Monday, February 4, 2013


A great big box celebrating a great big success.  Rumours remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, world-wide, and has managed to hold onto its strong reputation as well.  That's a rare thing for those 70's mega-sellers, many of which (Frampton Comes Alive, Grease, etc.) don't hold much more than nostalgia these days.  Rumours however continues to find new fans, and old ones don't find many faults.  It is an album you can keep playing.

There's a little bit of burn-out to Don't Stop, for anyone who lived through the Clinton administration, but other than that, hits You Make Lovin' Fun, Dreams, and Go Your Own Way still sound fresh, and show exactly why F. Mac were so potent a combo.  Those three songs are all quite different, each one written and sung by a different member.  Christine McVie had the fun pop sound, Stevie Nicks the mystical, and Lindsay Buckingham covered the rock.  Add to those ranks McVie's grand ballad Songbird, which is up there with Hallelujah for most covered inspirational track of the last 30 years, the 70's Yesterday.

Rumours has been reissued before, but this is the biggest package yet.  Following the trend of big boxes for cash-holding collectors, this set contains four CD's, one DVD, and the album in vinyl as well.  Given that there's a good chance you have the CD, and quite possible still have the vinyl too, a big box is going to have to include quite a few bonuses to separate you from your $80.  It's a good effort, not first class but pretty close.  Here are the highlights, and some quibbles.

Well, the album of course is the number one highlight, but we know about that.  Having it on vinyl again is a treat, although it's a not 180-gram pressing, if you're partial to those.  The original production holds up just fine, it was always an excellent recording, so no need for a remix.  Next comes a live disc, about an hour long, recorded over several dates on the first Rumours tour.  Given the number of musicians they'll take on the road with them as they tour this summer, it surprises me what a tight band the five-piece was on their own.  Buckingham handles all the guitar, and teaming up with McVie's keyboards, all the melodic sounds, from this very tuneful group.  Fleetwood is a grand showman on drums.  If anything is slightly off from the records, it's the vocals, as the harmonies don't quite match the layers and brightness of the studio.  Highlights here include extended versions with some Buckingham solos, and a new version of Rhiannon from the Fleetwood Mac album, lyrics completely rewritten after the first verse.

Discs 3 and 4 are out-takes, early and alternate versions of the tracks, some of which did show up on the earlier two-disc reissue of this album.  Now we get a much bigger story, as we follow the arc of the recording.  It's surprising how much of the album was written as the session progressed.  Dreams was composed by Nicks in the studio, as she waited for the other musicians to work on a cut.  Buckingham arrived with the music complete for his stuff, but not the words.  Go Your Own Way has just one verse, and half the chorus, but he's already making it rock, knows how he wants to sing it, just not the rest of the words he'll eventually find.  Most interesting is the story behind The Chain, the only song credited to all five band members.  Now we find out way, as we hear it evolve from two separate sources, one a jam session on a Christine McVie tune called Keep Me There, the other a Nicks demo with partial lyrics.  Then they mixed the two together for the final song.  Another highlight is Never Going Back Again sung as a duet with Nicks and Buckingham, instead the final, Lindsay-only take on the record.  Nicks' two out-takes from the album, Silver Springs, and Planets Of The Universe are well-known to some fans, but others will find them revelations.  Normally, two discs of demos and such is a bit much, but I never lost my interest, largely because there are such big differences in the early versions.

My two complaints are with the DVD, and the booklet.  A supposed rare documentary from that time, called Rosebud, turns out to be a pretty standard half-hour feature on the group made at the time of Rumours, with interview clips and live footage.  The concert footage is pretty good, but the interview clips really don't say much, especially given the tension behind the scenes at the time, with the couples breaking up in the group.  And at that small length, surely something else could have been found to make the DVD more interesting.  The booklet includes the standard essay on the band, with the often-told story presented yet again, nothing new at all.  At least Buckingham and Nicks add a little more info in the notes on each of the original songs, but I've told you more about the demos than you'll find in the booklet.  Come on, people pay good money for these things so they can spend a few hours on it, a little more info and insights, or at least some trivia and facts would be welcome.  I'm all for big boxes, but please, if you expect the consumers to pay rather than download, don't cut costs on these.  But for the most part, it's a good one, you won't go wrong if you're a fan, and it should give you $80 of enjoyment.

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