Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Indeed, during that time, the most difficult decisions one often had to make were things like when to wash your hair (mine always seemed to look best twenty-four hours after I washed it), or whether or not to shell out some of your hard earned money on a particular album. For me, and a group of like-minded friends, this was often one of the key decisions of any given week. Like a number of my contemporaries, my sole source of income was a Saturday job, in my case at a major department store in town. Yet the money was never great, and in seventies Britain when inflation briefly touched over 20%, what money you had was often the subject of conflicting potential uses. I wanted to take a gap year: I wanted to go to a night club on Tuesday: I would probably want a couple of beers when I got there: I wanted to buy an album: I wanted (if I got the chance) to go out on a date.
What this all has to do with Rumours may seem a little unclear at the moment. But if you look at the date of release it may all start to come clear. Rumours was released in 1977 which pretty much co-incided with the various dilemmas I have just described. And Rumours played its part in all of this for it was one of those albums which cropped up and presented me with one of those dilemmas within a dilemma: yes I want to buy an album but do I want to buy this album?
The truth is that around this time my musical taste was almost entirely confined to rock music. I had all the Led Zeppelin albums, as well as all those by Rush and Rainbow and a good few by bands such as Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. When I did branch out, in terms of musical taste, I had courted disaster. I owned a couple of Yes albums for reasons which were not entirely clear at the time but which can now be ascribed to wishing to fit in with a group of people whom, in retrospect, I didn't really wish to fit in with at all. Thankfully, however, I had escaped the clutches of Genesis-infatuation; Pink-Floyd-fascination and Beatle-adoration. I had a wish list of albums which was scrawled on a scruffy piece of paper but the activity of maintaining it was pretty much pointless. The wish list grew longer every month and it always seemed that when I did finally gather enough cash to buy an album it was always a new release which caught my eye, thereby leaving the wish list static.
Rumours was an album which managed to get onto that wish list and never got off it. I must have gone through three or four incarnations of that piece of paper between 1975 and 1990, when my musical hiatus began. Rumours was still on the last scruffy bit of paper which paraded as a wish list before I threw it away. And Rumours was still unpurchased. Oddly, during that time I had purchased the single version of Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross". I had gone through a spree of purchasing odd singles off my wish list. In the days before downloads, the only way to get your hands on a single track you liked was to buy the single, assuming of course that the purchase of the whole album did not appeal. And that is how that particular track ended up in my collection.
Of course the Fleetwood Mac of "Albatross" bore little resemblance to the Fleetwood Mac of Rumours. The former sprung from the tortured mind of Peter Green and had its roots firmly in the British blues rock tradition of the mid- to late-sixties and bands such as the Yardbirds, Cream and the Animals. The latter was a product of the unholy alliance between the remnants of that former band and American MoR soft rock. The former Fleetwood Mac achieved little except for the odd iconic track, considerable fruitless touring and personal tragedy for Green. The second Fleetwood Mac were one of the biggest bands of the decade and creators of this album, one of the biggest selling rock albums of all time.
Rumours then, was a one of those must-haves. Everyone liked it. Almost everyone I knew had it. Perhaps that was one reason I never felt really compelled to get my own copy. I knew I could always listen to it at the home of any friend I chose to visit. The songs themselves were familiar, to me as much as to anyone else. Who can forget "Don't Stop", with its catchy sing-along pop hooks? But then there was the equally well-known, "Go Your Own Way", a Lindsey Buckingham composition, a quite spiteful attack on his former long-time lover, Stevie Nicks, with whom he had a bitter break up around the time the album was being put together (which, ironically, she then sings). Nicks then appears to presage her own future with "Gold Dust Woman", prophesying the cocaine-addled rock-chick has-been she was to become following the break up of the band. And finally there was the epic "The Chain". As familiar to anyone who has ever watched Formula One racing as the distinctively enthusiastic voice and Coleman-balls of Murray Walker, that segment towards the end where John McVie's bass line leads into that wonderfully apposite guitar solo of Buckingham is one of the stand-out forty-five seconds of rock history.
Yet, for all that this album was, and all it pertained to be, it never got off my first wish list or made it back onto my second. This is strange, for I often have a close affinity to albums which bring back memories of former times. An album which is so closely associated with the halcyon days of my sixth form would surely have provoked me into purchasing it some time ago. Indeed, I very nearly went out and bought it a couple of years back, but for some reason, something held me back from the decision to proceed, a decision I still find unfathomable, but not unfathomable enough to reverse.
I suppose, at the end of the day, I did not really care much for the album. Over-familiarity may have played a part, but there were other albums I adored (and still do) which were far more familiar to me. Another factor may have been my tendency to go against the grain. I have never been one for jumping on bandwagons and even my first musical fascination with Led Zeppelin began independently of any input from external sources and in any event predated their rise to mega-status. Perhaps the real reason was that the album, though familiar, was not that close to me. It was one of those albums which was always playing in the background when the events of my late adolescence unfolded, but was never tied to any specific moment. It was the elevator music soundtrack to my late teens: the music which was always there but never made it onto the album of the soundtrack.
A few days ago I stood in HMV in front of the rack marked "F" and stared long and hard at the cover of Rumours. That familiar cover of sickly greenish-yellow, with a rather effete looking Buckingham standing, one leg on a chair, beside a dying-swan impersonating Stevie Nicks. I stared long and hard at that album. I reached out a hand to pick it up. But then I stopped. I withdrew my hand. I turned and I walked away.
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on 2011-04-05 CharlesMartel Said:
I know, I know, it is one of those albums everyone is supposed to have. Trouble was, it never rocked my boat.