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Whenever I look up the music of Fleetwood Mac online whether it be You Tube or iTunes, it is fairly evident that despite the blues guitar playing of the original line up of this global rock band by Peter Green, the more popular music that has survived is that of Stevie Nicks who was responsible for some very famous tracks such as "Rhiannon," "Sara," "Landslide," and "Dreams," ("Dreams" itself was covered by The Corrs as well as being originally from the multi million selling album, "Rumours," by Fleetwood Mac.) However, if it wasn't for the fact that the Englishman drummer, Mick Fleetwood happen to hear Lindsey Buckingham and his partner Stephanie Nicks in a sound studio recording their solo album, it would be hard to say what the outcome would be today.
Buckingham Nicks (Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks) wrote a lot of music in the period between their own recording years and joining Fleetwood Mac, having offered sessions with Walter Egan who would eventually put the duo on the song "Magnet & Steel," leading to working with other artists. Tracking and searching for the music before Fleetwood Mac hasn't been much of a problem in terms of solo projects, although the solo duo album of Buckingham Nicks itself is very difficult to obtain on CD or tape since it was only ever released on vinyl record.
It took some time before I could get my hands on a scratchy old Vinyl record of Buckingham Nicks, the solo duo album from Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before they signed up to Fleetwood Mac. Infact its one of those records that people keep (especially the majority of men) because of the revealing picture of a young topless Stevie and Lindsey on the front cover. Inside you should get wonderful full-sized photos of the singers, lyrics of the songs and a quality of workmanship in the graphics and font styles. Nowadays with the advent of CD, MP3 and other digital formats, getting a copy of this album is difficult but not hard; recently a private seller on EBay was charging phenomenal amounts of money for a CD recorded bootleg of the album. Cost therefore for this album on vinyl can start from £15 and upwards; all the way up to £100 if you are determined to get a mint condition LP. I paid from a second hand record shop in London for a fair condition record at the cost of £15-00 which also included the original record sleeve and cover way back in 1998 and have kept the record in tip top condition. In 2002 I paid out another £45 to have an almost perfect vinyl record without surface scratches and finally got to hear the songs in their entirety without blemishes.
Keeping the vinyl record however means you can earn massive money when it comes to selling it, either on EBay or other means. Is it worth considering however if you are a bit partial to the Fleetwood Mac from the middle of the 1970's when the complete package of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham breathed new life into the British band? This is the album which threw Mick Fleetwood into asking the American duo to join the band when he heard Lindsey and Stevie in the studio recording this record and with good reason.
Polydor Records released "Buckingham Nicks", the self-titled album in 1973 with another record in the making, which would include the song "Rhiannon." Effectively this is how the duo became stitched into the fabric of Fleetwood Mac by 1975, but there are some gems on this album to consider particularly when some of the songs on this album have added inspiration and fragments to other songs firmly locked into the Fleetwood Mac hall of fame. * This is a long review.*
** Track listings **
1) Crying In The Night
One of the things which is most apparent with the most of the songs on this album is the analogue sound which presents itself with pre-recorded tracks and this song does have the same analogue electric sound where the vocals have been laid down first against the louder instrumentals even if most of them are electric and analogue acoustic guitars which fit into this rather hippy sounding song. But then again the whole album has a 1970's folk rock sound to it.
One of the simplicities of this song is the fact that it leaves out the wishy washy airy fairy tale world of Stevie Nicks, even if at times this song does talk about the third person, about a female who leaves her lover "crying in the night". Whilst it loses composure in terms of airy lyrics, the less said the better because the instrumentals sound so good with equal tightness. Infact the song "Sorcerer" was written around the same time as this album had been penned by the duo (Stevie Nicks would later get Sheryl Crow to co-sing on it and put it into the charts) and the closeness of the block guitar chords, interspersed tambourine and the jingle jangle of both female and male vocals sit well in what is otherwise a loose love song which at best has lots of spaces between the lyrics.
Although Stevie's voice is too bleaty at times which by nowadays standards has improved allowing gloss to come through with a little bit of an edge rather than the other way around, it is obvious in this first song of her insecurities. But it all works rather well rather than be a first record attempt with a weak start which this song has no worries of being.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApAdKVh_Oec
This is a lovely instrumental song, using plenty of analogue acoustic guitars with some nice soft touches of electric guitar coming in and out appearing as sobs or little nuances here to conjure up the image of a song all about Stevie Nicks. Infact it is one of those instrumental songs, which from its first airing allows you to reel back to the beginning just to hear the thickness of the guitar harmonies and near classical playing from the wonderful accomplished (even back then) fingers of Lindsey Buckingham. It would however take on a different meaning later on in its life, seen on Fleetwood Mac's album, "Rumours," where it would be heard with worded content on "Never Going Back Again."
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFrHopUKPRc
3) Without A Leg to Stand On
If this song had been re-engineered to have piano in it then it would have definitely sit closer to the songs on the ears certainly where listening to The Carpenters is concerned. Whilst the lyrics are not hard hitting, the main vocal by Lindsey Buckingham is supplemented in thirds by Stevie Nicks but the song has a greater gloss to it thanks to the strumming guitar instrumentals and overall feel. Glinting picked notes from the electric guitar may well drive the song along but as soon as the chorus comes along, the song becomes lumpy but in a good way to add interest. There are a few hints here and there of music fragments later in the Fleetwood Mac discography such as "I Don't Want to Know," which was the preferred song to Stevie's longer heart rendering "Silver Springs."
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2ammYGQyhQ
One of the best advantages of getting the LP (or CD bootleg) is the original version of this song which is not the version you will hear on Fleetwood Mac's album EP "Fleetwood Mac.". Although Stevie put her own version on the soundtrack album "Practical Magic," this original version uses a solo oboe and a string orchestra to give it much needed gloss and comforting warmth. It still has Lindsey's trademark acoustic guitar licks though that made it to the final Fleetwood Mac pressing.
This slow ballad as such has never really deserved much of an airing with the FM/S Nicks versions and if there is one reason to getting the LP this is the song that will do it for you! Here, Crystal in its original tense is awash with colour and sorrow even if it features less of Stevie Nicks. Just as Lindsey had written a song for Stevie, Stevie comes right back with this very song which she wrote for him. Although the vocals are the same as in Stevie's version almost twenty years later, the repeated idea of the guitar and oboe give a very good impression of both players, instrumentally - but you'll only pick up on this idea if you are a big fan of both musicians knowing the fluidity of each voice. I've always loved this version purely because the strings and oboe give the support to this song, which has always needed it from Fleetwood Mac's version and point of view. A later edition of this song can be heard on the witchy-film "Practical Magic," just when the character played by Sandra Bullock casts a spell to find a single love that has one eye of different colour and a symbol that represents protection. As she casts the spell and blows the collected fragments out of her hands (and they float up to the sky) the familiar strumming chords of "Crystal" can be heard with Stevie's solo voice taking on the helm of the song is a much more modern rendition.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCFiUokJPHo
Stevie's version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvc_wiljUpc
(also has film part taken from "Practical Magic.")
5) Long Distance Winner
Stevie Nicks included this song on her CD album "Enchanted, The Works of Stevie Nicks," boxed set released in 1998. As such although the song is a great waltzer, which uses a mix of influence which would extend Stevie's writing formula in other songs such as "Rhiannon," and "Gold Dust Woman," although it is the latter song which this song seems to rely in terms of swooping voices, a great guitar solo and a sound which could so easily have the embroidered tapestry of Christine McVie as the song winds up and down very easily like a quivering wind. Again although it lacks the sound of an actual piano, the song sits well for its fast speed and evident word painting as the verses play out on the idea of the singer "running down the hill." This song isn't boring as it has an urgency behind it to be listened to and once again as this is an album brimming with lower drums, drums, guitars, this song is a good example of folk rock as the song plays out a story of mixed love;
"You love somebody
Save their soul,
Tie them to your heaven
Erase their hell,
Love the lifestyle if you feel it,
Don't try to change them - you never will."
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_vQ7swJ7xU
6) Don't Let Me Down Again
This is one of my favourite songs on this album, with a hint of what could have been easily been the foundling stone for songs such as "The Chain," and "World Turning," both songs which use small sections of lyric and then a large part of guitar accompaniment. Sometimes though the same key gets boring but this is only after the lyrics have been sung. It moves away from the folk tradition here and could well have been a song (what a pity it wasn't) which could have travelled over to Fleetwood Mac.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpvTUWwBK8k
Diango is a very short instrumental prelude, far and away from the world of "Stephanie," and unlike the latter song, to my knowledge, "Diango" has never been re-written into a song for Fleetwood Mac. It is extremely short though and it could well have been included on the album just to show some of his influences. Sounding like a short classical guitar piece, Italian in nature with an abundance of strummed and spread chords, there are a few hints here of a string orchestra in the backing whilst this trailer melts into the next song.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os2K6dmiLFU
8) Races Are Run
This is a song that is very Joni Mitchell. As such although it has great sentimental value to me, I felt as if this song is one that plays out a similar story of love of how quite literally of how races are run - some win and some lose. I love the way that the microtones of the guitar at the beginning of this song act as a rhythmic structure even if there are hushed lower fill in drums used in this rather than an actual drum kit. Moaning and swooning electric guitars drift in and out, once again winding and rewinding into each other as soon as the chorus comes back in. There is a familiarity of moving chords in the middle of the song, which throws light to Joni Mitchell. Again it uses the third person in terms of literary style but this doesn't detract from its feeling of mystical glory. Keeping it simple is the key to this album and this is one of the better songs that works well because of its simplicity.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os2K6dmiLFU
9) Lola (My Love)
Buckingham swings back to grass roots with this little number although it has a bouncing bass line much akin to "Sorcerer." I kind of like this song but the country western sounding guitar does nothing to lift the song along which is an element Buckingham could have ignored and added normal guitar instead. But, the basic drum beat doesn't use very much or add any interest and becomes one of those songs like "Don't Let Me down Again," where there is a short period of lyrics and an extended guitar solo over the bouncing sea saw of the bass line.
Hear it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4oxLzj9NcQ
10) Frozen Love
The fruits of this duo are culminated in this final song about love - if the message in this album hasn't come through in this review that ideally this is an album which charts both writers' love affair for each other. Although Frozen Love starts with a Tom Petty kind of a feel, the song is awash with love, even if the message that "hate gave me for a lover" bends the issue of positive love.
Whilst the start and middle of the song sounds jumpy, it is at least progressive with a similar slower feeling to the revenge sounded out in the Dolly Parton song, "Jolene," even though there is a harder rock edge here. There are reasons to why the guitar feels out of time in places as the song starts to take on different styles merged by a drowning guitar solo submerged with orchestral strings around it in the middle bridge of the song and gives the listener an extended instrumental passage before returning back to the duo singing the chorus before the song ends. It charts a torrid yet extremely close love affair.
Hear it: at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtEuJsSHjzU
Since Fleetwood Mac's reunions there have been influxes of new ears listening to old but very much loved music from a rock band that have gone from gold hits to periods of darkness. As Fleetwood Mac took some of the best songs from this album, there are other gems worth listening to though. This album gives you all the glory you need to know of two musicians who boosted Fleetwood Mac's appeal at a time when the band had originally split up even though for most modern ears the lack of stereo imaging, more modern electro toys and keyboards will most probably pigeon hole those away from the analogue, dry sounds of FM folk rock that this album drowns in.
Because of its original Vinyl record pressing, CD formats are immediate bootlegs and that is an issue you have to watch out for if you are looking to buy. With steep costs of up to £75, the CD album is nothing more than a copied home recording of the Vinyl release. Websites and forums across the internet have petitioned the idea for release for years but nothing has come of it whilst music lovers all around the world exchange hasty scratched versions of songs from one Mp3 forum to another. In this instance as the owner of a record, it makes hanging onto this recording crucial but if you can get a recording of it, you'll realise the fruits of the strong, timeless influence that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks stitched into the fabric of Fleetwood Mac and respect their "Frozen Love." Without this album's influence, it could have changed Fleetwood Mac's fate early on sooner than expected and for all the simplicity that this record has, it has a timeless feel even if the voices sound younger. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2010
The "solo" album of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before Fleetwood Mac.