It’s not cool to admit you like Fleetwood Mac. But goddamn it, I DO like Fleetwood Mac.
I know that for some of our most loyal readers, Mac appreciation is a bridge too far. Fleetwood Mac are a super mainstream 70s band known as much for their incestuous boning as for their many hit songs. Their classic lineup features a woman who styles herself a witch/gypsy, a white dude with a fro, two drunken Englishmen and a balladeer whose pop sensibility has zero room for irony….
For those of you who simply cannot accept that Fleetwood Mac could ever rule, I guess I understand. A closed mind is a tough nut to crack. But for those of you willing to join me on a journey with some truly great pop music and one amazing, historically underappreciated album, I think you will find this a rewarding post.
In order to do this right, I sought the consultation of the biggest Mac fan I know, a man known by his friends as Vicious Rumors. He recommended many deep cuts and other tracks, told an amazing tale or two, and even put some songs on the Internet to complete the apex of our list. You’ll be hearing from him soon, but first, some historical background.
Fleetwood Mac began as a British blues band, fronted by guitarist Peter Green. Their best-known song was the original version of “Black Magic Woman.” Eventually, Green and then a succession of guitarists joined and departed, leaving the lineup in a constant state of flux; the one constant was the band’s all-world rhythm section and namesakes, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie.
Keyboardist and singer Christine Perfect joined up, bringing a new pop element to the band, and eventually married John McVie. Then Fleetwood got Californian songwriter Lindsey Buckingham to join on guitar and vocals, and he brought with him his girlfriend and musical partner, Stevie Nicks. Together, they made the successful album Fleetwood Mac. Then all the couples broke up, everyone was screwing everyone else, feuding, and doing tons of drugs, and they made Rumours, which for you children of the 80s was basically the Thriller of its time.
Easily the best thing about Fleetwood Mac is what the band did next; turn over all power to Lindsey Buckingham, who went a bit mad while directing the recording of the incredibly expensive ($1m in production costs), hugely anticipated, and totally genius follow-up, Tusk.
Of course, Tusk was way ahead of its time and bombed epically (if you can call an album that sold 4 million copies a bomb). Everyone blamed Buckingham and the band soldiered on to do less interesting stuff, break up, get back together, tour, break up again, etc etc. In truth, though they had some good songs after that, both as individuals and as a group, they never made an album as great as Tusk again, and their best record was regarded as a failure for decades.
But today, more and more people are realizing what a masterpiece Tusk is. A recent article in Gothamist noted that “it’s really interesting how pervasive that album is with musicians, more so than Rumours was—a lot of contemporary artists like Animal Collective, Kaki King, and The New Pornographers cite that album, and [Lindsey Buckingham's] songs in particular, as a huge influence on them.”
So, friends. Join me as we explore the greatest deep cuts from Tusk and some other forgotten Fleetwood Mac gems. Are you willing to subject yourself to a full-blown Mac attack? If so, I salute you. Read more of this post