Welcome to PuR’s Love Crypt, spotlighting the underrated, secretly classic albums & songs that didn’t always get the attention they deserved upon release but are worthy of adoration & a listen. This edition is all about the solo work of Fleetwood Mac’s songwriting core, namely Christine, Lindsey & Stevie, just because. Come join us in the velvet underground to meet some beautiful dark horses. Never change, never stop…
Stevie Nicks: Ooh Ooh Baby (1984)
“Ooh Ooh Baby” is a demo of a song from 1984 that has never been released officially in any form and as such the sound quality is a bit murky. But forget all that, for despite its unfinished quality, its an unadulterated beauty with the foggy, faraway feeling of a latter day Beach Boys tune, specifically one composed and sung by lost genius Dennis Wilson (as opposed to brother Brian). A mournfully melodic tearjerker that moves at a positively funereal pace, “Ooh Ooh Baby” is also a frontrunner for the absolute Saddest Stevie Song Ever™. Is it safe to listen to when you are feeling fragile ? Mmm, maybe not but then again it sounds most magical if you are hearing it whilst in particularly melancholic state ( let’s just call it a tear expectorant). Stevie serves up a vocal equal parts bereft and defeated for the entire length of the song and the whole thing is just heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Be brave and give over to it.
Lindsey Buckingham: Stars Are Crazy (2011)
While “Stars Are Crazy” sounds in some ways like the prototypical Lindsey Buckingham song with it’s big yelping chorus and virtuosic picking, there’s something peculiarly riveting about its construction. Marrying languorous, slow motion vocals and lightning fast acoustic shredding, “Stars Are Crazy” almost sounds like two totally separate songs that have been sewn together expertly, perfectly. The effect is positively exhilarating.
Christine McVie: The Smile I Live For (1984)
I’ve always thought there should be a rule wherein all albums are required to end with an over the top and epic ballad lasting no less than 5 minutes. It’s especially important if what came before it was underwhelming. And the song should be something that shakes you by the shoulders and gets you misty. While Christine McVie’s self-titled solo album from 1984 is by no means bad and spawned a couple of hits, it was invariably a disappointment knowing what she was capable of. Still there was one track that emanated a pretty glorious light. “The Smile I Live For” has one of those gigantic productions typical of the era. There are the requisite gargantuan drums that sound like they are being played from a riser in an arena, loads of lush synth swooshes as well as a whole lotta “glistening” and “shimmering” to contend with. But none of that does anything to diminish the beauty of the actual tune, with its mournfully melodic piano line and lyrics describing a love that’s gotten a bit lopsided. And despite all the supersize instrumental action happening around her, Christine’s wondrous forthright voice still ends up on top. “The Smile I Live For” smolders, cries and shines.
Stevie Nicks: Annabel Lee (2011)
Stevie wrote “Annabel Lee” when she was 17 years old and its lyrics are adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem of the same name from 1849 ( which also served as a major inspiration for the classic Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita). While she first demoed the song in 1996 it didn’t actually appear on an album until 2011’s In Your Dreams…which seems crazy based on how wondrous it is. Resembling a not so distant cousin of F.Mac’s exquisite “Gypsy”, the tune Stevie created to surround Poe’s poem of tragic, eternal love is so well-suited to its lyrical cadence (which expresses a sentiment oh so Stevie) that you could be forgiven for assuming she’d actually written the words as well. Though to quote Stevie from back in 2011, “I love the fact that I have written a song with Edgar Allan Poe”. Had the song appeared on any of the F.Mac albums released during their heyday, it’s likely it would be an eternally beloved and evergreen anthem by now. Next to “Silver Springs” it remains and reigns as one of the finest woulda-coulda-shoulda Stevie songs ever.
Lindsey Buckingham: Street of Dreams (1992)
“Street of Dreams” is not a typical Lindsey Buckingham song. It doesn’t feature any anxious helium-high vocalizing or mind bogglingly fast picking. It is instead a mesmerizing and ethereal hymn with a backdrop of falling rain that grows heavier ( along with the lyrical content) as the song progresses. It’s on the bridge that things hit peak intensity with Lindsey serving up a particularly heart-squeezing and passionate bit of vocalizing. Lindsey has said the song refers back to a particular time in the early ’80s when he was uncertain of what he should be doing creatively and was feeling lonely and unwell, with the powerful bridge describing what he was doing to help assuage this confusion;”I used to go and talk to my father (who passed in 1974) in the cemetery…sit and talk to him and try to imagine what he would say to me…what advice he would give me”. Hypnotic, lonely and riveting to the last,”Street of Dreams”, remains a stunner.
Christine McVie: Friend (2004)
Tired of the touring grind, flying and inter-band politics, Christine McVie left Fleetwood Mac ( and California) in 1998 and moved back to the quieter environs of the English countryside to reconnect with her roots and spend time with her then ill father. While it wasn’t until 2014 that she would officially rejoin the Mac, she did make a tentative step back into the sonic fold in 2004 with the release of her third solo album, In The Meantime. The album as a whole isn’t great and she herself isn’t nuts about it, but “Friend”, it’s lone single, remains a standout. Though she wasn’t the sole composer, with its infectious chorus, heart on sleeve emotion and regal vocal, it bears all the markings of a classic McVie song (and as such exudes the Mac vibe from it’s every pore). In fact, it would have been a very welcome addition to Mac’s 2003 underrated but slightly spotty comeback album Say You Will.