Friday, June 13, 2008

Lost in the West Coast '70's

Buckingham Nicks--"Stephanie" (mp3)
Buckingham Nicks--"Races Are Run" (mp3)

Now that the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic White House has been broken and now that I am in a West Coast and beyond state of mind, I can profess my semi-love for Fleetwood Mac. It came back to me on a rough sea journey on the SuperFerry to Maui yesterday, when I looked for some music to settle my stomach and try to allow me to drift off into a stupor and came across Buckingham Nicks.

Never heard of them? Well, of course you have. Buckingham is Lindsey Buckingham and Nicks is Steve Nicks, both of whom you have heard probably ad nauseum as members of Fleetwood Mac. Together, they changed the face of pop music when they joined forces with the drifting remnants of the previous incarnation of the Mac--Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie. What you may not realize until you hear these songs is how much Lyndsey and Stevie brought to the table when the deal was cut. What these tracks may make you wonder is, "What did the other three bring to the table?"

Hence, my semi-love of Fleetwood Mac. I have a tremendous respect for the guitar playing, songwriting, and production values of Lyndsey Buckingham and I have a weakness for Stevie Nicks songs; the other three strike me largely as, to quote Office Space, no-talent ass clowns. Actually, I give McVie credit for that memorable bass line on "The Chain" and I have nothing against Mick, the drummer, but, man, oh man, do I hate those Christine McVie songs like "You Make Lovin' Fun" or "Don't Stop." Those songs sucked long before the Clintons co-opted them back in the '90s. One of the best things about the Ipod has been not checking songs like those when downloading CD's on Itunes.

Actually, I've liked Fleetwood Mac in all of their many incarnations. Back when they were a blues band, they had an outstanding guitarist named Peter Green, whose tasty solo work surfaces from time to time on my Ipod, though I think he personally whigged-out, either before or after a religion conversion. I like that extended, 2-part song "Oh, Well" from those earlier days, too. "Don't ask me what I think of you/ I might not give the answer that you want me to." Now there's a couplet for the ages. Later, before he, too, went solo, I even like the Bob Welch era of Fleetwood Mac, with songs like "Sentimental Lady," which he redid to jumpstart his brief solo career.

But back to Buckingham Nicks. For a record that no one ever heard and that I don't think is even available, it is remarkably polished. You hear in the song "Stephanie," an instrumental, both the idiosyncratic acoustic technique that Buckingham possesses and the use of electrics in the background--both traits are put to good use on the Mac albums. In "Races Are Run," you hear that same trademark blend of acoustic and electric guitars as well as the harmonies that you've heard on everything from "Go Your Own Way" to "Rhiannon." Buckingham is an incredibly-skilled guitarist, but that can get lost in the hit-making talents that he also possesses or possessed. Check out the playing on "Never Going Back Again" off of Rumors. Listen to some my favorite of his non-hits off of Tusk, like "I Know I'm Not Wrong" or "What Makes You Think You're The One." And Nicks, I think, has written some of the more memorable songs on and off pop radio. Give another listen to "Gold Dust Woman," for example, or "Edge of Seventeen."

Fleetwood Mac, anyone? Maybe if, like me, you're in a West Coast '70s frame of mind. Aloha.

Buckingham Nicks
is not available on Itunes.


John said...

Love the hiss and pops of the album mp3; makes me all misty for the old days of vinyl. Bob, I'm hoping for a food post soon. What amazing meals have you been privy to? Inquiring minds want to know.

Billy said...

Part of me wants to boycott your post from sheer jealousy at your present location. But damn if I don't like Fleetwood Mac and feel compelled to jump on this bandwagon.

Several critics have said the band should have been called "Buckingham Mac," and they're prolly right. I was a musical zygot when they were hitting their stride, so I mostly only appreciate them in retrospect, kinda like Zep.

Agreed on McVie, although I'll listen to "You Make Lovin' Fun" 1,000 times before I'll voluntarily listen to "Oh Daddy" ever again. Ugh. A cold shudder just surged through me from thinking about that song.