When I first heard Fletwood Mac, they were already way past their prime. Their glory years were long gone but it never showed when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham took the stage. Nicks’ voice has remained as sultry and phenomenal as ever and Buckingham’s mellow guitar licks have somehow managed to get cleaner over the years.
The British-American rock band was formed way back in 1967. The band has undergone numerous changes over the years, but most fans identify Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood on the drums, John McVie on bass, Lindsey Buckingham on the guitar and Stevie Nicks on vocals.
There is nothing in the music business that these rock and roll hall of famers have not seen. So, one might think after a 10 year break the band may have finally hung up their boots bringing an end to an illustrious career.
But putting an end to all such speculations, last month, Fleetwood Mac announced Extended Play, a four-song EP of new material — their first since 2003’s Say You Will, which had reached No 6 on the UK album charts, and achieved gold sales.
However, fans must be warned that this album is more a solo project of Lindsey Buckingham than a Fleetwood Mac album, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as most songs play it safe, adhering to the mid-tempo signature rhythms that best define the band’s music.
The lead track, “Sad Angel,” opens with the familiar jangles of “Go Your Own Way” — a momentary callback before we finally hear this new version of Fleetwood Mac. Like many of the group’s greatest songs, “Sad Angel” reflects on Lindsey and Stevie’s complex relationship. The track is a wonderful beginning to the record as “Sad Angel” is perhaps the most Fleetwood Mac-y on the album. It reminds one of the good stuff that the band belted out on record after record during their prime.
The new version of “Without You” is another welcome rendition. It’s an acoustic duet between Buckingham and Nicks — the only real presence she has on Extended Play. The 40-year-old track was most likely penned while they were madly in love with one another. Times have changed and both musicians have matured a great deal over the years but the song would definitely remind the old-timers of a more innocent time. The song was originally meant for a possible second Buckingham-Nicks album, before being dropped.
The following track, “It Takes Time,” is the only forgettable track on the album, but Fleetwood Mac close strong with the power-pop feel of “Miss Fantasy.”
Extended Play is a short tease, but these tracks aren’t throwaways or an attempt at a quick cash-in. Lindsey Buckingham wouldn’t associate with something like that. A known perfectionist, he co-produced the EP alongside Mitchell Froom, and the attention paid to detail shows. The songs don’t deviate far from Fleetwood Mac’s mellow-rock wheelhouse, and why should they? That’s exactly the kind of stuff that fans want from them.
Modern production techniques, which enhance Buckingham’s clean guitar tones and his vocal harmonies with Nicks, however seem too obvious at times.
Extended Play’s fleeting duration might be something fans would complain about. However, for being an out-of-the-blue release, Fleetwood Mac fans should be more than satisfied.
Abhinav Kaul and Ranaditya Baruah / Financial Chronicle (New Delhi, India) / Thursday, June 6, 2013