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10 May 2010

Buckingham Nicks (Polydor)

This gem from '73 is of course overshadowed by the insanely commercially successful records that followed once Lindsay and Stevie joined forces with the rest of FM. FM radio, that is, but the true testament to their longevity is how their best-know tunes have found their way onto AM radio, a cultural pedestal that few artists achieve. But this self-titled Buckingham Nicks LP remains slightly obscure, the Atilla to Fleetwood Mac's solo Billy Joel, if you know what I mean. Of course the band - mostly no names, or I guess session musicians -- lacks the notoriety of the McVies and Fleetwood, but the production helps the material and situates it very much in its time but with some long-lasting appeal (I mean, I'm listening to it now in 2010, and I'm sure I'm not the only one). This is a shiny, bold, loud record and Stevie's voice explodes out of the vinyl on track 1, 'Crying in the Night'. Her vocals are literally brilliant, as in light-emitting, and there's some strong songwriting to back things up. It's impossible for me to listen to this without comparing it to what comes later - there's an earlier version of 'Crystal', sung by Lindsay but penned by Stevie, and 'Without a Leg to Stand On' foreshadows Lindsay's plodding, monotonous and brilliant tunes on Tusk. There's a real tendency towards the Southern/country/roots-rock sound, which you can surmise from Lindsay's moustache. The LA/cocaine sexyness is kept in check despite the hint 'o tit on the sleeve and I can ever hear how 'Lola (My Love)' later turned into 'The Chain'. Stevie's voice is such a true star, but you can imaging how perfect she'da fit into the country genre if the head honchos at the label didn't see the crossover potential. This is certainly her roots, as the LP is dedicated to the grandfather of country music who suspiciously has the surname of 'Nicks'. Whomever heard this and had the idea to pair them with Fleetwood Mac was clearly a visionary, and probably has the bank account to prove it, even to this day. Remember, things were happy then and even the epic 'Frozen Love', the sole joint composition, does little to spoil the honeymoon. 'Hate gave you me for a lover,' and maybe that's a statement of purpose. I don't know. This is pointed in the direction of crossover success in every way, aiming for the widest possible audience. There's the just-country-enough, just-heavy-enough guitar licks that are in every song; the fact that Lindsay sings at all; and even the psychedelic, solarised reverse mirror image back cover for those still coming off the 60s hangover.

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