I can remember a time in the early to middle 1980’s where some very quality heavy metal bands were coming out of the New England area of the United States. Much of the bands were coming from Connecticut area. My first introduction to bands out of this area was Liege Lord in 1983. Soon after that I would discover Steel Prophet and Obsession. But in 1984 it was legendary progressive metal Fates Warning that would really put the Connecticut/New England metal scene on the global map. These bands would all share into some success throughout the rest of the 1980’s until the Seattle bands in the Pacific Northwest would alter the musical landscape for a few years to come.
While record labels and promoters were having their honeymoon with plaid clad lumberjack Grunge whores, heavy metal would suffer for a while and music that once sold out arena’s was reduced back to the nightclub scenes it seemed to of come out of just a decade before. However as many know heavy metal is extremely resilient and has proven so in its almost 50 year history. It is so resilient in fact that those bands I mentioned would recruit another generation of bands. Crossing Rubicon would be one of those bands. Here is a brief biography from their official Crossing Rubicon Facebook Page.
Crossing Rubicon began as a two-man project involving Scotty Anarchy and Pete Ahern (Red China Blue). The band enlisted our current drummer Brandi Hood shortly thereafter. Zach Lambert came on board and the group’s second guitarist. Brandi’s long-time rhythmic accomplice Jeff Diablo joined in the spring of 2010 as the groups bassist to round out the lineup. Pete stepped away from the band in the summer of 2010. Rob Dolan (ex-Dirty Blonde, ex-Hot Mess) joined to fill the lead role through four very successful shows including opening slots for In This Moment, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. In March 2011, the groups current guitarist Matt Douglas took over as the group’s permanent lead guitarist. Success continued as the band landed opening slots for Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, and Tantric. Bassist Jeff Miles stepped away from the band in late 2013 to be replaced by the groups current bassist, Steven Riccio. Crossing Rubicon’s music is often described as a throwback to metal of the 80’s and early 90’s, as band such as Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, while having a modern rock sound.
It would be that very sound that the band would employ to forge their debut album No Less Than Everything. The band not only applies vintage heavy metal forged from the golden lineage of heavy metal but also advance the evolution of power progressive metal with very modern and relevant elements. Their music is written in such a way that it is ‘Generation Transcending’ as to not be pigeonholed to any particular generational or age demographic. They certainly have a keen and intricate sense of allow all the hallmarks of pure and true heavy metal to come through everything they write and record. Now I will proceed to do a track by track analysis and point out some highlights from every track on Crossing Rubicon’s No Less Than Everything.
Tomorrow Never Comes is a straight away guitar charged frenzy. This frenzy is backed by a very quick and precise charging rhythm section. The vocals are a hybrid of Michael Kiske meets Jon Oliva. There is almost a slight thrash metal aesthetic throughout this track. The backing vocals have some attitude behind them as well. The guitar solo’s are well balanced.
Unhinged opens up with a more tuned rhythmic section both with the bass/drum and rhythm guitar. It is a bit more distorted than the previous track however the intro serves a purpose to set up the first verse and bridge narrative. The female backing vocals add some depth to this track as well. This track just continues to build layer upon layers on heavy rhythm sections within the chord progressions.
Never Again begins with a blistering rhythmic section based around the drums. From there it is a total blister fest between chord progressions and time signatures forming some brutal passages. The heavy blast beats of the bass drums really ground and anchor this track. The guitar solo really stands out as a shred fest among this heavily rhythm based track.
The Fallen begins as a semi atmospheric ballad with a isolated guitar bass and vocal before taking off into a blistering frenzy. This track goes from more of a ballad into a anthem style track. The vocals are very warm and really play off the backbone of the rhythm section. The guitar chord progressions are a bit warmer in this song as well. The lead portion of the guitar goes into a multiple solo style progression telling almost a instrumental story narrative. The backing vocals are very spot on as well. This track ends almost like a Savatage style track.
Bittersweet Day opens up with a very groove laden rhythm section with some really intricate rhythm guitar work in perfect harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This track is a very gritty yet fluid track allowing the vocals to come through very crystal clear allowing the track to both breathe and tell the story of the song. The guitar solo’s remind me a lot of a Kai Hansen (Helloween era) meets Savatage’s Cris Oliva. This is one of those songs that can hold its own in any decade over the last 30 years.
Cut Deep reminds me of one of those old school hard rock tracks that may of surfaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. There is a certain Alice In Chains influence happening in this track with the multiple vocal harmonies. This takes nothing away from the beautiful quality of the track. I hear some KingsX and even Galactic Cowboy odd metal influence in this one. The vocals harmonies are the true highlight on Cut Deep.
Whos Gonna Save You opens up with a serious blistering rhythm section. This is beautifully followed up with some nasty yet brutal lead vocals with some blistering and brooding backing vocal harmonies. The lyrical content is spot on in harmony with the instrumental throughout the entire track. The writing was deliberately brutal on this song. Even the rhythm section and guitars are brutal with some serious teeth behind them. This is just one serious beast of a track.
Violet Carson opens up with a vocal chant like there may be a occult thing going on here. The vocal chants are layered with beautiful harmony. Soon the track takes a very dark and brutal brooding chord progression. This song really reminds me of a Mercyful Fate meets Narnia vibe in a very odd yet tasteful way. The rhythm section throughout goes in and out between a progressive and power metal time signature. Once again the guitar solos are very spot on in time and register. There is a very wicked and beautiful spoken word section in the middle of the track to help enhance the narrative of the story. The vocal chants harmonies are the true anchor on this one.
Reason To Beg opens up with a very traditional heavy metal chord progression. The rhythm section reminds me a lot of gritty sleaze rock in the vein of Dirty Looks meets Ugly Kid Joe with slight progressive power metal elements. The lyrical content is rather brutal as well.
Do We Not Bleed is one of those tracks that could of been very radio friendly in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. It is a very well written straight away heavy metal track that carries all the hallmarks of verse/bridge/chorus with a well executed guitar solo within it that is carry by a strong bass/drum rhythm section. This is a song that could also be easily adapted to video form.
Im Here is a straight up guitar and vocal oriented track. With that said it is greatly anchored by a killer rhythm section with some serious emotion within the lyrical construct. It is a very fast up tempo track that will appeal to both metal purists and progressive metal purists. The chord progressions within the guitar solos are very heavily progressive influenced along with the vocal harmonies. The vocals really hit some high points on the register.
Return To Atlantis opens up with a very unusual but welcomed ocean crashing on the shore effect. Then the track takes on a very pure progressive metal chord progression allowing the rhythm section and lyrical story to breathe while the listener digests what they are listening to. This track is really focused on the harmony between vocals and instrumental portions developing a special emotion for the audience to really absorb this. The guitar solos are arranged and executed to the point as to not take away from the obvious story narrative the band is trying to convey to their target audience.
Crossing Rubicon are definitely one of those bands that really take a little bit of influence from all eras of heavy metal and hard rock and balance them with ease. They also blend all these various forms of metal and hard rock without it sounding stale or dated. They definitely have created a sound that will not pigeonhole them into where they can play and who they can share a live bill with. It is also noted that No Less Than Everything is a ‘debut’ album. If this is a debut album I can not wait for what they will do next. They definitely have the talent and ability to created various levels to heavy metal and hard rock. For a well thought of and well written ‘debut’ I give this a 4.5/5 for the insightful effort.
My gateway into neo progressive rock music was Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood in 1985. It was a bit difficult for me due to the fact I was a solid metal purist at the time. However the music never left me and the seed was sown towards future neo progressive music in the future. Throughout the years neo progressive music and bands would come across my path. By 1999 I had discovered California neo progressive rocker’s Enchant when I bought A Blueprint Of The World – 1993 and Wounded – 1996. From that point all my defenses concerning neo progressive rock and metal had been totally removed.
Soon after I had discovered bands such as IQ, Pendragon, Spock’s Beard, Jadis, Pallas and Arena to name a few. These bands all have a common thread that easily allows the neo progressive title to be bestowed upon them. This common thread is experimental symphonic prog. It requires particular programming of synth’s along with guitars and rely more on a heavy lush stringed section. It is a very rare occasion when the neo progressive element meets a heavier almost metal element. It also takes a very talented and exceptional band to be able to blend these elements just right. Fortunately Dutch band Knight Area has been able to manage just that. Their 2017 release Heaven And Beyond displays this at work.
On Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond there is a sonic buffet of various styles in play. Various styles not only include the obvious neo progressive staple but also go on to include hard rock, heavy metal and even AOR at certain points. This album is easily accessible to those various audio pallets. My appeal to Knight Area really took off after Peter Vinnk – Bass (Star One and Ayreon) alumni joined the band. I had always been a fan of his intricate and expansive bass work. This work is magnified on Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond. Now I would like to explore some highlights of Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond track by track.
Unbroken opens up with the keyboard transcribing a horned section almost from the 16 th century. Soon it goes into a pure progressive hard rock slightly metal chord progression with a great isolated guitar solo. The track fades down and soon come out of left field with a really gritty and crunchy rhythm based guitar signature. That is followed by a thunderous another thunderous rhythmic section between the bass, drum and rhythm portion on the guitar. Mark Smit – Vocals then comes in with some powerful, clear and angelic style vocals to carry the atmosphere of the track. This is a very guitar driven track from top to bottom with various breaks and time signatures.
Tree Of Life opens with a beautiful piano passage before being met with a straight away progressive hard rock passage. The rhythmic section really sets the table on this track quite nice. The guitar almost sounds like a 7 string guitar at times allowing more depth within the track. The vocal work is just as much a instrument as it is a narrative piece within the composition. The guitar solo’s really allow for a heavier listening experience. This is easily one of the tracks that can open up a live set list delivering depth to their intended audience. The Hammond Organ style towards the end gives the track a vintage progressive rock presence.
Memories starts out with a lush piano ballad with a deep warmth within the vocals. Although it is very progressive it displays some light AOR elements. The track soon takes off like a hard rock power ballad however without sounding cheesy. The guitars really lend a lot of atmospheric depth and layers to the stringed section. The vocals harmonies are spot on with the instrumental portions to the composition. They are almost like a mini choir in nature. This is definitely one of the more guitar driven tracks on the album.
Dreamworld begins with a beautiful piano intro before taking on a very heavily symphonic rooted chord progression. It is as if the band are taking a symphony orchestra mindset and transcribing it to the available instruments at their disposal. This track as big thunderous rhythm sections matched wonderfully with big stringed sections. The vocals really blend all the sum of the parts of this track beautifully. The band really start to form a very distinct sound on Dreamworld.
The Reaper opens up with a very dark brooding bass passage with some seriously warm yet dark vocals along with a open atmosphere on the keyboards. The vocals are arranged with such thought and care in their isolation. This track takes on a very some very misty eerie instrumental elements allowing the isolated vocals to get a beautiful to be told in its fullness. In its gloomy atmosphere the track still allows a little light in to breathe.
Box Of Toys opens with a powerful guitar solo from the top. Soon it goes into a break with a great rhythm section to allow the vocal to breathe and tell the story. This track reminds me a lot of early GTR or Asia compositions. There is a great violin in this as well. The harmonies are very Yes in nature.
Starlight blasts open into a progressive frenzy with the rhythm section. This is a very straight away progressive hard rock track with intelligent vocal harmonies playing in perfect range with the stringed section of keys and lead guitar. Starlight borders on the fringe of a progressive metal track at times throughout the track.
Heaven And Beyond opens up with a beautiful harmony between the piano, guitar and vocal. This combination allows the listener to settle in the track. The opening is almost ballad like before the drums come in and turn it into more of a power ballad. This is definitely one of those songs I see their fan base singing back to them during live performances on tour. Its very nature is unifying. The guitar solo’s are a complete treat on this one as well. There are some really tight beautiful vocal harmonies towards the end.
Saviour Of Sinners opens up with a straight away prog metal delight with some neo progressive elements sprinkled in. The band really has a great talent in mixing the vocals to be isolated within the instrumental where they can be clearly heard and the story told. The rhythm section is spot on leading both the vocal harmony and the stringed section serving as a anchor for the entire track. Time signatures are definitely present all over this song.
Eternal Light the ethereal opening guitar solo on this track matches the title quite perfectly. It appears this was recorded live as is in studio along with a beautiful and perfectly complimentary keyboard in tandem harmony. The emotion in this track will take the listener for a emotional ride. It is the only instrumental on Heaven And Beyond.
Twins of Sins opens up in a almost unconventional classic rock format. It opens up much like 1980’s progressive rock when bands like Asia, Yes , etc took on more AOR elements. However the further this goes the more the track takes on a more modern neo progressive metal track with catchy time signatures and complex chord progressions to match the intricate bass and vocals. This track also serves as a great uplifting track to close out the album.
To my surprise Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond was a very unconventionally guitar oriented neo progressive album. Sometimes the term neo progressive means it is more keyboard based however this album was not that. Heaven And Beyond is going to surprise some people in the progressive rock and metal communities since there is a little bit of everything for the progressive pallet. I would not be surprised to find this album in the Top 5 or even #1 of the Album Of 2017 lists when they come out at the end of the year. This is a very good album and gets a 5/5 for the variety of many progressive elements.
Jethro Tull | Thick As A Brick A 45th Anniversary Retrospective
Original Label : Chrysalis (Europe) Reprise (North America) Release Year : 1972 Country : United Kingdom Genre : Progressive Rock
Original 1972 Band Members Ian Anderson – Lead Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Fute/Volin/Tumpet/Sxophone/Cover Art Producer Martin Barre – Electric Guitar/Lute John Evan – Organ/Piano/Harpsichord/Cover Art Jeffrey Hammond (as “Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond”) – Bass Guitar/Spoken Words/Cover art Barriemore Barlow – Drums/Percussion/Timpani
Additional Guest Musicians
David Palmer – Orchestral Arrangements Terry Ellis – Executive Producer Robin Black – Engineer
Throughout the history of progressive rock, the progressive rock epic has become a staple in the historical record of progressive rock. What do I mean by progressive rock epic. It is simple, a song that is 15+ minutes in length that transcends the original album they appeared on. In the progressive rock community in 1972, we witnessed a year of epics. Various epics that saw that light of day in 1972 are in no particular order, Yes’ Close To The Edge – 18:43 , Genesis’ Suppers Ready – 22:57 , Frank Zappa’s Waka Jawaka – 36:08 , Ash Ra Temple’s Schiwingungen – 38:04 and all four tracks that would make up Tangerine Dream’s Zeit, Birth of Liquid Plejades – 19:54, Nebulous Dawn – 17:56 , Origin of Supernatural Probabilities – 19:34 , Zeit – 16:58, etc …..
A little more history, due to the absolute time constrictions of the vinyl records of the day many of these classics came in 2 to 3 even more disc packages. The was a 22:05 restriction on each side of the vinyl records. It would only be later on Cassette and CD formats that we could really enjoy the progressive rock epic the way is was meant to be heard. Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brickin reality was a 43:48song that had to be divided into two sides due to industry restrictions. Side A was 22:39 and Side B was 21:09. I imagine if CD and Digital technology existed in 1972, the history of progressive rock and metal would be a whole different story.
Ian Anderson did Thick As A Brick as partial satire to where the progressive rock community started to go with longer more detailed compositions. In a interview with with PROG Magazine, Ian Anderson explained that Thick As A Brick was the basically the Monty Python to the progressive rock concept album of the day.
“Monty Python lampooned the British way of life,” says Anderson. “Yet did it in such a way that made us all laugh while celebrating it. To me, that’s what we as a band did on Thick As A Brick. We were spoofing the idea of the concept album, but in a fun way that didn’t totally mock it.” Ian Anderson would go on in same interview and say that progressive rock had become all entirely ‘too serious’ feeling ‘too self important’
“When progressive rock started out, it was all about bands such as ourselves moving beyond merely being influenced by American blues. We stopped trying to be the next Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack – in other words, derivative of Elmore James – and began to take on board so many diverse musical ideas. It was exciting and dynamic. But, by the time the 1970s had begun, bands like ELP were a little up their own arses. Everything was too serious and overblown. So, we set out with Thick As A Brick to show up this side of the genre.”
Despite Ian Anderson’s reservations on portions of the industry at the time, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick would go on to become both a legendary album and a album that now has its own ‘cult like’ following. It is due to those factors alone that I decided to present this 45th Anniversary Retrospective. The above mentioned epics and Thick As A Brick would go on to also influence many many more artists in contemporary progressive rock and metal community.
Conceptual Blueprints # 2
The idea to make Thick As A Brick into a very deliberate concept came from Ian Anderson’s irritation over the general public pigeonholing Jethro Tull’s previous album Aqualung into a conceptual piece. On the contrary it just had a general theme running through over a multiple tracked album. Ian Anderson told Teamrock’s Prog Magazine about the situation in January 2016,
“Not angry, no,” explains the man nearly four decades on. “I was actually mildly irritated and wryly amused. However much I insisted that Aqualung wasn’t a concept album, the media still persisted in treating it as such. They seemed to believe the whole record was a major religious story. The truth was that three or four songs were linked by questioning the nature of religion. But the rest were stand-alone tracks. So, after this whole scenario, I thought, ‘OK, we’ll not only now do a real concept album, but we’re going to make it the mother of all concept albums!’.”
The general story centers around autobiographical events through Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson’s alternate ego and fictional character he created for Thick As A Brick. As Gerald Bostock, Ian Anderson questions the state of organized religion of the time. Here is what I see going on within this line of stiff scrutiny towards organized religion as it relates to Thick As A Brick.
A young man, full of vigour and not yet beaten down by the system, “sees” what’s wrong with society and can’t believe that the elders don’t see “it” also. I believe that Ian is this young man and that these ideas are illustrations of his opinions of what’s wrong with the world. In Aqualung, the album just before TAAB, Ian attacks organized religion. He also examines the loveless, godless dregs of society. In Chateau D’Isaster, the “lost” album just after TAAB, Ian attacks the Rat Race – the business people whom he charicatures as various types of animals. He also comments on Free Will vs. God-driven pre-destiny by likening Life to a stage upon which the sole actor (you, me, us) goes out onto without a script and has to improvise. In TAAB and Roots to Branches, Ian examines how society and organized religion spread (by imprinting children before they become old enough to think for themselves). In general, I feel that Ian believes in free will and in the humanitarian aspects of modern religions – we can determine our own actions and we are charged with the responsibility to act with compassion towards ourselves, other people, animals and nature. He believes that it is wrong to rely on a personified deity (“God”) – a god who will come riding in like the Great White Knight to “save” us from our own stupid actions. You can see this belief expressed throughout Aqualung, e.g. “He is the god of nothing, if that’s all that you can see, You are the god of everything, he’s inside you and me”.
Now I know there will be a bit of controversy with this. Some will agree or disagree with how God is looked at. That is not my intention to persuade somebody’s faith or religious beliefs. I am merely being as generally objective as possible. Some of the views expressed about the issue and subject of God even conflict with my own beliefs however still, my main focus is the facts and this was how the issue of God was viewed by Gerald Bostock, a.k.a fictional character of Ian Anderson as it concerns Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick.
The Anatomy Of A Epic – A Breakdown Of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick. Thick As A Brick – Sides #1 & #2
This was the only song on the album. Side 1 was “part 1,” running 22:31, and side 2 was “part 2,” clocking in at 21:05. Each side was over 20 minutes long.
A radio edit, running just 3:01, was sent to radio stations and is the version used on most compilation albums. Speaking with us in 2013, Ian Anderson explained: “back in 1972, you had to be aware of what was then called AOR radio – it was a delicate beast. It could only in most cases manage to play music that was in bite size portions. So we had to think about giving the option to American radio playing little edited sections of ‘Thick As A Brick,’ so they didn’t have to delicately drop the needle into the middle of a long track or lift it off after the three and a half minutes. So we did that specially for American radio.
It was never released publicly in that form, but in limited editions which were sent out to radio stations in the US, which is the only place where the record got played, anyway. It never got played in the UK or anywhere in Europe, it was just not that kind of music.”
“Thick as a brick” is a phrase meaning stubbornly dumb, as one’s head is so thick that no new thoughts can enter it. The song starts with Ian Anderson expressing his low expectations for his target (“I may make you feel but I can’t make you think”) before singing about class structures, conformity, and the rigid moralistic beliefs of the establishment that perpetuates it.
The song follows a young boy who sees two career paths: soldier and artist. He chooses the life of a soldier, just like his father. We see him assimilate into the society he once rebelled against, becoming just like his dad.
With minimal meddling, the album took only two weeks to record, and was written in less than a month. The packaging was designed to look like a small-town newspaper called the St. Cleve Chronicle and Linwell Advertiser. When opened, the album revealed 12 pages of newspaper stories, making innovative use of the square foot of sleeve space with a fold-out so the Chronicle measured 12″x16″.
Under the headline “Thick As A Brick,” we learn that an 8-year-old boy genius named Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics for a poetry competition, but was disqualified on moral grounds by the governing body, The Society for Literary Advancement and Gestation (SLAG). According to the story, Ian Anderson of the “Major Beat Group” Jethro Tull read the poem and wrote 45 minutes of “pop music” to accompany it.
The newspaper also contained ads, recipes, TV listings, a crossword puzzle, and a review of the album. Jethro Tull wasn’t the first to use the newspaper theme for album art: The Four Seasons 1969 album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette was made to look like a newspaper with lyrics to the songs appearing as stories. It even had a comics-section insert.
In 2012, Ian Anderson recorded a sequel called Thick As A Brick 2 – Whatever Happened To Gerald Bostock? The album presents various outcomes for the now 48-year-old Bostock, including banker, preacher, soldier, and shop owner. Anderson says the album examines how “our own lives develop, change direction and ultimately conclude through chance encounters and interventions, however tiny and insignificant they might seem at the time.”
Anderson had never performed the original Thick As A Brick in its entirety, but later in 2012, he began a tour where he played the entire album and its sequel.
This continued an experimental phase for Jethro Tull. Their previous album, Aqualung, was considered a “concept” album, with characters and themes continuing from one song to the next. This was considered “progressive” rock, with very obtuse lyrics and a great deal of production. This song seems to be a commentary on modern society and the human condition.
In 2001, this was used in a Hyundai commercial. Group leader Ian Anderson recorded a new version for the spot to avoid having other musicians butcher his song, as is often the case in commercials. He improvised an outro which he felt was the best part, but it was edited out. Anderson does not drive a Hyundai. He calls himself a “professional passenger.”
This appears in an episode of The Simpsons where Lisa goes to the “Boy’s School.”
In the digital age, an album containing just one song doesn’t fit the download model. When the 40th Anniversary Special Edition was released in 2012, Ian Anderson divided the album into 8 different pieces that could be sold individually on iTunes and Amazon as $1.29 songs with titles like “The Poet and the Painter” and “See There a Man Is Born/Clear White Circles.” “Some artists choose not to do that – famously Pink Floyd – and don’t want to have their music unbundled to offer it in song length pieces,” Anderson told us. “But I accept that that’s the musical appetite of most folks these days. They don’t really have the time or the concentration to listen to a whole album in one go. They want it in manageable pieces.”
Along the north central portion of the Mediterranean Sea, tucked in between the Ionian and Aegian Sea’s lies a country that has been called The Cradle Of Western Civilisation, this being Greece. This peninsula has served as some of the most significant events in the history of the world. It gave birth to democracy, set an example that even city states can come together under one country, one constitution and one currency.
Greece at one point was even the center of the worlds intelligence, scientists, artists, etc… When men like Plato, Aristotle, Arcimedes or Euclid would of ever known just how their lasting legacy’s would eventually make into modern music and its various genres and culture’s. In a global progressive metal community, Greece has been one of the main pillars and beacons within the community. Recent metal bands beginning there journey out of Greece are Wastefall – (2003-2008), Rotting Christ – (1987) Septicflesh – (1990), Dakyra – (2004). A few progressive/power metal acts that have risen out of Greece are Firewind, Seduce The Heaven, Sunburst, Groove Therapist and now NEED.
NEED are Greece’s answer to Dream Theater, Opeth, Fates Warning and O.S.I all rolled into one band. Founded in 2004 with Ravaya – Guitars leading the band, they released they released their first promo CD “avoidinme”. Soon after that the band would endure quite a few personnel changes and tour with bands such as Zenith – (Denmark), Candlemass, Jon Oliva’s Pain, Dead Soul Tribe, Threshold , etc .. NEED would go on to play at the 15th Anniversary of 2014’s Prog/Power USA in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. On that bill they would open in support of Jon Oliva’s Pain, Overkill, Pain Of Salvation, Leperous, etc .. The band would ultimately settle around its current line up and in 2016 release Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom.
On Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom ,NEED display’s a clinic on the execution of time signatures, chord progressions and heavy progressive atmospheres. Throughout its seven songs, the band includes many elements and theories that are utilized within the progressive metal community. Some of the progressive trademarks ultimately coming together into the 21 + minute epic Hegaiamas. Without any further delay I am going to do a track to track analysis of NEED’s Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom.
Rememory opens up with a beautiful female voice in the first verse of the song. It soon goes into a rhythmic section explosion before a beautiful vintage Hammond Organ gives the track further depth. The depth of the opening rhythmic section and riffs are met with great sophistication and ferocity. This track displays the band immediately getting both new progressive metal fans through a old school progressive rock mindset. There are various breaks in between the fierce rhythmic chord progressions. Those breaks allow for the track and composition to breathe so the listener can digest the product.
Alltribe bleeds seamlessly well off of Rememory, almost in a conceptual manner. It is a very guitar driven introduction to the track with multiple progressive riffs and chord progressions within the passages. The guitar takes on several dimensions between a lead guitar and rhythm guitar. The drum and bass really allow for the rhythm guitar to pop and be present. The vocals are wonderfully done on the backdrop of the rhythm section almost like a Vanden Plas meets later Fates Warning style. The keyboards treat the stringed section with class playing alongside the lead guitar portions.
Theraintherope begins with a heavy avant garde passage before taking off into a very blistering chord progression. When the chord progression takes off it does so in the vein of Opeth or Bewteen The Buried And Me with death style growls in harmony with the cleaner lead vocals. This is a more modern by utilizing both a death vocal growl and a cleaner vocal running in harmony to one another. This makes the band very relevant in today’s progressive metal community. The guitar and keyboards really serve this track with a futuristic vibe about the track. The futuristic effect also really serves the death growls up more as a instrument than a lyrical style vocal. The guitar solo’s build upon this and form a very lush atmosphere to the song.
Riverthane starts off with a thunderous thrash metal style of chord progression. It is very brutal in its very nature. Once again their are subtle death growls in the backdrop to help anchor the vocal as well as the instrumental half of the thunderous riffs and passages. There is also the same rhythm guitar parts and keyboard portions that were present in the song before Theraintherope. The clean vocals are really strong in this one and perfectly compliment both the instrumental stringed and instrument rhythm sections. Towards the middle there is almost a effect like people are in serious distress. Ravaya – Guitars, certainly channels his inner Jim Matheos of Fates Warning on this one. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected .
Tilikum starts off very melancholic sound on the piano with effects as if children are playing in the background. This is met in harmony with the lead vocal coming in very soon after that. The track then takes another thunderous turn down towards a very heavy handed rhythmic section between the bass/drum/guitar. This track shows that the band can also utilize backing vocals perfectly with lead with both clean and death growl vocals present. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected meets Opeth’s Blackwater Park meets Within Temptation’s Mother Earth.
I.O.T.A. is a very eloquent track. This is a spoken word track. It is as if the band are setting up a conceptual story with the final track Hemigaias. There is a beautiful melancholic piano passage present while this spoken word dialogue is happening. It is a dialogue between a woman and a man.
Hegaiamas is the epic of the album. This one clocks in at 21:52, a key signature to progressive rock or metal. This opens up with a short guitar solo with complex keyboard passages and vocal harmonies. It soon takes off with several time signatures and chord progressions building up to a climatic standard that progressive music is notorious for. There are some nice and very appropriate breaks for the vocals to come in with various chord progressions between the stringed and rhythm sections. The track really takes on some blistering time signatures at the 4:00 mark leading the track into a adventure for the listener. The keyboards sound much like Derek Sherinian meets Jordan Rudess in many ways. This track remains very busy as to not allowing for the listener to ever get bored with it.The guitar brings various dimensions to this giving the listener the audio appearance of various songs rolled into one. There are some really great harmonies building on top of multiple time signatures throughout the song.
Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom is one more example of the natural evolution of progressive rock and metal. This band may carry many influences however they create the own original sound with those influences. You can tell that there is a full band democracy working within the creative process. Like a fine wine they open up every song for the listener and allow it to breathe so the listener can appreciate the music at its maximum capacity. I give Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom a 5/5.
Guest Musicians James Labrie – Vocals – President Evil/Taken (Radio Edit)/ A Place In Heaven/Taken (Studio Edit)
Most Beautiful Day President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) Hardest Way Purple Angels The Best of Magic Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] 18 Euphoria A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) Ghostwriter Limousine Back in the Shadow Taken (feat. James LaBrie)
For the last 25 years any time you heard about or were introduced to a ‘female-fronted’ band the general conclusion drawn is usually that the band must be a Symphonic metal band. Symphonic Metal meaning the inclusion of choirs and small to large orchestral aesthetics. The other conclusion drawn is that the band must be a Beauty & Beast metal band. Beauty & Beast meaning the male vocal takes on a full guttural death metal style growl and the female vocal is full operatic. In 85% of the cases this has all been true. The other 10% of the remaining 15% has come from the progressive rock/metal community.
When I mention Progressive Metal I mean a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositions innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. To take what progressive rock pioneers did and add a metal element in the compositions and song arrangements.
Pioneering ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are The Gathering, To Mera, Agora, After Forever, Kingfisher Sky and Stream Of Passion & Ayreon ,to a certain extent. Bands who are now innovating ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are Vandroya from Brazil, MindMaze from the United States, Ancient Prophecy, Flaming Row, Universal Mind Project Amaranthe from Sweden and now from Italy Last Union.
Last Union are one of the most pure progressive/power/melodic metal bands to come around in the last 10 years. It is no secret by now that Italy has been one of the leading countries to produce quality progressive rock/metal bands since the late 1960’s. Bands like Death SS, Novembre, Rhapsody, Eldritch, Empty Tremor and Vision Divine are a few of many progressive metal bands to come forth from Italy. Even one of the top 5 Rock/Metal Opera’s of all time with Daniele Liverani’s GENIUS Rock/Metal Opera.
Last Union continues this rich melodic tradition from Italy. Last Union now enters that discussion of the rich progressive metal tradition from Italy. On a global front Last Union are a natural progression into the evolution of progressive metal. Last Union’s line up is nothing short of remarkable. Last Union was founded by Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals and Christiano Tiberi – Guitars, Mike Lepond – Bass (Symphony X) and the legendary Uli Kusch – Drums (ex-Helloween/Gamma Ray).
On the surface Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day seems like just a collection of 11 different songs representing 11 different days. However the more the listener engages the album alongside the album booklet with more detailed attention you begin to see the songs line up as a common themed conceptual album.Mike Lepond from Symphony X once again proves why he is one of ,if not the most sought after bass player in the progressive rock and metal communities. Uli Kusch once again proves his legendary drummer prowess that helped bands like Helloween become the international band they were. To see the tracks line up this way the listener really needs to spend time in the booklet as they listen. Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day is straight prog/power from the first to last riff on the album. I will point some highlights out from each of the 11 tracks on this offering.
Most Beautiful Day opens up as a straight away heavy metal track. That is met in a two part vocal harmony between the female and male narrative. The female obviously being a very strong lead and male lead serving more in a echo capacity. The guitar is very modern. The guitar has the depth of sound of a seven string. Elisa Scarpeccio has one of the most distinctive voices to come along in the progressive metal community within the last 15 years.
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) begins with a heavy rhythm based chord progression. Cristiano Tiberi quickly establishes himself as a guitarist with a very unique and distinctive sound and style of play. Cristiano Tiberi certainly does a fine job separating his sound among his peers. He literally has to in order for this song to not come off as any Dream Theater or James Labrie solo project. James Labrie displays great vocal presence alongside the rhythmic portion of this track. There is a nice harmonic break in the middle before a powerful two tier guitar solo comes in.
Hardest Way sees the band’s focus directed more towards the bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with some warmer vocal work from Elisa. This track also allows Elisa to show various aspects to her vocals. She certainly has her own sound and I am sure as the band begin to play shows on Most Beautiful Day, the world will see a young and powerful vocalist that is to be reckoned with.
Purple Angels continues to see the band experiment with various rhythm styles along with various vocal harmonies to perfectly compliment those intricate rhythm sections. The vocals sound like a mini choir briefly until Elisa comes in with authority with the lead vocal. There is a great balance in the vocals. The vocal work goes in and out between lead, to backing vocals in a echo. About the 2:00 mark there is a nice break in the instrumental that allows for the lead vocal to really come through.
The Best of Magic begins almost like a classic AOR track. The start of this track takes on a heavier ballad style about it. This track is a very easy song to follow. It could be one of those songs that the fan base of this band will sing back to them in a live setting. The guitar solo is very uplifting and the chord progressions smoother.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] starts out with a wall of both a lead guitar solo and a deep rhythmic section between the guitar/bass/drum. The crunchy distortion in the guitar gives this various depths of heaviness. The intricate vocal presentation between James Labrie and Elisa Scarpeccio is nothing short of stellar. Elisa even sounds a little like James in various lines. If you are a listener following the booklet you will see a common theme conceptual thing happening.
18 Euphoria starts out with a powerful chord progressive passage. This is met with some very powerful vocal work. The vocal work really takes on various levels of harmony. This track clearly displays the bands ability to experiment with various levels of vocal harmonies.
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) starts out with a beautiful semi acoustic guitar that has another wonderful and heavier guitar double tracked that allows the track to feel like many guitars are the driving force. Cristiano Tiberi has a very uncanny ability of double tracking and making the guitar sound like a instrument in union and agreement with itself. There is a wonderfully engineered spoken word section in this song as well. The guitar solos and rhythm sections are total beasts here. Uli Kusch shows again why he is one of metal’s legendary drummers.
Ghostwriter starts out as more of a pure power metal track with progressive elements. This track storms ahead with a power metal passage that has various intricate chord progressive elements. This is one of the faster and heavier tracks on the album. The solos are hugs, the bass/drum rhythm section storms all the way through this track.
Limousine is another hard and heavy progressive metal track on the album. Much in the way Ghostwriter is the power track, this one sees the band taking a few more chances at intricate progressive time signatures. The atmosphere is completely straight away power/progressive through this one as well.
Back in the Shadow begins with a more experimental intro before the track takes on a more ‘pure power metal’ presence. The band by now has established themselves as great students to progressive metal but with modern elements.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Studio Edit] this is almost twice as long as the radio edit for obvious reasons. However I would be remiss is omitting that this track is also the epic on the track clocking in at 8+ minutes.That is rather short for progressive standards however this track is still done with great detail and care. The band takes much more time on the intro and the outro portions of the song. This also shows that the band is capable of longer compositions if they want to ever go in that direction.
For being very young both Elisa Scarpeccio and Cristiano Tiberi had a very clear vision on how Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day needed to sound. These fine young musicians even recruited some of the very best in the world with Mike LePond, Uli Kusch and James Labrie. Most Beautiful Day lacks nothing in substance. Although the tracks are shorter considering the other work of their recruits and guest musician, they still meet and fill the objective the band put in place. For the detail and insight of such young musicians I give Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day a 4/5.
1977 was ground zero for new beginnings in the area of both pop culture and rock n roll. In the year that would eventually see the King Of Rock’n’ Roll Elvis Presley die. Director Roman Polanski pleaded guilty of raping a 13 year old girl in 1977 but fled the U.S to avoid charges, this is why his 2011 film Carnage, staring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly although set in New York was actually filmed in Paris. The deadliest (583 casualties) crash in Aviation history occurred not in the skies but on the runway between two Boeing 747s on March 27, 1977. Known as the ‘Tenerife Airport Disaster’. It happened at the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport), on the Spanish island of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Aerosmith’s flight crew inspected a Convair CV-240 for possible use and rejected it because they felt the plane and crew were not up to their standards. That plane crashed on October 20, 1977 from fuel exhaustion due to poor maintenance, killing three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In the midst of all those very depressing headlines there was a full on musical revolution going on that would produce some of classic rock’s biggest selling and most influential bands and albums of all time. In New York’s Manhattan East Village you had the famous CBGB bar that would eventually produce future punk and early alternative icons The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, etc … who were allowed to thrive and grow due to many people being banned by Steve Rubell uptown at the Disco dive Studio 54. The birth of what would become Goliath’s in the film industry, Rock and Star Wars were released.
Meanwhile in other parts of the musical landscape it would both produce some of the best selling albums of all time and some of the most competitive music for the public’s attention and money. Rod Stewart would release Foot Loose & Fancy Free, The Bee Gees would become disco music staples and release the single “How Deep Is Your Love”. In the same year there was a musical revolution happening on America’s west coast. Van Halen would release their iconic Van Halen I debut, the Eagles would release one of the two iconic classic rock albums in Hotel California and up the coast near San Fransisco Fleetwood Mac would release Rumours.
Now I would be remiss in saying there was a lot of variables and things happening within Fleetwood Mac that served as poetic fuel for the creative fire that made Rumours one of the Top #5 albums of all time. When you hear cocaine, breakups, divorce and other secrets that shroud the making of Rumours it is all true and that truth would be reveled within many of the songs that would make Rumours. For you who are not as familiar with Fleetwood Mac Rumours, it was the band’s 11th album. This would be the second album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
You had two couples who were well into breakup’s and divorce and one couple that would secretly happen in the serious privacy until it would be revealed. John MacVie and Christine MacVie were well into divorce proceeding, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were in the beginning of a breakup/divorce and Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood would start a secret relationship behind everyone’s back. It was a total debacle however in its own strangeness helped the creative process among the five members of Fleetwood Mac.
These were five members that through the course of the recording process of Rumours would go in as a band and come out as a true rock ‘supergroup’. Rumours would also relate to the social conscious of what the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation’s lifestyles and experience. Now let’s take a look back at some highlights and facts from each track from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
Rumours Become Facts
Second Hand News was written by Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham. It is the first track on the Rumours album – the most successful album of Fleetwood Mac’s career with sales of over 40 million worldwide, going 19x platinum in the US and 10x platinum in the UK. The band’s original drummer Mick Fleetwood calls it the most important album they ever made.
This song was originally an acoustic demo titled “Strummer.” But when Buckingham heard the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’,” he rearranged it with more audio tracks and the rhythmic effect from “playing” the faux-leather seat of a studio chair to make it evoke a slightly Celtic feel.
Like many of the songs on the Rumours album, this one shows a darker side in the lyrics. It’s asking you to move on, leave the singer alone. Fleetwood Mac was experiencing the shatter of all of their emotional ties with not one, not two, but three break-ups! That was the divorce of the McVies, Buckingham and Stevie Nicks breaking up, and Fleetwood going through a divorce from his wife.
In Frank Moriarty’s book Seventies Rock: The Decade of Creative Chaos, Stevie Nicks is quoted from a Creem interview in July 1977, explaining the acrid lyrics: “We were all trying to break up and when you break up with someone you don’t want to see him. You especially don’t want to eat breakfast with him the next morning, see him all day and all night, and all day the day after…”
As if that weren’t enough, Seventies Rock also goes on to quote Nicks about the recording sessions on their next album: “It lasted thirteen months and it took every bit of inner strength we had. It was very hard on us, like being a hostage in Iran, and to an extent, Lindsay was the Ayatollah.”
Dreams During the sessions for Rumours, everyone in the band was going through a breakup (Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham with each other, John and Christine McVie with each other, Mick Fleetwood with his wife Jenny Boyd) and doing a lot of drugs. They were able to work together, but most of the songwriting was on an individual basis. Stevie Nicks wrote this in the studio next door, where Sly Stone was recording. He had a big, semicircular bed and red velvet all over the walls – a great vibe for a song about dreams.
The line “Players only love you when they’re playing” was directed at Lindsey Buckingham. Stevie Nicks was not pleased when he brought “Go Your Own Way” to the sessions, which was clearly about her. Stevie told Q magazine June 2009: “It was the fairy and the gnome. I was trying to be all philosophical. And he was just mad.”
This was Fleetwood Mac’s only #1 hit in the US. Stevie Nicks recalled to The Daily Mail October 16, 2009: “I remember the night I wrote ‘Dreams.’ I walked in and handed a cassette of the song to Lindsey. It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad. We were couples who couldn’t make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other – and we got some brilliant songs out of it.”
In 1998 a Todd Terry re-mix of a cover by The Corrs peaked at #6 in the UK. The Irish group originally recorded the song for a Fleetwood Mac tribute album. Mick Fleetwood, who is a fan of The Corrs, had asked them to record it.
Christine McVie said in a 1997 interview with Q: “‘Dreams’ developed in a bizarre way. When Stevie first played it for me on the piano, it was just three chords and one note in the left hand. I thought, This is really boring, but the Lindsey genius came into play and he fashioned three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing.”
Christine McVie played both a Hammond organ and a Fender Rhodes electric piano on this track.
Never Going Back Again According to Q magazine June 2009 the inspiration for this Lindsey Buckingham penned song was a brief relationship with a woman whom he’d met on the road. Buckingham had only recently broken up with his Fleetwood Mac co-singer Stevie Nicks.
Most of the Rumours album was recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California, but this song was recorded at Studio City Sound Recording Studios in Los Angeles. According to recording assistant Cris Morris, this song took a while to record. Said Morris: “It was Lindsey’s pet project, just two guitar tracks but he did it over and over again. In the end his vocal didn’t quite match the guitar tracks so we had to slow them down a little.”
Dont’ StopChristine McVie wrote this about leaving the past behind. She and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac’s bass player) were splitting up, which inspired the lyrics. This caused some awkward moments, since John had to play a song written about him. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were also going through a breakup and writing songs about each other (“Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams”), and Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce. All the tension in the studio didn’t seem to hurt – Rumours is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
The album was going to be called “Yesterday’s Gone,” after a line in this song. John McVie suggested “Rumours” because it seemed like everyone in Southern California was talking about the personal drama Fleetwood Mac was going through.
Bill Clinton used this as his theme song when he successfully ran for US president in 1992. He was the first baby boomer president, and he knew Fleetwood Mac would appeal to a lot of voters in this demographic.
There was some subtext to this pairing of song and politician: Clinton was a known philanderer, and had been through some rough times with his wife, Hillary. The song finds Christine McVie offering her husband a chance to move forward despite his transgressions:
Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you’ve done
The vast majority of listeners didn’t pick up on this, as it was heard as a song of hope and renewal in the context of the campaign.
When Bill Clinton won the presidential election, Fleetwood Mac was thrust back into the spotlight because his campaign had used this song at every opportunity. At this time, the band was fractured, with Lindsey Buckingham out of the lineup since 1987 and Stevie Nicks out since 1991. And while Clinton couldn’t push through universal health care, he was able to get the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac back together, as Buckingham and Nicks joined John and Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood to perform at his inaugural gala in 1993 (the day before he was sworn into office).
Nothing came of the one-off reunion, and the band spent the next few years punching below their weight, even opening for REO Speedwagon. In 1997, Buckingham and Nicks returned to the fold and Fleetwood Mac was once again an arena act, embarking on their wildly successful The Dance tour.
Go Your Own Way Lindsey Buckingham wrote this as a message to Stevie Nicks. It describes their breakup, with the most obvious line being, “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do.” Stevie insisted she never shacked up with anyone when they were going out, and wanted Lindsey to take out the line, but he refused.
Stevie Nicks told Q magazine June 2009: “It was certainly a message within a song. And not a very nice one at that.”
While the Rumours album was being recorded, the marriage of John and Christine McVie (both of them Mac members) was also coming to an end. With two couples breaking up during the sessions, recording could be quite tense. They were also doing lots of drugs at the sessions, making sure there was plenty of Behind The Music material.
This was the first single from the Rumours album, which became one of the best-selling of all time. Describing the recording process for this song in Q magazine, drummer Mick Fleetwood said: “‘Go Your Own Way’s’ rhythm was a tom-tom structure that Lindsey demoed by hitting Kleenex boxes or something. I never quite got to grips with what he wanted, so the end result was my mutated interpretation. It became a major part of the song, a completely back-to-front approach that came, I’m ashamed to say, from capitalizing on my own ineptness. There was some conflict about the ‘crackin’ up, shackin’ up’ line, which Stevie felt was unfair, but Lindsey felt strongly about. It was basically, On your bike, girl!”
Fleetwood Mac is not known for their guitar solos, but Lindsey Buckingham’s solo on this is one of his most notable. The live version on The Dance contains a much longer solo
Songbird This was Christine McVie’s solo on side 1 of the album. It proved her talent apart from the group. She wrote the song, sang it, and played the piano for it.
This is a very personal song for McVie about the self-sacrifice of true love. >>
Christine McVie has said that this song held Fleetwood Mac together during their hard times (while recording Rumours). Once the members heard this song, they thought how much they had been through and how much love they shared. >>
This was often used to close many Fleetwood Mac shows. >>
American singer Eva Cassidy’s cover was made the title track of a compilation album of recordings, which was released in 1998, two years after her death from melanoma. The album took off in the UK after Cassidy’s version of “Over the Rainbow” was played by Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. The Songbird set went on to top the UK album charts, almost three years after its initial release. In 2009 an audition performance of Cassidy’s arrangement of this song by Shanna Goodhead on Britain’s The X-Factor, prompted enough interest to push the late American’s singer’s version into the UK Top 75 Singles Chart.
Christine McVie penned the song in half a hour after she woke up in the middle of the night with it in her head. She recalled to Mojo in 2015: “Stevie and I were in a condominium block and the boys were all in the Sausalito Record Plant house raving with girls and boozer and everything. I had a little transistorised electric piano next to my bed and I woke up one night at about 3.30am and started playing it. I had all, words, melody, chords in about 30 minutes. It was like a gift from the angels, but I had no way to record it. I thought I’m never gonna remember this. So I went back to bed, and couldn’t sleep. I wrote the words down quickly.”
“Next day, I went into the studio shaking like a leaf’ cos I knew it was something special. I said, ‘Ken, (Caillat, Rumours’ co-producer/engineer) put the 2-track on, I want to record this song!’ I think they were all in there, smoking opium.”
The Chain was another song that revolved arounf the break up situation within the band. Stevie Nicks wrote the lyrics about Lindsey Buckingham as their relationship was falling apart. Buckingham and Nicks share lead vocals on the song.
Pieces of different studio takes were spliced together to form the track. The bass line that comes in at about the 3 minute mark through the song was written independently by John McVie, who was originally planning to use it in a different song.
This began as a Christine McVie song called “Butter Cookie (Keep Me There),” which which is available on the expanded edition of Rumours. The beginning of the track wasn’t working, but the band loved Mick Fleetwood and John McVie’s ending, which was now on tape. So, they counted back from the bass line, used the kick-drum as a metronome, Nicks gave them the lyrics for the verses, Buckinghan and Christine McVie wrote the music and the chorus lyrics, Lindsey added the guitar over the ending, and “The Chain” as we know it was born. >>
This is the only Fleetwood Mac song credited to all 5 members of their 1977 lineup. Since various pieces were assembled to make the song, they all had some contribution.
This song came to represent the resilience of Fleetwood Mac and the strength of their bond as they continued on for many years despite their personal and professional difficulties. It’s the first song they play in concert.
The low bass line in this song was used by the BBC for the Grand Prix theme tune for many years.
Mick Fleetwood: “‘The Chain’ basically came out of a jam. That song was put together as distinct from someone literally sitting down and writing a song. It was very much collectively a band composition. The riff is John McVie’s contribution – a major contribution. Because that bassline is still being played on British TV in the car-racing series to this day. The Grand Prix thing. But it was really something that just came out of us playing in the studio. Originally we had no words to it. And it really only became a song when Stevie wrote some. She walked in one day and said, ‘I’ve written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day.’ So it was put together. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. And then once it was arranged and we knew what we were doing, we went in and recorded it. But it ultimately becomes a band thing anyway, because we all have so much of our own individual style, our own stamp that makes the sound of Fleetwood Mac. So it’s not like you feel disconnected from the fact that maybe you haven’t written one of the songs. Because what you do, and what you feel when we’re all making music together, is what Fleetwood Mac ends up being, and that’s the stuff you hear on the albums. Whether one likes it or not, this is, after all, a combined effort from different people playing music together.”
You Make Loving Fun During the recording of Rumours the marriage of bassist John McVie and keyboardist and co-singer Christine McVie was ending. Christine started seeing the band’s lighting technician Curry Grant and she penned this song about the relationship. Drummer Mick Fleetwood quipped to Q magazine June 2009: “Knowing John, he probably thought it was about one of her dogs.”
Christine McVie sang lead vocals on this track, which was one of four songs she wrote solo for the Rumours album. McVie had nothing prepared when the band started working on the album at The Record Plant studios in Sausalito, California. “I thought I was drying up,” she said in Q magazine. “I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day in Sausalito, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that.”
Cyndi Lauper was commissioned in 1977 to record several soundalike covers of songs penned written by other artists – she was one of several session singers hired to re-record several big hits of the day. Lauper said later that she was paid only twelve dollars for her work, to “sound like someone else.” The only fruit to come from her sessions was a 7″ vinyl single of her version of this track, which became the first song ever officially released by the New York songstress. Lauper did not own her own copy until a fan gave her one in 2002.
I Don’t Want To Know “I Don’t Want to Know” was written by Stevie Nicks in 1974 before she joined Fleetwood Mac, and it was intended for a second album with her band Buckingham Nicks. The singer was initially unhappy about the decision to place the song on Rumours. The reason? It displaced another of Nicks’ tunes, “Silver Springs,” which she favored. The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman recalled in a 1991 BBC interview that when she asked Mick Fleetwood why “Silver Springs” was being removed, he replied: “There’s a lot of reasons, but because basically it’s just too long. And we think that there’s another of your songs that’s better, so that’s what we want to do.”
Nicks continued: “Before I started to get upset about ‘Silver Springs,’ I said, ‘What other song?’ And he said, ‘A song called I Don’t Want To Know.’ And I said, ‘But I don’t want that song on this record.’ And he said, ‘Well, then don’t sing it.’ And then I started to scream bloody murder and probably said every horribly mean thing that you could possibly say to another human being, and walked back in the studio completely flipped out. I said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna sing ‘I Don’t Want To Know.’ I am one-fifth of this band.’ And they said, ”You can either (a) take a hike or (b) you better go out there and sing ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ or you’re only gonna have two songs on the record.’ And so, basically, with a gun to my head, I went out and sang ‘I Don’t Want To Know.’ And they put Silver Springs on the back of ‘Go Your Own Way.'”
Oh Daddy Christine McVie wrote this song about the band’s drummer, Mick Fleetwood. The band was going through a lot of turmoil, as Christine and John McVie were having relationship issues as were Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Describing the mood of the sessions, Rumours co-producer Richard Dashut said (in Q magazine): “Defenses were wearing thin and they were quick to open up their feelings. Instead of going to friends to talk it out, their feelings were vented through their music: the album was about the only thing they had left.”
Gold Dust Woman Stevie Nicks wrote this song and sang lead. While Nicks has never been clear on the meaning, you can make a good case that it is about cocaine, which the band was consuming in quantity during the Rumours sessions. The lyrics, “Take your silver spoon, dig your grave,” can be seen as a reference to a spoon holding the drug.
Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham may also have influenced the song, as they had broken up and were going through some very difficult times, using songs as a medium for expressing their feelings to each other.
In Mick Fleetwood’s book My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, he explains that it took Nicks eight takes to get the vocal right, and they were recorded early in the morning. Fleetwood described Nicks as “hunched over in a chair, alternately choosing from her supply of tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a box of lozenges for her sore throat and a bottle of mineral water.”
Cris Morris, who was a recording assistant on the sessions, explained in Q magazine: “Recording ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was one of the great moments because Stevie was very passionate about getting that vocal right. It seemed like it was directed straight at Lindsey and she was letting it all out. She worked right through the night on it, and finally did it after loads of takes. The wailing, the animal sounds and the breaking glass were all added later. Five or six months into it, once John had got his parts down, Lindsey spent weeks in the studio adding guitar parts, and that’s what really gave the album its texture.”
Among the artists who have recorded this song: Waylon Jennings, Hole, Sheryl Crow and Sister Hazel.
Lindsay Buckingham plays a Dobro on this track. The Dobro is an acoustic guitar with a single resonator with its concave surface uppermost. The inventor of the resonator guitar, John Dopyera, together with his brothers Rudy, Emile, Robert, and Louis, developed the Dobro in 1928. They named it as a contraction of Dopyera Brothers’ coupled with the meaning of “goodness” in their native Slovak language. Gibson acquired exclusive use of the Dobro trademark in 1993 and the guitar corporation currently produces several round sound hole models under the Dobro name. One of these ornate guitars is featured on the cover of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms.
With this being the 40th Anniversary of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours the band has sold a staggering 45 million plus units world wide according to the RIAA certification since its release. Next to The Eagles Greatest Hits and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours sits in the Top 3 of greatest albums of all time. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours continues to transcend generations to this day and will be one of those albums that will be continually talked about and listened to for future generations to come.