CALL me retro but I still love records. I have great memories of shopping for vinyl, playing amazing albums, listening to records with friends, trading music and discovering new sounds.
By: Mick Fleetwood
February 23, 2014
Records have always been a huge source of inspiration. To me there is nothing better than looking at the cover artwork, reading the liner notes and taking in the album’s entire experience.
The way they master music today, much of the integrity of the sound – the emotion and subtlety – is lost. Fleetwood Mac records have an organic sound that is more comfortable to the human ear. At least to mine!
I love listening. I am a great listener, although perhaps a few of my exes might not agree! But I repeat, I am a great listener. Being a drummer, I am well trained to listen. I am not playing a melody but listening to see where the beats come in, that is my skill. My hearing is sharp, acute, first rate.
When we were in the last phases of making the Rumours album, it dawned on the band that all that listening, playing, singing and writing, all that heartache and pain, time and poetry, was just sitting there on two reels of tape, totally vulnerable.
We realised that anything could happen to it. Of course, we never had a hard drive to back it up like you do now. It could all have been lost in an instant.
All kinds of what if? paranoia flooded our brains. What if there was an earthquake, a fire? What if a giant magnet came down from outer space and wiped out half of our reel? We made contingency plans and had copies made of the multi-tracks. Those we had locked up in a bank vault in Phoenix just to be safe.
We were like expectant parents with that album. We went so far as to accompany our “baby” to the “delivery room” and watched the first pressing of Rumours at the pressing plant. We stayed for hours, checking and rechecking to make sure the sound had kept its integrity.
We even hired an engineer whose only job was to watch over the quality of our sound. We were that protective.
My ears miss that analogue sound. Most people have no idea that what they are hearing on a daily basis is actually digital sound, or that digital sound has no sound waves, no high fidelity. All that compressing, in my opinion, takes a lot of the traditional dynamics out.
Fleetwood Mac released a full box set of vinyl recently and I know I am not alone in my fanatical audiophile ways. I just picked up a small, portable record player sold by Jack White’s Third Man Records. This record player actually has great sound.
I use it on the road so I can pacify my demanding ears and I have a lot of fun with it. At home I have a Thorens deck to play my beloved vinyl.
Did you know that you can actually play the gold ones, too? This, I discovered, after some hullaballoo in the late Seventies when people were complaining that their Rumours albums were not actually playing the album they had bought but a Frank Sinatra record instead.
I remember popping my gold record out of the frame to see what all the fuss was about. Sure enough, there was old Frankie Boy crooning away and my gold record spinning on the record player. Ironic after all the care we took at the pressing plant! I guess someone on the assembly line had gone to sleep on the job.
Of course Warner Brothers stopped the press but, hands down, I bet that Frank Sinatra/Fleetwood Mac album may be one of the most collectable we put out. Meet our precious baby, Frank. Isn’t he cute?
Mick Fleetwood is a guest Columnist with the Sunday Express. This is his second contribution, his first appeared on February 16th - you can read that column here.