Released in 1977, ‘Rumours’ was Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album and narrated a drug-fuelled tale of waning love, interpreted through the gaze of a host of trembling optics – with four of the quintet in the midst of ending relationships with one another.
Two of those, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks, provided evidence of these varying circumstantial concepts on this seminal LP, with the former’s venomous ode ‘Go Your Own Way’ in stark contrast to the latter’s sweetly melancholic ‘Dreams’ – two of Rumours’ most captivating tracks, and the first single releases from the album.
With all of the shenanigans and discord behind the scenes, the sanctuary of studio life in Miami and Los Angeles provided soft-rock refuge for the group, of whom only Mick Fleetwood wasn’t a victim of protracted heartache (although he did sleepwalk his way through a cocaine stimulated affair with Stevie Nicks during recording.)
Back to the music; ‘The Chain’ provides a glimpse into a collective self-imposed siege mentality – the band refusing to allow personal trauma to derail their aspirations as an assemblage.
Thudding percussion perfectly compliments dynamic vocals and loose guitar strains, while a scintillating guitar bridge is routinely featured on BBC formula one racing coverage, sounding as fresh today as it did upon inception almost 40 years formerly.
singer-pianist Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” is another compelling glimpse behind the fourth wall, with her marriage to bass player spouse John another affiliation glaring down the barrel of imminent dissolution.
It’s not all out warfare though, with the soothing ‘Never Going Back Again’ exquisitely dovetailing Buckingham and hubby McVie’s duelling acoustic strings alongside a plethora of harmonising vocals.
The blissful ‘Songbird’ is perhaps better known by many for later incarnations from Eva Cassidy and Willie Nelson, but Ms McVie, who composed and performed the track, delivers it with typically unassuming benevolence.
Rumours remains at the apex of Fleetwood Mac’s extensive body of work, with an abstract amalgamation of remorse, acrimony, anguish and empathy. It’s no surprise that it’s the seventh highest selling studio album of all-time, with almost 40 million copies sold to date.