The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac (Reprise/Rhino) is a collection that should please fans old and new. The double-CD retrospective, which features the classic Rumours lineup (Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Stevie Nicks), includes all the hits, and then some, from the 1975 “white” album through 1997’s reunion album The Dance.
It’s refreshing to find some new elements incorporated into this release, making it more than just your standard best-of. Some of these highlights include single versions for “Rhiannon,” “Over My Head,” “Think About Me,” and “Sisters of the Moon”—all previously unavailable on CD. There’s also a different mix of “Silver Springs,” emphasizing Stevie Nicks’ vocal overdubs at the end of the song. (The original 45 mix of “Silver Springs” has never been released on CD.)
Overall, the sound quality is excellent. Remastered by engineering heavyweights Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch (who handle many of the Rhino remasters), the tracks have never sounded this good, particularly the ones from Rumours and Mirage. Everything is clean and crisp, with bass and high-end levels faithfully restored. Finally, the depth to these recordings has returned, a level of fidelity dreadfully missing from the shoddy CD reissues from the late ’80s and early ’90s.
The liner booklet is very well done, though the selection of photographs could be better. But there are some nice shots, like the one of Christine McVie playing a large bass. There is also a charming Rumours cover outtake featuring Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood in an alternate pose. David Wild, a contributing writer for Rolling Stone, has written liner notes, which are informative and concise. The book also includes selected discography, chart placements, and credits.
The enhanced material (on disc 1) is adequate, though it may a challenge to play on your computer. (QuickTime for the studio stuff and Windows Media Player for everything else seemed to work). The behind-the-scenes footage is probably the only real interest here, as much of the other material has been available previously. The footage takes you through a beautiful Bel Aire mansion (where the band is recording a new album, 2003’s Say You Will), practice sessions, and short interviews about the recording process without Christine McVie, who retired from the music business.
The other material on the CD, like “the vaults” (which has to be accessed through the Internet), is a bit disappointing, particularly the selection of performance clips. Two tracks are culled from the 1982 Mirage concert video (“The Chain,” “Go Your Own Way”) and one from The Dance (“Don’t Stop”). The CD has the music video for “Seven Wonders,” but surprisingly none of the singles from Tango in the Night, like the Top 5 hit “Little Lies.” The rarest material is the classic Rosebud documentary performance of “Rhiannon.” (The Rosebud film was restored for the super deluxe edition of Rumours , which was released on January 29, 2013.)