Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie
Add another chapter to best (and ongoing) rock’n’roll soap opera that is the versions and vestiges of Fleetwood Mac. This time it’s a duo/duets album between Buckingham and McVie.
They’re the two from the FM-radio version of Fleetwood Mac that have both been the crucial heavy-lifters; they’re also the two that have stayed away the longest. Buckingham walked after 1987’s Tango In The Night (the album from the band canon that is closest to this). He was back a decade later for the reunion Dance and then shortly after that Christine decided to sit out the long flights. There were two Fleetwood Mac albums without Buckingham, one without McVie. And an EP from recent years that teased at new band material.
Instead, Christine and Lindsey have rekindled the connection that is there on 1975’s Fleetwood Mac (World Turning in particular) and across bits of Mirage and Tango. John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are the reliable rhythm section – so it’s Fleetwood Mac without Stevie Nicks, just as 2003’s Say You Will was the Mac without Christine McVie.
Okay, all of that unpacked now, this is a brilliantly controlled set of songs, exquisite pop hooks – Christine knows how to anchor a song in melody, Buckingham’s unique production filters always provide just enough buoyancy, his dazzling guitar a crucial component always whether understated (Love Is Here To Stay) or wigging out (his solos on the closer, Carnival Begin seem to recall/rival the way he went at it on Buckingham/Nicks’ finale, Frozen Love).
So the er, elephant, white witch not in the room is Stevie Nicks. Would one or two songs from her have made this the killer final Mac album? Probably. So it’s out of form of respect at least that this is being issued as a ‘side project’.
And much as I love the best of what Nicks has to offer she’s a performer rather than a writer. She believes in the pageantry, these two believe in the song. They’ve often helped her out behind the scenes, between the lines, here they assist each other, kindred-craftspeople.
If there’s a better set of pop hooks – and hooks on top of hooks and in and under and around – on an album this year I’ve yet to hear it.
The very best of Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie dazzles. Take the summery bounce of the ridiculously catchy Feel About You. Or In My World – which could be off any FM album post 1975’s eponymous reboot.
Lay Down For Free feels like some of Buckingham’s solo songs but it has that Fleetwood Mac rhythm-section drive that means it could have sidled up on Mirage or Tango.
And Game of Pretend is the sort of ballad you could expect the woman that wrote Songbird when in her 30s might write in her 70s.
Christine McVie’s voice at 73 is astounding too. Let’s call her Christine Perfect. (Again).
There are one or two naff moments, even in the best songs here. But it’s the best album a Fleetwood Mac could hope for from any version of the band right now. And because it’s been released under this banner it will find its own little space in the world too. A little legacy of its own. And that’s rather neat.