A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
In 2012 we noted that this WHITE HOT copy of Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album has some of THE BEST SOUND WE HAD EVER HEARD, not only for this album, but for the band itself. As good as the best copies of Rumours are, they don’t really sound like this. Until we started doing these shootouts in about 2006 we had no idea this album was remotely this well recorded. There are layers and layers of subtle instrumental textures and recording effects throughout 1975’s Fleetwood Mac that we had never even suspected were there. Then we played this copy.
It took a copy like this to show us what an amazing pop recording it is.
So few copies we ran across in our shootout had that “jump out of the speakers” sound we knew was possible from our previous shootouts of the album. When finally one did, boy did it ever. What a knockout. Hot Stampers? They’re on fire!
Many of the notes you see below are the same as the ones we made for the last two shootouts we did. If you have a big speaker system and have taken advantage of the audio revolutions we discuss throughout the site, this is the kind of record that can help you chart your progress. When a record like this blows everything you’ve ever heard out of the water, you are definitely on the right track!
Bass Like You Will Not Believe
One of the special qualities this album has is AMAZINGLY well-defined, punchy, deep BASS — the kind you just never hear on most records (or most pressings of this album for that matter).
The bass is typically bloated on most copies of this album, something that is especially true for the MoFi. When you get a copy with note-like, properly balanced bass, the whole album works. Bass is the foundation of the music. When the bass is blubbery and ill-defined, the music itself sounds blurred. It loses its focus.
It’s also very dynamic and punchy. The kick drum sounds exactly right — there’s a room around it, just exactly as you would hear it if you were in the studio with the band!
A Landmark In Pop Music Production
Just listen to Rhiannon — it’s silky sweet, airy, open and spacious, yet still present and immediate. It’s not bright; the tonal balance is Right On The Money. Here all the nuances really come to life. You’ll quickly realize that this is more than a great pop album; it’s nothing short of a landmark in pop music production. With so much going on, you really need a copy that offers the kind of transparency that only the best LPs have in order to fully appreciate everything that’s going into these songs.
Master Tape Sound
You may remember one of the comments we made about the White Hot Stampers for Bookends, Tea For The Tillerman, and Ziggy Stardust, just to name three, in which we said we felt as though we had threaded up the master tape and hit play — that’s how unbelievably correct and REAL the sound was. This Fleetwood Mac side one is every bit as good. I’ve been playing this album for more than thirty years and I can tell you I very rarely hear copies that sound anything like this. If there’s a better sounding rock record, I would surely love to hear it.
Just drop the needle on any song. Guaranteed you will never hear that song sound better (Unless you already own one of our White Hot Stampers, of course!). The mastering is beyond perfection. There’s really no “mastering” to listen for — all you’re really aware of is the music flowing from the speakers, freed from all the limitations that you’ve learned to accept. As much as we may love other rock albums, the vast majority of them sound positively CRUDE in comparison to this one. This Fleetwood Mac album is practically distortion free. I can’t think of very many recordings that can make that claim. (Look for them in our Top 100.)
This copy is so transparent that it revealed a quality of the recording that we were never aware of before. The songs that Lindsey sings, which tend to be the rockers, have a certain gritty quality to the vocals which is not on any of the other songs, those sung by Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie. It’s not a pressing problem. It HAS to be the way they wanted his vocals to sound. There’s a certain rawness and bite that he seems to be going for, so don’t expect the smoothness and sweetness of the other tracks when playing his.
Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. This song is PURE POP PERFECTION. This is our favorite test track for side one. Christine’s voice needs to be present and immediate, while at the same time completely free from grain or artificial EQ. On the best copies she is breathy and sweet. In case you haven’t noticed, these are not qualities you hear often in the songs Christine sings lead on. Most of her vocals are veiled and farther back in the mix. Stevie Nicks tends to get better sound for some reason, don’t ask me why. Just listen to the sound of the vocals on Landslide; McVie never gets that kind of presence and immediacy.
Beyond the sound of the vocals, there are tons of subtle production effects throughout the song which can only be heard on the most transparent copies. We played this song dozens and dozens of times over the course of our shootout and kept hearing more and more nuances in the production. Buckingham is a pop genius; his work on this album and Rumours cannot be faulted. The better the pressing the more you can appreciate all the elements he has built into these wonderful recordings.
Over My Head
Say You Love Me
As rich and sweet and tubey magical as any Fleetwood Mac song ever recorded. This side starts out with a bang and only gets better. The first two tracks on this side really show this band firing on all cylinders.
There is unbelievable transparency to be found on the best copies, and this track is a great test for that quality. You can practically feel the cool air in the studio. Listen especially at the end of the song for the subtle guitar effects. This song is a masterpiece, a real high point for side two. Notice how the first two tracks on side two mirror those on the first side. This band likes to come out swingin’ as soon as you drop the needle.
I’m So Afraid
McVie dominates the album, contributing some of her finest songs, including the sighing Over My Head and the bouncy Say You Love Me. Nicks’ songs function as folky counterpoints to McVie’s sweet pop, and she rarely ever wrote songs as memorably affecting as Rhiannon or Landslide. Fleetwood Mac is a blockbuster album that isn’t dominated by its hit singles, and its album tracks demonstrate a depth of both songwriting and musicality that would blossom fully on Rumours.