Songs like "The Chain" captured the lovers' heartbreak. The album proved that a band can be miserable and still make bright, driving, innovative pop music.
The quintet carried on for three more studio albums. Buckingham left the group after 1987's "Tango in the Night," and Nicks departed later. After that, Fleetwood Mac has tried to make do with a shifting lineup of replacements, including original Traffic member Dave Mason, but without much commercial success. The band finally broke up two years ago.
The reunion was spawned when the Mac gathered to help Buckingham record a yet-to-be-released solo album. The group rediscovered the joy of playing together and decided to give the band another go.
An interview with Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie about the reunion
Even Mick Fleetwood was ready to give up.
With John McVie, drummer Fleetwood had founded Fleetwood Mac in 1967. He was its guardian angel through three decades of personnel shakeups, its shift from blues to pop-rock, and its move from England to America.
He had even been the band's manager during the money years of the late '70s, when Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham were at the mikes and the albums "Fleetwood Mac" and "Rumours" triggered stampedes at record shops.
When Buckingham and Nicks left after years of heartache and tension in the group, Fleetwood had patched the band together with a series of fill-ins - not that very many people were listening.
As Christine McVie recalls telling him, "you can't keep putting that vase back together forever."
He finally got it. And so, for the last couple of years, for the first time since Lyndon Johnson was president, there basically has been no Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood had finely let the franchise lapse.
And then, Buckingham was recording a solo album and called on his old bandmate Fleetwood to supply a drum part.
"He invited me to come do some stuff, and I was at a loose end, so I said I would love to," Fleetwood, 50, recalled in an interview last week. "So we convened in Los Angeles and we had three weeks of bashing around.
"The reality was, literally in the first day, we realized that something was very correct."
The three weeks in the studio turned into more than a year. Buckingham threw out percussion he'd previously recorded and re-cut it with Fleetwood.
Eventually, says Fleetwood, "Lindsey very foolishly asked me who we could bring in to play bass. . . . I turned around and said, "Well, my dear man, to be blunt, there's only one man who can play bass with me, and that's John McVie.' John came in, and, of course, it sounded great."
Then Christine McVie was summoned to play keyboards and supply harmony. "The daddy of us all is always trying to get his brood back together," McVie, 54, says of Fleetwood, "and he finally bent Lindsey's ear to the point where he was willing to give it a try."
"And at that point," says Fleetwood, "you can well imagine the jokes that were already happening. Lindsey was going, "Oh, my God, what have I done?' "
"I don't remember on which day we all sat around and started saying, "Let's do it again,' " says McVie, composer of the hits "Don't Stop," "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me." But the subject of a Fleetwood Mac reunion did come up, and McVie admits she was more reluctant than the others.
"I didn't know if we still had the chemistry between us," she says. But after spending time socializing with the others, she began to change her mind.
Of course, there was one piece of the puzzle left. As it happened, Buckingham was producing a track by Stevie Nicks for the "Twister" sound track.
"Stevie came down to the studio one day," says Fleetwood, "and we took her out to dinner. And she sat down at the table and, in Stevie fashion, said, "OK, so, when are we going out on the road?' "
As rehearsals began, "It was magic, really," says McVie. "The songs that we hadn't played in years, once we decided what key we were in, the fingers just kind of went there. And the harmonies were lovely. We were a little rusty around the edges, but we polished that up."
Fleetwood and McVie both insist that the reunion happened for musical reasons, and so the band members could put their interpersonal baggage behind them. Considerations of the money to be made came later, they say.
"We'd been asked to do this before, and it just wasn't right," Fleetwood says. "It was truly a moment in time that . . . if ever we were going to do this, this would be the time. . . . There was no business (discussed) at all until way later."
McVie adds that there was no deliberate attempt on the group's part to pattern the reunion after the Eagles' return to action.
"We all realized there was magic there, so why not?" she says.
As it prepares for a live tour, the band has rediscovered its closeness and exorcised its demons, McVie says.
Thanks to Mark Harden (writer for the Denver Post) for all of the above.
1997-08-01 Number of views: