I love Fleetwood Mac. I do. So I’ve decided that it would be fun to listen through their entire discography and write reviews of all of their music. You know, track their progression as artists and such. Did you know that they have released 17 studio albums, 12 compilation albums, and 69 singles? I don’t know if you’re on the Mac wagon or not, but let’s begin with Greatest Hits (1971) and Greatest Hits (1988).
The band Fleetwood Mac went through a couple different major incarnations, and this Greatest Hits is the glory album of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (henceforth referred to as Fleetwood Mac P). It’s a powerhouse of the late 60s blues rock sound, and listening through the tracks on this album was my first real experience with Fleetwood Mac P. Mac P is a whole nother beast from Mac C (the C is for Christine McVie), but in its own unique way, just as fun and intoxicating.
The album starts with “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown),” continues through part one and part two of “Oh Well,” then “Shake Your Moneymaker,” “Need Your Love So Bad,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” “Dragonfly,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Albatross,” “Man of the World,” “Stop Messin’ Round,” and “Love that Burns.” Each song is vibrant, and they are a perfect slice of the sound that I hear in my head when I think of the year 1968. It’s idyllic music, and so much fun.
“Shake Your Moneymaker” and “Stop Messin’ Round” both had me wanting to get up and dance. I also loved hearing the original “Black Magic Woman” (having never realized that the Santana version is actually a cover). But for me, the highlight of this album was probably “Need Your Love So Bad.” What can I say? It wrenched my heart out.
Greatest Hits (1971) left me thinking, “Ah, that’s what blues rock is supposed to be.” Slow and sorrowful at times, exciting and passionate at others, Fleetwood Mac P knew what they were doing when they wrote these songs, and they knew what they were doing when they compiled the hits album. I’m excited to go through all of Fleetwood Mac P.
But for now, let’s move on to Fleetwood Mac C.
Fleetwood Mac C (because Christine’s voice does seem to be the predominant one, despite my personal fondness for Stevie Nicks and the front man status of Lindsey Buckingham) is the band that most of the people that I know associate with the name Fleetwood Mac, and this album has 20 of their most recognizable songs. Greatest Hits (1988) is also in my preferred walking music list.
The tracks are as follows: “Rhiannon,” “Don’t Stop,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Hold Me,” “Everywhere,” “Gypsy,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “As Long As You Follow,” “Dreams,” “Say You Love Me,” “Tusk,” “Little Lies,” “Sara,” “Big Love,” “Over My Head,” and “No Questions Asked.”
Out of this list, “As Long As You Follow” and “No Questions Asked” are special for this album (yay promotion!). Also, according to the oh-so-reliable Wikipedia, this was the last album to be released as an 8-track tape by a major label.
As a major fan of Fleetwood Mac C, this album is a beautiful amalgamation of some of their best stuff from Fleetwood Mac (1975) to Tango in the Night (1987). Plus, it’s a lot of fun. To be sure, the sound of this album is completely different from the sound of the 1971 release, but the band is extremely different, too. If you are a die hard fan of Peter Green, then you might not feel as comfortable with Lindsey Buckingham or his style.
After Buckingham and Nicks join the Mac party in the mid 70s, they bring their very American musical background with them. This is most noticeable in Stevie Nicks’ songs, which roll out with a slight Southern rock/country edge to them. Plus, the depth of her lyrics never ceases to baffle me (of course, the best examples of her poetic mastery don’t appear on the hits).
This Greatest Hits is charged with the energy specific to Fleetwood Mac C, that bubbly/cutthroat power dancing in a world of deception and lust. Number one highlight for me about this album is the track order from “Dreams” to “Little Lies.” Those four songs are some of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, and I love having them so close to each other. Plus, going from “Say You Love Me” to “Tusk” and then back to “Little Lies” is hilarious. Heck, I think that “Tusk” is hilarious.
There, now you have two starter lists to get you into the Mac groove. Check them both out, because both of these incarnations of Fleetwood Mac are full of solid musicians who made music that represent generations of listeners around the world.
Stop back next week to see what I have to say about Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Wonderful, and Then Play On!