Released in February of 1977, Rumours is Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh and best-selling album. In fact, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Selling in excess of 30 million copies, Rumours debuted at Number 10 and went on to spend an unprecedented six months at Number 1, and almost a year in the Top 5. Although it would boast four Top 10 singles (“Dreams,” “You Can Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun”), nearly every song on the album continues to receive heavy airplay. Rumours turned Fleetwood Mac, once a straight-ahead blues band plagued by shifts in personnel and direction, into a household name. And what better confirmation than a Grammy for Album of The Year.
Even with all accolades, the making of Rumours was no easy task. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, the California couple who joined the band for their previous record and were pivotal in helping turn things around, split up. The band’s other resident couple – John and Christine McVie – also called it a day. Not to be outdone, drummer Mick Fleetwood’s marriage to Jenny Boyd (sister to Patti Boyd who had her own share of marriage escapades with both George Harrison and Eric Clapton) was falling apart as well. When you add in the technical difficulties and the overindulgence of booze and drugs to the emotional turmoil taking place, it’s a miracle the record ever got made at all. Then again, perhaps such obstacles reinforced the group’s strength and conviction.
Problems aside, Christine McVie, Nicks and Buckingham all stepped up to the plate when it came to writing songs. McVie’s optimistic “Don’t Stop” would, of course, become Bill Clinton’s battle cry during his presidency. On a more somber note, her piano ballad, “Songbird,” recorded at the University of Berkeley’s Zellerback Auditorium, is a heartfelt ode to her former husband. Meanwhile, Nicks, who gained plenty of kudos for her performance on 1975’s “Rhiannon,” went on to write such classics as “Dreams,” “I Don’t Want To Know” and “Gold Dust Woman.” Invoking his unique voice, fingering style and meticulous ear for production, Buckingham gave the album a rocky edge with the opener, “Second Hand News,” while his intricate fret work on “Never Going Back Again” adds an extra punch of finesse to the album’s overall musicality. At the center of it all is “The Chain,” a powerfully executed tour de force credited to all five members.
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Rumours is now available as a three CD expanded set with the original album tracks, the B-side “Silver Springs,” a dozen unreleased live recordings from the group’s ’77 world tour, and an entire disc filled with unreleased takes from the Rumours recording sessions. A deluxe edition includes all of the above, plus another disc of outtakes and a DVD with The Rosebud Film, a 1977 documentary about the album. You also get a vinyl copy with this set. Commercial appeal aside, Rumours is a truly artistic and monumental accomplishment that just seems to get better with age.
~ Shawn Perry