By ADRIAN THRILLS
When they open their Unleashed tour in Glasgow next Thursday, Fleetwood Mac will be putting the emphasis on a set of superb tunes that have truly stood the test of time.
Drawing heavily on 1977's Rumours, a record that has sold more than 40 million copies around the world, the Anglo-American rockers will surely delight thousands as they breathe fresh life into standards like Go Your Own Way and Dreams.
But that will be only part of the story.
With a career riddled by cocaine-addled excess and the pitfalls of superstardom, Fleetwood Mac have often resembled a celebrity soap opera. Their biggest hits pulled few punches in laying bare their tangled love lives.
Even now, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham regularly peppers the group's stage show with wry asides about their 'fairly convoluted emotional history' - a contender for understatement of the century.
And singer Stevie Nicks, Buckingham's former lover, agrees that their turbulent past can only add to the intrigue as Mac get ready to roll back the years once more.
'If you think you know the truth about this band, you can think again,' says Nicks, 61. 'Other than the people involved, nobody knows what really went on.
'One day, when I'm an old lady, I'm going to tell the whole tale and people will be amazed. The truth will blow your mind.
'The story is deep, dark and heavy. But it's also beautiful, sexy and more romantic than you could ever imagine. Now's not the time, though. You'll have to wait ten years for that one.'
Despite her reticence to reveal all, Nicks is refreshingly chatty and candid as she looks forward to the iconic band's latest get together. She is keen, too, to dispel a few of the myths that have built up around Rumours, an LP that topped the U.S. chart for seven months.
As the year-long album sessions got underway in 1976, she and Buckingham were breaking up, while the marriage of keyboardist Christine and bassist John McVie was also on the rocks.
Meanwhile, drummer Mick Fleetwood (who went on to have a twoyear affair with Nicks) was in the throes of a divorce from his first wife, Jenny Boyd. Are you keeping up at the back?
For all the turmoil and paranoia, though, the band were not constantly at each other's throats in the studio. 'The reality of Rumours was different to the mythology,' says Stevie.
'Of course, there were days when none of us were speaking to each other. There were angry moments and sarcastic ones, too, but it wasn't always like that. If we came up with a great piece of music, we'd all be friends.'
Rather than fight openly, the warring band washed their dirty linen in song. Buckingham's Go Your Own Way was a bitter parting shot at Nicks, who responded with the more philosophical Dreams.
Christine McVie then took aim at erstwhile hubby John with Don't Stop, prompting the aggrieved bassist to suggest that the album they were making should be called Rumours because they were all writing songs about one another without actually admitting it.
Stevie continues: 'I remember the night I wrote Dreams. I walked in and handed a cassette of the song to Lindsey. It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled.
'What was going on between us was sad. We were couples who couldn't make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other - and we got some brilliant songs out of it.'
The current incarnation of Fleetwood Mac - which features Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood and John McVie - is, according to Stevie, 'very different' from the band of the late Seventies.
With drugs no longer part of the equation, the group are considerably more stable off stage, though Christine McVie, who announced her sudden departure after the group had played at the Grammy Awards in 1998, is sorely missed.
'Christine had been having panic attacks before gigs and was developing a fear of flying, but she kept everything bottled up inside,' Stevie says. 'Then, on the night of the Grammys, she told me she simply couldn't go on any more.
'When you love someone as much as I love Christine, you know instantly when they are serious. Her big green eyes filled with tears as she spoke, and I started welling up, too.
'I told her she needed to go home immediately, and she did. She flew home to England and she hasn't been back to the States since.
'Without Christine, the band is more of a boys' club. When there were two women, we had a certain feminine power. Christine was brilliant at standing up to the boys - she'd march across the floor and tell them when she was unhappy with their playing.
'I'm more of a mediator. I'll sometimes go along with things to keep the peace. But I still think we're a great group. I'm proud to walk out every night and sing those songs.'Having moved to LA from Arizona as a schoolgirl, Nicks joined the band with Buckingham at the start of 1975.
The couple had been bit-part players on the vibrant West Coast rock scene, and their inspired songwriting added a radio-friendly Californian sheen to an outfit whose roots lay in the British blues boom.
Stevie's mystical image - billowing skirts, riding jackets, suede platform boots and a Victorian top hat - gave the band an exciting visual dimension. This 'uniform', she explains, was inspired by her teenage years as a Californian hippy chick.
'Before we joined Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey and I played gigs all along the West Coast,' she says.
'On our first tour, I wore my street clothes and it was a nightmare. Then, one day in Santa Monica, I saw this beautiful girl in a flowing pink outfit and high suede boots. Apart from the pink, I knew I wanted to look exactly like her. So I turned myself into this little Dickensian wharf rat in a raggedy skirt.
'I later found a top hat in an antiques store in Buffalo. And that was my uniform - the jacket, skirt, boots and hat. The hat changed everything.'
That trademark costume will, of course, be dusted down before next week's first night in Scotland.
But beyond the current tour, Nicks is uncertain as to what the future holds for the band. She also has a thriving solo career and a recent DVD, Live In Chicago, featured an elaborately staged gig from her last U.S. tour.
Despite her solo plans, though, she refuses to rule out the prospect of another Mac studio album.
'When we're on the road, we barely have time to go and have a meal, let alone write new material,' she says. 'But in January we'll have a meeting and decide what to do.
'Fleetwood Mac still presents some amazing opportunities. Thirty years ago, we were all so self-absorbed that we couldn't see out of our own corner. Things are a lot more fun now.'
• The Unleashed Tour opens at the SECC in Glasgow on Thursday. The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac is out on Rhino on Monday.