Let us now praise the wondrous invention known as the “Deluxe Edition.”
For years, of course, labels have tried to repackage, reissue, and get us to rebuy music that we already have in some other, probably soon-to-be obsolete format. (I’m still trying to play my 78 RPM Al Jolson records somewhere…)
But these releases have come a long, long way since artists and record companies would put out a reissue or compilation and then just tack on one or two new songs to lure the diehard fan who already owned everything.
I remember as a teenager in 1985 angsting mightily over whether to spend money on Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II just to get “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “The Night Is Still Young.” (Luckily, a classmate had a cassette copy she didn’t want. Thank you, Julie Dillman, wherever you are!)
But in an era where classic rock fans want and expect more, the vaults have opened – actually, vomited heavily – and most album reissues today come with plenty of extra material in the form of unreleased tracks, demos, live cuts, rarities, and even video.
I just picked up a copy of the Deluxe Edition of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. The 1977 record was a #1 smash, spawned a bunch of hit singles, and became the band’s commercial and critical peak. It is the sixth best-selling album in U.S. history and has sold 45 million copies to date.
Of course, the appeal of Rumours went beyond the music into the interpersonal affairs of a band that saw, during recording, two romantic couples break up (Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks, John & Christine McVie), as well as Nicks’ brief relationship with Mick Fleetwood, most of it played out in the lyrics. Oh, the drama, the soap opera.
(Fun Fuck Fact: Fleetwood’s wife at the time was Jenny Boyd…sister of Pattie Boyd…wh0 famously left George Harrison for Eric Clapton and inspired the songs “Something,” “Layla,” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Can’t these people ever date shop clerks?).
Disc 1 features the entire Rumours album, plus Nicks’ lush, tear-jerking fan-favorite B-side “Silver Springs” (which really should have made the album cut, as Nicks says when introducing it in the live The Dance film). The remastering is impressive – Buckingham’s guitar finger picking on “Never Going Back Again,” Fleetwood’s drums on “Don’t Stop,” and McVie’s delicate piano illuminating “Songbird” have all improved sonically. And, after hearing the individual cuts on radio for years, it’s nice to revisit the entire record as a single entity.
Disc 2 showcases live cuts from the 1977 Rumours tour, with 8 of the 11 songs from that record. The highlight here is an expanded, magical “Rhiannon” with some alternate/added lyrics and a killer Buckingham guitar solo. A fervent “Monday Morning” also resonates.
Disc 3, though, is the jewel in the crown for Mac fans. Featuring alternate takes, demos, and instrumentals, these versions demonstrate the band’s creative process. So we get a slower, dreamier “Dreams,” a Buckingham/Nicks duet on “Never Going Back Again,” a more wistful “Songbird,” and both instrumental and vocal versions of the groove-heavy “Keep Me There.” That song later morphed into “The Chain.”
“The truth about Rumours, is that Rumours was the truth,” Nicks reflects in the new liner notes from rock scribe David Wild. And with a four-piece Mac (come back, Christine!) hitting the road beginning in April, the set list is sure to be heavy with this inneundo.