Few albums have passed the 40 million sales mark. I guess it’s hard to bash any album that achieves this feat. I suppose one could moan about The Bodyguard (Whitney Houston) being in this bracket if pushed to do so. Back In Black (ACDC), Thriller (Michael Jackson), The Best Of The Eagles (um, The Eagles), The Dark Side Of The Moon (Pink Floyd) and The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever are the only other albums that have broke the 40 million barrier – and one can see why they all have. That’s no Elvis Presley, no Beatles, no Led Zeppelin, no Metallica, no Springsteen, no U2, no Prince, no Madonna. Amazing stat that!
What it takes to sell so many copies needn’t therefore be groundbreaking. Arguably of that list Thriller and Dark Side Of The Moon are the most unique. I still can’t fathom out how ACDC sold so many copies of what is far from their best album. We are talking mass consumption here. Albums that are or have been in practically everyone’s household in certain areas of the globe.
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac is 11 times Platinum in the U.K. at time of writing. Almost impossibly it spent only one week at Number 1. ONE WEEK! This is sustained sales over decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the Top 200 albums right now (can’t be bothered to check). It is, what one might call, an out-and-out ALBUM. Y’know, them things that aren’t singles or E.P’s. Singles released from Rumours didn’t dent the Top 20. You really couldn’t make these figures up.
The album features an iconic sleeve. An image once seen that is never forgotten. Simple. Although 70’s in appearance also kinda timeless. It features flawless production from the band themselves aided by Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat. Its material is inoffensive yet strangely deep sounding – like there’s more going on under the surface. The songs mask two breaking relationships at the time of its recording. I guess this is its magic dust. Through the sheen rises hidden pain scratching away. Beyond the lyrics the clamour of the instruments, usually in harmonic unison comes the sound of what are undeniably great musicians having it out without words. Hidden messages. The soft sounds have fierce turns of foot and rarely have a band sounded so together and as if they want to tear off in different directions at the same time.
Rumours is less than 40 minutes in length. I guess this adds to its charm. It’s not overbearing. It doesn’t over task the listener. It’s no Seven Samurai or The Seer (SWANS). It captures Fleetwood Mac at a commercial and artistic peak, these two things usually do not happen in unison. It’s rock ABBA? The writing credits are fairly evenly split. There is no dominance of one artist. Again, strong traits to have for the magic dust to appear.
Examples of the actual music speaking as clearly as the lyrics on Rumours could be the drumming on Dreams. A ludicrously simple soft sounding (often covered) song. Drums not really keeping a conventional beat padding away and although never over the top – actually evoking Thunder as that lyric drops.
The album has perfect driving music with Don’t Stop and Go Your Own Way which again are telling tales not about the open road. Subtle, almost unintentionally clever and revealing. The songs give Rock guitar solos over to mainstream Popular Music like no previous album. The Chain is perhaps the most well-known track from Rumours due to Formula 1. As uncool as it is to type this The Chain arguably features the best meltdown of instrumentation speaking louder than lyrics until the Stone Roses possibly topped this in 1989 with I Am The Resurrection.
Whilst the sun is out find your copy of Rumours – you know you’ve got it hidden away somewhere. It accompanies a sunny Saturday afternoon fantastically well – quick before the rain comes…