Fleetwood Mac: 25 Years, The Chain 4 CD box set review

Fleetwood Mac: 25 Years, The Chain (Warner Bros.)
4 CD box set
Out Now

A new box set of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits has just been released & Fleetwood Mac fan Catriona Reeves has been listening to it for us.

IT may seem odd that a greatest hits box set could break up a band, but the rumours (ha! rumours) are that Stevie Nicks was so miffed that Mick Fleetwood included her seminal but little-known Fleetwood Mac B-side Silver Springs on this compilation on its original release in 1992 in lieu of allowing her to stick it on her own greatest hits album, that she huffed off entirely. Personally, I reckon that Nicks and Fleetwood had other unresolved issues.

Anyhow, it’s a treat to have Silver Springs on this good-value re-release of the 1992 four-CD boxset, along with a number of rarities, less-known album tracks, four “new” songs (two Christine McVie, one Lindsey Buckingham and one Nicks-penned, and all a bit meh, to be honest, other than Buckingham’s hypnotic Make Me A Mask) and live performances. There are also alternate versions/mixes of well-known songs, although nothing that dramatically different from the original – no aggrotech remixes here. More often, as on the “alternate unedited version” of Gypsy, it gives Nicks the chance to further showcase the song-end poetic wibbling she is so fond of. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Stevie, but it doesn’t mean that I know what she’s going on about half the time.

While the track sequencing on the first three discs merrily mixes up the 70s-90s apparently quite arbitrarily, the pre-Nicks/Buckingham era Mac is squirrelled away on the fourth disc, where it works best together in a melee of mainly Green-penned Brit blues; but as a way of education for those, like me, who may be less familiar with the Mac’s earlier work, having it separated out in this way means tearing yourself away from the warm waters of AOR to change the disc. Erg. Effort.

Back to the classic Fleetwood Mac years, and compilation curators Fleetwood and John McVie have pretty much selected an even distribution of tracks penned by main songwriters Christine McVie, Buckingham and Nicks, with Ms McVie just pipping the post with her smooth-as-silk vocals and tunes thanks to her contributions to blues-era Mac, against Buckingham’s pithy pop sensibilities and Nicks’ fairy dusted ditties.

Of course, there are very few classic FM hits missing from the compilation, meaning that Rumours is pretty much presented in its entirety, but it’s an interesting and varied enough collection to make worthwhile for both completists and dabblers; presented with an excellently chunky booklet chock-full of rare and often wacky photos. For me, it’s particularly pleasant to have my own holy trinity of Tusk – Storms, Beautiful Child (see video below) and Sisters of the Moon made available without having to expose yourself to the more outré extremities of the Mac’s most experimental album. A distinct bonus, in my book.

All words Catriona Reeves. This is Catriona’s first post for us but she also blogs from The Smudge & tweets as @MsStrophe.

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