It actually was 36 years ago this week that Fleetwood Mac released Rumours. In an era (the 1970s) when the album was king, Rumours was definitely royalty…it has sold over 40 million copies, topped both the US and UK charts, earned a Grammy and spawned four hit singles (Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way, Dreams & You Make Loving Fun). Now comes a hugely-expanded version…six discs in all…to celebrate the 35th (or 36th) anniversary and get a few more copies out into the public.
First of all, kudos to Warner Brothers Records NZ for actually releasing a physical version of this reissue. It’s an expensive package and more times than not these days, the labels simply release a digital version, leaving fans to have to toll the internet for something they can hold in their hands.
Let’s take a look at the “Super-Deluxe Edition”. It consists of the original album, plus the non-LP B-side Silver Springs on CD, a 12-track live CD recorded on the 1977 Rumours World Tour, a DVD containing The Rosebud Film, a 30-minute doco shot in 1977 featuring brief interviews and full-length performances of six songs, two CDs full of alternate takes, demos and studio noodling (one of which was released a few years back when Rumours was previously reissued, and finally (and best of all) a vinyl copy of the original album.
That’s a lot of material to wade through. I went for the vinyl copy first, and it sounded great, just like the original version I already own. In addition to the songs, one of the joys of listening to Rumours is the high quality of the production and recording. The record is still the best way to appreciate that aspect.
The live album also sounds very good and features a few songs from their previous album (Monday Morning, Rhiannon, World Turning) in addition to a healthy dose of Rumours tunes.
The Rosebud Film is a bit short, but entertaining. Mick Fleetwood’s constant mugging for the camera gets a tad tiresome and the whole band looks stoned throughout it, but it’s cool to see them in all their 70s glory.
The alternate takes and demos are good fun for those interested in the creative process. Sure there are a few tracks that simple feature unfinished songs sung slightly out of tune (usually by Lindsay Buckingham), but there are also insights into how this iconic album came together. For instance, The Chain, one of the highlights of the record, is a combination of two songs, one by Stevie Nicks and one by Christine McVie, that eventually were joined tighter in a studio jam. Early versions of both tunes are included here.
For those who were buying records back in 1977, when Rumours first appeared, the over-familiarity with the songs make be a draw-back (these songs were omnipresent on the radio back then), but younger listeners , especially those into contemporary indie rockers like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, will probably hear the Fleetwood Mac influences in their work.
Either way, there’s no doubt that Rumours is one of the great albums and whether you’re an old or young fan, with six discs to explore, there’s something for everyone here.