Fleetwood Mac is one of the most successful rock bands of all time — more than 100 million albums sold, 28 charting singles in the U.S. (and even more in the U.K.), induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — so it figures that the group would spawn a number of tribute albums. What’s surprising is that two recent tributes, last year’s Starbucks/Hear Music-sponsored Just Tell Me That You Want Me and this year’s MOJO-curated Rumours Revisited, are stocked with indie rockers, most of whom weren’t even born when prominent Mac maniac Bill Clinton was busy not inhaling. Apparently, they never would break the chain.
Those records are part of a wider embrace of Fleetwood Mac among young indie musicians, and not just the group’s popular ’70s output. A 2012 article in NME notes that rising indie stars Haim cover “Oh Well” from the bluesy, Peter Green-led ’60s incarnation of the band, while British synth pop stars Hot Chip and New York indie rock globetrotters Vampire Weekend both cover 1987’s “Everywhere.”
As for the tribute albums, hearing artists like nauseous noise-rockers Liars, prog mystics Yeasayer and California pop-rock stoners Best Coast take on classic Mac tracks is sometimes satisfying and sometimes satisfyingly bizarre, but more often than not it becomes clear that the seminal band did it best the first time. As Spin critic Christopher Weingarten asserted in his review of Just Tell Me That You Want Me last year: “Fleetwood Mac connected with listeners because their perfect songs enclosed personal imperfections — they created an illusion of glossy best-coast living, then punctured that illusion with brutal truth. Hardly anyone on Just Tell Me That You Want Me summons that friction. They're just borrowing crystal visions, telling other people's sweet little lies.”
Fortunately, the band (with original members Mick Fleetwood and John McVie plus superstars Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) is back together for a tour that launches Thursday at Nationwide Arena, so anyone itching to hear the songs done right and in the flesh need only fork over hard-earned cash.