If you’re of a certain age (forty … something) and started becoming a pop music freak at a certain time(mid/late 70’s), there a some albums that touchstones in your musical history. They’re records like Frampton Comes Alive, The Stranger, Hotel California, and Toys in the Attic. These were records they practically issued to you. if you didn’t have one your best friend or his older brother surely did. They were everywhere, selling millions of copies and spawning one Top 40 hit after another. And standing head and shoulders above them all was Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
In 1977-78 you couldn’t escape Rumours. It’s tracks were staples of both AM Top 40 and FM AOR stations (and where the latter still exists, they still are). The album has sold 45 some odd million copies and four of its tracks cracked the US Top 10 (and those that didn’t you know note for note anyway). I think the album also set a record for most band members involved relationship drama.
I’ve owned Rumours in every media format I could except eight track, starting with a cassette I bought as one of my 12 tapes for a penny initial offer from Columbia House through a now well-worn vinyl LP to its first release on DVD. Despite my love of the album (it’s the comfort food/softly broken-in jeans of my collection), I’d never bought any of the prior remasters/re-releases until Rumours Deluxe Expanded edition which hit shelves a week ago. The set contains a remastered CD, two CD’s of outtakes (one of which is previously unreleased), a live CD from the band’s 1977 tour, a heavyweight vinyl LP and promotional DVD from ’77 featuring interviews and live versions.
The remaster sounds great and includes “Silver Springs”, the Stevie Nicks’ penned tune that has only added to the bands inner turmoil when it didn’t make the records final cut (remember kiddies, a 33 1/3 12″ could only hold so much music, so bands used to have to make choices) and, later, when Mick Fleetwood wouldn’t allow Nicks to release it on her best of compilation in order to put it on a Fleetwood Mac set instead (not to mention the overt kiss off to Lindsey Buckingham). Interestingly, the prior Rumours re-release sequenced it in the middle of the album between “Songbird” and “The Chain”. Here, it’s simply tacked on at the end after “Gold Dust Woman”, making it seem superfluous since we know the album should end with that song’s spooky fade out. While I’ve always liked “Silver Springs”, I don’t think I would have cut anything from the album’s final lineup, either (not even “Songbird” if only because it brings to mind mashing on the dance floor at the junior high dances, but that’s a for another place).
The CD of previously unreleased outtakes is interesting, particularly a version of “Never Going Back Again” sung as a Buckingham-Nicks duet (speaking of which, now that this massive Rumours set is out of the way, would it be too much trouble for the the aforementioned duo to put out a proper CD release of their 1973 album? Pretty please?). There isn’t really anything new here, though, as different versions on non-album tracks like “Keep Me There” (which morphed into “The Chain” and “Planets of the Universe” appeared on the outtakes disc in the 2004 remaster. It’s not something I see sitting down to listen to much.
The live disc is a collection of performances from the band’s 1977 tour relying heavily on Rumours, with 8 of its 11 musical tracks coming from it. It’s good, and sounds pristine, but if you want to hear am entire 1977 Fleetwood Mac concert sounded like, go seek out the Nashville bootleg that’s floating around out there. Some of the tracks on this CD were taken from that show, which I’d really recommend giving a listen.
The highlight of the set for me is the DVD, a promotional film put together before their Europen tour in ’77, nicknamed the Rosebud flow, getting its first official release. It’s got a combination of live and live in studio performances (including a blow your hair off version of “Rhiannon”) and brief snippets of interviews. I got a big chuckle out of Christine McVie’s assertion (while glancing around off-camera) that they haven’t really changed as people.
The packaging isn’t overly elaborate with the vinyl LP in a gatefold cover with the Cd’s/DVD’s inside. The accompanying booklet features a brief, fairly gushy essay by Rolling Stone’s David Wild as well as blurbs from Buckingham and Nicks on each of the songs on the final album. The best parts in that are Stevie talking about how she wants Christine back in the band and a bit about “Silver Wheels” being left off. Overall, it’s an interesting set, but I find myself a little disappointed at the lack of anything new or revealing beyond the DVD. I’d also have preferred a whole show to just basically a live version of Rumours.
At the end of the day, it’s chance to slip back inside a record I’ve loved for 35 years. The first night I had it, my 10 year old daughter (a budding music nut) who’s familiar with Rumours from Glee, sat on the couch with me as I gave it a spin. Passing Rumours down to the next generation was well worth the price.
“Rhiannon” – The Rosebud Version