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Fleetwood Mac duo goes its own way with album, tour
When Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie returned to making music together in 2014, for the first time in 27 years, it was thought to be for Fleetwood Mac.
But, as it turns out, the two decided to go their own way.
On June 9 they released an album simply titled “Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie,” a 10-song set featuring material from those sessions. With Mick Fleetwood playing drums and McVie’s ex-husband John McVie on bass, it certainly has the flavor of Fleetwood Mac’s music of the ’70s and ’80s, but without fifth member Stevie Nicks on board it also sounds distinctive.
“We were really only going in to have a bit of fun and cut some of my songs, as I’d just re-entered Fleetwood Mac,” McVie, 73, says of the sessions at Los Angeles’ Village Recorders. She spoke by phone from her home in Malibu.
Fleetwood Mac was, in fact, about to begin rehearsals for a tour — McVie’s first with the group since she “retired” in 1998, and, she recalls, “I’d sent Lindsey these songs and he did his kind of arrangement thing and he played them to me at his house. And then he said, ‘You know, why don’t we go in and have some fun and cut some tracks?’ So that’s what we did.”
Buckingham, 67, adds by phone that, “I don’t think we really knew what it was going to be at that time, and I don’t think we cared. I think the gesture, the impulse, was more to welcome (McVie) back into the band. It was more just giving her a complete reorientation into our world as much as possible. We didn’t say, ‘Oh, we’re making a duet album.’ We weren’t going in and saying it was any particular thing.”
It was more than just new McVie material the troupe worked on. Buckingham had done some recording a year prior with Fleetwood and John McVie, along with producer Mitchell Froom, and he brought those songs into the sessions for McVie to make a contribution. They wound up writing three new songs together including the gritty “Too Far Gone,” which is reminiscent of “World Turning” from 1975’s “Fleetwood Mac” album, Buckingham and then-girlfriend Nicks’ first with the band.
“I think we were just bulldozing our way through the songs that we had,” McVie recalls. “I suppose it would’ve had to cross my mind at some point that it seems bizarre that Stevie’s not on it, because the rest of the band are on it. But we decided that we wanted to pursue a duet project.”
Buckingham and McVie’s creative relationship dates back to that 1975 album, when Buckingham established himself as a creative force as a writer and performer and also as an arranger. Writing “World Turning” began a fruitful relationship entirely different from Buckingham’s with Nicks, and one that extended to intensive contributions even on McVie songs that were not traditional co-writes.
“It’s a chemistry thing that I can’t really analyze,” Buckingham explains. “I remember being in rehearsals with Christine and the rest of the band before we cut that first album ... and it was so clear right away that she and I had this thing. Probably the first thing that hit me about being in Fleetwood Mac was being extremely aware that I had something to contribute to Christine’s songs. She was open to me taking liberties with her songs and has been ever since.”
Fleetwood recalls that process became evident to both him and John McVie while they were recording in 2014.
“I’m really happy for Lindsey because this is what he most likes to do, putting something together,” the drummer explains. “This relationship is a real expression of a musical powerhouse that’s come to the fore, and we’re all happy about that. And (the music) is really cool.”
For her part, McVie is confident the album shows how little has changed in their creative dynamic.
“I think the songs are kind of familiar even though you haven’t heard them before,” she says. “You’ve heard his and my collaborations throughout the history of the band. This is more of it.”
Turning the new batch of songs into a duo project meant navigating a bit of a political minefield, however.
“Probably in the back of Mick’s mind he was hoping that it would be something different than it ended up being,” Buckingham acknowledges, meaning a Fleetwood Mac album. “I suppose there was a point where Mick or someone had to at least do the due diligence with Stevie about what her plans were for a period of time.” As it turned out, Nicks wanted to continue focusing on her solo career and ongoing concert tour, which gave Buckingham and McVie the opportunity to release their album and tour to support it.
The shows are based on the duo’s album, but they’re also “throwing in some Fleetwood Mac and other things as well, and hopefully it adds up to something,” Buckingham says. Meanwhile he and McVie are preparing for Fleetwood Mac’s two July concerts as part of The Classic festival weekends in Los Angeles and New York, which the group is co-headlining with the Eagles. It will be Fleetwood Mac’s first shows together since November 2015, and all concerned hope they’ll make clear that the group is, in Fleetwood’s words, “alive and well,” with designs to reconvene in 2018.
“We’re just going to go in and close our eyes and have fun — that’s all I can say about it,” says Buckingham, who’s also working on a solo album for early 2018 release. “It’s sort of a spectacle. You can’t really worry about the aesthetics or anything. You just have to have fun with it, and hopefully that’s what we’ll do.” Meanwhile, he intends to give the project with McVie its due, maybe adding more shows before the year is out.
“We’ll see if it takes on a life,” Buckingham says. “We certainly could end up doing another leg. There was some talk about going to Europe. Again, in the same way the albums started off as sort of a lark, we don’t have any agenda for any scenario here. I’m just thinking the shows are going to be fun no matter what we do, and we’ll see where it goes.
“We’re just enjoying each other’s company and enjoying revisiting our dynamic. I just think it’s such a surprisingly positive thing, this whole project coming together and the way that it did, and how it turned out. So I’m just happy with whatever happens.”
• If You Go: Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie perform at 7:30 p.m. July 2, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $29.50-$125. Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.
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