Top Artists – Fleetwood Mac

Listening in Depth to Fleetwood Mac’s Self-Titled Album from 1975

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Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

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? The best copies are on fire!

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 shows just how much progress you’ve made.

When a record like this blows everything you’ve ever heard out of the water, you are definitely on the right track!

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Monday Morning

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.

Warm Ways

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. (more…)

The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – Kiln House

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – Kiln House

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame, a Forgotten Classic, and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. He was apparently quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are straightforward and unerringly melodic.

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The co-leader here is Danny Kirwan and he rocks the hell out of this album. Three of the best songs the band ever did, regardless of incarnation, are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy, all written by Kirwan (with the help of others). His guitar work on these three songs is blistering. Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without these tracks. Of course they are consistently missing from all such compilations, at least the ones with which I am familiar. The sad fact is that few people miss them because few people have ever heard them.

And Let’s Not Forget Christine McVie

It’s amazing to realize that this album was made by just four guys. Actually that’s not true. Christine McVie (known as Christine Perfect at the time) not only did the lovely artwork for the cover, but she sings uncredited background vocals on some of the songs. Her contribution to Station Man is especially lovely. She would officially join the band on their next album, a personal favorite of mine, Future Games. (more…)

The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – Future Games

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – Future Games

This is another one of Fleetwood Mac’s Forgotten Classics from 1971.

Danny Kirwan is the guy who really takes control on Future Games. Some of the best songs this band ever did are here, many of them written by Kirwan. The opening track on side one, Woman Of A Thousand Years, and the opening track on side two, Sands Of Time, are both his and set the tone for the whole side, which is folky, ethereal and extended. The best of these pop songs don’t seem to follow any of the standard pop conventions of verse verse chorus. They seem to wander on a journey of discovery. In that way they remind me a little bit of 20th century French classical music, or some of the longer tracks from Neil Young’s Zuma.

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Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without those tracks. They are of course missing from most of the compilations I am familiar with. Sadly, few people miss them because few people have ever even heard them.

This period Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House through Mystery to Me (both are records I would take to my Desert Island) has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience, having played a dozen (or more, I lose track there are so many) copies of Future Games practically all day at some pretty serious levels that it is a positive THRILL to hear it sound this good!

 

The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – The Self-Titled First Album & English Rose

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1971.

You just can’t write better songs than Love That Burns or Black Magic Woman, both of which can be found here. And Albatross, the mellow instrumental that closes out side four, was a Number One hit in the UK in 1969, can you believe it? It was backed on some releases by Need Your Love So Bad, another one of our all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. The band was on fire back when Peter Green was at the helm. These two LPs are proof enough.

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The material found on this American-only compilation is tough to come by on vinyl; their early albums barely charted in the states and are anything but plentiful. The Peter-Green-led blues band that performed this music was huge in England however, and for me, personally, I would take Fleetwood Mac as a blues band over any other blues band from the period.

Keep in mind that some of these recordings are engineered to sound like old blues songs from the thirties and forties. Don’t expect audiophile sound on those tracks because it’s just not on the master tapes that way.

But it’s easy enough to tell when the material sounds right, and that’s all we are after here — the right sound. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Bare Trees, a Classic Fleetwood Mac Album from 1972

 

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Listening in Depth

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This period of Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House (1970) through Mystery to Me (1973) — both are records I would take to my Desert Island — has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience, having played a dozen copies of Bare Trees practically all day at some pretty serious levels, it is a positive THRILL to hear it sound so good. For me, a big speaker guy with a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better than rockin’ out to the song Bare Trees.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Child of Mine

A real rocker from Danny Kirwan. If the electric piano is rich on your copy and you have some top end and space you are probably off to a very good start.

The Ghost
Homeward Bound
Sunny Side of Heaven

A wonderfully poignant, even melancholy instrumental track by Bob Welch. Not sure if that’s him on guitar but the playing is beautiful. The high point of side one. (more…)

We Get Letters – This One Is on Rumours

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This week’s letter [from quite a few years ago] comes from our good customer Roger, who was blown away by our Hot Stamper pressing of Rumours. Roger did his usual thorough shootout of our Hot Stamper against his own pressings. The results? Another knockout for our Hot Stamper pressing!

Hi Tom,

Just a quick note on the Fleetwood Mac Rumors Hot Stamper I just bought. I have a Nautilus pressing and my original pressing I bought in college when it came out. I have never liked this record as much as Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac, perhaps partly because its sonics were somewhat inferior.

So I played the Nautilus and quickly remembered what a piece of sonic detritus this thing is. How can audiophile labels like Nautilus put out something that is as thin, bright, flat, and compresssed as this thing is? It obviously reinforces your point that most audiophiles are lemmings when it comes to audiophile records. If some audiophile guru said the Japanese pressing of Girl Scout Troup #657 singing the Girl Scout Theme Song was sonic nirvana, it would show up on every internet record website for $50 each.

Next up was my original pressing with an F16 matrix on side one, and man, what a relief after following the Nautilus disaster. In fact, I resisted buying a pricey hot stamper because I always felt my pressing to be pretty darned good, which it was. So I was shocked to hear just how much better the hot stamper was.

I played Dreams on side one and it took all of about 5 seconds of hearing the massive bass and startlingly dynamic cymbal crashes on this track to find the hot stamper worth every penny I paid for it. If the drum kit on Oh Daddy doesn’t get your pants flapping, time for a new stereo. Voices were eerily present, guitars had great detail, pianos had weight just like in real life (we have a piano in our house), and best of all, the highs were arrayed in space and were delicate and detailed.

Since the Nautilus is too thin to make a good frisbee and would probably fetch big bucks on ebay I will stuff it back on my shelf forever, unless I need a good laugh, and add the HS Rumors to my favorite recordings.

Roger


Roger, thanks as always for the insightful review. The sad fact of the matter is that the Nautilus Digitally Remastered Half Speed — Yes, you heard that right — is actually better than the average reissue, and probably better in most ways than the average grainy domestic original, which is pretty much unbearably edgy and gritty, especially if it hasn’t been cleaned right.
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