Sun-Sentinel (05/14/2004), Fleetwood Mac mends some fences and pushes onward
Sun-Sentinel, May 14, 2004
Fleetwood Mac mends some fences and pushes onward
by Sean Piccoli
It would have been acceptable for Fleetwood Mac to hit the road last year with nothing but its old songbook in tow. Rock bands of a certain age and stature, after all, have nothing to prove to audiences beyond competence with past hits and fan favorites.
If anything, such bands court ridicule by putting out new albums. Consider the Rolling Stones' last few tour-timed releases, which have done little but reinforce, by their spottiness, the greatness of the Stones' earlier work.
Fleetwood Mac, performing on Tuesday at Sound Advice Amphitheatre near West Palm Beach, chose to ignore this sort of career advice. Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks released Say You Will last year before going on tour. The first Fleetwood Mac studio album in 15 years earned positive, if not gushing, reviews. But it clearly registered with listeners as more than contractual fodder. And Fleetwood, for one, sounds like he cannot wait to make more.
"We worked extremely hard on that album," the band's drummer says in a telephone interview. "I think we broke new ground, and I think it also set us up for another album."
Fleetwood, 56, saw something remarkable happen during the Say You Will sessions: Longtime members Buckingham and Nicks, while making music, worked through personal issues left over from their long-ago breakup. Mac fans will recall that the end of the Buckingham-Nicks romance -- and the divorce of bassist McVie and singer-keyboardist Christine McVie -- inspired several songs on Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album, the millions-selling, pop-rock milestone Rumours.
But songwriting and success weren't therapy enough. And Fleetwood Mac never stayed in place long enough, after Rumours, to stare down internal conflicts. The band drifted apart and changed personnel as solo careers proliferated. A late-'90s reunion tour brought the Rumours quintet back together, but even that venture produced friction: Christine McVie, tired of the road, quit soon after.
John McVie and Fleetwood, founding members of what started out as a heavy British blues band, have remained the anchors of virtually every Fleetwood Mac lineup -- and there were several even before the band's pop heyday in the '70s. But it has taken a quarter-century for Buckingham and Nicks to settle their differences.
"I think they've sorted a lot of crap out that needed to be sorted out," Fleetwood says of those two. "They've been really able to get back, artistically and emotionally speaking, to where they were when they joined Fleetwood Mac. I would like to see the next album reflect that, and I would like to see a lot more of them singing songs together."
There is a touch of urgency in Fleetwood's appraisal of present circumstances. He is aware that 37-year-old Fleetwood Mac doesn't have many more opportunities to mark its progress against the passage of time. He says the band has tended to sideline itself "for somewhat ridiculous amounts of time, where we're like sitting around for six or seven years."
"I think we're of the mind not to do that anymore because we're a little older, because if we have too many breaks of that length over the years," he says, trailing off to leave the obvious unstated. "Right now we're having a good time. The band is focused. ... We're all happy to be doing this."
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