The 1970’s was the dawn of the true blockbuster. Blockbuster movies like ‘Jaws’, ‘Star Wars’ and albums like Eagles ‘Hotel California’ and Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Twin blockbusters (movie and soundtrack) like ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’. And perhaps the most unlikely blockbuster seller of all is the album we’ve taken on the next two weeks, Fleetwood Mac’s twenty million seller ‘Rumours’.
Fraught with crumbling relationships, in-fighting, partner-swapping, rampant drug use and competing creative tensions, it’s a minor miracle the album was completed, let alone thrived. Out of the five members of the group, no less than three relationships were on the rocks. Every single member battled substance abuse of some persuasion. Lindsey Buckingham was a perfectionist pain-in-the-ass. Stevie Nicks perhaps best song was regrettably left off the record. Divorces were proceeding. Hatred was spewing from behind the scenes and onto the album. It would’ve made for great reality TV had such a thing existed back then, but it was hardly a formula for making a classic album. Granted The Beatles made ‘Abbey Road’ and the ‘White Album’ under some trying circumstances but this was a different level of drama altogether.
Still, when one puts on the record it’s pretty undeniably great and a fantastic achievement just about any band would be grateful to stake its claim on. Sales and commercial success were one thing, but this song cycle also had significant artistic merit and is generally regarded as a five-star album by most music critics over the last forty years.
Despite the aforementioned hurdles, the band and album did have a heckuva lot going in its favor as well. Although technically the groups eleventh album under the banner Fleetwood Mac, it was the second go-round with Stevie Nicks (vocalist) and Lindsey Buckingham (guitars and vocals) joining forces with founding member Mick Fleetwood (drums) and the McVie’s, John (bass) and Christine (piano, keys and vocals). Their self-titled first effort together was a pretty big hit in its own right spawning three Top Ten pop singles and setting the table for their huge breakthrough by whetting radio and the public’s appetite for their radio-ready soft-rock, pop songs that were not only pleasing to the ear, but showcased the band’s considerable musical chops and stylistic diversity.