fleetwood-mac-rumours.jpgFleetwood Mac has been around longer than some of us are willing to admit. The band, an amalgamation of things British and American, was founded by blues guitarist Peter Green in 1967 and has found itself in a revolving door – at least sixteen different people have participated in the lineup at one point or another. Their most memorable lineup consists of vocalist Stevie Nicks, guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, bassist John McVie, keyboardist and vocalist Christie McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Though the band is technically still making music, Christie McVie left the band in 1993 and only came back to tour in 1998 for the live album The Dance, and only John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are technically still in the band. Fleetwood Mac’s most famous release to date is the third highest-selling album of all time, having gone a certified 19 times platinum.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (1977) is not only the product of great writing but also nearly unheard of cooperation. Nicks, Buckingham, and C. McVie trade off vocals for every song. Though Buckingham and Nicks were the main writers for the band, each member contributes their own brand of genius to each song. With the upbeat acoustic guitar “Second Hand News”, the album’s first track is warm and organic. However, the now easily recognizable “Dreams” follows with a much more mellow, heavy bass, light percussion, and electric guitar. The album follows this high-low arrangement, placing the bluesy “Don’t Stop” and the rockin’ “Go Your Own Way” next to the drowsy piano-heavy “Songbird” and perhaps the most beautiful song on the album, “Silver Springs.” By far the oddest track is “The Chain.” Cowritten by every member of the band, it features dark angry lyrics, complete with a matching bassline that sounds suspiciously like a heartbeat in some stretches and a picked guitar line that could have come straight out of a country song – albeit, in a minor key – all building toward a guitar solo climax.

Considering the talent in the band, they all used admirable restraint on Rumours. Buckingham is a folk-music fingerpicker who doesn’t read music, J. McVie, a self-taught blues-bassist, and C. McVie, a classically trained blues-influenced pianist. Despite all of this, the band was able to make tight, thoughtfully complex songs without falling into the often-alienating “intellectual rock” that turns off so many fans.

With so many influences, it’s hard to actually pin down what categories Rumours falls into. With obvious blues, but also country, classical, and American and British contemporary rock influence, the album is nothing short of a mishmash of the very best each band member had to offer and perhaps shows their limits as well. Soon after Rumours, the band’s cocaine usage as a whole became uncontrollable and fell into psychedelic experimentation with the album Tusk (1979), which allowed every band member to explore their own creativity (it was re-released in 2004 with 41 tracks). Still, Rumours deserves its praise and is nothing short of a masterpiece and hallmark of the 1970s.