The center point of this new Fleetwood Mac EP is a track thought lost from the Buckingham-Nicks era, a song that once might have just been about being in love but now billows with a very mature sense of acceptance.
“Without You,” presented again as a stripped-down pairing, peels away the recriminations of “Go Your Own Way,” the sad laments of “Dreams,” the lost years when they couldn’t speak to one another, much less work together. What’s left is a friendship forged through a shared history in music, a creative endeavor that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks can do apart but, yet, always seems more fully formed, more complete, when they are together.
Who can blame Mick Fleetwood, then trying to transition Fleetwood Mac from its first life as a blues-rock outfit, for snapping these two up? Now back on tour, though alas again without Christine McVie, they’ve released a zippy four-song cycle that certainly cures the biggest problem with their overstuffed most recent effort Say You Will, a 2003 long player that simply went way too long.
None of it will make you put Rumours aside but there’s a renewed spark to Extended Play — available now through iTunes — that’s been missing forever. “It Takes Time,” for instance, finds Buckingham in a darkly contemplative mood, whispering over a ruminative piano figure — vulnerable in a way that he never could be with Fleetwood Mac back at their commercial zenith. As he looks back, the track makes stark admissions about the mistakes we only see after a relationship is over.
Maybe they’re better like this, in bite-size morsels.
Angular and propulsive, “Miss Fantasy” has the nervy attitude of Buckingham’s best tracks on the sprawling Tusk, and may be the most perfect pop song Fleetwood Mac has completed since the sad departure of McVie — who always served as a leavening element in the torrid emotional script being written between the ex-lovers Nicks and Buckingham.
“Sad Angel” begins with a staccato guitar signature, as Buckingham launches into one of his patented hurtful yodels, only to be joined by a completely reinvigorated Nicks. Despite its plaintive title, however, this thing rocks — with a muscular rhythmic counterpoint from Fleetwood and John McVie, and one of Buckingham’s most propulsive solos since “Holiday Road,” back in 1983.