Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two Discs Of Rumours Does Nothing To Undermine Its Perfection!

The Good: A perfect album with great b-side material.
The Bad: None.
The Basics: Fleetwood Mac's timeless rock album Rumours is enhanced by a two-disc version which includes rough cuts, jam sessions and b-sides as well as the classic album!

I cannot imagine there will ever come a time when I might feel like I am anything but the luckiest person on the planet when it comes to a couple. As the holiday season approached a few years back, my wife started to go through things like my Wish List online to figure out just what incredible things she could gift for me that I had not told her about. After months of her being frustrated with how nebulous I was about what I wanted for the holidays, she found just what I wanted. And while I had already reviewed (and loved) Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (reviewed here!), she found what I truly wanted: the two disc version!

The two-disc version of Rumours contains the original c.d. version of Rumours along with a bonus disc of musical content. It is important to note that the original c.d. version (the one I've already reviewed) differs from the old record and cassette of Rumours through its inclusion of "Silver Springs." "Silver Springs" was written and recorded at the time Rumours was produced, but space limitations of the medium did not allow it to be put on the record. With compact disc, Fleetwood Mac made their definitive cut. Now, with the two-disc version of Rumours, fans and listeners have an "ultimate" edition. The first disc is the twelve-track c.d. version of Rumours.

The second disc, however, is an eighteen song treasure trove of outtakes, rough cuts and emo versions of most of the songs on Rumours, as well as song by the band that were being recorded right around the same time. All of the tracks were written by members of the band and the second disc used the medium fairly well as the eighteen musical presentations (some are minute-long jams or instrumental versions of Rumours songs) occupy 61:58 of the disc's capacity. The first ten songs on the album are simply demo versions of ten of the Rumours songs (all but “The Chain” and “I Don't Want To Know”). The music has a generally similar sound to the finished products, though instrumental accompaniment on songs like “Second Hand News” and “Dreams” seems more pronounced. Through the production of the song, the vocals became more balanced in both songs and the rough cut of the songs makes that very clear on this disc.

The overall feel of the album is one of listening to acoustic rock, which is appropriate because there is minimal production on both the instruments and vocals on the bonus album of Rumours. The members of the band play their own instruments and sing their own lines, but the rock and roll edge of the album is definitely muted, save in the drumming of Mick Fleetwood. The instrumental performance that defines “Brushes (Never Going Back Again)” is surprisingly engaging for hearing the song without the lyrics. The band's rough version of the song does not – as one might fear – sound like an elevator music version of the track, but rather like a more moody, contemplative version of the familiar song. Conversely, the rough cut of “You Make Loving Fun” seems slightly less energetic than the final version.

As for the other tracks on the album, the demo (with lyrics) of “Never Going Back Again” is included, as is one for “Gold Dust Woman.” The three versions on the two discs only sound moderately different from one another. As well, “Mic The Screecher” and “For Duster (The Blues)” are just instrumental tracks which have Mick Fleetwood or everyone but Stevie Nicks (who only provided vocals to the sound of the band at the time) playing instruments and jamming along. “Think About It,” “Planets Of The Universe,” “Butter Cookie (Keep Me There),” and “Doesn't Anything Last” are played as straightforward rock and roll tracks with the participation of the whole band. As such, they sound like they would be perfectly appropriate accompanying Rumours songs. They seem like b-sides from the same sessions, which is (conveniently) what they are.

“Planets Of The Universe” has similar contemplative lyrics to songs on the Rumours album. So, when the group sings “And the days go by / They go into the seas that have no shores / Haunted by that same closed door / Looking up at skies on fire / Leaving nothing left of us / To discover / And the planets of the universe Go their way / Not astounded by the sun or the moon / Or by the day / You and I will simply disappear / Out of sight / Ooh, but I'm afraid soon there'll be / No light / No doubt, no pain / Come ever again” (“Planets Of The Universe”) the simple rhyme scheme does nothing to lessen the wonderful sense of imagery the band creates. As well, the presentation of the lines makes the song resonate with much of the same level of emotion as other songs on Rumours. That said, none of these b-sides is a lost “Songbird” or “Silver Springs!”

Even so, the other songs are good, in an acoustic rock sort of “everybody's here, we're jamming, we're creating something significant” type way. The previously unreleased tracks have a similar human resonance to the best songs on Rumours, even if they are not quite the masterpieces listeners might hope them to be. Still, with lines like “Step into the velvet of the morning / Let yourself lay back within your dreams / Take on the situation but not the torment / Now you know its not as bad as it seems / Well I know you'd like to come away / But baby you can't come / Your fortune is your life's love / Oh and anytime you think about leaving / Think about what you know” (“Think About It”) it is clear that the well did not just dry up when the recording session for Rumours ended.

As a result, anyone who loves Rumours will enjoy the two-disc version. The bonus content enriches the listening experience and one is likely to come back to the final album with renewed interest. I know that having listened to the second disc several times now, it is staying in rotation with Rumours. I'd recommend anyone who is thinking about it, listen to Rumours (aren't libraries great?!). If you like what you hear (you will!) purchase the two-disc version. It'll keep the whole thing fresh and the album truly is one of the timeless rock and roll albums of all time. What could be better than that?

The best tracks on the second disc are “Think About It” and the low point is “Mic The Screecher.”

For other Fleetwood Mac albums, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Mr. Wonderful
Then Play On
Kiln House
Future Games
Bare Trees
Tango In The Night
Behind The Mask
The Dance
The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac
Say You Will


For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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