When Fleetwood Mac released Rumours in 1977, the band was already moderately successful, having reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard album charts with its self-titled album a year earlier.
That record, the first to feature new band members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, had produced three major singles for them, Rhiannon, Say You Love Me and Over My Head.
While the success of that record must certainly have been gratifying for a band that until that point had been struggling with who and what it was, it paled in comparison to the success Rumours would achieve.
Powered by monster hits like Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way, the Rumours album became a milestone recording for the band.
The critics loved it, the music buying public loved it and the industry loved it.
Rumours won that year’s Grammy Award for album of the year and found its way into the record collections of literally millions of people.
And it’s still selling.
Some people, myself included, re-purchased the album every time it was released in a new format, going from vinyl to cassette to CD. If I’d seen it in DVD-audio I likely would have bought that, too.
With sales of 40 million copies worldwide, Rumours currently ranks as the ninth best selling record of all time, one notch behind the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever and one notch ahead of Shania Twain’s Come On Over.
So why the musical history lesson?
It’s because Fleetwood Mac has chosen to celebrate Rumours’ 35th anniversary by re-releasing it.
And not only have they re-released the original Rumours CD the world has embraced all these years, they’ve released both an expanded version and a deluxe version of the album.
The expanded version, which I was fortunate enough to find in my inbox, is a three-disc set.
Included in that package are the original album, the B-side Silver Springs, a dozen unreleased live recordings from the group’s 1977 world tour and an entire disc filled with unreleased takes from the Rumours recording sessions.
The deluxe edition, which sells for just under $100, features all the material from the expanded edition plus an additional disc of outtakes, a DVD and a vinyl copy of the record.
The DVD features The Rosebud Film, a 1977 documentary about the album.
Listening again to Rumours, I could not help but be amazed at how consistently good this record was.
The writing was brilliant, the performances were almost flawless and the production was gorgeous.
There are so many beautifully melodic pop/rock songs here that I can still sit down and listen to over and over again, despite the amount of exposure they’ve received since this record first saw the light of day.
What’s even more amazing, perhaps, is the fact that this record got made at all.
When Rumours was being recorded the band, internally, was a mess.
The two couples in the band — John and Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks — had essentially split, and Nicks had gravitated, so the story goes, towards drummer Mick Fleetwood.
That kind of emotional turmoil might have caused some bands to call the whole thing off, but instead the members incorporated what they were going through into songs like Go Your Own Way and Dreams.
The expanded version of Rumours is really worth having if you have a soft spot for the band.
The live disc for example, in addition to including versions of some of Rumours’ best material, also features songs from the eponymous album that preceded it, most notably versions of Rhiannon and World Turning.
The unreleased recordings culled from the studio sessions feature demos and early takes.
Some are particularly interesting because the changes from these versions to the final album versions are so dramatic.
A case in point is I Don’t Want to Know which went from being somewhat rough around the edges to a being a wonderfully poppy thing with great harmony vocals.
There’s a lot to absorb here, and most of it is worth your time.
If you’re really high on this record and are prepared to travel, you can also hear them do this material live again.
The original Fleetwood Mac Rumours lineup, with the exception of Christine McVie, is touring for the next three months. There are several dates in Canada, but the closest, sadly, is in Toronto.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at email@example.com or 629-6000, ext. 6057.