Fleeing the Mac, Christine McVie goes solo

It has certainly become fashionable for members of a superstar band to break out with their own solo LPs.

Fleetwood Mac is a case in point. Side projects have made a solo star of the group’s resident mystic dreamer Stevie Nicks, and won critical renown for the rock eccentricities of Lindsey Buckingham. Mick Fleetwood has jumped at exotic African recording opportunities (for The Visitor) and hit the road with Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo. Unfortunately, Mick also has found himself recently in the bankruptcy courts.

Pianist/vocalist/songwriter Christine McVie, the 40-year-old earth mother of Fleetwood Mac, is a latecomer to the solo LP arena. Now, she’s making up for lost time with an absolutely delicious Warner Brothers release of romantic rock shufflers (Christine McVie), and a tour bringing her to the Tower Theater tomorrow.

Self-doubts, she says, have held her back from solo-land ever since 1968, when last this native Britisher headlined an LP as Christine Perfect, then stepping out from her blues cocoon Chicken Shack.

“People have constantly been saying, ‘When is Christine going to do her album, when, when, when?’,” she says. “But I wasn’t ready when everybody else was doing it. I didn’t want that kind of pressure or responsibility. Also, I’m always insecure about material.”

This, you gotta understand, is coming from the woman who has contributed the likes of “Show Me a Smile,” “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” “You Make Lovin’ Fun,” “Think About Me,” “Hold Me” and “Love In Store” to the big Mac. However, producing three songs for a group project, knowing that your work will be balanced out by two or three other composers, isn’t nearly as difficult as doing it all yourself, she suggests. “I tend to get bored by solo artists.”

So McVie’s LP, carefully planned out in California (a switch from FM’s painful “wing it-in-the-studio” approach) and then recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, and London, is also a collaborative effort. It’s designed, she says to “protect my own interests.” Guitarist Todd Sharp, whom she met when he was playing with former Mac member Bob Welch, co-authored five songs with Christine. Alone or with other writers, Sharp also takes credit for three of the remaining five tracks. “Ask Anybody” is a McVie-Stevie Winwood collaboration. Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham make instrumental contributions.

“Got a Hold On Me” has gotten the most radio play, to date. Now a very funny video for “Love Will Show Us How,” featuring Paul “Eating Raoul” Bartel as a symbolism-crazed director, is boosting the cause of that song.

The LP’s sound is comfortingly familiar to Mac fans, though a bit happier, overall, than one might have suspected from the often bittersweet McVie. ”There was no particular thing I aimed at. I do have a personal love for close harmonies and guitars. And I do think I might have backtracked toward a blues flavor that’s been missing from recent songs with the band.”

Yes, Virginia, there is still a Fleetwood Mac. The two once-married, now divorced couples in the band (Christine and John McVie, Nicks and Buckingham) are getting on quite amiably, claims McVie (which may explain why recent group albums have lacked the bitter sting of their soap-opera-on-vinyl Rumours.) Another FM group recording project, she says, is scheduled for the fall.

Jonathan Takiff / Philadelphia Daily News / May 18, 1984

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