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It also means that the production is seriously improved: no idiotic crackles and cackles that were supposed to draw a parallel between Muddy Waters and Elmore James, on one side, and trite imitations like Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac , on the other one. This record is perfectly listenable in that respect, with all the instruments going through loud and clear, and at least I don't get the impression of the boys locking themselves up in the basement this time.

So what about the actual material? Still quite a lot of filler, but many songs as well that establish their own 'personalities' and have their own glorious hooks. I must confess that I hold a soft spot in my 'eart for the faster boogies, most notably 'Watch Out', which totally seduces me with its magnificent guitar work.

The instrumental break is as far out as early Fleetwood Mac ever got, with a brethtaking echoey finger-flashing duel between Green and Spencer. Were they too shy or too narrow-minded to include something like this on the earlier records? Ah well, rhetoric question. This ain't the Monkees for Chrissake. Another highlight is the instrumental 'Fleetwood Mac', a half-creepy blues shuffle done with a very high level of intensity and certainly with an aptly chosen title, as it showcases the rhythm section's talents - Green's and Spencer's guitar and harmonica solos mainly serve as the cream roses on the tart body of McVie's immaculate bass runs and Fleetwood's steady, unwavering badabooms.

No, they weren't virtuosos, these guys, but dammit, were they ever steady. Green's slow, broken-hearted material is also a step up from the more routine covers on the earliest records. He brings McVie high into the mix, emphasizing the bass parts over the rhythm guitar lines, and plays in a depressingly minor key, bringing in a level of depression unheard of in British blues before. Oh sure, John Mayall did this, of course after all, Green finished Mayall's school, didn't he? Particularly in relation to 'A Fool No More' - now there's a great blues number, and dig that echo, too.

Spencer also contributes a couple bizarro folkish shuffles, all graced with his, ahem, 'extravagant' vocal talents - I still can't decide if he were really drunk while recording 'Mean Old Fireman' or just faking it. Ah well, you can never tell with Spencer. In any case, solo acoustic numbers probably aren't his forte, as he sounds grossly unassured of himself on both this one and 'Allow Me One More Show', but there is a certain "jumbled charm", as some might say, to this shakey, trembling vocal tone as well.

That said, about a third of this record still does nothing for me, and while it's a big improvement, it's hardly epochal or anything, and they sure didn't need to include yet another take on 'Rambling Pony' on here. I'll just reiterate that this stuff works out fine as an important link: this is where the boys really started putting their own mark on the material, and in the end this led to complete artistic freedom on Then Play On. In that way, it's an essential buy for any fan of the early Fleetwood Mac period, although, of course, casual fans need not bother.

Oh, and as far as I know, there is a CD re-issue different from mine, which adds four bonus tracks I know absolutely nothing about, so you might want to make a better choice. Boring soft rock by guys who obviously just don't know what writing songs really means.

You may have noticed that my Mac ratings are somewhat 'tripping', with high numbers alternating with really low ones and vice versa. This is no surprise. People came to know the band as the 'revolving door' band, but it wasn't a 'revolving door' in the common sense - that is, concentrating around a central figure and alternating sidemen, like Jethro Tull or King Crimson well, Robert Fripp wasn't exactly the main songwriter, but he was always certainly the musical heart of the band.

With Fleetwood Mac, it was really vice versa: the band concentrated around 'sidemen' - Fleetwood and McVie were the only constant members, and yes, they're good players, but they're zero songwriters, and they were never responsible for the general sound of the band. Instead, the general sound was always provided by people who'd come and go - first Green, then Spencer, then Kirwan, then Welch, then Buckingham-Nicks-Christine McVie, and recently by even more 'newcomers'.

Therefore, each new album usually brought an entirely new type of music, and these changes weren't always for good. Unfortunately, this is the case with Future Games.

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Spencer, having provided us with lots of pure fun on Kiln House , had suddenly joined a religious sect and quit geez, and I though the guy had a sense of humour - but the Green legacy lived on. This brings Kirwan to the front, as well as new band member Bob Welch, a highly undistinguishable American gentleman at the time; his songwriting grew on afterwards, but like with every early member, he dropped out of the band right at his peak.

Which, however, was but two years later; on Future Games , Welch is mostly just stating his presence. As you might have already guessed, the album's almost unlistenable. In contrast with the humor of Kiln House , this time they decided to have a little something more serious, going in for ultra-long songs, bombastic lyrics, lengthy spacey instrumental passages and 'complicated' arrangements.

Progressive rock? Well, with progressive influences, let's say; this stuff is still way too rootsy and way too grounded in American folk and soft-rock, particularly stuff like CSN, to be considered truly "progressive". However, progressive or not, they blew it on all of the above-mentioned counts. The lengthiness of the songs only makes them more rotten - the bland, melodyless 'Woman Of Years' is a typical example. The liner notes draw on some critic's remarks about how this song "floated on a languid sea of echo-laden acoustic and electric guitars", but so what?

If you go in for mood, you gotta make it special and unique; if it's not, gimme some melodic hooks instead.

Sometimes Chords - Fleetwood Mac - Guitar Chords, Transposed 5 Semitones Up

They give none; it's just five and a half minutes of passable background music. The lyrics are supposed to be clever, but end up being inept, lame and utterly derivative 'Morning Rain' ; the instrumental passages only serve to demonstrate Kirwan's and Welch's un-professionalism which would never allow them to rank on the same level as prog rock bands 'Sands Of Time' - basically 'Woman Of Years' volume two, only longer and even less bearable , and the arrangements are really trite and do nothing to hold the listener's attention.

The sound is indeed all smothered in slick, uninteresting acoustic and slide guitars "languid sea of echo-laden There's some good news in the title track written by Bob Welch which, although overlong, distinguishes itself by having some wonderful harmonies, and I do believe it to be their only more or less successive stab at a 'serious', anthemic song. This is a good example of a song that at least knows where it is going to, with a deeply emotional delivery - at least, Welch actually sings different notes and raises and lowers his voice, which is highly unusual for the album.

The true wonder of the song is the middle-eight chorus? Still, my humble opinion is that it should have been shorter by at least four minutes; I could easily do without the boring guitar solo, for instance. Also, the record features Christine McVie's first contribution: 'Show Me A Smile' is a feeble and unconvincing ode-to-a-son type song and if you think it's the genre that stinks, check out Lennon's 'Beautiful Boy' to see how a real ode-to-a-son type song may sound , but at least it's unpretentious, and it gives a hints at her future 'games', er, gems.

Anyway, the material is hardly offensive. It's just boring. It's just a bunch of guys ringing their guitars absentmindedly and hoping that something interesting will come out of it. Well, they did have the title track, after all - pure chance, no doubt. But don't bother about getting this album unless you find it for a laughable price in the "lullabies" section. Prog-rockers they're not, but this time the pop songs are truly better and shorter. They slowly start to rise I wouldn't really go as far as to say that the true 'classic' Mac begins here, like some critics do. The melodies are still way too unassuming and ordinary, and in no way could this record shatter the minds of the band's contemporaries as Rumours.

But to my ears the album's still a serious improvement and succeeds where Future Games failed miserably. They're still treading water with prog rock elements, but this time they're mostly limited to the lyrics sphere like on the spooky 'The Ghost' where Bob Welch goes for almost Genesis-like 'allusions'. On the other side, the songs are considerably shorter, they rock out a little more, and they do have more melodies than pure bombast or anything like that. Not to mention the slowly crescent talents of Christine McVie who already gets two of her numbers on here.

And what does it mean? Well, it actually means that this is their most consistent and entertaining album so far Kiln House was better, of course, on a song for song level, but that's just because of the kitsch and the fun factor. While this turned out to be Kirwan's last album with the band, it's also his peak, as he finally completes his transformation into a 'rock' singer, and the opening track, 'Child Of Mine', showcases his new personality 'heavy country blues keep-a rockin' , being an utterly enjoyable rocker with certain heavy overtones and suitably grim lead lines.

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In fact, the song could have easily fit onto Then Play On - it's uncanny how it recreates the 'un-menacing gloominess' of the latter, eventually predicting Kirwan following the steps of Peter Green. On 'Danny's Chant' Kirwan gets even raunchier, blasting off into the song with a chaotic feedback intro, almost heavy metal in style; unfortunately, the hooks are not that strong to proclaim Fleetwood Mac particularly successful in that genre, and maybe it would be a better idea to add up some lyrics instead of the pompous gothic la-la chanting.

He, however, redeems himself with yet another moody instrumental, the pretty 'Sunny Side Of Heaven' - my only complaint is that it seems to have been written for the weather channel, but at least that'd be a mighty tasteful weather channel - and 'Dust', a melancholic introspective ballad with a gentle, memorable chorus. As for the album's 'magnum opus' - the bombastic title track, with multiple guitar overdubs and a seriously prolongated ending, well, I have mixed feelings towards it.

The rest is not. Meanwhile, Bob Welch is on the sentimental trail again - actually, his 'Sentimental Lady' is usually considered to be the highlight on here. Essentially, it's just a slight and seemingly forgettable ballad; but somehow it manages to grow on you a little, until you notice that it's really constructed in a way similar to that of 'Future Games'.

It's certainly similar - a little worse, but also a little shorter, and therefore a little better. Rather a subconsciously stuck scheme. And on the already mentioned 'Ghost' Bob gets all mystical and deeply self-conscious again, but the song is little more than atmosphere. Not that they're as flawless as her classic work in the Buckingham-led Fleetwood Mac, but everybody has to learn, you know. In fact, the only real misfire on record is an odd monologue recited by an old English lady and entitled 'Thoughts On A Grey Day'. Maybe that was Danny's idea of how a prog-imitating record should sound like.

Sounds like shit, actually. God only knows how they would develop in the following years had Kirwan not been fired soon afterwards for drinking and breaking guitars. Why he did that I have no idea. At this point he was virtually the leader of the band - main singer, songwriter and guitar player. Bob Welch certainly did not contribute a whole lot, and Christine was only starting her career.

I have no general opinion of Kirwan - after all, it's not that I studied his biography or anything - and I really don't know anything about his future career, but I do think that with a little patience and self-discipline he could have grown into a really good songwriter. During his four years in the band he'd really gone a long way, from an unexperienced, idea-less folkie to a self-confident rocker, whose only flaw was not knowing how to spice up his work with a few carefully placed hooks, and who knows?

Then again, maybe not - after all, the world is infested with mediocre songwriters spending their time on endless recycling of existent melodies and writing shallow, uninspired material for the sake of either making money or, even worse, trying to convince themselves or the world that they are geniuses when they're not even close.

Okay, away with Danny: despite all the 'ifs' and 'buts', he quit the band, and that's that. After which the Mac fell into total chaos which lasted for almost three bleedin' years. The beginning of yet another Fleetwood Mac, but this one is much more close to the future Buckingham-Nicks lineup than everybody thinks it was. Danny Kirwan got fired, and together with him gone were the last remains of blues rock the band had yet left at this point. Oh, I forgot, they got themselves two new members: Bob Weston on guitar and Dave Walker on vocals, but these guys didn't really contribute much to the band apart from their personal problems Walker tended to cling to the bottle more than to the microphone, and Weston even had an affair with Fleetwood's wife.

So the songwriting is neatly shared between Welch and Christine McVie. The former's tunes aren't surprising; they're all written in the same style we've come to know on the previous two albums and which could be amply described as 'that dreamy guitar, morphaeic voice and lethargic lyrics kinda schtick'. Indeed, of all Fleetwood Mac members, past, present and future, good ol' Bob was the only one trying to get very serious in his songs - apparently, he spent more time listening to Yes than anybody else.

Unfortunately, he's no good at writing 'prog' lyrics, in fact, he turns out to be an absolute loser in this area of experience: most of his verses can be described as serious on the surface, but shallow on the inside Tony Banks would be the one I'd be a-namin' among the other runners in the category. Plus, he's got a good voice, and this, coupled with a few more sound effects like Fleetwood's trademark tambourine assault on 'Revelation' or nice vocal harmonies on 'Bright Fire', really makes the tunes somewhat pleasant and well, consolating to listen to.

Welch would get better eventually, with more fire and more hooks coming out of his system, but on Penguin he is definitely cruising on autopilot. Unfortunately, I couldn't say as many good things about vocalist Dave Walker. Why they decided to get him in the band is beyond me. Sure, he's got a good voice, but so what? With both Welch and Christine McVie accomplished singers, why did they need a third guy who didn't even play guitar?

Beats me. Maybe Welch couldn't pull off a rocker? Now of course Walker can pull off a rocker, but what rocker? The stupid cover of Holland-Dozier-Holland's 'Roadrunner' that they decided, for no obvious reason, to slag on the album? Yeah, it's the one that ends in a stupid harmonica jam that goes on for eternity, with the rest of the band trying to support a sweaty arena-rock atmosphere with their backing vocals. To no effect, of course. This ain't a rockin' album - for Chrissake! It's half pop half prog. Rather like Abacab.

No, no, forget that, it's just a stupid joke. There's no synths or drum machines for miles around on Penguin. Anyway, I was speaking of Dave Walker; his only self-penned composition on here is a strange, banjo-driven but totally non-country mystical love song called 'The Derelict' for probably the same reason Mark Prindle decided to dub people writing reviews for him 'the A-OK Gang', in other words, because sometimes one just doesn't have anything else to do.

Needless to say, the song is a piece of prime garbage. At least the band did a good job by firing Walker right after the album's release. All of this leaves Christine McVie, and she comes up with four compositions, probably her best up to this point and quite comparable to anything she wrote during the 'Golden Age' of These are short, keyboard-and-drums-driven pop love ditties, memorable, catchy and intriguing. Not to mention her voice that is truly unique: it manages to sound both feminine and masculine at the same time, if you know what I mean.

My favourite tune is 'Dissatisfied', with its bouncy rhythm certainly paving the way to that Clinton jingle, but both 'Remember Me' and 'Night Watch' all qualify. They rule! They sure sound just like any average upbeat Christine McVie song should sound, which is rather formulaic, but fortunately, that average sound is in fact above average. Chris must have been extremely happy, as she was the only band member to have truly benefited from the lineup perturbations: with Kirwan out, Welch not yet having reached his zenith and Walker a complete songwriting dud, she gets to dominate this album like she never ever did before and would never do after four out of nine tunes credited to Chris?

Hand over the royalties! Yup, the only low point besides the Walker crap seems to be the closing instrumental 'Caught In The Rain', said to feature Peter Green on guitar acoustic rhythm, actually.

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I don't know whether it was an outtake or whether Peter really joined them for the sessions, but I really don't care: it's boring anyway. Sounds close to Green's guitarwork on 'Oh Well', but that one was moody and dark, and this one is just boring and complaintive. At least it's short and it doesn't spoil a truly enjoyable album.

If you're able to cope with Welch's dreamland, of course. Unlike most of the others that took a really long time to digest, I've acquired it only recently, but it managed to impress me on first listen. It's even more surprising considering the background against which the record was released and toured to: constant bickerings among band members, Weston's affair with Jenny Fleetwood and his subsequent firing, and Welch's heavy drinking not that the others didn't enjoy a good sip now and then, too.

This is Weston's second and last album, and he's not very prominent on it, apart from some fiery solos on the heavy numbers. Instead, this is Welch on parade, and there's also Christine McVie's debut as a solid, full-fledged member of the band: she gets five of her compositions on here. But it's certainly not a rehashing of the old Bare Trees leg. The obvious aim was to make a diverse record, so the experimentative atmosphere makes most of this really fresh and exciting, if not always successful.

Oddly enough, it is not Christine who is responsible for the experimentation. Having already developed a steadily working pop formula, she just writes one solid, commercial love ballad after another, some rather lightweight 'Just Crazy Love' - and hey, I'm not using 'lightweight' as a negative, but isn't that one kind of song that denotes 'lightweight'? All of these songs are utterly enjoyable, if not terribly original. And, funny enough, if you listen real attentively, you'll notice that Christine's musical growth did not pass without contact with the other band members - 'Keep On Going' sounds exactly like it could have been written by Welch the melody, in fact, is almost the one used on 'Revelation'; the lyrics, of course, are one hundred percent McVie.

You gotta respect that attitude. But the album really belongs to Welch in person. In fact, it's extremely intriguing to see the guy go through several stages of maturation, from the naive, bizarre and boring prog rock imitations on Future Games to the really clever lyrics and curious melodies of Mystery. The album opener, 'Emerald Eyes', could easily trick you into thinking that Bob has finally settled on banal love songs with uninspired melodies.

He hasn't. Except for this passable tune which still ends up growing on you due to its romantic, relaxed and dreamy mood - did I just sum up Welch's life credo? Besides reggae, funk and prog, you'll also find your basic hard rock in the Led Zeppish 'Miles Away', with Weston doing a Page-style echoey guitar solo - a very convincing one, at that, sounds like something Page would have eagerly inserted in the middle of a forty minute long 'Dazed And Confused' jam. There's also some really rockin' heavy blues in 'The City', with an odd guitar-synth line distinguishing it sounds not unlike Townshend's solo on 'Going Mobile' ; and, most strange of all, the cover of 'For Your Love' - yup, the same 'For Your Love' that was the best tune ever done by the Yardbirds.

Here it is taken at a slightly slower pace, so it can't surpass their version; but it is nevertheless quite a worthy effort, with superb harmonies and a really tight performance. The only thing I don't understand is why the hell did they need a cover on this album. Then again, even the Stones kept putting a cover on their albums now and then. You never can tell with rock'n'roll stars. In any case, 'Hypnotized' and 'The City' are a couple of outstanding numbers, and not just outstanding, "awaystanding" as well - both illustrate two absolutely different sides of Welch, the thoughtful one and the hard-rocking one.

In fact, Bob had never been as pissed off previously as he seems to be when he's singing 'The City', a blazing bluesy condemnation of the evils of Big Apple, and the song still stands out in my memory as the angriest that Fleetwood Mac ever got in their career. The fact that keeps me puzzled all of the time is how Welch managed to finally make a transition out of his 'lethargic' period and create such a bunch of entertaining melodies that don't bore you to sleep.

Then again, same thing happened to Kirwan several years ago. Maybe there was some kind of hidden influence exerted upon the guitarists by the trusty bluesy rhythm section? You know - come on boys, stop picking your guitar as if it were a lyre, get a little blood flowing, and so on? Unfortunately, both Kirwan and Welch also shared a nasty thing about them: just as soon as they were starting to pick up steam, they usually got fired. This was Welch's next-to-last album with the band.

Grab it while it's still hot! It has their coolest album cover ever! An easy 9 for it! The usual argument against Bob Welch goes like this: 'he never did manage to gel with the band'. Considering the fact that the only other creative member in the band for the last two albums and for this one was Christine McVie and the other formerly creative member, Danny Kirwan, had a style extremely close to that of Welch , the argument sounds a wee bit incorrect.

So the formula has to be re-worked as 'he never did manage to gel with Christine McVie'. But you also have to remember that during the first half of the Seventies Fleetwood Mac were a band whose main definition was 'not knowing where to go', being equally torn between Welch's prog ambitions and Christine's 'sweet' sound. So it's really hard to tell who exactly didn't gel with whom. Considering that Welch was always the dominant songwriter, I'd say we'd have to rework the formula again: 'Christine McVie never managed to gel with the band's early sound'.

Now we get it straight. Why am I digressing so much? Well, see, never is the contrast between 'serious' and 'sweet' so strong as it is here. The album's title, Heroes Are Hard To Find , derives from Christine's title track, a pleasant little ditty about how it's hard to find a good lover.

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However, taken together with the album's cover, the phrase quickly changes its meaning: the defective gentlemen in underwear and tennis shoes on the front cover, with miserable little children clinging to their hands, probably symbolize the weakness of this world and the fact that heroes are, indeed, hard to find the word 'hero' probably defining a person whose ribs don't show out. I don't know whether the idea of the cover belonged to Welch, and I'm also not sure whether I get it right, but the effect is certainly quite natural.

You get the album and think it must be their response to Dark Side Of The Moon , and then you hear the title track and Might well be. Great album? Certainly not. Welch's lyrics have matured, sure enough even though he manages to still embarrass himself on the Jon Anderson-style 'Coming Home' ; unfortunately, the atmosphere is nowhere near as experimental as on Mystery To Me.

Maybe it had something to do with Weston's departure - this is the only album they recorded with just one guitarist, and this deprives us of energetic solos. Maybe with something else - the band's problems they'd just liberated themselves from a band of impostors sent on the road by their manager in view of the general chaotic situation within the group as a whole or their personal ones drinking, for instance: McVie is even pictured with a bottle on the back cover!

I wouldn't want to guess. But the fact is that Welch had gone back to his formula - lethargic noodlings set to one and the same 'dreamy' melody with melancholic singing. All of this stuff we'd already had on Future Games and Penguin , and who wants more of the same? Give me 'Hypnotized' or 'Somebody' over this recycled waste any time o' day!

It's so unusual that it draws your attention. Some face is saved on two other Welch tracks: 'Silver Heels' is just as dreamy, but at least it's a bouncy pop number with some groovy notes to redeem it, and 'She's Changing Me' is arguably the best song on the album; with a different set of lyrics it could have been easily misunderstood for a late period Mac song. Had they appeared on Mystery To Me , they'd have significantly added to the diverse atmosphere; here, they rather remind me of 'excusatory' tunes, included only so as to remind us that Welch did know how to write catchy songs.

Only he didn't like doing it, that was his problem. The worst blow comes from Christine, though. Now I know it's very hard to draw an exact line between banality and genius when we're speaking of pop music, but her numbers on here rather speak of banal than of anything else. Yup, she was really a heck of a talented songwriter, but it's apparent that the patchiness of these songs wasn't to go away until the coming of her concurrents in the 'classic' Mac lineup.

Being invigorated by Stevie Nicks, she wrote some of the band's best songs; being invigorated by Bob Welch, she wrote songs that ranked from passable okay Mystery To Me to hardly listenable crap, as on here. A weak, passable album which you certainly don't need if you're not a diehard fan and already grabbed yourself a copy of Mystery To Me. Funny enough, they expected it to rise high on the charts.

It didn't. What a surprise. Eventually, this led to Welch quitting the band. Which finally brings us to the moment you've all been eagerly waiting for. A somewhat unsecure, but still fascinating debut album displaying flashes of genius; maybe it was just recorded a bit too quickly. Christine McVie's contributions to the album are mostly in the same style as on the previous ones, but this is the only true link.

No more dreamy Bob Welch 'serious' tunes: the band goes totally 'pop', with Buckingham's pop rockers complemented by Nicks' pop ballads. The few 'serious' fans that the band still had left have probably evaporated into thin air, but the band didn't care: with their first 'new' album, they have certainly secured themselves a thousand times as much fans as they had lost. Of course, in order to do that, both John McVie and Mick Fleetwood had to betray their blues roots, and I still can't understand the developments of the trusty rhythm section. Were they so desperate in their search of commercial success, or were they so fed up with blues and 'prog' tunes?

You tell me, I won't even begin to guess. Whatever be, the band was certainly aware of the fact that they were beginning an entirely new life. This is probably why the record is self-titled. You don't really imagine to what extent this muddles up the discographies. The Hollies did the same thing with their and records, and it's disgusting, because you never know what album you or somebody else are speaking about. Apart from that, Fleetwood Mac is a very good, somewhat innovative and obviously well-written, noteworthy album, but not without its flaws and a certain percent of filler.

Personally, I feel it was recorded a bit too quickly after Heroes all the future Mac albums would take at least two years to be completed , and the band still hadn't had time to gel. The songwriting is more or less evenly split between Christine McVie, Buckingham and Nicks, and all of them are starting to near their peaks but not quite reaching them, except maybe for Nicks. This "pre-perfect" status, however, isn't explainable by any general faults or flaws - on the contrary, the general styles are well-established and flawless.

It's within the individual compositions where the rub lies: I realize I'm being a little subjective here, since we're always on less trusty territory when dealing with individual songs, but hey, most of them are fab anyway, so why quibble when you can just agree with my quibbles?

Who's the reviewer on here, goddammit. Okay, enough ambitions - let me take them writer by writer and see all the pros and cons. First of all, our old friend Christine McVie is still in her Heroes vibe, which means that most of her numbers are bland to the extreme, and I don't see any particular reason why they should be preferred to anything she put out earlier. Okay, one reason - she is acquiring more and more skills as a melody-writer, and the arrival of Buckingham marks an obvious improvement of the production, which means that even if the melody doesn't work for you, the little arranging tricks will.

What about that marvelous 'tee-da-dee-da-dee-da-dee-da-TING' crystal acoustic line that follows the opening lines of each verse in 'Over My Head'? Not to mention the song's unbelievable catchiness itself. Somewhat worse are Chris' two other contributions - 'Sugar Daddy' seems like a weaker imitation of 'Say You Love Me', maybe it has a wee bit more full-fledged arrangement, but the chorus seems to be forced and heading for a dead end instead of brilliantly resolving itself into something like " As for 'Warm Ways', that one's way too mellow for me, hell, whatever, Chris is almost predicting the basics of Nineties' adult contemporary.

That 'forever, forever now' almost seems to be coming out of a romantic moment in Santa Barbara. Nicks distinguishes herself even more than Chris. Come to think of it, it was her only chance - she was only accepted as a band member under the threat of Lindsey not joining at all. So she contributes the most memorable number - the mysterious ballad 'Rhiannon' which already displays all of Nicks' trademarks: mystical lyrics, slightly acid-tinged voice and a standard, but catchy pop melody actually, the riff of the song is the best on this record - did Stevie really think about it herself?

I bow down for her if yes. It's certainly good, though not as good as the similar 'Dreams' on Rumours. Her other ballad, 'Landslide', is a beautiful piece of acoustic bliss - once I was so blind as not to notice the hooks, but hey, time heals all the wounds and all the silliness. But unfortunately or fortunately - whatever, aren't we supposed to be talking objective here? I still can't understand why this is so often supposed to be a highlight.

It has, like, one or two chords - just an ultra-slow, monotonous folkish acoustic shuffle with moody organ in the background. Fleetwood Mac were never an atmospheric band: even if atmosphere was a necessary part of the charm of some of their numbers, mostly Stevie's 'Dreams', for instance, can't be enjoyed unless you dig in that atmosphere , they never managed to get out on atmosphere alone, always complementing it with memorable guitar lines or quirky catchy beats.

No memorable guitar lines or quirky catchy beats here - so 'scuse me. Gotta admit it, though, the ending is pretty tasteful - I like the way Lindsey's acoustic swirls contrast with that organ. Even so, already at this point Lindsey is definitely the most self-assured and creative writer of the three. He manages to churn out a couple of punchy, danceable and truly enjoyable rockers, such as the opening 'Monday Morning' which sets a good tone for the entire record, and an obscure cover of an obscure outfit, the Curtis Brothers, called 'Blue Letter' that's become a stage favourite since then.

The honour of closing the album goes to him as well, and he sure doesn't let the band down: 'I'm So Afraid' may not be truly outstanding in the melodical sense, but it gives the album a slightly darker and menacing edge: exactly the thing that was needed to compensate for McVie's sentimentalism. In concert, the song would become a real showstopper and an incredible showcase for Lindsey's guitar playing abilities, but hear me rave on that one later on. And on 'World Turning' co-written and co-sung with Christine , Lindsey even gives a hint at his rock'n'roll abilities, engaging in a lengthy but not overlong rock jam with the rhythm section.

A major problem remains in Bob Welch's naggingly nasal vocals, although he's usually swathed in protective layers of lush harmonies. McVie is a superb singer with a bluesy voice, Welch is a top-notch guitarist and the band as a unit has learned to mix good blues with more pop oriented rock material. Good use of strings here does not interfere with basic sound, and group gets a bit more commercial each time out without losing the distinctive sound they have reached. The proof that their formula has finally trapped them is the pitifulness of their attempts to escape -- with string synthesizer, pedal steel, half-assed horns, and other catchs of International Pop Music Community.

Bob Welch sounds bored, which is certainly poetic justice, and even Christine McVie is less than perfect this time out. Their worst. Welch's peak as a songwriter with new highs by Christine McVie is also his swan song with the group. Read more reviews, listen to song samples, and buy this album at Amazon. Prefer CD Universe? Also known as: The album Fleetwood Mac tried to record without Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks; one long grocery store soundtrack; a disappointment.

Nicks and Buckingham re-join in though, which is grounds for celebration. Christine McVie leaves the group permanently in Bramlett is a fantastic, but ill-fitting vocalist. Exclusive Features. Share this: Facebook Twitter Reddit. Tags Classic Rock News. Previous Story. Prophets of Rage announce breakup in wake of Rage Against the Machine's reunion. More Stories.