Fleetwood Mac, the Anglo-American pop group that shrugged off bitter internal rivalries to emerge as one of music’s great survival stories, is back in the studio recording its first album since a successful 1997 reunion.
The band hopes to tour late next summer “with any luck,” co-founder Mick Fleetwood told Reuters, alluding to its wildly unpredictable 34-year progression from British blues combo to California rock institution.
But it would not be a Fleetwood Mac project without some drama. In this case, singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, one of three key songwriters, has retired from rock ‘n’ roll. Tired of the travel, she lives in an English castle and indulges her passion for cooking.
That leaves drummer Fleetwood, bass player John McVie, Christine’s ex-husband, and songwriters Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, the American half who are former lovers.
Fleetwood denied recent reports that rocker Sheryl Crow, who collaborated on Nicks’ recent solo album, will help out.
“We’re happily a four-piece and are creatively, artistically handling to some degree a new chapter of Fleetwood Mac without Christine, and it’s going extremely well,” Fleetwood, 54, said in a telephone interview Friday.
NEW DOUBLE ALBUM?
Fleetwood Mac has endured many changes over the years, but the best known lineup came together in 1975 when Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood and the McVies. They powered the band to mega-success with the 1977 album “Rumours,” which sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.
“Rumours” documents the chaos enveloping the band at the time: the McVies were breaking up, as were Buckingham and Nicks. Fleetwood’s wife was sleeping with his best friend. Drug abuse was rampant.
Recording of the new album, under way in a Los Angeles house the band leased for a year, appears to be going more smoothly. In fact, Fleetwood said the band has too many songs, and has considered issuing a double album, something it has not done since 1979’s “Tusk.” Fleetwood hopes to complete the album in six to eight months.
Fleetwood Mac last released an album in 1997, when Buckingham and Nicks rejoined the band. “The Dance,” a live album culled from three intimate performances on a Los Angeles soundstage, sold more than 4 million copies in the United States and paved the way for a successful U.S. tour.
The last studio album featuring Buckingham and Nicks was 1987’s “Tango in the Night,” but Nicks’ involvement was limited and Buckingham declined to go out on tour. Fleetwood and the McVies subsequently kept the band half-alive with hired hands, releasing albums in 1990 and 1995.
BUCKINGHAM IS BOSS
Guitarist/vocalist Buckingham, 52, is firmly at the musical helm of the re-energized band, “and we all put our penny worth in,” Fleetwood said. Buckingham, author of such hits as “Go Your Own Way” and “Tusk,” is producing and engineering the album, which will likely use some songs from his unreleased fourth solo release. His contributions are already in the can, and the band is now working on tunes by Nicks, 53.
Fleetwood said the absence of Christine McVie, 58, who wrote such tunes as “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun,” has inevitably affected the band’s chemistry. Instead of bouncing ideas off her, Buckingham has worked more closely with Fleetwood and John McVie, 56, resulting in a harder sound.
“You’ll smell an element of the… power trio, where we like to grind it out a bit,” Fleetwood said. “But equally there’s some blissfully, very cool harmonic, melodic stuff that just sounds modern. But it’s us.”