Around the same time Mick Fleetwood was introduced to the work of local duo, Buckingham Nicks, who'd just been dropped by Polydor. The drummer was enchanted by Lindsey Buckingham's guitar work and Nicks' complete package, and when Welch quit, he offered them a spot in the band outright. The group, essentially a new band under an old name, quickly cut 's self-titled Fleetwood Mac , an assemblage of Christine McVie's songs and tracks Buckingham and Nicks had intended for their second album, including the eventual smash "Rhiannon".
It was a huge seller in its own right and they were now a priority act given considerable resources. But by the time they booked two months at Record Plant in Sausalito to record the follow-up, the band's personal bonds were frayed, there was serious resentment and constant drama. Nicks had just broken up with Buckingham after six years of domestic and creative partnership. Fleetwood's wife was divorcing him, and the McVies were separated and no longer speaking.
While Fleetwood Mac was a bit of a mash-up of existing work, Lindsey Buckingham effectively commandeered the band for Rumours , giving their sound a radio-ready facelift. He redirected John McVie and Fleetwood's playing from blues past towards the pop now. Fleetwood Mac wanted hits and gave the wheel to Buckingham, a deft craftsman with a vision for what the album had to become. He opens the record with the libidinous "Second Hand News", inspired by the redemption Buckingham was finding in new women, post-Stevie.
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It was the album's first single and also perhaps the most euphoric ode to rebound chicks ever written. Buckingham's "bow-bow-bow-doot-doo-diddley-doot" is corny, but it works along with the percussion track Buckingham played the seat of an office chair after Fleetwood was unable to properly replicate a beat a la the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'". He croons "shackin' up is all you wanna do,"-- accusing an ex-lover of being a wanton slut on a song where his ex-lover harmonizes on the hook. Save for "Never Going Back Again," a vintage Buckingham Nicks composition brought in to replace Stevie's too-long "Silver Springs" Buckingham's songs are turnabout as fairplay with lithe guitar glissando on top.
It was written during one of the days where Nicks wasn't needed for tracking. She wrote the song in a few minutes, recorded it onto a cassette, and returned to the studio and demanded the band listen to it. It was a simple ballad that would be finessed into the album's jewel; the quiet vamp laced with laconic Leslie-speaker vibrato and spooky warmth allow Nicks to draw an exquisite sketch of loneliness. Though Fleetwood Mac was always the sum of its parts, Nicks was something special both in terms of the band and in rock history.
She helped establish a feminine vernacular that was still in league with the cock rock of the 70s but didn't present as a diametric vulnerability; it was not innocent.
While Janis Joplin and Grace Slick had been rock's most iconic heroines at the tail-end of the 60s, they were very much trying to keep up with boys in their world; Nicks was creating a new space. And Fleetwood Mac was still very much an anomaly, unique in being a rock band fronted by two women who were writing their own material, with Nicks presenting as the girliest bad girl rock'n'roll had seen since Ronnie Spector.
She took the stage baring a tambourine festooned with lengths of lavender ribbon; people said she was a witch.
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Like her male rock'n'roll peers, Nicks sang songs about the intractable power of a woman her first hit, "Rhiannon" and used women as a metaphor "Gold Dust Woman" , but her approach was different. At the time of Rumours ' release, she maintained that the latter song was about groupies who would scowl at her and Christine but light up when the guys appeared.
She later confessed that it was about cocaine getting the best of her. In the end, the excruciating emotional pressure yielded a diamond of opulent late Seventies rock. The RIAA agreed, later certifying the album as such. To date, the LP has moved more than 45 million copies worldwide, making it one of the highest-selling albums of all time. It almost went off the album. So I wrote verses for that bridge, which was originally not in the song and edited those in.
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The lyrics would be the final link. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. Sessions at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California could be tedious affairs, with little for Nicks to do. To keep the boredom at bay — and to keep friction with Buckingham to a minimum — she often sought refuge in an unused studio down the hall that had been built for funk renegade Sly Stone.
By all accounts it was quite an inspiring space, done up in full-tilt Seventies style. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. But, as musicians, we still respected each other.
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We were coming at it from opposite angles, but we were really saying the same exact thing. Though very different from what Buckingham and Watts had played, the unlikely arrangement proved to be but a perfect fit for the track.
I really had no idea, nor the ability to explain in musical terms, what I was ever doing in a particular song. His style baffled other stickmen as well. The effort took an entire day, and drained the goodwill of several studio techs. Restringing the guitar three times every hour was a bitch. But Lindsey had lots of parts on the song, and each one sounded magnificent. The final results were pure perfection, except for one problem. Oh, man! So we recorded everything all over again the next day, dispensing with the changing of guitar strings — we had to lose all of that so we could get Lindsey singing in the right key.
Lead single Go Your Own Way — which gained new fame years later when it was featured in a car advert — peaked at Number 38 in , and while it has made a few reappearances in the Top since downloads were counted toward the chart, it never bested that original high. Follow-up Don't Stop befell a similar fate, landing at 32, but the third single fared slightly better. The Stevie Nicks-led classic Dreams — widely regarded and well-loved as a masterpiece today — managed Number 24 in the UK, although it was to become the band's only US Number 1. The album's final single You Make Loving Fun stalled at 45, but the singles' relative under-performance didn't do Rumours any harm.
Maybe record buyers loved the songs so much they were inspired to buy the whole album, because it has sold a LOT.
Rumours is one of the Top 20 biggest selling albums of all time, with latest sales standing at 3. Thanks to the resurgence of the vinyl format — which, as any muso at a party will tell you if you ask and even if you don't , Rumours was originally produced to sound best on — Rumours still sells pretty well. Rumours was the fifth top selling vinyl album of , in fact.
It's spent weeks in the Official Albums Chart Top and a reissue in brought Rumours back to the Top 3 for the first time in over 30 years. Rumours is still a regular fixture in the Top today. Many artists have cited Rumours as a major influence, with Lorde calling it a "perfect album".