Fleet­wood Mac

50 Years: Don’t Stop Warner Bros Ca­reer-span­ning but hits-heavy col­lec­tion.

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Reissues -

From the Peter Green years to the re­cent ar­rival of Neil Finn, in their half-cen­tury ca­reer Fleet­wood Mac have re­gen­er­ated many times, like a in­creas­ingly suc­cess­ful rock Doc­tor Who. They be­gan as a Bri­tish blues­boom band, com­plete with oblig­a­tory back-al­ley al­bum cover shot and a reper­toire of amped-up R&B num­bers, evolved into a proper early-70s rock band, moved to­wards a more melodic reper­toire, and then turned into a mul­ti­plat­inum rock-pop soap opera, which they re­mained as pretty much for three decades, be­fore fad­ing grace­fully into sta­dium nos­tal­gia.

The 50 Years: Don’t Stop col­lec­tion at­tempts, in strik­ingly trun­cated and bi­ased form, to do jus­tice to that ca­reer. It does so by de­vot­ing three CDs to the band’s 50 years in mu­sic (a sin­gle CD, re­verse-track­listed odd­ity is also avail­able for peo­ple who like to hear songs in the wrong order). The first CD com­prises ma­te­rial from Fleet­wood Mac’s blues prime – Shake Your Money­maker, Black Magic Woman and so on – to their rock era with songs such as Sta­tion Man and Sen­ti­men­tal Lady.

It’s a ca­reer that could have ended there, an­other rock band who foundered on the shores of the 1970s. But the se­cond CD is, as it were, the money shot, with all the best ma­te­rial from the Buck­ing­ham and Nicks years. It’s a sud­den and quite jar­ring break, with only the bril­liance of Chris­tine McVie as a bridge be­tween the two eras (Mick Fleet­wood and John McVie be­ing more of a chas­sis than any­thing else in the band named af­ter them). Sud­denly ev­ery­thing is shiny di­vorce pop. By the time you’re lis­ten­ing to Sara and won­der­ing if the cho­rus is ever go­ing to come in, a cer­tain steril­ity has set in.

Disc Three is a mix­ture of late hits from a more re­laxed Fleet­wood Mac (at least on record), plus the odd rar­ity and live track.

50 Years: Don’t Stop is not a com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion (how could three CDs rep­re­sent the work of a band who’ve re­leased 17 al­bums?), and, un­sur­pris­ingly, is heav­ily weighted to­wards the very big hits, but it’s a use­ful begin­ner’s guide to an ex­tra­or­di­nary band. Fleet­wood Mac are a group whose in­ter­nal chaos and con­stant dis­so­lu­tion and re-for­ma­tion are, bizarrely, the rea­son they’re still to­gether.

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