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The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Deep Cuts [Deep Cuts Week]

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 thatit’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. 

Best-Known Tracks: Pretty much everything from the Greatest Hits album; the 20-times platinum Rumours in its entirety; the lead singles off Tusk, including the title track, “Sara,” and “Think About Me”; “Monday Morning” from Fleetwood Mac; and the famously unreleased “Silver Springs.”

TLDR version: Buy Tusk.

#10. “Storms” from Tusk

This one was a tough call, and I was really leaning towards Christine McVie’s simple but effective “Honey Hi”. Then VR shared with me a memory so unique, it simply demanded that “Storms” make the top 10.

I’m not the biggest Stevie Nicks fan around, in fact I don’t especially like her that much except on backing vox, but this is definitely a good Stevie Nicks song. A haunting melody is perfectly complemented by some crunchy harmonies on the chorus, as Stevie basically admits to being a crazypants who scares the fellas away.

But enough about me. Push play on this track and listen to VR’s magical, also somewhat crazy tale:

It was at the Staples Center in LA, May 28th, 2009. I had splurged on good seats and found myself rubbing elbows with the likes of  Court Cox and Jen Aniston.

The applause for “Never Going Back Again” left a bunch of people standing for the opening chords of “Storms,” including myself, and when realization began to set in about what we were about to hear,  Stevie got mad love from the Mac-heads. The band didn’t play this song during their previous tour in 2003, and before that they hadn’t toured since The Dance, and it’s never featured in Stevie’s solo sets, so this was indeed a rare occurrence.

What I learned at that moment, much to my pleasure, was that Stevie apparently wrote “Storms” about yours truly, because she couldn’t take her eyes off me when she sang it. She held me there in her gaze and wouldn’t let me sit down, long after other fans had returned to their seats, isolating me like a pillar in her stormy waters and bewitching me with her heartbreaking vulnerability and sincerity.

Everyone else melted away, and the lights went down and the darkness enveloped us but for the light between our eyes. I’m sorry, Stevie. You loved me from the start and I broke your heart, and not all the prayers in the world could save us.

As you can see, you will not find a bigger Mac fan than Vicious Rumors. Here at ROTI, when we seek advice, we only get it from the best/craziest.

#9. “Frozen Love” from Buckingham Nicks

Not a Fleetwood Mac song, but this is the song that arguably made Fleetwood Mac the band we know today. In 1975, Mick Fleetwood was scouting out studios and looking for a new axeman in California. A studio engineer played him this track to let him know what kind of sound he could expect to achieve in a given room. Fleetwood quickly forgot about the sonic quality and demanded to know who the guitarist on the track was. It was Lindsey Buckingham, who had recently recorded a record with his girlfriend Stevie and released it independently.

This is a Heart-esque mega-ballad about subzero love. It features some great co-vocals from the then-lovahs and some dank acoustic guitar interludes. After some verse/choruses, the song slowly builds up to an surprisingly nasty jam, with Buckingham’s electric guitar breaking out some smooth riffage over a nifty backing track. It’s a pretty great 70s epic with a slight edge.

Anyway, Fleetwood asked Buckingham to join up and he said “Not without my girlfriend.” (Little did he know he’d soon be denouncing her lyrically on the best-selling album of all time.) Fleetwood said “Whatever” and the modern Mac was born.

#8. “Angel” from Tusk

SUCH A NASTY BASSLINE. John McVie is so overqualified to be in Fleetwood Mac. But after you’ve already established your chops for all time by playing in classic British R&B acts like the Bluesbreakers, where he jammed with Clapton, I guess the logical career move is to join one of the biggest rock bands ever and bank dozens of millions.

Again, I’m not the biggest Stevie fan, but the bassline is too awesome to ignore. I also really, really like the harmony vocals on the pre-choruses — there is a great Youtube video of Stevie and Lindsey working out these harmonies that give you a sense of his involvement with every aspect of Tusk‘s recording. Basically, a funky groove with some nice harmonies and you can sing along to it. JAM.

#7. “Never Forget” from Tusk

One of my favorite album-closers of all time.

Christine McVie just does the damn thing every time she sits down to write a gentle pop song. Her keys blend terrifically with the Fleetwood/Mac beat and her smooth voice betrays not the slightest bit of ironic detachment, an oddly refreshing thing in this cynical and sarcastic age we live in. “The stars must be my friends to shine for me”!!!!! I love that.

One of the best things about Christine songs is you usually get some tasty backup vocal work from Lindsey and Stevie, and this is no exception. This tune is the perfect way to end the amazingness that is Tusk.

#6. “Sentimental Lady” from Bare Trees

Here’s a Mac deep cut from a guy most people don’t even know was in the group (let alone know who he is in the first place). It’s exactly the kind of song you’d expect given its title — kinda cheesy. In a great way.

Bob Welch was the guy who played axe in the band before Lindsey Buckingham. His greatest contribution might have been this song. If you’re a fan of smooth 70s yacht rock, like Christopher Cross or Seals & Crofts, you’re gonna like this one. It’s got a loving melody and a really groovy chorus. As always, John McVie KILLS it with his bass and Fleetwood lays down a good beat. Welch brings some good guitar work to the table too.

I also quite enjoy Christine McVie’s “Spare Me A Little of Your Love” from this album as well.

#5. “Love in Store” from Mirage

After the “debacle” that was Tusk (again, the world was not ready for how awesome that album is), the Mac basically attempted to make Rumours 2, and came out with Mirage. It’s not a classic record, but it does have some good songs, and this is one of ’em.

Although this is the kind of song you feel embarrassed about blasting out of your car while sitting at a stoplight, in full and honest truth I must admit that I think this song rules. Great drums and bass, natch. A solid Christine melody. And GREAT backup vocals and harmonies on a really stellar chorus. NEVER TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY!!!

#4. “Walk a Thin Line” from Tusk

OK, hipsters, you are now in safer territory. From here on out, it’s Lindsey Buckingham all the way.

I’ve gotten so enamored of an amazing cover version of this tune (see Bonus Material) that I’d forgotten how freaking good the original is. One of those songs that Buckingham largely recorded by himself over hundreds of hours in the studio, “Walk a Thin Line” is a pure and perfect gem. A shambling rhythm and tender falsetto melody is counterpointed perfectly with Beach Boys-esque waves of background vocals. The slooooowly accelerating groove at the 2/3ds mark of the song blows my mind every time — it’s an especially rewarding headphone-listen.

#3. “Blue Letter” from Fleetwood Mac

Just a great straight-ahead rocker in the vein of Lindsey’s best work on Rumours, but this is a track you don’t hear too often. It’s a cover of a Richard Harris song — he also had a hand in the CSN classic “Southern Cross” — and fits perfectly with the Cali-rock aesthetic of the band’s Stevie/Lindsey reboot. Needless to say, amazing bass, nice drums, solid solo, great harmonies.

There’s really something to be said for a sub-3-minute song, kind of a lost art these days. This one gets in, rocks it out, and heads out the door. It won’t be waiting around for you!

#2.”I Know I’m Not Wrong” from Tusk

Oh God, this song is so good. Filthy rhythms, weird layers of backup vocals, even…am I hearing this right? Some psycho harmonica?!

The bridge that starts with “Here come the nighttime” sounds like what goes through your head when you finally lose your shit, but that’s a madness I would welcome.

Mick Fleetwood dominates on this one, laying down some mighty beats that seem to be traveling in every direction. I cannot help but groove to this.

#1. “That’s Enough For Me” from Tusk

Let me take this opportunity to thank/blame Vicious Rumors for the imagery that accompanies this song. It’s magical in its own way.

Anyway, “That’s Enough For Me” is my pick for the best song off Tusk. I would respect a lot of other calls, but this one is mine. It’s just a delicious groove that busts out in a wild rumpus across your eardrum. Like many Tusk tracks, it sounds a little bit like Lindsey Buckingham is going crazy, or at least just got done doing a mountain of blow with Ken Caillat.

Several different guitar sounds poke out from the mix. The wild vocals and motoring beat add to the sense of mayhem. Perhaps most impressive of all, it polishes a full and complete song off in less than TWO minutes. Pretty much a perfect song in my book: wild, weird and unique.

So be it known: Fleetwood Mac has recorded some true jams that don’t often make the classic rock playlists. And Tusk is an unadulterated, all-time classic!

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

I have no idea if anyone is taking advantage of these, but I thought it was a cool idea. So here’s another Spotify playlist to accompany this post:

BONUS MATERIAL

There were a surprising number of contenders for this section, but I ultimately settled on three picks that I think are the best.

First, an amazing, TOTALLY 80s song from Lindsey Buckingham. The chorus is beyond.

Secondly, the cover of “Walk a Thin Line” I mentioned earlier. It was recorded by Mick Fleetwood with African musicians for an album that is long out of print. George Harrison guests on guitar! The vocal is a little pitchy, but I still think this is an amazing track.

Finally, no Fleetwood Mac post would be complete without this video. Easily one of the greatest things on the Internet.

DEEP CUTS INDEXAl Green
The Beatles
Blur
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Danger Mouse
Fleetwood Mac
R.E.M.
Talking Heads
Ween
Wu-Tang Clan
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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

3 Responses to The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Deep Cuts [Deep Cuts Week]

  1. GoGoMrPoPo says:

    Loving the Spotify playlists, Alpine.

  2. sableonblond says:

    Great list! At one time, I was embarrassed to like FM, but now I embrace it! Two I would add are “Why,” by Christine (her best song, I think) and Lindsey’s “Save Me a Place.”

    • Thanks for the comment! Great suggestions, too.

      Here’s a link to “Why.” Christine 4 eva

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