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Fleetwood is glue that draws band together


By Alan Sculley
Special to The Detroit News
Sunday, June 6, 2003

It’s never been a secret to those familiar with Fleetwood Mac that drummer and founding member Mick Fleetwood has been the antidote that has kept the band alive through its many breakups, reformations, reinventions and soap opera type dramas.

Fleetwood played a key role in salvaging a world tour that would support the album “Tango in the Night” by recruiting guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito when guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham abruptly left the group in 1987.

It was Fleetwood, who after that lineup splintered, brought together guitarist Dave Mason and singer Bekka Bramlett to join returning members Burnette, Christine McVie (keyboards/vocals) and John McVie (bassist) in a mid-1990s release of “Time,” one largely overlooked album, before the group fell apart again.

So when Buckingham invited Fleetwood to play drums on his in-progress solo album in 1995, Fleetwood says he knew he would be accused of trying to engineer a reunion of the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup, which consisted of himself, Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, John and Christine McVie. But that was OK with Fleetwood.

He said he told Buckingham “I’m here because I really want to do this with you,” Fleetwood says, recalling his conversation. “I also need you to know that I would love to see Fleetwood Mac get back together, but really that’s at your discretion. And let’s see how this goes. ”

The reunion took place in 1997 with the recording of a live CD, “The Dance” (supplemented by a handful of new studio tracks) and a tour which followed that fall.

Eventually, Buckingham decided to use the songs intended for his solo CD as the foundation for the new Fleetwood Mac CD, “Say You Will,” an 18-song collection that also features nine songs that Nicks wrote or co-wrote.

While the reunion seemed complete, Christine McVie, who wrote some of Fleetwood Mac’s most memorable ballads and mid-tempo pop tunes (including “You Make Loving Fun” and “Say You Love Me”), bowed out after “The Dance” tour.

Fleetwood says McVie’s absence helped bring a bit harder edge and rougher sheen to the group’s sound on “Say You Will.”

But the CD is mostly classic Fleetwood Mac with easy-going tunes, such as Buckingham’s “What’s The World Coming To,” “Peacekeeper” and Nicks’ “Throwdown” and “Say You Will,” that fit the band’s familiar signature smooth pop sound.

Fleetwood said the personal lives of the band members are in an unusually good place.

The band’s lives and its livelihood were filled with drama when Buckingham and Nicks ended a long romance and Christine and John McVie divorced prior to the landmark 1977 album “Rumours.”

That has Fleetwood optimistic that “Say You Will” will lead to more recordings and touring.

“We are actually at least looking forward to a future, which is sort of an interesting equation,” he remarks with a laugh.

”Something,” he says, ”the band normally doesn’t do.”



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