Fleetwood Mac, ‘Extended Play’ – Album Review
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FLEETWOOD MAC EXTENDED PLAY

In coordination with Fleetwood Mac’s 2013 North American Tour, the team of original band members John McVie and Mick Fleetwood have reunited with long term band mates Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham for their first set of new songs since 2003′s full length release, ‘Say You Will.’

There is still the missing element of lead singer Christine McVie, who retired from the group before the band recorded their 2003 album.

The first Fleetwood Mac album, ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac,’ was released 45 years ago, and while Mick Fleetwood and John McVie have been the constant members of the band since, the rest of the lineup has been through a number of landmark lineup changes, creating what some fans refer to as ‘eras’ of the band.

First there was the blues based sound of original members Jeremy Spencer, Peter Green, and Danny Kirwin, followed by the flower power/folk-era lead by lead singer/guitarist Bob Welch, and then the ‘Rumours’-era lineup with Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. This evolution makes it necessary to point out to friends which version of the band you like best as they all represent a slightly differing sound, with McVie and Fleetwood leading the way.

Forty-five years of music presents several challenges with releasing new music. Many prestigious classic rock acts, including The Rolling Stones and Chicago, seem to go the route of adding one or two new songs to their latest ‘Greatest Hits’ packages, and often adding a tiny bit of new material to their ‘hits’ set lists at various tours. Though for most of us, that can cheat fans when you have to buy another CD of songs we already have, just to get to the 10 minutes of new music.

But here we are with a new Fleetwood Mac four song EP, appropriately titled ‘Extended Play,’ which amounts to a handful of songs with no apparent theme to tie them together, as compared to to the group’s earlier albums. At first glance we get a bland looking cover, and not even a familiar record label. Going in I have low expectations; but I am quickly turned around!

The entire EP is roughly 15 minutes, spanning four songs: “Sad Angel”, “Without You”, “It Takes Time”, and “Miss Fantasy.” Considering ‘Say You Will,’ the last album by Fleetwood Mac, clocked in it around 70 minutes, this seems like a miniature sampling of this amazing band. While mostly unrelated to each other, the four songs blend right in with each other seamlessly. “Sad Angel” is flawless with Buckingham’s trademark guitar sound and Nicks’ gorgeous backing vocals.

This as perfect of a Fleetwood Mac song as was 2003′s standout masterpiece, “Come.” The album slows down for “Without You,” which apparently originated from sessions making the superior ‘Buckingham Nicks’ album in 1974. That was the album that got the couple their rightful places in Fleetwood Mac. It’s the perfect song to follow “Sad Angel.”

“It Takes Time” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on their 1979 double album, ‘Tusk’, as it’s one of the most heartfelt songs recorded by Buckingham, and shows him performing a piano solo instead of using his guitar. This is a song that I want to see performed live. It gives me that same feeling as a listen to Christine McVie’s ‘Rumours’ track, “Song Bird.” Finally, things pick back up with closing track, “Miss Fantasy”, which brings back Stevie Nick’s perfect vocals.

This is the standout track here, and features some flawless drumming by Mick Fleetwood and bass by John McVie. This is Fleetwood Mac on all four cylinders, and bears some slight resemblance to the band’s 1982′s hit, “Hold Me.”

There are points on this album and the one before where I do miss the addition of Christine McVie. It’s hard to compensate for such a landmark third voice in a band that perfected the “three lead singer” format. Seeing the band these days you either get “Lindsey’s songs” or “Stevie’s songs”, which in part is nice that they don’t try to perform hits such as “Over my Head” or hired a replacement vocalist. Many of us are left with keeping 1997′s reunion live album, ‘The Dance’, on standby, sometimes just for Buckingham’s stunning live rendition of “I’m So Afraid.”

Does ‘Extended Play’ achieve it’s goal? It hasn’t burned up the charts (yet) or been issued on a proper CD, which again makes me grit my teeth a little that it may be an afterthought: even though they currently perform “Without You” and “Sad Angel” live onstage. Unfortunately there is that mentality at work of bands getting up there in age, touring mainly on the hits, and only once in a blue moon releasing a new track here and there.

What there is of the album is 15 minutes illustrating why we love this band, and instantly looking through our collection of CD’s by them to fill up the rest of the hour we would normally give to a full length release. Here’s hoping they have a new studio album around the corner, until then I have many more spins of favorite albums 1973′s ‘Penguin,’ 1979′s ‘Tusk’ and the 1968 debut to keep me busy.

Click Here To Purchase “Fleetwood Mac – Extended Play”

 

 
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