Moving into 1977, this was a big year in popular music for me. Today’s album was one of my favorites, and not only do I remember actively tracking all of the singles in the year-end countdown, it was one of my first real rock records I fully embraced from front to back. Sure, I had dabbled with Elvis and The Beatles among others, but these were hand-me-downs from my parents. This album was all mine. It also turned out to be the #1 selling album of 1977. We are talking about the highly successful album from Fleetwood Mac, “Rumours”, the second release in their most famous lineup configuration, with Lindsey Buckingham, Steve Nicks and Christine McVie handling all of the vocals, while original members Mick Fleetwood and John McVie (hence, Fleetwood Mac) held down the rhythm section on drums and bass guitar. This highly acclaimed record is rated #7 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
I recently noted that the debut album from Boston was the only non-compilation album I could think of where every single song realized significant radio air play, but this one comes pretty close. Were it not for a couple of Christine McVie ballads that don’t bring the same energy or draw to the record, they might have done it. Oddly enough, with all of the smash hits on this album, the record opens with the decent, but relatively ordinary “Second Hand News”. The next four songs are probably the peak of the album, as well as for the band. As many of you know, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were in the midst of a tough breakup, which couldn’t have been easy to keep working together. Their cathartic release appears to be writing not-so-passive-aggressive smash hits about each other. First, we have “Dreams”, where Stevie tells Lindsey and others who will listen, “Players only love you when they’re playing.” This song is probably the best work from Fleetwood on drums. It has a great mellow vibe, and oddly was the inspiration for a bizarre Tik-Tok video craze recently.
Anyway, next comes one of my all-time favorites, the acoustic guitar country-folk ballad “Never Going Back Again” by Buckingham. He is probably the only rock guitarist I know who plays almost exclusively without a pick, and his guitar work on this song is crisp and pristine. We then have another of my favorites, the incredibly catchy “Don’t Stop”, with the almost inter-changeable vocals from Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. I truly love the melody and chord sequence of this song, and I try to block out of my mind the Clintons and the Gores dancing onstage to this song in 1992.
Next, we have Lindsey’s response back to Stevie, with the fairly direct “Go Your Own Way”. Not many hidden messages in that song, but is yet another classic track that defines the sound of this band during this timeframe. As I mentioned, while that four-song run is the peak of the album, there are several other highlights as well. The heavier rocker, “The Chain”, with the only bass solo I have ever heard from John McVie, opens side two. Christine McVie hits a pop home run with “You Make Loving Fun”, and I really love the quirky duet harmony from Lindsey and Stevie on “I Don’t Want to Know”. The album ultimately closes with “Gold Dust Woman”, sung and written by Stevie Nicks, and while a success, it has never been one of my favorites.
To this day, this album remains a significant part of my past, and when my son reacquired it for his collection of albums in his dorm room, I now have it as a part of my vinyl future as well. With that, we are off and running into 1977, a year that would usher in a LOT of change in the prevailing sounds of rock and pop music for many years to come.