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"Buckingham Nicks" highlights pre-Mac magic

Deep Cuts
By Joel Roza
05/07/2014

Fleetwood Mac has a varied history with gobs of lineup changes, feuds, turmoil and tales of legendary excess. But no lineup of the "Mac" is more well-known and critically acclaimed as the lineup featuring vocalist Stevie Nicks, guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and keyboardist/singer Christine McVie.

That ultimate lineup would be put together in the opening days of 1975, but before the Mac would hit on the lineup that would give them their greatest success.

The duo they acquired to make it all possible would first put out a gem of a record, Buckingham Nicks, that has since been lost to the ages, known only to devotees of the Mac, and record collectors alike.

That album would be the self-titled effort by Buckingham Nicks, featuring the still-yet-to-be discovered multi-talents of Stevie Nicks and her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham.

Added to the equation as well as drummer Gary Hodges and bassist Tom Moncrief, along with rhythm guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who would later go on to feature as Stevie’s longtime solo guitarist.

Released in 1973, Buckingham Nicks was loved by critics, but largely ignored commercially.

They were simply victims of the oversaturation of rock music at the time. Regardless, it remains a gem that slipped under the radar for 40 years.

The album’s opening cut, "Crying In The Night" is a proper introduction to Stevie Nicks, a voice that would soon become synonymous with labels like "The Queen of Rock."

It’s a simple acoustic number, but it’s an effective track in showcasing what the album is all about.

My favorite track is the album’s closer, "Frozen Love." No song previews better what was to come later with Fleetwood Mac. The harmony between Nicks and Buckingham is spellbinding. I personally can’t think of another duo that can do what they do so seamlessly and effortlessly.

Involved with each other since the late 60s, Buckingham and Nicks had a lot of time to gel musically, but that chemistry – that magic – is something you don’t necessarily grow over time.

It’s just there. They, and we, are lucky they found it.

In "Frozen Love," we see the full display of their powers – harmony, Buckingham’s incredible guitar work and soloing, the emotion, the feel, and the songwriting. The song’s solo section would later be the piece of music that nabbed Lindsey and Stevie their gig with Fleetwood Mac.

The rest of the album is littered with gold like the Nicks-penned "Long Distance Winner" and "Races Are Run."

Buckingham’s southern-tinged "Lola (My Love)" is a track that showed another side of Buckingham’s depth and struck a natural chord with fans in the south, particularly in Alabama. For a California duo, that was quite the stretch out.

The Nicks’ composition "Crystal" would later be re-recorded on the duo’s debut with Fleetwood Mac just two years later, along with tracks that were originally written for the next Buckingham Nicks’ album that would never be – "Monday Morning," and the monster hit, "Rhiannon."

"Don’t Let Me Down Again," one of Buckingham’s songs from the sole release of Buckingham Nicks would go on to become a staple of Fleetwood Mac’s tours throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The high-octane rockabilly tracks was a pleasant fit in Fleetwood Mac’s sets and allowed the duo to keep their pre-Mac recording legacy alive.

To this day, Buckingham Nicks has yet to be reissued on CD or any other format since being dropped by Polydor in 1973.

With the recent reunion and tour announcement for the classic Fleetwood Mac lineup, the fervor for a proper reissue of the album is back in full force.

In a December 2012 interview with CBS, Buckingham strongly hinted at an upcoming release:

"Stevie and I have been hanging out a little bit lately, and we’ve been talking about that. I think that’s something that would happen this year as well."

(ED. NOTE: It didn’t)."

Hardly surprising given aging rockers’ propensity to both glorify and distance themselves from their previous work.

Many bands regard reunion tours as an obligation, but frame its possibility in ambiguous tones that preserves their right to "bail out" from any such commitment.

"Oddly enough, I hate to even say it, I think the 40th anniversary of that is next year. Jeez! Is that possible? So we’ve been talking about it. Of course, we’ve been talking about it off and on for a long time, but Stevie seems really into the idea. So yes, I would say yes."

In a July 2013 Rolling Stone interview, Nicks said: "I went into Lindsey’s house two weeks ago and spent four days there. We recorded a very old Buckingham Nicks song that we loved and couldn’t figure out why it didn’t go on the album. It got brushed under the carpet somehow."

Nicks continued, "So, we should put the album back out, and if we can make that happen then Buckingham Nicks should go out on the road next year."

With Fleetwood Mac prepping for a world tour due to launch in just a couple of months, it appears we may have to do without Buckingham Nicks for a little while longer.

While the album isn’t readily available for cheap purchase, it is available in its entirety on YouTube.

Buckingham Nicks track listing and info:

1. Crying In The Night (Nicks)

2. Stephanie (Buckingham)

3. Without A Leg To Stand On (Buckingham)

4. Crystal (Nicks)

5. Long Distance Winner (Nicks)

6. Don’t Let Me Down Again (Buckingham)

7. Django (Lewis)

8. Races Are Run (Nicks)

9. Lola (My Love) (Buckingham)

10. Frozen Love (Nicks, Buckingham)

Released: September 1973

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