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New Times (06/16/1982), Making Moves < Lindsey Buckingham < Main Page

New Times (06/16/1982), Making Moves

New Times, June 16-22, 1982

Making Moves
by Vicki Greenleaf and Stan Hyman

New York - As the lunch hour passed, no one recognized Lindsey Buckingham sitting in the restaurant of Berkshire Place. Dressed in a Boy Scout shirt and jeans, he quietly contemplated his upcoming performance. Nervously, he played with the tape recorder in front of him.

In a few hours, Fleetwood Macís lead guitarist was to perform two songs from his debut solo album Law and Order, on Saturday Night Live. Before millions of viewers, he would sing without the assistance of fellow band members Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie; only drummer Mick Fleetwood and three studio musicians would back his vocals. Buckingham was not accustomed to fronting a group. He usually remains in the shadows. His unorthodox guitar styleóemploying banjo-like techniquesófurther complicates an already risky situation. While sipping a cup of coffee, he expressed concern over his highly technical studio sound. "Iím a little nervous about tonight," he confides, "cause itís live. If I make a mistake, itís too bad."

But after a brief moment or two, he suddenly exuded with confidence. He enjoys gamblesóit is an intricate part of the process in his search for personal validity. "Itís not the size of the billing, itís the quality of the work as far as Iím concerned," he said philosophically. "Iím a long way from stardom and Iíve got a long way to go before I have any laurels as a solo artist. Most people donít know who the hell I am. But thatís not really important."

Buckingham, best known for his songs, "Go Your Own Way" and "Never Going Back Again," doesnít want to rest on his past accomplishments with Mac or even his newly found solo achievements. "It took a long time to work up the confidence to do a solo album," he said. "I hope I never get to the point where I say, ĎIím as good as I want to be,í and thatís it. "Law and Order," he explains, "has to do with making commitments. The title only relates to law and order in terms of trying to establish order in your life and certain laws or values by which to live your life. Making commitments to whatever you believe in and trying to follow through on it.

"Everything in society today seems to be disposable. Whenever youíre confronted with pain, you chuck it. You go on to something else. Rock today promotes the escapist point of view. It seems like thereís a set of values that are slowly - or not so slowly - disappearing from America altogether."

"Iíve been with the same girl for five years now and it hasnít all been a bed of roses," he added. "Trying to make this kind of music also requires a certain amount of discipline because there are a lot of people who wish you werenít making it. Basically because youíre not in the mainstream."

Law and Order does stray from "mainstream" pop-rock. Reminiscent of Fleetwood Macís highly technical and controversial album Tusk, it is a mixture of Thirties-and Forties- style crooning, Fifties- and Sixties- rock & roll, and modern studio experimentalism. Traces of Dixieland and fold music are also apparent on several tracks.

"Iíd never drawn from thirties and Forties stuff before," Buckingham recalled. "But when my father died, he left me an extensive collection of 78s, which I remembered listening to when I was a child, but had not really re-examined. There were a lot of interesting things. A lot of terrible recordings, but some incredible energy and performances." Despite critical acclaim, the album is not an incredible commercial success. Buckingham attributed that lack of commerciality to the LPís "off the wall" sound. However, "Trouble"óthe most conventional pop song on the albumóis quickly approaching platinum record sales.

"Iím not really concerned with the outer success. Iím in the position where I donít have to make commercial music to feed myself, so I have the luxury of being more experimental if thatís what I choose to do. I guess Iíve earned the right by being in the business for a while and paying the dues and taking the lumps. Thatís why I feel that Law and Order was an inner success for me," he continued. "Itís a question of quality work and not really going for the money."

Buckingham and his longtime duet partner, Stevie Nicks, joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, adding the missing dimension the group had lacked. Almost overnight, Mac obtained the success it had been struggling for through a succession of band members. Buckingham became an integral influence in the studio and on the evolvement of Macís sound from the commercial style of Rumours to the technical tone of Tusk.

Rumours is the second of four albums by the current members of Mac: Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Buckingham and Nicks. All of the groupís recordings have easily gone platinum (sold over one million copies), and Rumours is one of the top two selling albums ever. The LP sold 16 million copies.

"I felt it was necessary," Buckingham said of the groupís change in format. "It was such an incredible exterior success without really feeling like Iíd been successful inside, in accomplishing a certain level of creativity. I mean, it was a good album, but letís face it, it wasnít a classic album or anything because it sold so many copies. It was just an incredibly successful album. People called it a musical soap opera, which it was.

I just felt that it was important to show that there was another side. It was almost necessary for me to show that we werenít just a formula, commercial, glossy band. When I joined the band, I really had to fit into the group and make it work. Once that had gotten established, I felt like it was allowable to return to what I felt was valid for me and certainly for the group in a way, with the Tusk album.

We suffered in album sales because Tusk was an experimental effort and I think, at times, there is pressure within the group to return to a Rumours format. Itís kind of hard to fend that off sometimes."

The groupís next album, tentatively titled Mirage, is scheduled for imminent release. A tour, less extensive than the groupís last one, will probably follow. "The album is a reconciliation of opposites," according to Buckingham. "It has some of the good aspects of Rumours and some of the good things from the Tusk album."

Buckinghamís solo endeavors in the studio are unlike his recording work with Fleetwood Mac. Leaving the group context, he records each track separately, dubbing one over the next. Playing all the instruments himself, he also sings lead and backup vocals on most of the songs from Law and Order.

"The main validity is actually doing the work," Buckingham said. "The validity of doing it myself, playing the instruments myself and just doing the album, really comes from the enjoyment of the work. What happens afterwards is of less consequence.

Hopefully people will enjoy it. Hopefully it will be somewhat influential to certain people. And hopefully I will grow during the process. If youíre any good at all, you can always get better."

Comparing the recording techniques of a solo and group work, Buckingham notes considerable differences. "Working on a Fleetwood Mac album is like doing a movie," he said. "Everything is very verbalized. Itís very consciously thought out. There are many links in the chain. When Iím working on an album by myself doing all the parts myself, being solitary, itís much more like doing a painting as opposed to making a movie. Itís a very intimate one-to-one relationship that you develop with your work. Itís more of a subconscious process, and the work tends to lead you.

A lot of people have thought that this album and Stevieís solo album (Bella Donna) and Mickís project (The Visitor) were signifying the end of the group. But in fact, I think if we hadnít done some of the projects and hadnít found outlets for a sense of individuality, that maybe we wouldnít have even done this Fleetwood Mac album.

Weíve been together like Siamese twins - or Siamese quintuplets - for years now. Weíre either in the studio or on the road. I canít really tell you whatís going to happen with the group in the next year or so. But to me, it was just a good release. We needed some individuality. You start to become a non-entity, constantly giving of yourself to the group effort.

"Itís been a rough year. Doing both the Mac album and my album has given me bags under my eyes," he said, pulling at one eye. "Itís hard to say what my career is at this point. Everyone is going through transitions. The group is certainly going through transitions. But itís an exciting time. I think that the next couple of years are going to be real positive for me."


Date: 1982-06-16         Number of views: 1373

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