The Top Fleetwood Mac Albums, Ranked
In 2018, Fleetwood Mac will be taking the stage yet again with its most popular lineup. At 70 and still sprightly, drummer Mick Fleetwood says the band has to call it quits sometime, so it is expected to be a worldwide last hurrah. Stevie Nicks thinks it’s unlikely that the band will record a record to go with the tour. After more than 50 studio, live and compilation albums, there’s enough music to last you for several lifetimes. Here are our top 10 Fleetwood Mac albums.
10. Live (1980)
The first live album for Fleetwood Mac came in 1980, compiling the best takes from several concerts including Wichita, Cleveland, Santa Monica, Paris, Oklahoma and Kansas City. The Live album also included three new songs – One More Night by Christine McVie, Fireflies by Stevie Nicks, and a group cover of the Beach Boys song The Farmer’s Daughter.
Highlights: Go Your Own Way and Fireflies
9. Mirage (1982)
Mirage is a polished, easy-to-listen to album that felt like a let down after Rumours and Tusk. Both Buckingham and Nicks had been off doing solo projects, with Nicks emerging as a powerhouse all on her own. The album lacks a certain undercurrent of edginess that pervades their best records.
Highlights: Gypsy and Hold Me
8. Fleetwood Mac (1968)
Fleetwood Mac debuted in 1968 with this rollicking blues record featuring the guitar god antics of Peter Green. The album holds up even more than 40 years later. Green’s energy is infectious and he was quickly recognized as one of the greatest guitar players in the world. Jeremy Spencer was on vocals, but Green named the band after the bass and drum duo of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – a generous and exceedingly rare tribute to a rhythm section.
Highlights: Hellhound on My Trail and Cold Black Night.
7. Say You Will (2003)
It may be hard to believe that an album from this century makes the top 10 list, but if you haven’t listened to Fleetwood Mac’s first studio album since 1995, you are in for a revelation. Although it suffers from unevenness (Christine McVie had quit the band), the album features songs originally conceived for a Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks project. The music wound up as the new Fleetwood Mac album instead. Had McVie been onboard, she might have prevailed to reduce the tracks from 18 songs to a more reasonable 10.
Highlights: Say You Will and Bleed to Love Her.
The Dance (1997)
This 1997 live album is a triumph and reunion. Recorded after the group had been on a ten-year hiatus, The Dance became the fifth-best selling live album of all time in America. The performance featured new arrangements and the return of the USC Marching Band, which was also enlisted for the recording of Tusk in 1981. The presence of a few new songs made it more than just a live greatest hits album.
Highlights: Silver Spring and Landslide
Then Play On (1969)
The high point of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Then Play On made the band European superstars. Green was widely acknowledged as the greatest blues guitarist from the U.K., influencing a generation of guitarists like Joe Perry and Eric Clapton. On this record, the band effectively mixed other styles into their bluesy sound.
Highlights: Black Magic Woman and Oh Well.
Tango in the Night (1987)
Fleetwood Mac had been written off by critics as a band past their 1970s heydey, but Tango in the Night proved the band was not past their prime. Tango in the Night started as a Buckingham solo effort, and it shows, with melodies that are inventive yet still singable. Only Rumours sold more copies than Tango in the Night. The album was recorded under strange circumstances, with Nicks spending just two weeks in the studio while promoting her third solo effort, and Buckingham quitting the band before the tour.
Highlights: Big Love and Everywhere
3. Fleetwood Mac (1975)
Also known as The White Album, the 1975 album heralded the rebirth of Fleetwood Mac after the departure of Peter Green and the addition of singer-songwriting duo Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The pair effortlessly blended in with the steady rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, transforming the band into a California pop rock powerhouse. Unlike other bands of the 70’s, Fleetwood Mac avoided getting bogged down in soft pop destined to be elevator music, thanks to the Buckingham’s relentlessness, which gave the music urgency to go along with those great melodies. The group became international superstars with hits like Rhiannon, Say You Love Me, Over My Head and Landslide.
Highlights: Monday Morning and Landslide.
1B. Tusk (1979)
The thing I knocked Say You Will for – being too long – was also a major issue for critics and fans with Tusk, only moreso, since the double album was wildly different in form and structure than their mega-hit, Rumors. Tusk, however, has only grown in prestige since its polarizing release. The album blending classic songwriting with new influences that were on the scene at the time, namely punk and new wave. The record only sold 4 million albums and was considered a flop by the label. It influenced generations of musicians and managed to take huge artistic risks, something that today’s artists studiously avoid.
Highlights: Tusk, Sara, Sisters of the Moon
It’s my list, so I can declare a tie if I want to: Tusk is every bit as good as Rumours.
1A. Rumours (1977)
What can you say about Rumours that hasn’t already been said? Although the real-life breakups and recoupling has been written about extensively as fuel for the music, rock bands are almost constantly filled with drama, but none of them have produced an album that is this good. The entire album flows with emotion and melody, shifting tones from bright, to dark, to beautiful and back again. Rumours produced a slew of hits, but Rumours is that rare beast – a cohesive album that is best listened to as a whole.
Highlights: Second Hand News and The Chain.