Ben’s Favorites: Rumours

Just over four decades later, and “Dreams” is back on the Billboard charts. And it’s all thanks to a viral 38 second clip of an all-female all-African American dance troupe doing a routine that happens to perfectly sync up to the song in the background. But, if you ask me, “Dreams” and literally every other track on this 1977 masterpiece should never have left the charts. For over 40 years, Rumours has been, is, and will always be one of the finest pop records ever to be released.

Fleetwood Mac began in the 60s, when bassist John “Mac” McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood combined their names and joined with guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer (all of whom were members of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers except for Spencer – this is the group that put Eric Clapton on the map). They were a blues band, through and through. They went through multiple lineup changes, and had a couple of hits such as “Albatross”, “Oh Well”, and “Black Magic Woman,” which Santana would cover and popularize. After guitarists Danny Kirwin, Bob Welch, Bob Weston, and Dave Walker came and went, Fleetwood and McVie and Perfect, now also McVie due to their marriage, the Americans showed up. These Americans were none other than Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – and the classic pop lineup was born. They released a (second) self-titled album and then there was Rumours. By the time Rumours was being written, Buckingham and Nicks were going through some relationship issues and the McVies were going through a divorce – so Rumours ended up being just the band members roasting each other and calling each other out through song.

Every single song on Rumours is excellent. And there’s really not much I can say that hasn’t been said already in the millions of articles out there about this album. But what is it that makes this album so fucking incredible? There’s an insanely high production value – every song is lush and gorgeous and mixed/mastered perfectly. The interplay between the instruments is not overly complex, but it grooves. Every member of the band has their moments on this album. Nicks delivers her best vocal performance on the fantastic “Dreams,” Buckingham shows that he’s an incredibly underrated guitarist and singer on “Never Going Back Again,” McVie brings the funky bassline on “Oh Daddy,” Christine McVie delivers a fantastic vocal performance on “You Make Loving Fun,” and Fleetwood stays out of the way and in the pocket, delivering grooves throughout, especially on “Go Your Own Way.” But those are just a few individual highlights. One noteworthy aspect of the album is how Buckingham brings Old West-sounding cowboy-tinged country guitars on “The Chain” and “Gold Dust Woman,” and excellent little solos on “I Don’t Want to Know,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Second Hand News” (the last one being one of the hardest rocking cuts on the album). The band members manage to harmonize beautifully on most tracks, especially “The Chain” and “Go Your Own Way.”

The way everything fits together, every note beautiful and meaningful, combined with the previously mentioned brilliant production — it sounds like there are 100 guitar tracks on some songs, “Oh Daddy” could have a full orchestra — makes for an experience best listened to all the way through with headphones or a stereo, so that every intricate part of every song can be heard. But one of the many wonderful things about this album is that it doesn’t even have to be listened to all the through from start to finish. It can be shuffled. You can jump into any song at any point on the album, and each song manages to feel so different yet still obviously interconnected. If I had the time and energy and willpower to go through this album measure-for-measure I would. It is talent, beauty, love, hate, and genius. Rumors is easily one of the best albums ever recorded.

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