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Posts Tagged ‘lindsey buckingham’

“Play in the Rain”

Posted by purplemary54 on April 8, 2018

Lindsey Buckingham has always been my favorite of Fleetwood Mac’s long line of weird and brilliant frontmen.  And as a musician/songwriter/producer, he’s always been the oddest of the oddballs.  He never met a sound effect, vocal distortion, or production trick he didn’t like and frequently employed them on both group and solo albums.  In 1984, he released his oddball masterpiece, the aptly titled Go Insane.  It is arguably the strangest mainstream recording outside of a deliberate novelty album ever.

It also sounds like Buckingham was going a little bit insane when he made it.  Since Go Insane came out almost ten years after the big Mac’s seminal Rumors, I’m not sure any of the obvious turmoil here can be blamed on the emotional upheaval that made Rumors so phenomenally good (and popular).  It also employs to fuller effect some of the musical trickery that he’d begun employing with Tusk.  One of the best tracks on the album is the repetitive (but never boring) “Play in the Rain.”  There’s a rage and a passion to this collection of riffs and noise that is only hinted at in many of his other songs.  Smashing glass, pouring water, instrumental swirls and cacophonies dance around each other while Buckingham croons the limited lyrics over and over.  It’s a little ominous, frankly.  I’m not so sure I’d have said yes to his repeated “Can we play in the rain?”

Now my very first copy of this album was on cassette–vinyl being the other main choice since CDs weren’t yet the preferred format (let’s not even discuss how this might have played out had Go Insane been released digitally in its first incarnations; I’ll just say I’m not so sure it would’ve been better that way).  As you oldsters out there know, cassettes and vinyl have limited space on each playable side, so there was only so much music you could put on each side.  Presumably as a way to tie the opposite album sides together, Buckingham opted to split “Play in the Rain” into two parts.

The last track on the first side fades out with a sitar riff, you get up and flip over your LP/cassette, and pick up right where you left off.

It’s really kind of awesome.  Sure it’s an otherwise unnecessary interruption in the beautiful droning weirdness of the song, but it had the effect of showing the listener that this was not just some random collection of songs; this was a narrative, a story, a chain.  What was the story being told?  It seems to me to be the story of someone obsessed with another person, or another persona.  A story of someone teetering on the edge of madness, a nightmare of love and lust.  It’s fantastic.  This song is the centerpiece of the madness.  These days, you can get the song as one piece, but I don’t think it adds anything to it to be a whole song instead of two parts.  Part of what makes it compelling to me is the way it connects the two halves of the original album.  In these days of easy downloads, it’s harder to get a sense of the wholeness of a work.  I could get into a whole “get off my lawn” type rant about this, but I won’t; it’s just something I miss about the way we used to consume music.  The days when you would just put on an album and listen to it as a thing in and of itself, one track after the next.  Even CDs, which made things like the break between the two parts of “Play in the Rain” kind of useless, gave you a clear sense of an album as a complete work, something conceived as a piece of art and deliberately arranged in a certain way.  “Play in the Rain” (parts I and II) remind you that there was once a time when the structure of an album mattered just as much as the content.

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Repost: Holy Cow Palace*, Batman!

Posted by purplemary54 on January 11, 2014

I got myself this awesome collection not too long ago, and it didn’t even cost me $100.

I’ve posted before about what is arguably the greatest break-up album of all time, but I’m a little stunned by the way Fleetwood Mac is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the musical superstorm known as Rumours.  (You can have a look at the deluxe box set Amazon is selling here.)

What’s flipping me out here is the amazing wealth of incredible music that came from these sessions that didn’t make it onto either Rumours or 1979’s follow-up, Tusk (I have always believed that Tusk should have been named Rumours II: Lindsey and Stevie Have It Out).  In addition to a disc of live tracks from the Rumours tour, there are two full discs of outtakes and demos.  The DVD documentary on the making of the album probably just adds further insight into the creative process of these five people in conflict and turmoil.  If you’re even the most casual fan of Fleetwood Mac, there is probably something in this set that will interest you.

I purchased one of the songs from itunes, a Stevie Nicks demo called “Planets of the Universe.” (I stopped at one because I very quickly realized that the digital version of this set would not be enough; I’m gonna shell out the $100 for the hard copy as soon as I can afford it.)  And listening to it helps me understand why it might have been left off the original album.  This is intense stuff.  It’s beautiful and angry, just Stevie and her piano.  She’s pouring everything out in this song: fear, disappointment, grief, love, and rage.  You get a real sense of how co-dependent and dysfunctional her relationship with Lindsey must have been.  I’ve always wondered how the members of Fleetwood Mac felt hearing their personal lives blaring from every direction.  But the songs on Rumours are tame when compared to “Planets of the Universe” (even the searing “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”).  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Nicks would’ve felt hearing this song played every two hours on some Top Forty station.

I’m glad Fleetwood Mac has gained enough perspective on Rumours and the surrounding recordings to allow their fans to share in this music.  It’s one of the most amazing musical treats I’ve heard in a really long time.

*For anyone who doesn’t get the reference, the Cow Palace is a venue in San Francisco that Fleetwood Mac has played many times.

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Holy Cow Palace*, Batman!

Posted by purplemary54 on February 17, 2013

I’ve posted before about what is arguably the greatest break-up album of all time, but I’m a little stunned by the way Fleetwood Mac is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the musical superstorm known as Rumours.  (You can have a look at the deluxe box set Amazon is selling here.)

What’s flipping me out here is the amazing wealth of incredible music that came from these sessions that didn’t make it onto either Rumours or 1979’s follow-up, Tusk (I have always believed that Tusk should have been named Rumours II: Lindsey and Stevie Have It Out).  In addition to a disc of live tracks from the Rumours tour, there are two full discs of outtakes and demos.  The DVD documentary on the making of the album probably just adds further insight into the creative process of these five people in conflict and turmoil.  If you’re even the most casual fan of Fleetwood Mac, there is probably something in this set that will interest you.

I purchased one of the songs from itunes, a Stevie Nicks demo called “Planets of the Universe.” (I stopped at one because I very quickly realized that the digital version of this set would not be enough; I’m gonna shell out the $100 for the hard copy as soon as I can afford it.)  And listening to it helps me understand why it might have been left off the original album.  This is intense stuff.  It’s beautiful and angry, just Stevie and her piano.  She’s pouring everything out in this song: fear, disappointment, grief, love, and rage.  You get a real sense of how co-dependent and dysfunctional her relationship with Lindsey must have been.  I’ve always wondered how the members of Fleetwood Mac felt hearing their personal lives blaring from every direction.  But the songs on Rumours are tame when compared to “Planets of the Universe” (even the searing “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain”).  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Nicks would’ve felt hearing this song played every two hours on some Top Forty station.

I’m glad Fleetwood Mac has gained enough perspective on Rumours and the surrounding recordings to allow their fans to share in this music.  It’s one of the most amazing musical treats I’ve heard in a really long time.

 

*For anyone who doesn’t get the reference, the Cow Palace is a venue in San Francisco that Fleetwood Mac has played many times.

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“Gold Dust Woman”

Posted by purplemary54 on August 19, 2012

I spent a little time with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors in an earlier post about break-up albums, but I neglected this weird little gem from Stevie Nicks.  “Gold Dust Woman” closes out the album, and leaves you unsettled and haunted.  Listening to the studio version, with the tribal drums and spooky howling at the end, it’s kind of easy to see how people could accuse Nicks of being a witch.  This song, and her performance of it, is spellbinding.

Like the most of the rest of the album, “Gold Dust Woman” is emotionally turbulent–angry and defiant with just a hint of sadness.  But exactly who the anger is directed at is a little unclear.  The first lines, “Rock on gold dust woman, take your silver spoon and dig your grave” is clearly a reference to the dangers of the drugs they were probably all using (Nicks had a notable problem with cocaine that lasted well into the 1980s).  But she also seems to be referencing Lindsey Buckingham and their fractured relationship: “Well is it over now, do you know how to pick up your pieces and go home?”  She also seems to be calling out his possessive and controlling attitude with “Rulers make bad lovers, you better put your kingdom up for sale.”  Nicks seems to jabbing at both Buckingham and herself simultaneously.  It can also be read as a critique of fame and life on the road; the line “Wake up in the morning.  See your sunrise loves to go down” didn’t come out of nowhere, I’m sure.  (Rock stars get all the fame, money,  world travel, drugs, and groupies; they also get to live these weird lives where they have no privacy, sleep all day, work all night, never see anyone they love and never stay in one place more than a few weeks. It’s a trade-off.)  This song simply refuses to be pinned down, a wonderfully mysterious musical experience.

I love this clip from their reunion concert.  Time and experience add weight to Nicks’ performance here, giving the song a little more substance and meaning.  It’s also really fascinating to watch her interact with Buckingham.  They’ve been orbiting around each other for over 40 years now, constantly and consistently drawn to back together, like Pluto and Charon (our former 9th planet and its satellite, which are so locked into their orbits that they don’t rotate, the same sides always facing each other).  The little dance of glances they cast back and forth tells almost as much of a story as the song.  (At another point in the concert, when they play “Landslide” together, just the two of them, it’s almost magical.  Their relationship might not have always been a healthy one but it’s always been special.)

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Go Insane

Posted by purplemary54 on May 29, 2012

Despite all appearances, this is not advice.

It is, however, a Criminally Underrated album.  Lindsey Buckingham’s second solo disc is. . . different.  Despite being some of the finest music of his career, it’s also some of his least accessible.  There’s a weirdness to it that I think comes in large part from being a real solo project.  Buckingham wrote, produced, and performed virtually everything.  The isolation shows.  There’s a claustrophobic feeling throughout, like everything is being done in a box.  I didn’t know before that it was a break-up album; another fact I learned in my Wiki-Google search: the last track is a tribute to Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who died while Buckingham was making the album.

Go Insane is a surreal, dreamlike landscape.  The music is filled with odd sound effects and whispered voices, giving it a haunted feeling.  It’s a nightmare rendered sonically.  There’s the usual anger and sadness pouring through, something Buckingham has always excelled at.  It is sort of thin lyrically, but I don’t think words were the point here.  The emotional turmoil is conveyed much more effectively with music and sound effects.  Maybe it’s just because I watched it again last night, but the closest comparison I can come up with is the film Inception, a dream within a dream within a dream.

The dreamlike quality of this album are best exemplified by the two-part track “Play in the Rain.”  Back in the wonderful days of vinyl (or cassettes, which is how I first heard this), you had to stop and turn the disc over.  “Play in the Rain” ended side one and started side two.  (Another Wiki-fact: The original LP was configured so that the end of side one could play continuously, called a “locked groove”; I didn’t know that was possible.  The song features similar lyrics and the chorus repeated like a mantra until you feel a little hypnotized.  “Can we play in the rain?” starts sounding a little demented after a while.  Which might be the point.  Something like a break-up tends to stick in your brain, the words and incidents playing over and over in your mind in an endless loop until you feel trapped.  A locked groove.  (You know, I’m starting to think Lindsey Buckingham is smarter than the average bear.  There’s definitely a method to his madness.)  The track features some blistering guitar from Buckingham, the first time it seems that he really cuts loose on the instrument he plays like no one else.

“D.W. Suite” is the least nightmarish, most expansive song on the album.  While I can’t say it’s a happy song, there’s something optimistic here.  There’s hope imbedded in it.  And relief.  “The closing of a chapter, the opening of a door, brings forth life where there was no life before.”  It’s a prayer to a lost soul, and a fitting tribute to Wilson.  It cycles through grief, acknowledging the pain and letting it go.  It also breaks the isolation of the rest of the album.  This song opens up onto a new landscape, where no one is alone.  “If we go, go insane, we can all go together.  In this wild wanton world, we can all break down forever. . .”

Maybe this is advice after all.

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