By this point in the circuitous history of Fleetwood Mac, both Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had departed. They were replaced by Bekka Bramlett, Billy Burnette and Dave Mason, a former member of Traffic who had hit with “We Just Disagree” in 1977.
With that many new faces, much of the resulting Time, which arrived on Oct. 10, 1995, doesn’t sound much like what had come before. Worse, Fleetwood Mac just kept losing members as the process unfolded.
“We spent six or eight months making that record, on and off,” Dave Mason tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “It wasn’t just slapped together. The problem was that [long-time Fleetwood Mac contributor] Christine [McVie] was on the album, but she wouldn’t go on the road. That probably would have lent more credence to it. By the time we got on the road, all you had was [the rhythm section of] Mick [Fleetwood] and John McVie. So, it got to be classified as a Fleetwood Mac cover band.”
That said, the worst of Time had nothing to do with the new faces. In fact, the album’s nadir comes via an album-closing “These Strange Times” from lead vocalist (?) Mick Fleetwood, who provides the expected jungle rhythms over a vacuous, snoozy spoken-word oration. He’s also credited as the co-composer for a song that includes these lines: “I look into my heart and see the light and not the dark, and how I am sad and wished I was in love … and this is hell, being caught between the dark and light.”
Oh, this is hell, alright. And “These Strange Times” goes on for seven excruciating minutes — like listening to a particularly poor sermon given over the soundtrack from soft-core motel porn.
Elsewhere, Mason, Burnette and Bramlett (daughter of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett) make a series of sturdy if unspectacular turns, leaving it to Christine McVie to revive past glories with “I Do,” her best song on Time. Here, McVie deftly sidesteps her typical role as the lovelorn romantic. Instead, she seems to skip through a quietly assertive verse, before ramping up for a soaring, joy-filled chorus which gets as close as this edition ever did to the sound of Fleetwood Mac at its 1970s zenith. In another time (well, in that time, anyway), this would have been a huge hit.
Still, the first album without neither Stevie Nicks nor Lindsey Buckingham since 1974’s Heroes Are Hard To Find proved that earlier album title’s axiom to be true. Mason and Bramlett would be gone within a year, but not before seeing Time fail to chart in the U.S., something that had never happened to Fleetwood Mac dating back to their No. 198 debut in 1968.
“We did the album, and Warner Bros. didn’t really bother with it, frankly. So, it sort of just came out and died a death. And that was that,” Mason tells us. “I could understand, from some people’s point of view, because the Rumours album obviously sold so many copies. It was so huge that that sort of overshadowed everything else.”
Latest posts by Nick DeRiso (see all)
- Nick DeRiso’s Best of 2015 (Rock + Pop): Billy Gibbons, Toto, Death Cab for Cutie, Joe Jackson - January 18, 2016
- Nick DeRiso’s Best of 2015 (Blues, Jazz + R&B): Boz Scaggs, Gavin Harrison, Alabama Shakes - January 10, 2016
- Nick DeRiso’s Best of 2015 (Reissues + Live): John Oates, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Faces + others - January 7, 2016