Fleetwood Mac will release its first new album in five years – and possibly its last LP ever – next month.
“I guess you could say the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few,” Lindsey Buckingham said of his decision to put aside work on his third solo album to make the new Fleetwood Mac LP, which was still untitled at press time. Originally, Buckingham planned “to just waltz in and do my tracks,” but after work on the record got under way with another producer, Buckingham and longtime associate Richard Dashut took over production duties. “I decided, if we’re going to do this, then let’s really do this. This could very well be the last Fleetwood Mac album, so let’s make it a killer.”
The group’s first LP since 1982’s Mirage, the new album features twelve songs: five written by Buckingham, four by Christine McVie, two by Stevie Nicks and one written by Nicks’s friend and former backup singer Sandy Stewart. The first single from the album is Buckingham’s “Big Love,” a song he described as a “lustful mid-to-up-tempo number featuring love grunts.” He has already begun working on story boards for a video of the single and was planning to work with Jim Blashfield, who directed the video of Paul Simon’s song “The Boy in the Bubble.”
“Welcome to the Room Sara,” one of Nicks’s songs, is described by Buckingham as “a song with an islandy feel that Stevie’s written about her experiences in that cryptic way that only she can do.”
Buckingham – who found the Mirage album “safe” and “uninspired” – said he’s thrilled with every song on the new album, which took sixteen months to make. “I don’t know if this is Fleetwood Mac’s swan song,” he said, “but if it is, then there’s no doubt that it would be a more appropriate one than Mirage. Everyone is very happy to be done with it, but they’re also very happy with the end result. Warner Bros. is flipping over it. Of course, they paid a lot of money to flip over it.
“This album has some of the coherency of Rumours,” he added. “It feels like a story, it works as a whole. And it has some of the charms of Tusk, with some of the rough edges polished up just a bit. On a production level, it’s beyond anything we’ve done.”
Early last year, Buckingham and Dashut took over production duties from Jason Corsaro, who’d previously worked with Robert Palmer and Power Station. “It wasn’t that Jason wouldn’t have worked out,” Buckingham explained. “It was just me and Richard realizing that if we were in, we had to be in all the way.” Work then proceeded at Rumbo Studios, in the San Fernando Valley, for three months, until Buckingham’s home studio was completed. Much of the overdubbing and all the mixing of the record took place there. The album was recorded on analog equipment and mastered on two-track digital. Buckingham said the CD version will be released simultaneously with the album and tape.
Though the band members hadn’t played together for four years, Buckingham said that everyone got along. “It was a process of discovery all through the album, and our process was a little more meticulous this time around,” Buckingham said. “That chemistry that made us what we were in the first place hasn’t gone away. There was very little of a party atmosphere going on. I think that era is pretty much gone. Five years ago, the norm was to work from four in the afternoon to four in the morning or even later. This time around we’d start about two in the afternoon and finish by ten at night. It was a lot healthier.”
When asked about the health of Stevie Nicks – who made news this winter by entering the Betty Ford Center – Buckingham would only say that the singer had “cleaned up her act.” As for the tension of having two former couples within the same band, Buckingham said, “Those tensions have always been there and always will be. The thing is that most people when they break up don’t have to still spend the next ten years together.”
At this point, Buckingham isn’t sure what the prospects are for more records from Fleetwood Mac. “It’s too far in the future to know,” he said. “I can’t say how I or anyone else will feel. From a personal standpoint, though, I’d like to think this record brought all sorts of loose ends together. I think the album’s been a healing process.”
According to Buckingham, there’s “some chance” that Fleetwood Mac will tour to support the new album, though he’s anxious to finish his solo album, which he hopes to release this fall.
Buckingham said he is not worried about Fleetwood Mac’s commercial viability after a five-year break. “I don’t worry about things like that. We’re human beings, we’re trying to live our lives being creative. We’re not victims of the record-business machinery. That’s what the Tusk album was about: selling 16 million copies of Rumours, and seeing what that created in terms of pressure to make a Rumours Two. Suddenly the phenomenon was the sales and not the work. And that’s dangerous ground as far as I’m concerned.”
This story is from the March 26th, 1987 issue of Rolling Stone.