Released on 4 February 1977, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours reached huge success. It stayed at the top of the Billboard charts for 31 weeks and won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Over 40 million copies of Fleetwood Mac Rumours vinyl have been sold worldwide, with it becoming a huge hit in record stores in Melbourne.
The numbers tell that it’s one of the greatest albums of all time. But for true-blue fans of Fleetwood Mac, it’s the quality of the album that makes it a classic. One can only wonder what went into the recording and mixing process of Rumours.
In this post, we’ll tell you some must know facts about this bestselling album by one of the world’s greatest rock bands.
The Chain was based on an unreleased song by Christine McVie
The only song credited to all five members of the band is no other than The Chain. It’s built from a handful of disparate musical fragments, with a keyboard-driven track by Christine McVie’s composition “Keep Me There,” which remained incomplete during the early album sessions in 1976.
In 1977, Buckingham shared that they decided it needed a bridge, so they cut a bridge and edited it into the rest of the song. The late Seventies lineup settled on a 10-note bass passage by John McVie over a slow crescendo of kick drums. Buckingham borrowed a folky guitar figure that he previously used on his song “Lola, My Love.”
Dreams was written in Sly Stone’s velvet bed
With sessions at the Record Plant in California becoming tedious, Stevie Nicks would often seek refuge in an unused studio down the hall built for Sly Stone. Also, to keep friction with Buckingham to a minimum, she would take an electric piano with her and set on writing a song.
The studio was quite an inspiring space, with a big black-velvet bed with Victorian drapes. Stevie would sit on the bed with the keyboard in front of her. In just 10 minutes, she was able to write the lyrics of this song that everyone has grown to love for its dance-y groove.
Songbird was recorded live at UC Berkeley
Many tracks on the album went through an extensive transformation before they found their way onto the Fleetwood Mac Rumours vinyl. However, Christine McVie’s Songbird was fully formed from the moment Caillat first heard it as the end of a long recording session. Caillat recorded an album with Joni Mitchell at the Berkeley Community Theatre and thought that a similar kind of concert recital recording would work for Songbird.
The whole band loved the stripped-down approach and went ahead with it. On March 3rd, 1976, Caillat booked the Zellerbach Auditorium at UC Berkeley. It was complete with an orchestra shell and a nine-foot Steinway.
The iconic cover photo with Fleetwood has a backstory
A pair of wooden balls can be seen dangling from the crotch of Mick Fleetwood’s pants in Herbert Worthington’s cover photo. The balls are actually lavatory chains and date back to one of the earliest Mac gigs when Fleetwood ripped them off the toilet. In a 2009 interview, he admitted having a couple of glasses of English ale and being destructive.
The lavatory chains became Fleetwood’s personal good luck charm and made an appearance at nearly every band performance. The original set was lost on the road, but Fleetwood got a replica. Although the chains were just a spur-of-the-moment boyish prank, Fleetwood felt they were an appropriate nod to his musical lineage.
Silver Springs didn’t make it to the cut due to space limitations
The rock band’s 11th full-length was conceived as a high-potency collection of potential hit songs. This was the plan that played out exactly as they had hoped. All four singles – Go Your Own Way, Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, and Don’t Stop – reached the American Top 10.
The band’s astronomical vinyl records sales figures are a testament to the production quality and musical craftsmanship behind Rumours. However, the ruthless quality control had a side effect. One of Nicks’ future classics, which was about 14 minutes long, was left off the album due to space limitations.
Edits were a practical necessity as vinyl can only hold approximately 22 minutes per side. Caillat had faced a problem of mathematics and aesthetics by the time the recording sessions wrapped in late 1976. The group looked ahead to what songs they’d have for the album and realised they had some long songs, some slow songs, and medium-slow songs.
They were concerned that we might have a too-slow album and didn’t want to have all slow songs on Side One. The group found they couldn’t make a sequence of all the songs to fit the vinyl that didn’t feel too slow. So they went ahead and left Stevie Nicks’ Silver Springs on the cutting-room floor because it was too long.
A chair was used as a percussion instrument on Second Hand News
Provisionally known as Strummer, Buckingham’s album opener began with this Celtic-tinged march. Buckingham kept the song’s pointed lyrics to himself at the early stage, not wanting to antagonise Nicks any more than was necessary. The track eventually progressed as an instrumental.
Buckingham shared that the song itself consists of Scottish and Irish folk influences. When the group first started cutting it, they started doing something that, according to Buckingham himself, was maybe a literal translation of that, in the form of a march time on snare with brushes. Because it was going to be the first song, and Rumours was a pop album, Buckingham recalled they were also very interested in keeping the pop element.
Like any musical endeavours, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours went into different creative phases. A lot of songwriting, recording, and mixing took place before the final songs were chosen and put into the 40 minute vinyl. With their talent and dedication, the late Seventies lineup gave the world one of the finest albums ever produced.
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