As a child, late one night, when I should have been in bed, I stumbled across a music show on television. It wasn’t the sort of show I usually watched. It was full of people making loud rock music I didn’t understand at this point. I was still in thrall to bouncy pop songs. But I was mesmerised by what I saw: a shaggy haired young woman swaying sensually to the hypnotic beat of one of the best songs ever written.
The woman was Stevie Nicks and the band was Fleetwood Mac. The song was Dreams ( recently made famous again on TikToc by the cranberry juice drinking man).
I confess, I barely looked at the man in the white suit to the side of Miss Nicks or realised that it was his guitar that elevates the song to its melodic heights. As I got older and my musical taste widened, I became a Fleetwood Mac fan.
However, it took me more than a decade from that chance viewing, to appreciate the genius in the band; the man Dreams was directed at, Stevie’s one-time boyfriend and lifelong emotional nemesis, Lindsey Buckingham.
Before they joined Fleetwood Mac and turned the once successful but now ailing band into a chart behemoth, the romantic couple was a musical duo. They mainly played around the San Francisco area, opened for legendary acts such as Janis Joplin and made an album Buckingham Nicks (it’s very good) but commercial success eluded them.
That came with the Mac as did the end of the romantic relationship. Not for nothing is Rumours, one of the biggest selling albums of all time, often described as a melodrama and soap opera on record. it charts the breakdown of the Buckingham Nicks relationship, the divorce of Christine and John McVie and the breakup of Mick Fleetwood‘s marriage.
However, despite the BN relationship officially ending in the ‘70s (with rumoured on/off reunions) it remains one of the most intriguing love stories in rock music. A Fleetwood Mac film would be epic! It really would be the mother of all music biopics, especially if it’s centred around the Buckingham Nicks love story which started when they were teens and 40+ years later they are still working through!
But Lindsey Buckingham is way more than just the best looking of Stevie Nicks’ men.
A guitar supremo (and multi Instrumentalist), impeccable producer and a great singer songwriter, who treats his innate talent as a craft to be honed, he was the architect of the Fleetwood Mac sound in the band’s most successful incarnation.
Listen to rumours and it is his voice and guitar playing which dominates that album, even on the songs which Nicks and McVie take lead. He is the overriding presence on each track.
In 1992 Buckingham released his third solo album, Out of the cradle (The title comes from a Walt Whitman poem).
It’s one of my all time favourite albums and I think one of the finest albums ever produced. It showcases Buckingham’s extraordinary talent and versatility and creates a wonderfully irresistible musical journey through every possible emotion, from anger and revenge to sorrow, reflection, self-realisation, loss, joy and hope.
It was released after his acrimonious split from Fleetwood Mac after he had masterminded their return to the charts with their second biggest selling album Tango in the Night. He did later return to the band for a hugely successful reunion tour, The Dance.
Compared to those huge successes Out of the cradle sold little. But it is an absolute gem of an album. Songs such as Countdown and Soul Drifter, You either do or you don’t, and Doing what I can are every bit as catchy and memorable as some of the classics he’s written for Fleetwood Mac. Tracks like Wrong and Don’t look down are bombastic rockers. While Surrender the rain and Turn it on, are melodically successors to his hits with the band. His cover of All my sorrows is plaintive and atmospheric, almost a lullaby. Street of dreams is bleak and blistering at the same time.
Out of the cradle was an intensely personal album for Buckingham. Its themes include moving on, dealing with grief (the death of his father and brother), self-doubt and ultimately taking bad situations and turning them into something positive.
All in all, this is a gorgeously, flawlessly produced, virtually perfect album. Really underrated. It deserves to be used in some huge film or TV series so that more people can get to enjoy its brilliance.
Favourite lyric: Everyone sees the tear in the seam but talks about the weather