Monday, June 19, 2017

CD Review Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie "A worthwhile exercise"

Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie
Drowned in Sound
by Joe Goggins

There’s a couple of possibilities in play when it comes to the title of this collaborative LP from Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. One is that they’re especially paranoid about the possibility of falling foul of the Trade Descriptions Act, and feared that a simple Buckingham-McVie moniker might have had fans storming record shops in their droves and demanding refunds after discovering that this isn’t, in fact, some kind of creative partnership between the House of Windsor and Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie, who by all accounts would rather be pursuing his love of sailing these days than touring the world in a famously tortured rock and roll band. The other line of reasoning, of course, is that comparisons with the highly-charged Buckingham-Nicks label would’ve been uncomfortable at best and an outright distraction at worst.

It’s exactly that line of thinking, though, that brings you to wonder what it is that Buckingham and McVie were looking to get out of this joint effort; after all, the former has always quietly served as his band’s musical director and the latter was, until recently, entirely off the radar, having effectively spent the best part of two decades as a recluse in the English countryside before finally rejoining Fleetwood Mac on the road. That said, the idea that their partnership was somehow less worthy of attention than that between Buckingham and Nicks is daft; after all, the last truly classic album that the band turned out, Tango in the Night, was built primarily around their songs, with McVie - who, of course, was a part of the setup before Buckingham - laying claim to the classics ‘Little Lies’ and ‘Everywhere’.

It’s worth mentioning that McVie’s ex-husband and Mick Fleetwood both chip in on this album, meaning it’s only a Nicks guest turn away from basically serving as the first new full-length from the group since 2003’s tepid Say You Will. Perhaps that’s the best prism through which to view it, especially given that the last recorded output we got from them as a whole was Extended Play in 2013, prior to McVie rejoining. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely rubbish. It also felt really regressive, a cynical jab at recapturing some idealised Fleetwood Mac sound, when of course that in its genuine form relies on a cornucopia of different ideas from different songwriters.

Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie comes quite close to it. Both sound pretty free; there’s plenty of experimentation, which is ultimately for both better and worse. ‘Feel About You’ is slight and would barely be there without the peculiar, Grease-esque backing vocals, and yet it’s an earworm. ‘In My World’ is the opposite, thickly layered and constantly shifting shape - it’s deliberate and considered, with the midsection recalling ‘Big Love’ with the vocal back-and-forth.

There’s inevitably missteps. ‘Too Far Gone’ goes all-out in its pursuit of disco and falls short on pretty much every front; the guitars have a weird, off-putting buzz to them, and both vocalists sound achingly uncomfortable, to the point that it’s astonishing that they listened back to it and were happy to put it on the record. Additionally, ‘On with the Show’ is a mid-tempo plodder that might conceivably have been intended for Fleetwood Mac, given that’s what their last world tour was called - it certainly wears the lethargy of Extended Play.

Flashes of vintage Mac remain, though, from both Buckingham and McVie. The latter takes the lead on what might be the standout, the gorgeous ‘Red Sun’, whilst ‘Lay Down for Free’ has Lindsey pulling that strange trick of sounding laid-back but emanating urgency on what should otherwise be a breezy, country-flecked rocker; it’s proof that all of his songwriting faculties are still intact. The fascinating thing is the overall sound of Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie and its production; it’s intriguingly low-key, especially given Buckingham’s appetite for lush textures in recent years. Accordingly, the album falls somewhere between curio and convincing; there’s enough here to hold the attention of the casual Mac fan, however fleetingly, but diehards should find a bit more to dig into in the brighter moments. A worthwhile exercise.


Baruch said...

I've listened to the CD through a few times now, and it sounds like Fleetwood Mac. It's well recorded, the two songwriters both offer up material that is worthy of them, and the musicianship is Fleetwood Mac. That rhythm section never fails to provide a solid foundation, John and Mick. Christine's voice is not what it once was but clearly she worked hard to strengthen it out for these recordings. Lindsey is Lindsey...guitar god, artist, only warmer as he's gotten older. One can hear where Stevie's harmonies would be if she were present, and honestly, her harmonies and a few new songs would round the whole thing out, but it's quite good nonetheless. It's the last Fleetwood Mac album.

One thing to this reviewer; Say You Will, tepid? There are some really great tracks that I wish they'd add to their live shows instead of just doing the same hits again and again. Thrown Down, Come, Destiny Rules, Miranda...not tepid.

As for the politics within the band which limit the live playlist and album possibilities/personnel...not meaning to be punny but...Oh Well.

Brian said...

love red sun, loving lots of tracks. Lindsey does not get enough credit for his producing the man is a genesis really. the guy is also a great guitarist too.

Anonymous said...

Christine also had her hands in this. I think it's safe to say that Lindsey Buckingham hardly allows anyone to work on his songs period. but Christine took over Red Sun when it was just a unfinished piece of drivel, and she completely wrote lyrics over it, changed chord structures, and made it into what it is. she also took too far gone which wasn't even a song it was Lindsay coming into the studio and playing that riff he plays in the beginning of the song and she asked him what is that and he said oh nothing, and she said can you get that recorded and can I take that with me? and so she built the whole song around that Rift and so she has made her mark on it as well and I think they work very closely together when they produce. when you're in the studio you have to agree with someone before they can go ahead with the production, if they don't agree with your work they're not going to let you do that on their song. I like every song on the record and I think that it should be commended.I know of there's a lot of interviewers who say many things and they are mostly 20-30 somethings, who barely know what they're talking most interviews don't know what they're talking about. The one thing missing of course is Stevie Nicks voice in a song or three, and that's a shame of course, and as the only instrument she ever did play on any Fleetwood Mac record was her voice, the record still sounds like Fleetwood Mac. And some of Christine's writing on one song or two has a hint of her bare trees days I think. Carnival begin is an absolute treasure.

Anonymous said...

Too Far Gone - disco?
Either this writer didn't listen to the song or he knows nothing about music.
Too Far Gone is the same kind of blues that you'll find on any of Bonnie Raitt's albums. Not sure where he's hearing the disco. Who still uses the word disco anyway?

Joost van Gijzen said...

Too Far Gone - isn't that the 'Shuffle Riff' from the Gift Of Screws sessions? A great riff turned into a terrible song here.

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