Classic Review: Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”

Fleetwood Mac released their critically acclaimed album “Rumours” In 1977, with the newly recruited guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham and his at the time girlfriend Stevie Nicks for vocal duty bringing in fresh sounds to a band that sorely needed it, Fleetwood Mac’s popularity had been dwindling in the years prior despite their previous fame and “Rumours” success skyrocketed them into rock superstardom. I guarantee that everyone in the western world will recognise that iconic bassline from “The Chain” but in order not to be obvious, today I would like to instead discuss a personal favourite: “Go Your Own Way.”

Go Your Own Way lyrically is one of the few downsides to this track, while the vocals do carry a decent impact with Buckingham/Nicks powerful harmonies, the lyrics are nothing special, as you would expect from a love song, lines such as “baby I’d give you my world” are painfully boring. The structure too is a simple AAB pattern, with an extra chorus and solo section following the second B section.

So, what makes this song so special? For me the instrumentation plays a huge role here, especially the guitar work. A beautiful 12 string acoustic provides a much-needed pop element, and yet the fast-paced rhythm section and bluesy lead guitar really create a rocking atmosphere.

The production is a far cry better than tracks heard just a few years earlier, and it’s clear technology is moving ever closer to the sonic boom that is the 1980’s. You can clearly hear each instrument, even the subtle percussive elements thanks to some creative panning. I definitely want to praise Buckingham’s guitar tone, apparently many Hiwatt amps were blown out in pursuit of the sound thanks to a certain Alembic Stratocaster pre-amp, while we mourn those amplifiers, the tone they got was certainly spectacular.

Historically Fleetwood Mac are very interesting and, shall we say, destructive. The band was still active following Rumours, releasing more records and being a very popular rock act throughout the 1980’s and even today. They have sold over 120 million records worldwide, have a place in the rock and roll hall of fame and with all that fame and money bring with it a certain lifestyle. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll is a phrase exemplified by Fleetwood mac. With the bands polygamy with each other and raging narcotics addictions being infamous rock drama. If you look back at some of their performances from the early 80’s especially, you can feel the cocaine emanating off them. Buckingham and Nicks relationship had fallen apart rather dramatically, the other members left and re-joined many times over the years, with the most recent firing of Lindsey Buckingham in 2018. Fleetwood Mac have certainly led a full life, that’s for sure.

In summary, Fleetwood Mac are a legendary band with a huge repertoire of classic tracks, Go Your Own Way is my personal favourite, and I am clearly not alone in that, the song has garnered over 479 million streams just on Spotify alone!

Peace, Love and Cowbells,

Oscar Quick

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