ALBUM REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

Have you ever found yourself fulfilling what you thought you would never do? Sometimes your life becomes so muddled you fill yourself with myths and falsities. Activities include engaging in a relationship you know isn’t beneficial or maybe ending a friendship that you never thought would end. Maybe you don’t realize you’re playing to your own ridicule.

Living rumours are exactly what the group Fleetwood Mac experienced while recording their album, Rumours. Here is just a brief look at what each member was going through.

Mick Fleetwood was one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac, even before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the group. At the time of this recording, he had discovered that his wife, mother to his daughter, was having an affair with his best friend.

Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were dealing with their on and off again relationship. Supposedly, Nicks and Fleetwood were having a fling since the Fleetwood’s former relationship was not working out.

John McVie and Christine McVie were married prior to this album but got a divorce at the time of this album’s production. They would only speak music, not personally.

As you can see, it may have been rather difficult to work with your fellow bandmates in such turmoil. Now add all night partying and cocaine addictions and you have the whole team complete.

What do you get from such an embattled band? A brilliant album.

The album tells the full story for each band member individually, while collectively telling the story of the members as a whole.

First, the album starts off with “Second Hand News,” penned by Lindsey Buckingham. This seems to have been a clear message for Nicks and maybe even Fleetwood. The song talks about how there is nothing to say or do about a given relationship. He simply wants to “lay in tall grass and do his stuff,” while realizing he is just second-hand news. Oddly, Nicks is heard prominently in the background vocals.

Buckingham went on to write 2 more songs for the album (excluding “The Chain” which the group wrote together). The next two songs are “Never Going Back Again” and the hit, “Go Your Own Way.” “Never Going Back Again” seems to be slightly remorseful, at one point stating, “come down and see me again,” yet it does end with him clearly stating he’s never going back. “Go Your Own Way” is basically telling a past girlfriend “screw you,” stating that she can go her own way and it will just be another lonely day.

Next, we come to Stevie Nicks. She doesn’t seem quite as bitter as Buckingham. In Fleetwood Mac’s only number one single that was written by Nicks, “Dreams,” she is shrugging her shoulders, telling her lover that she isn’t the one to keep him down. She ponders what he will lose and what he had, but in the end, these are dreams. It’s almost as if she wants to say screw you, yet she doesn’t have the heart too. The next song Nicks wrote was “I Don’t Want to Know.” This song says how she doesn’t want to know the reasoning of actions in the relationship, yet she wants the ex to feel fine. Where Buckingham brought the forget you songs, Nicks brought self-indulgent lover’s optimism.

Nicks also wrote the last song to the album “Gold Dust Woman,” which explains the challenges of the music industry with drugged up metaphors.

Next, you have Christine McVie. Her first song is quite encouraging and is entitled “Don’t Stop.” She is stressing the need to go on and not live in today’s problems, but not to stop “thinking about tomorrow.” Her next two songs seem to center around her new relationship with one of Fleetwood Mac’s lighting technicians. In “Songbird” she ensures there will be no more crying and that she loves him like never before. She also lets the lighting man know that she is so happy with the things he does for her, he makes loving fun (“You Make Loving Fun”). Her last song is directed toward Mick Fleetwood. The song “Oh Daddy” portrays Fleetwood as the glue to this album, and in the end, the band. He always knew what was right for the band. You have to wonder, did Fleetwood see the musical genius that was becoming of such turmoil?

The only song the group worked on lyrically together was “The Chain.” This song is the album’s summary, yet it is the first song on side 2. It acts as a link between the two sides of both the record and the relationships. The only way this song makes sense is looking at the context of which this album was recorded. This tune also provides the best harmonies and most dramatic musical arrangements of the whole album.

This album is now nearly 30 years old. In retrospect, you have to wonder, did they all know they were playing songs about themselves? The irony of this album has provided its sustainability. The music that resulted has been heralded by fans and critics alike. It has sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide and is often at the top of many “best albums” list. It also won the Grammy for album of the year.

This album happens to be my favorite album. I love its versatility, musical arrangements, and harmonies. I love how it visits every realm of love and how every vocal and instrument is played with passion. I love the albums often mysterious metaphors and its confusing cover. The artistry of this album is unparalleled. I would gladly visit the Rumour mill any day.

ALBUM REVIEW: Wanda Jackson – An Unfinished Party

I am going to go a little rogue on this post. Instead of posting about one album, I am going to post about two that were made in the last 3 years. But do not worry, I have both of these exceptional albums on vinyl and that’s where I heard them first.

As one who frequents the record stores in the OKC area, I have seen a lot of hype and advertisement for Wanda Jackson. I am not sure how I had not heard of this legendary songstress before seeing her records in these stores, but I always love finding new favorites. Now that I have embarked on her material, I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.

Jackson’s career is wide and vast. She is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for early influence. She has sung rockabilly, country, rock, and gospel. She is the Queen of Rockabilly and many artists, including Adele, have cited her as an inspiration. Then, to top all the interesting facts I have learned, she is also a fellow Oklahoman.

Now in her mid-70s, Jackson has not slowed down. In 2010 Jackson worked with Jack White for her album The Party Ain’t Over. This album will probably run out of spins. Her vocals encompass wisdom, a vibrant youth, a little party, harshness, and delicateness. I am not sure there is an exact word to describe them.

This is an album of covers. The album opens with “Shakin’ All Over,” a number originally performed by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates in 1965. It’s a perfect beginning to this album, especially with it’s “shaky” sounds during the chorus. The song reminisces 1960s pop and rockabilly.

My next favorite is “Busted.” At first, it was hard for me to listen to a song about an older lady with a child being broke, but that’s when I saw the wisdom. Her voice expresses experience. It is both in the past, the present, and the future. At the end of side one, she goes into the Bob Dylan penned “Thunder on the Mountain.” This song possesses all qualities of a typical Dylan song, genius lyrics, storytelling, and unending interpretations. Jackson’s voice is so well suited for this song that it’s hard to not declare her the queen.

Side two holds all the same promises from side one. One of the best songs on the whole album is “You Know I’m No Good.” At first, I didn’t think it could be the Amy Winehouse version, but it was, and Jackson brought a new dimension to the song. You can see her sitting on a stool crooning this song from years of life experiences. The song, and better yet the whole album, comes from deep within her inner complexion.

These are just a few outlines of some of the songs, but in reality, each song is amazing.

Jackson then followed up with 2012’s, Unfinished Business. From the cover this album is unique. As I was reading the notes on the back of the album, I realized they were written by the famed author Stephen King. She truly touches all across every realm. This album opens up with “Tore Down,” a song about hitting rock bottom, yet her voice gives it hope. It’s one that every age group can relate to.

My favorite tune on this album is “Am I Even a Memory?” a duet with her producer Justin Townes Earle. This song does not have an age. It brings tears as you hear it. Jackson swoons over the lyrics, wondering if she meant anything to a past lover. Then Earle comes in and brings a very naive feel to the song. It’s pure musical genius. The song shows heartache at different times, decades apart. It’s the telling of a 40-year-old relationship, to a fresh one.

On side two there are many highlights, including “Two Hands” and “California Stars.” The first reaches back to her gospel years, declaring praises to the Father. “California Stars” is lyrically short, and professes that she would like to lay her weary bones on the California stars, yet I find that ironic because I just saw her releasing tour dates last week.

These two albums are really touching me in a poignant part of my life. I find comfort in the lyrics and vocals. I feel lifted by a party of unsurpassed emotion. Without getting to musically “ooey-gooey,” these albums are giving me strength at a tough time in my life to remember the world never stops spinning. I’ll survive.

All in all, I really hope to one day run into Miss Jackson at Wal-Mart or a local 7-11. I’d love to just thank her for her music and what it means to me and her contributions to the music world. I am sure she hears this every day, but it’s always nice to get things off your chest. I guess I am going to have to carry a sharpie and my album covers everywhere in my car just in case.

Jackson’s whole career is a party of rockabilly, salvation, and tremendous influence, but most parties don’t last nearly 60 years. I believe Wanda Jackson is going to continue to party for years to come and the invitations keep coming. This is one party you won’t find your self asleep on the couch, hung over the next morning, or begging for a ride home from.

ALBUM REVIEW: Lionel Richie, Self-Titled

Nearly 31 years ago Motown encountered another legendary departure. Lionel Richie released his first album as a single artist in October of 1982. To this day, this self-titled album is still only 1 of 9 that Richie has released. This album was released in the 80s, yet it shows Lionel’s timeless signature style.

This album contains two of Richie’s signature songs, penned by Richie, “Truly” and “You Are.” These are soul and Motown classics. These two songs would easily fit into any wedding service and also serve great on local karaoke nights.

Although, this album contains other great numbers that were not recognized or released as singles. The opening track “Serves You Right” is a reminder of Disco days gone, yet it serves as a prelude to what 1980s music would become. The song details a relationship in which Richie’s significant other left for another man whose love turned out to not be so true.

Another great song follows, entitled “Wandering Stranger.” I have always considered Richie a ballad king and this song does not disappoint. It would easily fit in between “Truly” and “Hello” on any compilation collection. This song talks about feeling lost while in love.

Side 2 continues with some upbeat tracks (“Round and Round,” and “You Are”). The last two songs highlight Richie’s writing, vocal, and instrumental ability and are the gems of this release. Richie’s voice is perfectly suited between him and a piano. “You Mean More to Me” and “Just Put Some Love in Your Heart” prove this. These songs show the foundation where Richie’s later duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love,” was born.

Given the status of Richie’s love life in the next 4 or so years show where the sentiments and emotions of these songs come from. In 1975 he had married his high school sweetheart, Brenda. In the mid 1980’s Richie began a relationship with a lady named Diane and Brenda discovered this relationship by pretending to be room service to their Beverly Hills hotel room. A physical fight pursued leading to Brenda’s arrest and later her and Richie’s divorce.

This album is nonchalantly mixed with both romantic and breakup songs. Were these the beginning of Lionel’s mixed feelings?

In the end, this album is “Truly” an introduction to Richie’s brilliant career that was and that he is currently pursuing. This isn’t Richie at his best, but he was a vulnerable solo artist coming in off the success of the Commodores. Richie may seem a little shy on this album, but it is worth a listen in every soul lover’s collection. It would be a Motown sin not to give this album a few spins.