Rumors entered our vacation musical rotation whenever Dad had run out of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to listen to and over time, it's become one of my favorite albums of all time and Fleetwood Mac has become one of my favorite bands. Point of fact, their live album 'The Dance' (essentially a replay of Rumors plus a few extra tracks) was one of the first cassettes I ever owned. (I got it at the old Sam Goody in Sycamore Mall. How's that for a blast from the past, eastside Iowa Citians?)
But my love of Rumors only grew when I learned of the story behind it- Rumors without a doubt is one of the best break-up albums of all time. In fact, my personal prescription for a bad break-up: several pints of Ben and Jerry's and Rumors on heavy rotation. It'll make you feel better and the ice cream will taste good. (Though if ice cream is too girly for you, try scotch.) At the time, Fleetwood Mac was in complete turmoil: Mick Fleetwood's marriage was imploding, John and Christine McVie had divorced and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham broke up. Yet somehow, they managed to come together to make a truly great album- certainly one of the best-selling albums of the 70s and right up there with the best of all time.
How does this manage to work in the midst of all this personal chaos? Well, when it comes to song-writing and vocal stylings, Fleetwood Mac has a deep bench when it comes to Rumors. Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie all bring their own personal style to songs on the album. Separately, their work can seem a little uneven at times. (Buckingham's especially) But, together, they balance each other out to create a unique sound: harmonies, blended with rock and acoustic sounds- with piano flaring up now and again over the course of the album. These three are the core of the group and it doesn't quite work without all three of them. (One of their more recent albums: 'Say You Will' had most of the classic line-up save Christine McVie- and her absence was obvious.)
Pop culture guru Chuck Klosterman weighed in with the following sentiments:
Pop culture journalist Chuck Klosterman links the record's sales figures to its "really likable songs", but suggests that "no justification for greatness" is intrinsically provided by them
"There was a time when Fleetwood Mac's Rumours was just seen as an album that sold incredibly well; over the past five years, though, it's become more acceptable to classify Rumours as great in and of itself."
Due respect to Klosterman, but I have to take issue with some of his points. Individually, I think the songs are 'really likable'- but together, they do make for a genuinely great album. The three vocalists in the band balance each other out perfectly and the personal turmoil the band was going through at the time makes for some amazing songs. 'Go Your Own Way' and 'Second Hand News' are Lindsey Buckingham's major contributions to the albums- more angry, blunt-- whereas Stevie Nicks hits with 'Dreams' and the brilliant line: 'players only love you/when they're playing.' The band comes together for 'The Chain'- and Christine McVie weighs in with softer, piano driven numbers for 'Songbird' and 'Oh Daddy.'
However, it's not all gloom and doom on Rumors- and probably the most recognizable track on the album to a lot of people is going to be the optimistic, peppy 'Don't Stop' which was used with such sharp political acumen in the 1992 Presidential Campaign by Bill Clinton (and was grossly overplayed at political rallies throughout the 90s as a result.)
OVERALL: perfect for a bad break-up with the addition of scotch and/or ice cream, Rumors is one of those near perfect albums, where the talents of Fleetwood Mac are perfectly balanced to bring out the strengths of the band to produce certainly the greatest album of the 1970s and certainly one of the best of all time.
P.S: What is it with this album and people that grew up in the 70s? It seems, upon further reflection that every true child of the decade of disco, punk and economic hell has this album either on vinyl or CD somewhere buried in their closet.