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In Praise of Lindsey Buckingham

Fleetwood Mac Mirage

The entire 50 year history of Fleetwood Mac has essentially been one long soap opera, but the group’s storied history took a surprising turn last week. Long time guitarist Lindsey Buckingham left the group, supposedly for a dispute over set lists, and was replaced by Crowded House‘s Neil Finn and Tom Petty’s long time guitarist Mike Campbell.

While the pair are great musicians in their own right, and are good choices for ring-ins, Lindsey Buckingham is a special talent. For casual fans, Stevie Nicks is the identifiable face of the band since she and Buckingham joined in the mid 1970s, but Buckingham was the band’s architect, whose arranging, production, and guitar skills shaped great albums like Rumours and Tusk. The group foundered after he left, following 1987’s Tango in the Night, and returned to prominence when he returned for 1997’s The Dance. And while Nicks’ solo career has been much more visible, it’s Buckingham’s solo albums I’ve collected, and records like Out of the Cradle, Gift of Screws, and Go Insane are excellent.

In its demo form, Christine McVie’s ‘Hold Me’ is an enjoyable, bluesy workout:

But Buckingham’s studio panache, guitar work, and harmony vocals take the song to the next level, one of the group’s finest pop efforts:

More than 50 years old, Fleetwood Mac are in the victory lap phase of their career, and it seems unlikely that Buckingham will ever return to the fold. But he deserves recognition – he’s clearly the driving force behind their pop phase.

Are you a fan of Buckingham’s work in Fleetwood Mac, or his solo albums?

15 thoughts on “In Praise of Lindsey Buckingham Leave a comment

    • Yeah, Buckingham was gone between 1987 and 1997 as well, and they lost ground during that time. You’re correct that Christine McVie retired for quite a while too. Nicks is probably the most crucial member in terms of ticket sales though.

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  1. The more things change (lineups), the more they stay the same (egos). Fortunately for Buckingham, he doesn’t need a band to perform his solo acoustic version of “Big Love.” I like his solo work that I’ve heard, which isn’t much.

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  2. He’s a major talent for sure, judging by his work with Fleetwood Mac. Literally all I’ve heard of his solo stuff is Trouble, which is a great, quirky song. sparse and confident. I don’t see how anybody can replace him and do his songs, so it’s going to be all McVie and Nicks, which is a different band really. Sounds like the end for them. Too late for a renaissance like they eventually achieved after Peter Green left. Because that was a renaissance of the name, with no attempt to recreate the sound.

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    • I assume Neil Finn is going to front some songs with Fleetwood Mac. Be interesting if he does some of his own stuff, or Buckingham’s stuff. With Campbell there as well, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’.

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  3. I think Lindsey’s great at all those things you said, terrific guitarist. That said, this isn’t the first time the band has had problems with him. I mean, going back to the ’70’s. Bit of a perfectionist prima donna. If you think about it, they’re not really putting much out in the way of new product these days. And if they did, they could probably arrange a lot of stuff and/or hire an arranger. And on the road, they’re likely playing all their old stuff. So they probably did the math and figured it was time to cut the cord.

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    • I heard Nicks isn’t interested in recording new material, and would rather just tour. Buckingham and McVie released an album last year, which was originally planned to be Fleetwood Mac.

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      • That’s true about Buckingham/McVie. Forgot about that. I wouldn’t be surprised if his firing had no effect on their working together. As to Nicks, I saw a Mac documentary a while back. The other guys wanted to make, I think, a double album and she kept saying “No one buys our records any more so why bother?” So she came across as the sensible one, at least in that instance.

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  4. I don’t really know enough about them, but I’ve seen a few folks I know comment on it being a shock. I guess more so given that he appears to be given the elbow over a dispute about setlists!

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    • I agree with 1001 that Rumours and Tusk are the best Buckingham era albums. I’ve always felt like Rumours is their best because all three writers are firing – I find McVie’s stuff on Tusk a little bland, Buckingham’s a little weak on Mirage, and Nicks wasn’t very good on Tango in the Night.

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