Underrated Fleetwood Mac: The Most Overlooked Song From Each LP
Fleetwood Mac's most successful albums are so massive, they can overshadow the rest of their catalog. This is understandable: After all, 1977's Rumours, has been certified 20 times platinum in the U.S. alone.
However, go beyond the band's hits ( and viral TikTok videos), and the California-via-England band has a wealth of songs to discover -- beginning with their early, blues-rock days and winding through their more familiar pop-rock days.
Here are the the most overlooked song from each Fleetwood Mac album.
"Looking for Somebody"
From: Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (1968)
The band's debut album, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, is of a piece with the popular (and influential) late-'60s British blues-rock movement. In addition to covers of songs by Robert Johnson and Elmore James, the LP features original songs from founding member Peter Green -- including the superlative "Looking for Somebody," a harmonica-heavy, three-minute jam that captures the bittersweet agony of trying to find love.
From: Mr. Wonderful (1968)
More homages to Chicago blues abound on this album, highlighted by "Doctor Brown." Originally co-written by J.T. Brown and Buster Brown, this version of the song closes out the LP's side one with skidding guitar riffs and a swaggering tempo.
"Although the Sun Is Shining"
From: Then Play On (1969)
Known both as the first LP to feature Danny Kirwan and the album featuring signature song "Rattlesnake Shake," Then Play On also boasts tracks such as the psychedelic-folk gem "Although the Sun Is Shining." The Kirwan-penned song is subdued and lovely, revolving around simple, melodic guitar and plaintive vocals that warn how devastating potential heartbreak might be.
From: Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (1969)
It's difficult to say any album recorded at Chess Records with greats such as Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Shakey Horton, and Buddy Guy has an overlooked track. However, 1969's Fleetwood Mac in Chicago's take on Elmore James' "Madison Blues" particularly deserves a bigger spotlight: With passionate vocals by Jeremy Spencer and soulful, fluid saxophone from J.T. Brown, it's an example of a jam that works because each musician is playing off one another.
From: Kiln House (1970)
Fleetwood Mac's first post-Peter Green LP is understandably brimming with sonic evolution. Accordingly, Kiln House with a cover of Donnie Brooks' 1960 hit single, "Mission Bell," that's a sparkling psych-pop gem with cooing harmonies and shimmering percussion. The delicacy ends the album on a high note -- and is a major step toward the band's eventual pop success.
From: Future Games (1971)
This early Christine McVie composition -- one of her first major contributions to Fleetwood Mac after joining the band -- mixes together psychedelic guitar swirls with honky-tonk piano, a collision of the trippy and poppy that works like a charm.
"Child of Mine"
From: Bare Trees (1972)
Bare Trees is one of the most consistent (and underrated) early Fleetwood Mac albums -- as evidenced by the opening track, the Danny Kirwan-penned "Child of Mine," which nods to early Rolling Stones swagger and boasts flourishes such as ferocious percussion, a jagged guitar solo, and jammy organ. Throw in affecting lyrics that nod to familial strife, and it's yet another winner from the band.
From: Penguin (1973)
Dave Walker -- who is currently the lead singer of Humble Pie -- appeared only on Fleetwood Mac's 1973 LP Penguin. He made the time count, contributing lead vocals to a cover of the Motown song "(I'm a) Road Runner" and penning an affecting tune called "The Derelict." The latter is a harmonica-heavy song with a country-rock flavor that hints at what could've been had he stayed in the band.
"Just Crazy Love"
From: Mystery to Me (1973)
Christine McVie is so consistent, it's easy to take her songwriting for granted. Take "Just Crazy Love," on 1973's Mystery to Me: Full of lyrics about the dizzying nature of love ("Even when everybody tells me I'm just being a fool / Something inside says I've got to have you / And I can't play by the rules"), and fuzzed-out guitar that sounds decades ahead of its time, it's a concise pop masterclass.
"She's Changing Me"
From: Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974)
Fleetwood Mac's first top 40 U.S. album, 1974's Heroes Are Hard to Find, is also notable for being the last full-length with songwriter Bob Welch, who wrote seven songs on the LP. (Christine McVie wrote the other five.) Among Welch's highlights is the easygoing rocker "She's Changing Me," which boasts sassy horns, yearning pedal steel, and lyrics about having your heart rearranged by a bewitching woman. It's certainly of a piece with other '70s rock songs of the day, although its earworm hook helps it stand apart from the pack.
"Over My Head"
From: Fleetwood Mac (1975)
The first Fleetwood Mac album with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, 1975's Fleetwood Mac marks a poppier turn for the band, what with classics such as "Rhiannon" and "Landslide." However, the album also features the Christine McVie-penned "Over My Head," an ambling soft-rock gem about navigating the choppy waters of an up-and-down relationship. Although the song was a top 20 pop hit, it's not necessarily spoken about with the same reverence as other Mac hits - a major oversight.
"I Don't Want to Know"
From: Rumours (1977)
In reality, there are no overlooked songs on Rumours, one of the greatest rock records of all time. However, the massive popularity of "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman" and "The Chain" overshadow album cuts such as "I Don't Want to Know," a Nicks-penned song dating from the Buckingham Nicks days. Although the tune's genesis is somewhat fraught -- it ended up going on Rumours instead of future classic "Silver Springs" -- the song is a sanguine bright spot on an album permeated with relationship acrimony: "I don't want to stand between you and love / Honey, I just want you to feel fine."
"That's All For Everyone"
From: Tusk (1979)
Tusk is known as an eclectic sonic grab bag, with Lindsey Buckingham's contributions especially nodding to new wave, post-punk, and other then-modern genres. Among the highlights is his spaced-out "That's All for Everyone," which echoes the lush pop of acts such as 10cc and the Beach Boys, and revealed a much different side to the band. In hindsight, however, "That's All for Everyone," has been enormously influential on bands such as Radiohead and Tame Impala; the latter even covered the song.
"Can't Go Back"
From: Mirage (1982)
Lindsey Buckingham has the reputation for being a complex, detail-oriented producer and songwriter, which is why the simplicity of "Can't Go Back" is so appealing. Released in the U.K. as a single, it's a straightforward, melodic song with nostalgic lyrics and chiming guitar riffs that conjure wholesome '60s pop-rock. Even the rich layers of background vocals and the bustling percussion sounds don't overwhelm the tune; they simply add twinkling sweetness.
"Isn't It Midnight"
From: Tango in the Night (1987)
As with Rumours, nearly every song on Tango in the Night is beloved and appreciated. However, the Christine McVie-Lindsey Buckingham-Eddy Quintela song "Isn't It Midnight" --which Fleetwood Mac played on their 2018 tour -- is overlooked, since McVie's other songs from the album, "Everywhere" and "Little Lies," are so massive. But "Isn't It Midnight" is certainly no slouch in terms of quality, between the scorching guitars and the shimmering pop keyboards. It's a classic underrated '80s single, and a shining example of how modern recording technology and classic pop smarts can feed off each other to create greatness.
From: Behind the Mask (1990)
Time has been kind to 1990's Behind the Mask, the first Fleetwood Mac album after Lindsey Buckingham left the group. Among the highlights of the full-length, which features songwriting contributions from then-members Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, are the bluesy rock hit "Love is Dangerous" and the Christine McVie optimistic pop-rocker "Skies the Limit." However, the album's most underrated song is the barnstorming rocker "Freedom," a songwriting collaboration between Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell. The pair's musical chemistry stands tall, via confident, kiss-off lyrics ("All the looks that you've used on me / Don't work now that you've fallen") and snaky guitar lines that illuminate the song's underlying sense of relief that a toxic figure is finally gone.
"Nights in Estoril"
From: Time (1995)
Released two years before the Rumours-era band's triumphant reunion with The Dance, Time is an outlier in the Fleetwood Mac catalog, as it doesn't feature Stevie Nicks at all, and Lindsey Buckingham only appears briefly. However, the adult contemporary-leaning album does feature a classic Christine McVie song, "Nights in Estoril." Co-written by Eddy Quintela, the brisk, piano-driven song boasts wistful, romantic lyrics and her usual soaring hooks, all underpinned by her earnest, empathetic vocals.
"Smile at You"
From: Say You Will (2003)
Fleetwood Mac's last studio album to date, 2003's Say You Will, featured material originally earmarked for a Buckingham solo album as well as songs amassed by the other band members over the years. One of the latter tunes was the fan-favorite "Smile at You," a tune Nicks had kept in her back pocket since at least the Mirage era. In a 1981 interview, she explained why the song wasn't in contention for that record: "I think Lindsey wants me to record another one and so do I. It's kind of a bitter song and that's really not where any of us are at right now, even thought it's a wonderful song." The Say You Will version loses none of its bite (the song starts with the lyrics "Go on, save yourself / Leave the key here / You love someone else / I shouldn't be here") but is resigned more than angry, driven by sparse drums, ornate guitars and hypnotic harmonies.
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