Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Live’ (Deluxe Edition)—Going Their Own Way

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By the end of 1974, England’s Fleetwood Mac had been around for seven years and presented two faces to the public—first, as a blues-rock outfit and then as something closer to a mainstream pop-rock band—without ever making much of a mark in the U.S. album or singles charts. At a crossroads, they enlisted a pair of fledgling American artists, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who added their considerable talents to the group while re-energizing longtime members Mick Fleetwood and Christine and John McVie.

As you undoubtedly know, the revamped lineup met with virtually instant and overwhelming success, selling a zillion copies of their eponymous 1975 album as well as 1977’s Rumours, 1979’s Tusk and the many singles these LPs spawned. They were at the top of their game and playing to huge and adoring crowds when they recorded the tracks preserved on 1980’s Live, their first concert album, which has just been reissued in an expanded edition.

Rather than featuring a single show, the original two-LP set culls tracks from gigs in multiple U.S. cities as well as London, Paris and Tokyo, plus two songs recorded at a soundcheck and three delivered at a private show for family, friends and crew. Most of the material comes from the group’s 1979-1980 Tusk concert series but the source for a few numbers is a 1977 Rumours tour, and one track dates from 1975. The program finds Fleetwood Mac energetically pumping out one hit after another, including “Sara,” “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams” and “Don’t Stop.” Also included are such album standouts as “Monday Morning” and “Landslide,” as well as a beautifully sung cover of Brian Wilson’s “The Farmer’s Daughter.”

The new expanded version of the LP—the latest in a series of “super deluxe” limited-edition boxed sets that has already embraced such Fleetwood Mac albums as Tusk, Tango in the Night and Mirage—offers an excellent remaster of the original release on two CDs as well as on a pair of 180g vinyl records. Also included are an LP-sized, 16-page booklet and a seven-inch vinyl single that features previously unreleased studio demos of two tracks that appear on the 1980 album: Stevie Nicks’ “Fireflies,” which the group later issued as a 45, and Christine McVie’s “One More Night.”

The biggest carrot, however, is a third CD that adds 14 previously unreleased live songs and a remix of a 12-inch version of “Fireflies” to the original release’s 18 tracks, expanding that 91-minute album by 76 minutes. This bonus disc features such concert staples as “Second-Hand News,” “The Chain,” “Angel” and “Think About Me,” as well as a trio of top 10 hits: “You Make Loving Fun,” “Tusk” and “Hold Me.” (Though the latter didn’t ride the charts until 1982, it says something about the level of Fleetwood Mac’s success that they couldn’t even fit versions of all their biggest singles up to 1980 into a two-LP set.) Like the original album, this disc draws its material from more than half a dozen shows, in this case from 1977 through 1982.

Fleetwood Mac’s internal discord began well before they recorded most of these performances. (The three CDs in the new release include only one number, “The Chain,” that the group wrote collaboratively, which is perhaps an indicator that “Go Your Own Way” was more than a song title.) You’d never sense a lack of harmony from these tracks, however. The musicianship on most of them is tight and powerful, with Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie all turning in impassioned vocal work, Buckingham shining on guitar, Mick Fleetwood drumming up a storm and John McVie delivering excellent bass.

Related: Our review of Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 to 1974 boxed set

In a few cases, you can guess why a track on disc three didn’t make the cut for the original album but many of the bonus performances are just as strong as the renditions on the 1980 release.

It would have been nice if the producers had included a DVD of the Tusk documentary film, which is reportedly excellent. Fans without record players might also have appreciated digital versions of the demos featured on the vinyl singles. But these are quibbles, especially given that what Live does include is a generous helping of first-rate material from a world-class band at the peak of its powers.

Jeff Burger

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