Top Artists – Fleetwood Mac

The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know – Future Games

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Danny Kirwan is the guy who really takes control on Future Games, the band’s 1971 release. 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.

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 as good as it does on the best pressings.

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

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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 covers. The band was on fire back when Peter Green was at the helm. These two LPs are proof enough.

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.

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Buckingham Nicks / Self-Titled

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  • A superb pressing of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ one and only album, with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich and Tubey Magical with a massive bottom end – this is a true Bass Demo Disc (much like the first Mac album they sang on)
  • Recording Engineer great Keith Olsen went for a very rich, very smooth sound, in the tradition of Classic British Folk Rock
  • “An engaging listen and served as a proving ground of sorts for both artists’ songwriting chops and for Buckingham’s skills as an emerging studio craftsman. Crisp, ringing acoustic guitars and a bottom-heavy rhythm section framed the pair’s songs…”

We really enjoy playing this album here at Better Records. It’s an obvious preview of things to come for these two (and the engineer too!). Check out the wonderful early version of “Crystal.” On the better copies, it is warm, rich, and sweet — just like it is on the better copies of the Fleetwood Mac self-titled LP. In fact, many parts of this album bring to mind the best of ’70s Fleetwood Mac. Fans of the self-titled LP and Rumours are going to find A LOT to like here.

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Fleetwood Mac – A MoFi Winner

Another MoFi LP reviewed, and this one is actually pretty good

The Mobile Fidelity pressing of this album can actually sound quite good (if you get hold of a decent copy that is). Audio perfection it ain’t, but all in all it’s a very enjoyable record. Its strengths are many and its faults are few. Let’s give credit where credit is due; the MoFi is rich, transparent, sweet, and natural, and you won’t hear us saying that about very many MoFi pressings.

It belongs in their Top Ten, toward the bottom I would guess, due to its own sloppy bottom, but that’s half-speed mastering for you.

Like most new audio technologies it was a giant step in the wrong direction: backwards. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac / Greatest Hits

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More British Blues Rock

  • An excellent vintage British pressing on the original CBS Solid Orange label with Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Big, rich, energetic, with tons of Analog Tubey Magic, this original Orange Label UK pressing has exactly the right sound for this music
  • “Oh Well, Parts One and Two,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Man of the World,” and the surprise Number One single “Albatross” are all here and guaranteed to blow your mind
  • Peter Green is hands down our favorite British Blues Guitarist of All Time – play this record and you will surely see why we feel that way
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life.

If you’re a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this copy is guaranteed to blow your mind. Like all the best vintage British pressings, the sound is smooth, rich and full. This is Old School ANALOG, baby. They don’t make ’em like this anymore because they don’t know how to.

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Fleetwood Mac – Penguin

  • This early Reprise LP is a huge step up from most – this copy is full-bodied, smooth and musical – classic Fleetwood Mac sound
  • One of my favorite songs on the album is one of Christine McVie’s best from this period, Did You Ever Love Me – on this pressing it’s rich and sweet exactly the way it should be
  • “Fleetwood Mac’s first album made after the departure of Danny Kirwan features the additions of guitarist Bob Weston and singer Dave Walker… This album gave Fleetwood Mac its best U.S. chart showing yet…”

On the best pressings, the sound is positively JUMPING out of the speakers in a way that is completely unexpected. We often talk about the size of the soundfield on a particular pressing, side to side, bottom to top, and even more often about the energy found on one copy relative to another.

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Fleetwood Mac – One Customer’s Story of Listening in Depth and Seeing the Light

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One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Sorry to say I will be returning this White Hot Stamper. Did a lot of research before ordering, understand and fully appreciate what you’re doing, seriously sad to not be keeping it. Pretty obviously you are crazy dedicated to this so wanted to fully explain why. Especially since there’s still good odds I would like to try again.

First let me say it was quite the experience unpacking and seeing a cover still in its original shrink wrap. Probably quite a few would consider that alone worth the price. I never even slipped it out of the excellent plastic sleeve you shipped it in, that’s how much instant respect I have for the unbelievably unlikely existence of this thing. It truly is amazing. I bought it for the music not the cover, but still….

The reason I will be returning this is Side 1. Monday Morning was a disappointment, but I really think we are kind of at the mercy of the master here. Warm Ways is a whole lot better, and yes quite a bit better than my copy, with a fair bit more inner detail and palpable presence but overall not much more than I have got from some good 45 or heavy vinyl pressings.

Just so you know, yes I do follow all your suggestions. Warm up, demagnetize, anti-static, all of that and more. Have a demagnetizer much more effective than the Talisman. Been doing all this stuff over 20 years now. Because I hear and appreciate. Cables elevated off the floor. Every wire from the breaker to the speaker been cryo’d. Yes I pulled the wire out of the house, drove it down to Cryo One, had them do it all.

Part of the problem. I hear how much better Side 1 is, it goes into that frame of reference. For over $300 it needs to be at least as great an improvement over my copy as I can get from warm-up, demagnetize, etc. Its not. Well your rating did say Side 2 was a bit better. Frankly, I think you could stand to correct that. Side 2 is a whole lot better. Right from the first track its just way more lively, present, dynamic, punchy, you name it. Not sure why you say Say You Love Me is “rich and sweet and tubey” probably that is one of the stock phrases you use throughout the site because this track offers, relative to the others on this side, less of this.

Which brings me to Landslide, and World Turning. These two tracks totally deserve all the most glowing Better Records accolades! Simply superb sonics. Better even in some ways than my MoFi 45 of Brothers in Arms. Now this is what I was hoping for! The spellbinding sound of these two tracks is almost enough to make me forget Side 1.

Almost. And its not like the rest of Side 2 is bad. Honestly, when it gets to this level (of pressing quality) you can hear so deeply what’s going on it becomes inescapable we are at a level where we are at the mercy of the mastering engineer. Or if not him then someone even further along up the recording chain. You know what I mean. I know you know what I mean. Because, in reading one of your glowing reviews was the comment, basically, “but get real, its Springsteen.” Because for whatever reason he could never be bothered to turn out a good recording.

So I know. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. It might very well be no copy of Fleetwood Mac ever pressed gonna have a Side 1 that sounds as good all the way across as this Side 2. But I figure if anyone would know that it would be you.

And that’s kind of where I am. The copy I have right now is worth to me only a fraction of the price. If the whole thing sounded like Side 2 though, then I would be a happy camper. The price would still be dear, but worth it. Find me a copy like that, same price, don’t bother posting it, its sold. Or credit this one down a whole lot. I’d prefer the first option. If it even exists.

Sorry for the email. Guy like you I would love to get on the phone. Which with my schedule, no chance until Wed or Thurs, and I didn’t want to wait. But I still would like to talk. You know the records and now you know a little about me. Maybe you can help me find the few select copies I just can’t live without. I got the feeling if anyone can, its you.

Best regards,

Chuck M.

Chuck,

A few quick thoughts:

Since every stereo plays every record differently, it’s hard to know why our copy did not sound as good to you as it did to us. When it comes back I will personally play it against our 3+ ref copy and see how it holds up.

2.5+ means it came in second in the shootout. Maybe it didn’t deserve that grade, I will find out!

The other issue is a much more subtle one. We play all the side ones against all the other side ones, so comparing side one to side two is something we would never do. It’s apples and oranges in a way, many side ones of albums simply do not sound as good as their side twos, and vice versa, and we note that in some of our listings.

We could honestly say that about a great many records if we took the time to do it.

On F Mac’s self-titled album I am not aware that that is the case, but it could be.

We play tracks one and four on side one to test with. They are the hardest tracks to get right in our experience.

Monday Morning has huge amounts of bass and a slightly gritty vocal, so it’s very difficult to get that song to sound right and easy to spot when it does sound right.

Warm Ways is a piece of cake and sounds at the very least “good” most of the time, so it’s not much of a test for us, although richness, intimacy, space and transparency are obviously better on this track on the better copies.

Anyway, I will check it out when it comes back and hopefully get back to you before too long.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Best, TP

Tom,

Had Fleetwood Mac all packed to send back, couldn’t quite do it. Last night I pulled it out for a second listen. This time, instead of going head to head with my other copy I had a more normal listening session of playing increasingly good SQ records. I have a pretty good memory for these things which is probably what was bugging me and keeping me from sending it back. Sure enough, listening again one can clearly hear much deeper into the recording than probably anything else I have. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – The Original Fleetwood Mac

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Reviews and Commentaries for Fleetwood Mac

  • The Original Fleetwood Mac makes it back to the site with incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Both of these sides are KILLER – clean, clear, full-bodied and musical with tons of bottom end weight
  • This album sounds like Fleetwood Mac is playing live in the studio most of the time, and that is a glorious sound
  • 4 stars: “An undeniably strong collection culled primarily from the band’s first incarnation, featuring John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer.”

The music on this album was recorded when they were still a blues band — tracks left off their early albums for one reason or another.

As is so often the case with unreleased material, these songs do not have that overproduced, too-many-generations-of-tape sound. This sounds like Fleetwood Mac live in the studio most of the time. In other words, awesome. If the drum sound on the first track isn’t enough to convince you this is an amazing sounding record, I don’t know what would.

These British imports are the only way to go. The domestic copies are definitely made from dub tapes. They can sound good, but they never sound this good! (more…)

Comparing a Hot Stamper of Rumours to an Original and the Nautilus LP

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Rumours Remastered at 45 RPM

This 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.
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 compressed 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
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Fleetwood Mac – Kiln House

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Reviews and Commentaries for Fleetwood Mac

  • Tubey Magical smooth sound is key to the best copies, and this copy delivers, with the analog richness the music needs
  • Tubey Magical sound is key to the best copies, and this one really delivers, with the analog richness the music needs to work its Buddy Holly magic
  • Three of the best songs Fleetwood Mac ever did are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy
  • Danny Kirwan is brilliant here on this grossly underappreciated album from Fleetwood Mac’s awesome post-Peter Green period
  • Kiln House is the last of the Mac’s grungy guitar-based releases, and more’s the pity
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This is a favorite Fleetwood Mac album of ours here at Better Records and one that’s very hard to find with anything resembling good sound. Grungy guitars and punchy drums in a huge acoustical space. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

This period Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House through Mystery to Me (both are the kind of 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 Kiln House practically all day at some pretty serious levels for our shootout not that long ago, it is a positive THRILL to hear the album sound as good as it does right here. (more…)