Picks and Pans Review: Behind the Mask
The addition of singers-guitarists-composers Billy Burnette and Rick Vito has livened up the at-times institutional-sounding tendencies of Fleetwood Mac. This time around, things rock a bit harder, throb a bit deeper.
The changes are not revolutionary, though; it's as if General Motors or Ford had hired a couple of new designers who came up with a different bumper here, a sexier headlight there. The basic product stays the same: in this case, a stately sort of pop rock that ranges from ponderous to movingly effective.
Burnette and Vito joined the band for its 1987 tour when Lindsey Buckingham struck off on his own. (Buckingham appears on one track on this album, in a slight but appealing concession to loyalty.) That's a two-guitars-for-one trade, thus the splashier, harder sound on such tracks as "When the Sun Goes Down," which the newcomers co-wrote.
The best Mac songs, though, still belong to Stevie Nicks. "Love Is Dangerous.' " which she wrote with Vito, has a dirge-like, '60s tone. But "Freedom" (written with Mike Campbell) and "Affairs of the Heart" both generate that disquieting sense of frustrated romantic impulses that Nicks conveys so well. Christine McVie partisans will also enjoy the sweet lilt of "Do You Know," composed with Burnette.
Still moving to the beat of the same drummer—Mick Fleetwood himself—Mac has been nothing if not consistent over its 20-year, 19-album history, and there's satisfaction, as well as entertainment, in that. "Predictable" is not always an insult. (Warner Bros.)
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