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Christine McVie Christine McVie (1984)

A fatigued McVie is still in fine voice

A nonstop tour schedule of one-night stands since April 15 has left singer-songwriter Christine McVie more than a mite weary. Her lack of energy was evident in concert Thursday night at Sunrise Musical Theatre, and was the only deterrent to an otherwise fine performance.

McVie was in good voice, right on the mark with her distinctive smoky, sleepy, blues singing style. She was backed by an excellent five-piece band, most of whose members also accompanied her on her recently released solo album, titled Christine McVie. Her repertoire was a well-chosen selection of her solo songs, as well as those she has recorded in her 13-year career with Fleetwood Mac.

McVie’s reputation as a laid-back performer seems to have preceded her throughout her first tour apart from the legendary band. Sunrise Theatre was less than half full, as has been the case at many of McVie’s other stops. This was unfortunate, not only for McVie and band, but also for those who missed the show, an enjoyable and musically proficient package of ballads, rockabilly and basic rock ‘n’ roll.

McVie is more than aware that the tour hasn’t been a big draw.

“Being on solo tour is less and more than I expected,” she said after the show. “Actually, I expected more people, but I’m happy with the response from the people that did come out.”

Those who did made up for their small numbers with a warm reception, which became warmer and louder as McVie seemed to pick up on their positive vibes and opened up, if just a little.

Accompanying herself on electric and acoustic piano, McVie sang most of the songs from the Christine McVie album, including its two singles — “Got a Hold on Me,” which became a hit soon after its release, and “Love Will Show Us How,” now rising on the charts. Also memorable were her album cuts “Ask Anybody,” a haunting ballad that clearly displays the soulful emotion of McVie’s voice, and “So Excited,” a rollicking rockabilly-style number.

For the most part, the songs from McVie’s solo album sounded better than the Fleetwood Mac hits she sang — “Hold Me,” “Over My Head,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Don’t Stop.” “Don’t Stop,” especially, sounded rather empty without Stevie Nicks’ high accompanying vocals.

McVie’s back-up band nearly made up for her subdued manner with an energetic, rhythmic performance. Lead guitarist Todd Sharp (especially notable for some hot breaks), guitarist Steve Bruton, bassist George Hawkins, drummer Steve Ferrone and keyboardist Eddy Quintela formed a tight, balanced unit. When the three guitarists performed without McVie on Guitar Bug, a bouncy rocker a la Chuck Berry, the audience responded almost as enthusiastically as it did at McVie’s encore.

McVie, who said she plans to record another solo album after helping Fleetwood Mac complete its new LP, looked smashingly British in red suede boots, a black and white leopard-spotted blouse, black vest and jeans.

Opening the show for McVie was the Baxter Robertson Band, a five-piece Los Angeles-based rock group with a good beat, some promising songs, and a hard-working lead singer-guitarist- saxophone player.

Linda R. Thornton / Miami Herald (FL) / June 2, 1984

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Christine McVie Christine McVie (1984)

Fleeing the Mac, Christine McVie goes solo

It has certainly become fashionable for members of a superstar band to break out with their own solo LPs.

Fleetwood Mac is a case in point. Side projects have made a solo star of the group’s resident mystic dreamer Stevie Nicks, and won critical renown for the rock eccentricities of Lindsey Buckingham. Mick Fleetwood has jumped at exotic African recording opportunities (for The Visitor) and hit the road with Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo. Unfortunately, Mick also has found himself recently in the bankruptcy courts.

Pianist/vocalist/songwriter Christine McVie, the 40-year-old earth mother of Fleetwood Mac, is a latecomer to the solo LP arena. Now, she’s making up for lost time with an absolutely delicious Warner Brothers release of romantic rock shufflers (Christine McVie), and a tour bringing her to the Tower Theater tomorrow.

Self-doubts, she says, have held her back from solo-land ever since 1968, when last this native Britisher headlined an LP as Christine Perfect, then stepping out from her blues cocoon Chicken Shack.

“People have constantly been saying, ‘When is Christine going to do her album, when, when, when?’,” she says. “But I wasn’t ready when everybody else was doing it. I didn’t want that kind of pressure or responsibility. Also, I’m always insecure about material.”

This, you gotta understand, is coming from the woman who has contributed the likes of “Show Me a Smile,” “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” “You Make Lovin’ Fun,” “Think About Me,” “Hold Me” and “Love In Store” to the big Mac. However, producing three songs for a group project, knowing that your work will be balanced out by two or three other composers, isn’t nearly as difficult as doing it all yourself, she suggests. “I tend to get bored by solo artists.”

So McVie’s LP, carefully planned out in California (a switch from FM’s painful “wing it-in-the-studio” approach) and then recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, and London, is also a collaborative effort. It’s designed, she says to “protect my own interests.” Guitarist Todd Sharp, whom she met when he was playing with former Mac member Bob Welch, co-authored five songs with Christine. Alone or with other writers, Sharp also takes credit for three of the remaining five tracks. “Ask Anybody” is a McVie-Stevie Winwood collaboration. Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham make instrumental contributions.

“Got a Hold On Me” has gotten the most radio play, to date. Now a very funny video for “Love Will Show Us How,” featuring Paul “Eating Raoul” Bartel as a symbolism-crazed director, is boosting the cause of that song.

The LP’s sound is comfortingly familiar to Mac fans, though a bit happier, overall, than one might have suspected from the often bittersweet McVie. ”There was no particular thing I aimed at. I do have a personal love for close harmonies and guitars. And I do think I might have backtracked toward a blues flavor that’s been missing from recent songs with the band.”

Yes, Virginia, there is still a Fleetwood Mac. The two once-married, now divorced couples in the band (Christine and John McVie, Nicks and Buckingham) are getting on quite amiably, claims McVie (which may explain why recent group albums have lacked the bitter sting of their soap-opera-on-vinyl Rumours.) Another FM group recording project, she says, is scheduled for the fall.

Jonathan Takiff / Philadelphia Daily News / May 18, 1984

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Christine McVie Christine McVie (1984)

Mac’s First Songstress goes her own way

Christine McVie’s current solo album and cheery single, “Got a Hold on Me,” are being hailed as her first work apart from Fleetwood Mac.

But the 40-year -old singer and songwriter, who appears in concert here Saturday, also had a solo effort in 1969 that was well-regarded but which she’d rather forget.

“The Christine Perfect Album” might have sounded too boastful at the time, but Perfect was her maiden name.

Miss Perfect was born in Birmingham, England, to a musical family.

Her grandfather once played organ in Westminster Abbey. Her father began a musical career, switched in order to support the family, but eventually earned his teaching degree and became professor of music at the local university, where he still plays violin with a local ensemble.

Piano Lessons

Young Christine, meanwhile, got her piano lessons.

“I absolutely hated it,” she said. “And my parents eventually let me stop.”

She pursued art instruction, returning to the piano years later when she became interested in classical music. It wasn’t until her older brother John introduced her to some Fats Domino records.

She hung around the burgeoning British folk and blues scene, sang with Spencer Davis for a time and eventually joined some friends in a blues band that became known as Chicken Shack.

Around the same time, she married John McVie, a bassist for another struggling young British band, Fleetwood Mac, and was about to quit Chicken Shack for the married life.

“I was quite happy being a housewife,” she said. “But I had sung a soul ballad on my last album with Chicken Shack, and a British music paper gave me an award for it top female vocalist of the year.”

Managers at the time urged her to capitalize on the honor. So the Christine Perfect album was issued. It was well – received at the time but hardly a hit.

It probably sold more copies when it was reissued in 1977 to cash in on her mega – success as part of Fleetwood Mac.

Didn’t Mean It

“I really didn’t intend to launch that first, disastrous solo career,” she said recently. “I did around 10 shows in pubs and other small venues. Not many other women were doing this sort of underground club circuit in the late ’60s.

“And I was very immature emotionally; I wasn’t at all ready for it. I wanted to be with John. Then there were some personnel changes in Fleetwood Mac. I played keyboards on an album of theirs and then was asked to join the band.”

Her first appearance on a Fleetwood Mac album came, uncredited, in 1969 with Then Play On. On 1970’s Kiln House she took a larger role, providing vocals, keyboards and another talent she painted the album cover.

Fleetwood Mac had formed as a blues band in 1967, but had been changing since the departure of founder Peter Green.

As an official member of the band in 1971, Miss McVie also began to write songs for the first time. They were light, frothy love songs that began with “Show Me a Smile” on the Future Games album and extended into some of the band’s biggest hits in 1976: “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me.”

By that time, Fleetwood Mac reached a favorable mix with two Los Angeles singer – songwriters named Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and the first album under the new lineup, titled simply Fleetwood Mac, sold 4 million copies.

Rocky Romances

The success put a strain on relationships in the band and in 1976, the McVies split. Buckingham and Miss Nicks also ended their romance.

It all provided great material for music, though, and the next album, Rumours, sold more than 15 million copies.

In the past few years, drummer Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Miss Nicks have turned out solo albums, but this is the first for Miss McVie since the success of Fleetwood Mac. She thinks it will help the band.

“Fleetwood Mac has a reputation for taking a long time. It’s tough with five people with relatively big egos because there’s an almost constant changing of minds.”

Her album, she said, “went so smoothly because everybody was prepared and knew what they were supposed to do. I think we should make demos of the songs just before the album is due to commence. It really makes life a lot easier. I never want to spend a year in the studio again to make one record, that’s for sure.”

The touring band includes Todd Sharp on guitar, Steve Ferrone on drums and George Hawkins on bass all of whom also appear on the album along with Eddy Wuintela on additional keyboards and Stephen Bruton on rhythm guitar.

She connected with Sharp and Hawkins after they backed Fleetwood on his two solo efforts. Guest stars on the record, recorded last year in Montreux, Switzerland, include Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood as well as Mick Fleetwood and Buckingham.

The most recent of Fleetwood Mac’s appearances in the state was in October 1982 at Lincoln’s Bob Devaney Sports Center.

By comparison, the City Auditorium Music Hall will be a much more intimate setting to hear the songs by Miss McVie. Opening the show is Baxter Robinson.

Tickets for Saturday’s Christine McVie concert at the Auditorium Music Hall are $12.75 and are available at the Auditorium box office, Brandeis, Pickles, TIX and Uncle John’s in Sioux City.

Roger Catlin / Omaha World-Herald (NE) / April 22, 1984

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Christine McVie Christine McVie (1984)

McVie juggles old, new at Fox

In Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie appears as the stable Earth-bound performer balanced against Stevie Nicks’ wild flights of fancy and unfocused demeanor. The rock vs. the roll.

McVie’s balancing number is more than just an act. She is a solid performer on her own as well, as her quiet take-control attitude indicated last night at the Fox Theater.

The sparse, sedate crowd seemed to have the same quiet respect for McVie’s work as did the performer herself. The applause was frequent but controlled, and when McVie performed some of her early ’70s music, the loyal fans sighed in remembrance.

“Say You Love Me” opened the set without much fanfare. McVie played keyboards and other than a few hellos and intros to the songs was silent and determined as she switched from old tunes to songs from her latest album.

Fleetwood Mac brought her to prominence and McVie was wise enough to know the crowd wanted to hear the Mac hits. Once the audience became receptive she launched into some of the songs off her solo album.

The Christine McVie album has the talents of Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood contributing vocals and instruments.

“Ask Anybody,” co-written with Winwood, was well-received as was the slightly countrified “So Excited.” Both songs were flavored a little differently than the standard McVie love ballads.

It is the sameness of her songs that is McVie’s short suit. Almost all the tunes are about love — happy love — and most have the familiar Mick Fleetwood drum emphasis.

Steve Ferrone plays drums on her album and on tour. The surprising difference is that on the album the beat becomes monotonous. Last night, his drumming gave a tougher rock sound to many of McVie’s numbers.

Guitarist Todd Sharp was a vital toehold for McVie, saving many numbers from degenerating into bland white-bread rock ‘n’ roll.

Sharp co-wrote several songs on the Christine McVie album and his guitar playing adds a much-needed bite to the music.

This was not a hard-rocking type of concert, yet McVie conveys a tougher image than her soft ballads would suggest. One of her classics, “Spare Me A Little,” proved a powerfully tight song that received spontaneous applause.

However, a new, mellow love tune, “Your Smile is All I Live For,” fell flat. Even Sharp’s guitar bridge on this song was trite and one-dimensional.

Though McVie’s writing tends to fall into the top-40 genre, she brings a living fire and zest to her performance that is missing from her albums.

Ehrenfeld is a free-lance writer.

Marlee J. Ehrenfeld / San Diego Union-Tribune (CA) / April 17, 1984

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Christine McVie Christine McVie (1984)

McVie is at top of list of new British rock stars

Rating system: A record with a rating of 1 is worthless; 10 is exceptional.

Christine McVie (Warner Bros.) -When you talk about second-wave British blues musicians, you think of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck, perhaps Rod Stewart and maybe even Peter Frampton. Nobody thinks to include Christine McVie in this company, but she belongs there.

Her first solo album, recorded in the late 1960s under the name Christine Perfect, demonstrated a raw blues sensibility and a thick, expressive voice. After almost 15 years with Fleetwood

Mac, she has recorded her second solo album, and it proves that her musicianship only deepened during that time.

If the public has not been able to appreciate McVie next to her more flamboyant teammates — namely Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham — her peers know what she can do. Clapton and Winwood both contribute to this album, as do Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood.

McVie hardly needed their help, however. The songs are every bit as catchy as anything Fleetwood Mac has recorded, and McVie’s faithful, romantic moods aren’t constantly interrupted. There’s no one else for her to share time with here except collaborator Tood Sharp, who seems to share McVie’s sturdy songwriting style.

Nicks is like the prettiest girl in school, while McVie is the smartest. Nicks never had to develop her other abilities, and it shows as she ages. McVie, on the other hand, did her homework, and now she’s having all the fun. Rating: 9.

Rick Shefchik / Lexington Herald-Leader via Knight-Ridder News Service / February 26, 1984