A rare UK import now seeing wide release that features live recordings and archival material from Fleetwood Mac’s commercial apex, 1977’s Rumours.
Of the 13 live tracks here, seven are from that multi-platinum effort – including “Go Your Own Way,” “Songbird,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Never Going Back Again,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “The Chain” and “Oh Daddy,” but curiously not “Dreams.” Sprinkled in between are a number of other highlights from the early Buckingham-Nicks era — including “Monday Morning,” “Rhiannon,” “World Turning,” “Over My Head” and “Landslide” from 1975’s Fleetwood Mac — as well as an older cut from the Peter Green days, “Oh Well.”
But it’s the material from Rumours that thrums with the rawest emotion. Memorably cinematic, and propelled by the real-life scandals within the band, these then-new story-songs chronicled with a lush directness (quite literally, it turned out) the way that relationships coalesce then dissolve. Thirty-five years later, one estimate puts total sales at 40 million copies, even as lovers’ quarrels continued to blossom and die between the group’s various members.
They were the Chanteuse, the Wild Hair (in more ways than one) and the Songstress. And that heady mix helped Fleetwood Mac to a hit album in every decade from the 1970s through the 2000s. The reason seems to be in their very makeup: This is the rare group that has enough hardness (in the spindly tunes of Lindsey Buckingham) to attract the average rock music fan; enough magical mystery (in the gauzy stuff from Stevie Nicks) to attract the fanciful; and a dollop of old-fashioned power-pop (the now-missing Christine McVie) to lure in the rest.
In many ways, they were the perfect concoction for FM radio. Throw in the juicy melodrama of their lives, though, and it still somewhat surprising that any of it turned into great music. But, it did. That’s underscored all over again with Go Your Own Way: Live 1977.
Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, after a period of years in which the group — led by drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie — had languished in relative obscurity playing blues rock. They certainly moved some records, then. But also some gossip magazines: First, singer Christine broke up with her husband, John McVie. Stevie broke up with Lindsey, then got into a brief relationship with Fleetwood. Yet, this rock-group soap sold. And sold, in particular Rumours.
So, they screwed it up by putting out a double album next. Then everybody had a go at a solo career, recording only sporadically as Fleetwood Mac. One by one — first Buckingham, then Nicks and then McVie — they all left. Then everybody got back together for the inevitable 1990s-era reunion tour.
Nobody ever got back together in the bedroom, though. And they never again achieved these dizzying heights, either in songcraft or sales – making Go Your Own Way: Live 1977, despite its shady documentation, a decidedly interesting curio. It’s like finding a lost diary.