In 1974, Fleetwood Mac was considered a blues-band past its prime, struggling to find a good rhythm since the departures of Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch.
In dire straights, Mick Fleetwood found a northern Californian couple and invited them to reinvigorate a tired and tested band. The resulting quintet is probably one of the most well known line-ups in rock history:
Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, Christine McVie on piano and keyboards, Lindsey Buckingham on guitar and Stevie Nicks on vocals.
They gelled immediately, and the proof is in the pudding of Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous album from 1975, one which would herald the Mac’s ascension to the top of popular consciousness.
The Crystal Album
So called because of the crystal ball departing John McVie’s hands, the real reason this album should receive the epithet is because it has a metric shit-tonne of gems.
From “Monday Morning” to “Crystal” and then “Say You Love Me” to “I’m So Afraid” this album is a motherlode of beautiful mood-setting ballads and reinvigorated song writing.
The coup de main of Buckingham and Nicks’ pop music sensibilities lift Fleetwood Mac from virtuoso blues band to the powerful, popular five-piece of soft rock.
Nicks in particular takes the Mac across the world with “Rhiannon,” “Landslide” and “Crystal.” Where the first is a like Celtic ritual, the second is a somber soliloquy about the passage of time, and the last is a love ballad with a mind-melting final keyboard solo by McVie.
And that keyboard solo is important. The real benefit of Nicks and Buckingham joining was that finally Fleetwood and the McVies had real artists to work with.
Furthermore, Christine McVie owns real estate up and down Fleetwood Mac’s tracklist and flaunts it like a Malibu magnate. “Warm Ways,” “World Turning,” and “Sugar Daddy” are some solid oceanfront manses.
But the real palace is “Say You Love Me.”
Where Nick’s “Crystal” is an unconditional devotion, McVie evokes the headaches and heart breaks of loving an asshole in “Say You Love Me.”
‘Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down,
There’s not another living soul around,
You woo me until the sun comes up,
And you say that you love me.
It’s a tune all about the ups-and-downs of a relationship — whether that be the dread of having fallen in love with said asshole or the pure bliss that said asshole can render with their sweet talk — it is the thematic and prophetic tune of the album.
If first half of the album immerses itself in loving bliss, the second half explores the anxious abyss of relationships.
The listener should be terrified by the time “I’m So Afraid” finishes because in 42 minutes and 55 seconds, Fleetwood Mac go from the highest heights to the lowest lows of love, and finish by asking the most nerve-racking question of them all:
“Do they still love me?”
A Damn Good Chocolate Box.
Fleetwood Mac (1975) is the last word any of the members were able to record before the band’s internal politics resembled that of an Italian parliamentary session.
It’s perhaps the only time that the public listened to the band in personal harmony, because by Rumour’s time, shit had definitely hit the fan.
Moreover, there are no duds, a testament to the band’s ability to work together as professionals and inspire each other. Each song is unique in it’s mood, while still adding to a general theme. A quintessential trait for the classic soft rock album.
It’s a box chocolates with no bad flavours, because even the “worst” songs are still like caramel filled sweets.
And if anything, I want the worst piece of chocolate to be a flavour I could still stuff my face with. That’s a damn good chocolate box.
Producer: Fleetwood Mac & Keith Olsen
- Monday Morning
- Warm Ways
- Blue Letter
- Rhiannon (J’aime dat dress)
- Over My Head
- Crystal (J’aime dat keyboard)
- Say You Love Me (J’aime dat heartbreak)
- Landslide (J’aime dat Glee song)
- World Turning
- Sugar Daddy
- I’m So Afraid