Wednesday, May 20, 2009

album of the day

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

I know, it's not very "out there". But it's interesting to come back to something dulled by over-familiarity and realise what it was that was so great about it. Here's a selection of things:
  • It's Lindsey Buckingham's arrangements that hold the whole thing together - his anarchic instincts (given free rein amid a blizzard of cocaine to less focussed effect on the follow-up album Tusk) stop Christine McVie's songs in particular from being too sugary - a couple of rude guitar interjections in Bill Clinton's favourite song Don't Stop, for instance, just about save it from being a great big galumphing turkey of a song.
  • Oh Daddy is very peculiar song - maybe Christine McVie has some issues that need working through, especially since she wrote one called Sugar Daddy on the previous album as well.
  • Listen hard right at the start of The Chain (the BBC Grand Prix theme tune) and you can hear a wearily whispered "fuuuuuck" from Buckingham just before the song kicks in. They snipped that bit on the BBC.
  • Go Your Own Way is the centrepiece of the album, though. It's instructive to try and analyse what makes great rock songs great, so here goes: the complete commitment of the singer to some fairly withering lyrics; the delicious irony of having Stevie Nicks (who the song is about) warbling away in the background on the chorus; the way the guitar playing gets gradually more savage through the song to the point (2:37 if you want to skip straight to it) where the last chorus ends and the climactic minute or so of guitar-strangling starts, finishing with the series of bashed-out guttural chords as the song fades out; John McVie's bassline in the chorus; but mainly it's Mick Fleetwood's drum pattern - the lopsided wounded-hippo off-beat pattern in the verses, then the ratatat fill leading into the four-on-the-floor driving rhythm of the chorus. Tension, tension, tension, release. That's what music is all about. And sex.
  • Also, Stevie Nicks circa 1977. Gorgeous, though perhaps just slightly more bonkers than you might ideally want. But you can't have everything.

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