Go Your Own Way / Silver Springs
Rumours by Dougal Reed
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 26)
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac has taken on a life of its own. Selling over 30 million copies world-wide, it has assiduously worked its way into so many households since its release in February 1977, that it's become part of the sonic furniture. It is as much a part of that year's landscape as Never Mind The Bollocks, I Feel Love or Saturday Night Fever and arguably the one least tainted by the passage of time.
It had been a tumultuous 1970s for Fleetwood Mac when they came to record this album on America's West Coast. After being left rudderless in the wake of founder Peter Green's departure, the core of drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and his keyboard-playing wife, Christine had finally found some form of stability and commercial success by adding the young singer-songwriting team of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. And then, after tasting triumph, it all fell apart, amidst affairs and acrimony. With every member of the band touched by some degree of relationship hell, they made a trouble-filled, cocaine-fuelled album . . . that sounded like a thousand angels kissing you sweetly on the forehead.
Buckingham emerges as top dog here; his swooping, ramshackle Second Hand News (with its euphoric chorus finally arriving two minutes into the song), Never Going Back Again and Go Your Own Way dominate the album. But it is far from a one-man show – Nicks' Dreams is a beautifully insistent, sweetly nagging understated plea to lost love, while Christine McVie's Don't Stop, Songbird and You Make Loving Fun typify proper, grown-up music.
Sonically, it's near perfect – there is little fuss, no mess and hardly any waste. If the age was about redundant excess, you are hard pushed to hear any of it on tunes like Don't Stop or especially Dreams, which both benefit from incredibly sparing instrumentation – there is so much left out, it makes the tunes somehow seem busier by memory.
It became one of biggest records of all time, providing an antidote to the era while remaining entirely in step with its times. It led the group to make its thoroughly crazy yet quite beautiful follow-up, Tusk in 1979, bereft of the editing and economy that makes Rumours so very special.