Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On my turntable: Fleetwood Mac - Behind the Mask

This here is my biggest prize from last Saturday's Record Store Day. Behind the Mask (1990) is one of those unexpected gems that I like to call "time capsule albums". This was a disc that I never actually purchased, but I listened to it a lot when I worked at the record store, and probably had a tape copy at some point. Then for whatever reason I moved on and never revisited the album until this past weekend when I found this gorgeous vinyl copy. The thing about time capsule albums is that the music, and any memories associated with it, is locked into a very specific period and gets unlocked when you hear the music again, no matter how many years later. I had probably not heard this album in 17 years, but as soon as I put the needle down I was back in the cassette room at the record store, and the apartment where I lived in the spring of 1990, and the Chevette I was driving at the time - anywhere I listened to this album, basically. It's a cool experience.

Behind the Mask was the first Fleetwood Mac album following the initial departure of Lindsey Buckingham, and the result is a very collaborative record by a band that sounds hungry to prove itself. 1987's Tango In The Night had some excellent singles, but also some lousy filler, mostly from Lindsey. In contrast, Behind the Mask is beautifully produced, and more organic sounding than its predecessor. Standout tracks: McVie's "Skies The Limit", "Save Me", and "Behind the Mask" (featuring Buckingham on guitar), Nicks' beautiful "The Second Time", and the album's standout (in my opinion), "Hard Feelings" by new songwriter/guitarist Billy Burnette.

"Save Me"
"Skies the Limit"
"In the Back of My Mind"

1 comment:

Jay said...

I agree that this is a good album. I haven't listened to in in a LONG time, but I should.

But... Allmusic.com didn't like it so much. Here is what they had to say about it.

Lindsey Buckingham's departure proved to be a severe blow when Fleetwood Mac unveiled a new lineup with the disappointing Behind the Mask, Stevie Nicks' last album with the band. Nicks, Christine and John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood are joined by new members Rick Vito (vocals, lead guitar) and Billy Burnette (vocals, guitar) on this generally weak effort. The production (courtesy of Greg Ladanyi and Fleetwood Mac) is often bland and faceless, and most as the songs are among the least inspired the band ever recorded. The album has a few strong points, including "Save Me" and "Freedom," a haunting number featuring Nicks. But most of the material is quite forgettable. And there would be even less reason for optimism by 1993, when Nicks left as well.