To commemorate the 35th anniversary of one of the biggest pop smashes of all time, Fleetwood Mac has reissued Rumours in a 3-CD set. Here’s why it’s so easy to recommend.
1) The original album is a pop masterpiece, from Lindsey Buckingham’s breezy opening guitar strumming at the start of “Second Hand News,” to the haunting vocals of Stevie Nicks’ “Gold Dust Woman.” In between are songs that still get radio airplay every day because of their timeless appeal: “Go Your Own Way,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Dreams” (the band’s only No. 1 single) and “Don’t Stop.” Deeper cuts like Christine McVie’s “Songbird” and Buckingham’s “Never Going Back Again” would be signature songs for most acts. On Rumours, they are the powerful tracks that keep you from ever reaching for the “next song” button on your iPod or CD player.
2) The bonus track “Silver Springs” is now the 12th song on Rumours, and it fits in seamlessly — where it should have been placed in 1977. Nicks wrote the song to her former lover Buckingham, but band leader Mick Fleetwood knocked it off the album, leaving Nicks devastated. The official reason was that there wasn’t enough room on the album, but the potent lyrics had to be a factor: “I’ll follow you down ‘til the sound of my voice will haunt you / You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.” Can you blame Buckingham if he was freaked out by them?
3) The second CD features 12 previously unreleased live recordings from the band’s 1977 concert tour and it provides a snapshot at the peak of its success. Most tracks hew closely to the album versions; among the notable exceptions are “World Turning” and “Rhiannon,” both from 1975’s “Fleetwood Mac,” and “The Chain,” the one Rumours track with songwriting credits ascribed to the entire band. On the concert version of “The Chain,” John McVie’s signature bass line gives way to an extended, frenzied Buckingham solo. With the band singing the chorus in harmony, it’s a song that could have been prolonged even further.
4) The third CD provides the biggest treat for fans who thought they had explored all of Rumours. Its 16 songs provide a peek at the evolution of the album’s gems. For example, on a slower, stripped-down “Dreams: Take 2,” Nicks’ ethereal vocals blend magically with gentle accompaniment by McVie’s organ. The final version is surely more polished and radio friendly, but “Take 2” is worth revisiting. The CD also shows where some smart decisions were made: “Never Going Back Again” was originally recorded as a Buckingham-Nicks duet. But Buckingham’s sentiments — no doubt inspired by his ex-lover — are best expressed alone here. An instrumental version is also included, and once again you appreciate Buckingham’s touch: The listener can be grateful that he recognized how the melody only needed seven lines of lyrics; the tune sounds naked without them. In addition, “early takes” of tracks such as “Songbird” and “Gold Dust Woman” show that McVie and Nicks, respectively, had it right all along.
The three-CD version, released by Rhino records, retails for about $20. A deluxe edition is available, featuring an additional CD of outtakes from the Rumours recording sessions, the 1977 documentary “Rosebud Film” and the entire album on 140-gram vinyl. Both versions (minus the vinyl, of course) are also available in digital formats.
The band is embarking on a tour of U.S. and Europe starting this spring, including a stop at Madison Square Garden in April.
Ken Paulsen / Staten Island Advance / Friday, February 15, 2013