Lindsey Buckingham returned on Friday with his first solo album since being fired from Fleetwood Mac in April 2018.
It’s a self-titled album, which is typically the calling card of an artist finally having the freedom to control their own music, discovering their signature sound or debuting their first collection of music. But in Buckingham’s case, it is an album lost in the past.
I had low expectations for this album. It’s not outstanding by any means, but it's definitely listenable if you are a Fleetwood Mac fan – and are more than just a fan of “Dreams” and “Landslide.” It’s a sound that’s reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s late '70s and early '80s work, which is a sound that Buckingham had a massive role in curating.
It’s full of infectious hooks and the type of rolling jams that might get you through a long road trip or set the pace for your morning walk to campus.
I particularly enjoyed “Blue Light,” “On the Wrong Side" and “Time.” These are testament to Buckingham’s talents as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, a contemporary of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.
But my primary qualm is that the album lacks cohesion.
If I had to guess, these songs are a conglomerate of Buckingham-penned outtakes from the decades of Fleetwood Mac. It’s as if he blended all of his former band’s production aesthetics into one album — the ambiguous lyricism of the “Tusk” era, the vocal production of the “Tango in the Night” era and a few random drum loops and bright synth-led instrumental productions reminiscent of the “Say You Will” era.
Taken individually, each of these notions is pleasing to the ear – they match their respective genres. Taken together, these notions fight against each other. It’s an indefinable, unedited sound.
Yet, I understand and appreciate Buckingham’s continued passion for music. He is a legend in the music industry, and his name carries immense weight.
But these accolades did not shield him from reproach in 2018 when he was officially fired from Fleetwood Mac.
There is ambiguity as to the reason behind Buckingham’s departure from the band. Stevie Nicks, singer and tambourinist of the band, said it was because Buckingham asked for too much time off to pursue his solo career.
Buckingham said that he was told by manager Irving Azoff that “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again.”
The alleged comment that “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with [Buckingham] again” is a notion with roots almost fifty years in the making. It’s a callback to “Rumours,” undeniably Fleetwood Mac’s most iconic record.
“Rumours” is one of the greatest albums of all time. It has spent 441 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and is the tenth-best selling album of all time, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide. Released in 1977, it defined the soft rock sound of its decade.
But it was an album rooted in internal strife, a lyrical battle of sorts between Nicks and Buckingham, each on their second album with the band after joining in 1975.
The two had been dating on and off again since the early 1970s, and their relationship only grew rockier after they joined Fleetwood Mac. Their relationship unraveled completely in 1976, and the two – along with another shaky band couple John and Christine McVie – put their emotional troubles and stabbing digs into “Rumours.” Buckingham threw swords with tracks like “Never Going Back Again” and “Go Your Own Way,” and Nicks rebutted with “Dreams” and “I Don’t Want to Know.”
The saga of Nicks and Buckingham’s racked romance was seemingly never-ending. Even in 1982, five years after the release of “Rumours,” Nicks and Buckingham were visibly angry at each other on stage, as evidenced by a video recording of a live performance of “The Chain.”
Buckingham left the band in 1987, and Nicks would depart only a few years later. The two would not share a stage again until a Fleetwood Mac performance featuring the original line-up at Bill Clinton’s inaugural ball in 1993. The band came back together in 1996, and Buckingham and Nicks found a way to peacefully coexist from then on, though rumors of tension between the two persisted.
Those rumors were all but confirmed in April 2018, when it was announced that Buckingham had been fired from the band.
It saddens me that a band that I was raised on failed to recover from its qualms. The release of “Lindsey Buckingham” solidifies my impression that the band will never return to their original glory. As much as I love Nicks, seeing her perform songs written about Buckingham without him on stage will be disheartening.
Though Buckingham’s solo album is decent, it just doesn’t excite me the way that I want it to. I will continue to listen to it, but not nearly as much as I listen to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks’ solo work.
Though the band’s legacy is a landslide of chaos, Fleetwood Mac’s discography is preeminent and inescapable. The band’s history represents a collective of individually talented pioneers of modern music, so I can definitely forgive a little relationship drama.
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