Fleetwood Mac’s second self-titled album, also known as the White Album, was a rebirth of sort after the departure of Bob Welch. In search of a new guitarist, the band came across American musician, Lindsey Buckingham in 1975. As a condition to joining the band, Buckingham asked for his musical partner and love interest, Stevie Nicks, to be given a spot alongside him in the band. The members of Fleetwood Mac agreed, and with the new additions, Fleetwood Mac began their transition into the pop rock phenomenon for which they are known today.
The new sound of the band is heard immediately as Fleetwood Mac kicks off with the high-energy track “Monday Morning.” The song was composed by the band’s newest member, Buckingham, which he had originally planned on releasing with Nicks under their duo name of Buckingham-Nicks. There is nothing substantially innovative about the song itself, but it encompassed the basic elements of a radio-worthy pop song: it was simple and catchy. These elements are what the band incorporated throughout the album that helped to push their mainstream success.
The first single released off Fleetwood Mac was “Over My Head,” written by Christine McVie. She opens the song by singing, “You can take me to paradise/and then again you can be cold as ice/ I’m over my head/ But it sure feels nice.” The uplifting instrumental lines paired with the upbeat tempo seem contradictory to the heaviness of the sorrowful lyrics about being in a beautiful, but uneasy relationship. However the contrast works well for the single, even playing up the overall message of troubled love, especially with the somber tone of McVie’s voice.
While McVie claims that her songs are not written about specific people, but are instead inspired by the general idea of love, many have speculated that “Over My Head” was in part written about her marriage with John McVie, which ended the year after the song’s initial release.
Even McVie’s “Say You Love Me,” seems telling of the strain Christine and John had on their marriage. The song opens with McVie on piano. Her presence is so strong, both instrumentally and vocally, that one can almost forget she is being backed by a full band until the back-up vocals join her on the line “Cause when the loving starts/and the lights go down/and there’s not another living soul around/Then you woo me until the sun comes up/And you say that you love me.”
Although not a hit until 23 years later, when it was re-released as a live single on the album Dance, “Landslide” was Stevie Nicks’ first and one of her most notable contributions to Fleetwood Mac. Nicks wrote the song while staying in Colorado as a reflection on her relationship with lover and Fleetwood Mac guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham, and the contemplation of whether to pursue their relationship, both professionally and romantically.
The lyrics are specific, creating the imagery of the Rocky Mountains as Nicks sings of the “snow covered hills” in Aspen; yet their meaning is broad and relatable. While Nicks has her own story written in the words, “Landslide” is a relatable tune of finding oneself in the loss of love, making it a popular cover and source of commercial success for a number of bands. The song shows a vulnerability of Nicks as she sings the words “I’ve been afraid of changing because I built my life around you” over the intimate guitar lines of Buckingham.
Nicks also contributed her single, “Rhiannon,” which she composed before joining Fleetwood Mac. The song was inspired by the book Triad by Mary Leader, which told the story of a possessed woman. The book also referenced the Welsh myth of Rhiannon, a name that Nicks found so beautiful, she felt it necessary to compose a song entitled with the same name. Through the lyrics, Nicks gives her interpretation of the legend, singing “All your life you’ve never seen woman taken by the wind/would you stay if she promised you heaven/will you ever win?”
The sound quality and packaging of the album are both of professional standards. The artwork is a black and white picture of two men dressed in black, one twice as tall as the other, standing in front of a white door frame. The backdrop of the artwork is white, giving it the nickname the White Album. The relation between the artwork and the content of the album is unclear, but is in similar style to proceeding album artwork such as Rumours.
While Fleetwood Mac had already achieved commercial success prior to adding Nicks and Buckingham, the duo pushed the band’s identity into a more mainstream pop-rock band. While all members made notable contributions, the showcase was ultimately a showcase of the women, Nicks and McVie. Their songwriting is impeccable and the compositions flawless.
A year after its initial release, Fleetwood Mac reached number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart where it spent 37 weeks in the top ten. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Fleetwood Mac at number 182 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The singles “Say You Love Me” and “Rhiannon” both made the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number 11. The single “Rhiannon” went on to be ranked number 488 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Following the release of Fleetwood Mac, the band released their critically acclaimed album Rumours in 1977, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year. Two years later, the band began exploring new sounds with the release of their experimental rock album, Tusk.
The band announced a brief separation in 1995, but came back together as the Rumours line-up in 1997. In 2004, Fleetwood Mac took some time away from the studio and focused on touring, and in 2009 released a documentary called Fleetwood Mac: Don’t Stop.
The band has undergone a number of line-up changes from its start in 1967. The only original band member to consistently work with Fleetwood Mac is drummer Mick Fleetwood. The current members are Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, and Lindsey Buckingham. Today, Fleetwood Mac is continuing to tour and is working on an album which is anticipated to be released in 2015.
Reviewer: Jessica Braun Gervais
IRC: Bill Pulice *
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