Mick Fleetwood is a man with a mission.
And, as usual, it has to do with Fleetwood Mac, sort-of.
Lava/Atlantic Records recently released Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, a project that Fleetwood has spent the past
year developing. As executive producer, the drummer and founder of the Mac has done it all here: from shopping the idea around to a label to choosing bands and listening to their concepts of the classic songs. The album features cover versions of each of the tracks that appeared on Fleetwood Mac's rock classic Rumours, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1997.
"There was a little buzz a while ago of (a Fleetwood Mac tribute) project happening not specifically with me, so it hurried me along," Fleetwood said. "But this was not slapped together to capitalize on the tremendous wave of interest and love of Fleetwood Mac that we're experiencing right now. We didn't push the time element because we knew it would take time to do it right."
The 11-track album includes cover versions by such popular acts as the Cranberries, Duncan Sheik, Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20, as well as folkie songwriters Jewel and Shawn Colvin.
To help promote the CD, Fleetwood said he considered staging a tour of some of these artists. Contrary to a Billboard story citing the Cranberries' "Go Your Own Way" as the project's first single, Fleetwood said it will be "Dreams" --by the female-fronted Irish band the Corrs -- that will be album's first release.
"No one made it on the album without me feeling really good about what
they were going to be doing," Fleetwood said. "They had to have a real
sense of who they are."
Matchbox 20's take on Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham's "Never Going Back Again" stands as an example of the artistic exploration of these classic tracks that Fleetwood said he was looking for in the album.
Matchbox 20 lead singer Rob Thomas and company transform the finger-picking acoustic number into an angry sonic assault that culminates with the song segueing into "The Chain," Rumours' most collaborative effort.
"I told them I was very comfortable with them doing it, but I'm really
blown away, and I think they were too," Fleetwood said. "This record is
all about pushing envelopes and being free of constraint. ['Never Going Back Again'] is an example of that young band pushing, and it's fantastic. Even Lindsey told them he was blown away."
Paul Doucette, Matchbox 20's drummer, said the experience of recording the track is among the highlights of his rock career: "I told Mick, 'thanks for
letting us fuck up your song,' but really, it's one of my favorite
things we've ever done. We tried not to do it like them. They're
Fleetwood Mac, we could never do it that good. It was an honor to do.
They're a band we all loved."
Rumours songwriters Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks and keyboardist Christine McVie have all put in "good reports" on the new versions of their songs, Fleetwood said. "They had reservations, but they had to trust me," Fleetwood said. "I had pressure on me. But I know these three very well. I had a sliver of awareness of what they like, but I wasn't beholden to their tastes."
At the onset of the project, there were those who wanted Fleetwood to
produce the songs himself and maybe even play on some tracks such as "Go Your Own Way," but the tall and lanky drummer said he felt that it was the wrong way to go, preferring to hand over some creative control.
Fleetwood listened to a lot of bands much more closely and buckled
down to cross-pollinate ideas with Carl Stubner -- his co-partner in
Fleetwood Music, a music publishing company -- who helped produce the various tracks.
"Quite honestly, there were people who did not make it on this album (because) I didn't see it working," Fleetwood said. "It's somewhat of a selfish thing. I gotta like this if I'm producing it or what the hell am I doing? If something had come back and I hated it, I would have said, 'thanks, but no thanks.' I did not have to do that, and I'm very glad."