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SisterNightroad 04-10-2015 09:54 AM

25 Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Release ‘Behind the Mask’ Without Lindsey Buckingham
 
25 Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Release ‘Behind the Mask’ Without Lindsey Buckingham
by Jeff Giles April 10, 2015 10:44 AM


By the time they achieved massive mainstream success in the mid-’70s, Fleetwood Mac had already been through more lineup changes than most bands manage in their entire careers, and their best-selling album, Rumours, was partly inspired by a pair of collapsing relationships between bandmates.
They were accustomed to forging on in the face of personal and professional drama, in other words — but even so, the trials they faced before recording their 15th studio album, 1990′s Behind the Mask, proved particularly threatening.

All things considered, it should have been an easy time for Fleetwood Mac, who battled back from some early ’80s doldrums with 1987′s commercially resurgent Tango in the Night. With another multiplatinum hit at their backs and a fresh slew of Top 40 singles marching up the charts, the band might have been able to settle into the sort of groove that had proven difficult in the years after Rumours‘ unwieldy success, if not for one thing: the inconveniently timed exit of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, whose songwriting and meticulous studio work had increasingly come to define their sound.
Buckingham’s departure was confirmed in the summer of 1988, causing the band to scramble to fill his parts before their tour for Tango. It was just the kind of painful and potentially disastrous conflict that the band had unfortunately become known for, but as drummer Mick Fleetwood later admitted, the split was a long time coming — and exacerbated by moves the other band members had made in the years leading up to it.

Admitting that the group essentially tricked Buckingham into co-producing Tango in the Night by hiring a producer they knew he wouldn’t want to record with, Fleetwood told Q that the guitarist’s long exit from the band ultimately came down to his unwillingness to tour.
He didn’t want to go out on the road, and we knew that, and he kept putting us off,” explained Fleetwood. “We said, ‘You – out of anyone with the amount of work you put into this album – you’re not going out on the road? That’s crazy! You want to piss this down the drain? Don’t you want people to hear this?’ But by saying we were going anyway, we got him off the fence. He said he’d do it.
Buckingham had a list of conditions for the tour, however. “He said he wanted two, maybe three, other guitar players, percussion players, all sorts of interesting things. So now we were over a barrel,” Fleetwood recalled. “‘Whatever you want,’ we said, ‘Just let’s get out there.’ For a while he looked as if he was going to do it – but he changed his mind after we booked the tour. It was not amusing.

As many problems as Buckingham’s sudden change of heart may have caused, Fleetwood professed no hard feelings after the split: “He’d realized he’d been forced into a situation and had cracked. He said that touring would have destroyed him and been hell for everyone else, and that’s not what this is all about. He made the right decision.
I don’t blame them for any tactics they might have used. It was natural,” Buckingham conceded to Q in 1992. “I was trying to be a nice guy, but I really didn’t want to do the tour. I said no, then I said, ‘Oh, okay.’ They said, ‘Good, let’s all go out to dinner and have fun.’ I didn’t even show up at the restaurant — that’s how close I was to not doing it,” he admitted. “I finally said I could not do it. It wasn’t just the touring. I had to jump this bridge and take a little responsibility for my own happiness and creativity, because it’s a little bit overdue. It was tough telling them; not a happy day.

It was ultimately on the Tango in the Night tour that Fleetwood Mac tested out Buckingham’s successors. Drafting rhythm guitarist Billy Burnette from Fleetwood’s side project the Zoo and adding Bob Seger sideman Rick Vito on lead guitar, the new lineup solidified its chemistry in front of thousands of fans before heading into the studio for Behind the Mask. “It was almost predetermined that they would join after Lindsey left,” Fleetwood told the Pioneer Press. “They turned what could have been a catastrophic event into a smooth transition.
Billy and I really play well off one another. He’s not some frustrated lead guitarist, but, rather, he’s extremely inventive on rhythm guitar. He’ll craft parts that are uniquely his own, as well as being complementary to what I’m doing,” Vito told the New Jersey Record. “We got to know each other musically by playing together and exciting the people. It was a real confidence booster that carried over when we headed into the studio.
And while fans may have been disappointed by Buckingham’s absence, the band ultimately saw it as restoring a spark that had been increasingly absent during the past few years of his tenure. “We had been sitting around for years not doing too much, and Fleetwood Mac had started to drift apart,” mused Fleetwood after Behind the Mask‘s arrival. “But his departure brought about a real commitment by the rest of us to what we’re doing.

I like the fact that we really did pull it off,” singer and keyboardist Christine McVie told Rolling Stone. “The record was well arranged and well thought out, despite the fact that Lindsey wasn’t there.
Christine really took the bull by the horns this time,” Fleetwood explained during a conversation with the Boston Globe. “And with Lindsey gone, the older members of the band enjoyed getting back to how we used to make albums. It was very much a team effort … No offense to Lindsey, but he was becoming obsessive in the studio and we were beginning to take a backseat.
The newly collaborative spirit Fleetwood felt was reflected in the Behind the Mask songwriting credits, which were spread fairly evenly between an expanded roster of writers that now included Burnette and Vito as well as McVie and singer Stevie Nicks, as well as their attendant collaborators. But if the atmosphere was more relaxed in the studio — Buckingham even showed up for a cameo, contributing acoustic guitar to the title track — that didn’t necessarily add up to music that captivated fans the way previous albums had.

In fact, while it would be unfair to call Behind the Mask a flop, it didn’t come anywhere near the level of sales success the band enjoyed with Tango in the Night, topping out at No. 18 during a relatively brief stay on the chart and sending only one song, “Save Me,” into the lower reaches of the Top 40. Although “Save Me” was a sizable adult contemporary hit, as was “Skies the Limit,” the album couldn’t help but feel like a comedown.
Fleetwood Mac were also far from settled on the lineup front. The band’s 1990 tour would prove to be the only one mounted by the six-piece roster responsible for Behind the Mask; by the end of the year, both McVie and Nicks were out, along with Vito, and although McVie returned for the group’s next outing, 1995′s little-heard Time, most of the next decade was spent with the band in varying degrees of flux.
But as fans know, that classic Rumours-era lineup realigned for 1997′s wildly successful live album The Dance and subsequent tour, and while McVie left again after that, she’s currently back in the fold for yet another tour and new album — a cycle that Vito unwittingly predicted when he weighed in on the risks of joining a band with so many stormy chapters in its past.
Who knows what will happen? But I think the turbulence that seems to surround this band is part of its allure,” laughed Vito in 1990. “They always seem to be flirting at the edge of the precipice. But they always seem to endure.


Read More: 25 Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac Release 'Behind the Mask' Without Lindsey Buckingham | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/fleet...ckback=tsmclip

FuzzyPlum 04-10-2015 10:41 AM

'Admitting that the group essentially tricked Buckingham into co-producing Tango in the Night by hiring a producer they knew he wouldn’t want to record with...'

that's a new one on me. Mick's a schemer.

Macfan4life 04-10-2015 11:30 AM

The memories of waiting for Behind the Mask to be released. I remember I bought the cassette tape the first or second day it was out at a Record store at the mall (gosh remember the record stores at the mall)?
I was 20 and so excited. BTM is a mixed album. There are pure treasures on the album which get over looked by the lack of album sales. I did admire the back to the rock roots a bit. No programmed grunts or drums like on Tango. In the Back of My Mind was an early favorite because it really showed a creative side.
You really have to hand it to Christine during this era. Lindsey left and Stevie was in a thick fog. And it now is learned that Mick still was a major substance abuser at this time. A lot of the continuation of the Mac fell to her shoulders.
Lindsey was a real problem to agree to a tour and then pull out at the last minute. The Big Love intro Lindsey does on stage has him saying that his life needed a big change and leaving the band was a starting of that process.
We never hear Lindsey talk of any personal demons like substance abuse. We heard him bash Stevie and Mick for not wanting to go on the road with them and their issues. I wonder what changes he needed to make in his life that he would act like this? He is a tease and beats around the bush with explaining this.

The band did continue on and for such a rush with new members Billy and Rick did a pretty good job. They did not have the time to do anything clever.

bombaysaffires 04-10-2015 11:57 AM

“Christine really took the bull by the horns this time,” Fleetwood explained during a conversation with the Boston Globe. “And with Lindsey gone, the older members of the band enjoyed getting back to how we used to make albums. It was very much a team effort … No offense to Lindsey, but he was becoming obsessive in the studio and we were beginning to take a backseat.”

and the only hits they had during this time were Chris's as well.

michelej1 04-10-2015 12:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Macfan4life (Post 1164391)
We never hear Lindsey talk of any personal demons like substance abuse. We heard him bash Stevie and Mick for not wanting to go on the road with them and their issues. I wonder what changes he needed to make in his life that he would act like this?

Lindsey didn't bash them in the press, as his excuse for leaving. He talked about his girlfriend not liking them working on his property in the Winnebago, but mostly he simply said the band was crazy doing Tango and that things would just be 10 times crazier on the road than on the studio. In 1997, he also said that Stevie was no longer the person he'd known and he had his own issues about her that he couldn't get over until he was out of the band and away from her. Mick and Stevie are the ones who offered more details about why he left. Mick said that Lindsey was afraid that he'd be drawn back into drugs, if he hung around Mick and Stevie said that he was fearful for her. Lindsey then commented on their remarks about why he left when they were doing the Unleashed tour. But he never said he left because they were so awful.

Michele

olive 04-10-2015 12:42 PM

with the exception of the second time , I love this CD and the Line up

Macfan4life 04-10-2015 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by michelej1 (Post 1164397)
Lindsey didn't bash them in the press, as his excuse for leaving. He talked about his girlfriend not liking them working on his property in the Winnebago, but mostly he simply said the band was crazy doing Tango and that things would just be 10 times crazier on the road than on the studio. In 1997, he also said that Stevie was no longer the person he'd known and he had his own issues about her that he couldn't get over until he was out of the band and away from her. Mick and Stevie are the ones who offered more details about why he left. Mick said that Lindsey was afraid that he'd be drawn back into drugs, if he hung around Mick and Stevie said that he was fearful for her. Lindsey then commented on their remarks about why he left when they were doing the Unleashed tour. But he never said he left because they were so awful.

Michele

You have your opinion to what negative comments in the press come to the level of bashing. Yes I have heard the quote you use coming from Lindsey but I have also heard much stronger language alleging to not wanting to be around crazy people on the road. Lindsey even made his next studio album video about Mick.
I stand by my words and think the negative comments "bashing" are appropriate. He could have said nothing or said he is moving on to better things. But to talk about people's personal vices to the press is bashing IMHO :)

FuzzyPlum 04-10-2015 02:34 PM

Save Me sounds a lot better than I remember.

The Juggler 04-10-2015 02:43 PM

To be completely honest, I think this album stinks. I take:

- Love Is Dangerous
- Skies The Limit
- Behind The Mask

and run. Overall, I think is really stale. Tango had pushed the production boundaries and even though it's 80's through and through, it has a fresh and identifiable production. This album just limps along.

I think the songs are pretty questionable as well. Even the four mentioned above aren't that great. Stevie was in the middle of her klonopin addiction and let's be frank, her songs on this record are crap.

Even though it said Christine "took the horns", I think this album has her worst set of songs ever. Skies The Limit is limp and barely passable, Behind The Mask is good, the rest are pretty rubbish. Especially Do You Know, which is a truly terrible number. Sorry Christine, I'm usually a huge fan of your work but the songs here are not up to scratch.

Love Is Dangerous is probably the best song on here, and the only one I'd put on a Greatest Hits. It says it was co-written with Stevie but I suspect a "Seven Wonders" situation where Stevie changed a word and got a credit. It's a good song, if a bit hillbillyish. But it's the best one on here.

The CD cover is actually atrocious as well! The picture is really weird, not sure how it "represents" the band, it makes them seem like some hillbilly country ranch band playing at the local hall for 10 dollars per night. And the frame is horrible as well, it reminds me of my grandmother's wallpaper.

So yeah overall I'm not a fan of this era at all. The band should have called it quits after release of Greatest Hits, the two new songs on that were quite good actually. By 1990 though, the band seems tired. After a promising start, I don't think the two boys ever fitted in properly. Their songs on this record aren't great either. When The Sun Goes Down further reinforces this country music which I don't like.

(And as a final note, I think The Second Time is the worst Stevie song ever. Poor Stevie sounds lifeless, droning over that horrid guitar. I remember reading that it was compared to "Landslide" at the time! HA!)

michelej1 04-10-2015 05:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Macfan4life (Post 1164410)
But to talk about people's personal vices to the press is bashing IMHO :)

He didn't talk about Mick or Stevie's personal vices, though. They, Stevie and Mick, talked about their personal vices, years later. He didn't talk about their vices to the press when he left the band.

All Lindsey talked about was band craziness and he included himself in that. He said:

Quote:

"We had a Winnebago parked in front because we didn't want the whole house to be used for a lounge, so to speak. I had a girlfriend then who was very threatened by the whole situation, and that didn't really work very well, either. But the snapshot would be us trying to get things done in an atmosphere where there was just a lot of crazy stuff going on and not a lot of focus, and not a lot of unity and certainty. And no sense of us wanting to do this for . . . for the reasons we originally got into it for. That's my last snapshot of 1987. And then a little 10-year vacation."
Then, later on Mick said that he now realizes that Lindsey was afraid that he might get pulled back into drugs if he hung around Mick. Lindsey never said that. Stevie said that Lindsey left because he was afraid for her. Lindsey never said that to the press -- not until Stevie said it about herself and the press asked him to respond, when they were doing those Unleashed interviews. Mick said that when they were all being interviewed in 2012, Lindsey told MICK and Stevie that he left because he was afraid of what was happening to them and that all 3 of them started crying. But Lindsey never said anything about Stevie or Mick's "personal vices" when he left the band. He talked about the craziness in the recording studio, in general, and he talked about everyone having separate managers, which made it hard to get things done.


Michele

michelej1 04-10-2015 05:28 PM

I think Save Me is one of Christine's better songs and I actually wish it had been done at another point in the band's career, when it would have been heard by more people.

Behind the Mask is quite good too, and a departure for Christine, I think.

I don't really like Skies the Limit , but when I hear it out in public (seems like I hear it in CVS a lot), it really captures me. I enjoy it a lot, although when I'm at home or in my car and could hear it any time, I never choose to play it.

Michele

MikeInNV 04-10-2015 06:50 PM

I just cannot reconcile this "afraid for Stevie" stuff. By the time Tango was released, Stevie was in great shape. The promotional interviews they did (while Lindsey was still in the band) and the Shake the Cage Tour both show Stevie in fine form. The coke was gone, and it took a while for the Klonopin to become a problem. It just doesn't add up to me.

Macfan4life 04-10-2015 07:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by michelej1 (Post 1164421)
He didn't talk about Mick or Stevie's personal vices, though. They, Stevie and Mick, talked about their personal vices, years later. He didn't talk about their vices to the press when he left the band.

All Lindsey talked about was band craziness and he included himself in that. He said:



Then, later on Mick said that he now realizes that Lindsey was afraid that he might get pulled back into drugs if he hung around Mick. Lindsey never said that. Stevie said that Lindsey left because he was afraid for her. Lindsey never said that to the press -- not until Stevie said it about herself and the press asked him to respond, when they were doing those Unleashed interviews. Mick said that when they were all being interviewed in 2012, Lindsey told MICK and Stevie that he left because he was afraid of what was happening to them and that all 3 of them started crying. But Lindsey never said anything about Stevie or Mick's "personal vices" when he left the band. He talked about the craziness in the recording studio, in general, and he talked about everyone having separate managers, which made it hard to get things done.


Michele

I guess we will have to agree to disagree :)
When Lindsey left, yes there was not immediate comments on anything. But as the years trickled on Lindsey did comment on many things including Billy and Rick. When BTM was released, Lindsey stated to the press that Fleetwood Mac made a mistake in trying to replace him and how that would never work. He suggested the Mac should have went on in a new direction. He made those comments even though he contributed to the album BTM. He never used the words drugs but definitely hinted at substance abuse how things get worse on tour. Even Stevie said recently that Lindsey was frustrated since she was drugged out during this time how she would show up late to recording, etc. These hints were trickled out years later. It came to a climax with Lindsey's interpretation of Mick in video.
This is why I brought up in my original post how vague and subtle Lindsey is. This tour Lindsey has changed his Big Love intro from early in the tour. Now he says he needed to break away from the band to make major changes in his life. I want to know what those changes were. He used to say that it was almost the excess of the band that made him leave. This was a first I ever heard Lindsey say these words before. I commented this in my Miami review. For the first time he admits he was not right during this time instead of others. I just wish he would not talk in code so much.

michelej1 04-10-2015 07:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeInNV (Post 1164427)
I just cannot reconcile this "afraid for Stevie" stuff. By the time Tango was released, Stevie was in great shape. The promotional interviews they did (while Lindsey was still in the band) and the Shake Cage Tour both show Stevie in fine form. The coke was gone, and it took a while for the Klonopin to become a problem. It just doesn't add up to me.

I don't think Stevie was in "great" shape, but I don't think that rationale necessarily adds up, either. Both Stevie and Mick romanticized the reason Lindsey left the group themselves. Stevie is the one we first heard say that Lindsey left because he was afraid for her around the time of Unleashed. Lindsey had never said that before. But when confronted with her saying that, he didn't disagree. But it's not a reason he gave for leaving himself. He may or may not have been afraid for her, but he didn't talk about it. She's the one who first did.

And similarly in 2003 (and again in 2012) Mick said that Lindsey left because:

Quote:

"I pushed Lindsey away, because he was never really much part of all that stuff," says Fleetwood. Did he frighten him? "In a way, yes, I probably did. We all have people we know like, 'Oh, I can only take him in small doses, he's off again . . .' The lifestyle and the trimmings became unattractive to Lindsey. He thought I was going to force him to sit in a corner and drink a bottle of wine with me. I was a crazy guy for a long time. Lindsey's very private, and he will never be otherwise."
But Lindsey didn't say that. Not to the press. In fact, Mick is the one who talked about Lindsey turning to them during an Unleashed interview and saying something like, "I couldn't watch you doing that to yourselves any more" and they all started crying and Mick declared it was Lindsey saying, "I love you. So, we got that melodramatic version of the story from Mick around 2012 or 2013. But we didn't see the interview where Lindsey actually turned to Stevie and Mick and said that.

What Lindsey said about leaving was that it was a survival move. He couldn't get any closure. He wanted to pursue his solo work, etc. But he didn't close the door on continuing to record with them.

Mick and Lindsey both said that Lindsey might not have left the band at all, if he could just keep recording, but they wanted to go on tour and Lindsey didn't want to go. So, they pushed the issue of a tour, something he couldn't agree to and then he left.

MICK:

Quote:

It really got to a situation where it was like 'hey, we haven't done anything for four years, what are we really doing...are you in this band or not?' And that's what it really came to with Lindsey Buckingham. It came to forcing the issue to a point where he had to say 'I can't do it, I don't want to do it.' Cause if we left it and said, 'well, alright we won't go on the road' he might not have actually left and then we would have found ourselves sitting around for another four years not doing anything and it's not fair."

michelej1 04-10-2015 07:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Macfan4life (Post 1164430)
Even Stevie said recently that Lindsey was frustrated since she was drugged out during this time how she would show up late to recording, etc. .

Yes, that's my point. Stevie said that she was on drugs at the time. My comment was that you are wrong about Lindsey citing Mick or Stevie's substance abuse as the reason he left the band. He never did. Nor did he talk about their personal vices. When he talked about band craziness, it was always in the context of all 5 of them and the way they were interacting.

And since 1997 he has talked about his own demons as reasons why he needed to leave the band. He even said he left and went into therapy.

As for his bashing BTM, there are no interviews in which he did that, except the one where he boasted it took two guitarists to replace him.

But Christine is the one who said that Mick should have gone another route (instead of Dave Mason) instead of trying to fix a broken vase. Lindsey didn't talk about Behind the Mask being destined to failure. He did put down the nostalgia tour with Pat Benatar a few years later though. He said that was sad. He didn't say that about BTM. When he talked about appearing on stage with BTM he said it was easy for him because all he had to do was come out and play GYOW and that was sure to go over well, but he didn't say anything else about BTM, the album or the tour. In fact, he said he didn't watch their live show, even when he was backstage.

I don't disagree with you that Lindsey talks in code sometimes, but I don't think there are any interviews or quotes that suggest he was telling the press "Oh, Mick and Stevie's drug abuse force me out." That's why they said he left. He didn't say that's why. He cited mostly creative reasons for leaving and, in his Say Goodbye discussions, said that he couldn't get over Stevie while he was still in the band with her, again freely admitting he had his own demons to deal with.

Michele


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