Friday, July 27, 2007

The Spray To Get Stuck To....

Whilst still dreaming of the day that I just might have big hair like Kate Bush or that dark haired one in Heart, I aimlessly trudge through the sweaty, over crowded shops in my local High Street on a Saturday afternoon like some ritual, looking for that infamous product that will turn me from dull, flatly ordinary brunette to luscious, incredibly stunning raven haired beauty.

In my cluttered bathroom cabinet, I possess almost every conceivable product that I might have gazed at in wonderment over the years and thought, at the time, that it might do the trick. The ultimate goal of fabulous looking hair. Not incredibly graced with the wondrous locks naturally, I have to prepare myself for the depressing job of trying to find something that will give my hair the same result of sticking my finger in a plug socket. I spot, by chance something that may well see me kissing my flat hair days goodbye; may I introduce the ‘super fast, grab you by the nuts, whooper dooper ultra strong power volumising spray!’

I make a quick decision to buy it and make my escape quickly home before the assistant notices my pancake hair. For the price I paid, a hard earned £2.95, it seems like a shot in the dark. I am not usually the type that pays out heftily for anything unless I know it’s going to work. However, curiosity has taken this cat by the scruff and dragged her over to the counter with opened purse, so, pleased with my purchase, I trot home with joy in my heart.

A super fine liquid bounces around in the small, pale blue bottle like spring water. I have always been keen on Shockwaves products but always imagined that punks with spiky hair do’s would want to buy this stuff instead of me. In my bathroom, I squint at the tiny words on the back. It says;

‘Hold!’ (with four purple dots after it….sounds hopeful, although what exactly these dots mean, leaves no firm question in my head so I skip that and move onto the next line…) It asks me a question….

‘Need Added Volume With An Added Finish?’ (Well, yes…I suppose, but what finish? Have I just unwittingly purchase furniture polish or perhaps that brown stuff you paint onto fences?) I move on again…It now appears that this clever print is trying to tell me that this revolutionary product with ‘shape, hold and control‘…(I wonder perhaps I should be spraying this onto my four year old instead of my hair…) Then I see that it apparently ‘gives added volume with an ultra strong hold..’ Well, if I didn’t already read that on the front of the bottle in the shop then I guess I wouldn’t have bought it, right? It shouts, ‘No Stickiness!’ I think I actually want stickiness. This word, in my mind, and when applied to my hair tells me that it is working. I don’t think I’m on my own here in this statement. Then it lies to me, and luckily I had already prepared myself for such a fib; ‘Brushes Out Easily!’ Nothing that goes with the word ‘stickiness’ ends in ‘brushes out easily.’ Not in my world anyhow.

Then the print doubts my intelligence, another question..’Need To Know How?’ (Yes, while you’re at it, you might as well tell me how to use this and what hair on my body I need to spray it on. After all, I have just landed from Mars, tutt!) ‘Apply To Damp or Dry Hair.’ (You mean I could have used this in the shop instead of buying it?) It tells me, ‘no stickiness’ once again, and I feel sucked into to its believable existence. ‘For extra volume, spray onto to the roots and blow dry.’ Now, for anyone who has tried to use a gel like product in the past and the container tells you to blow dry, you know for a fact that the gel will dry into something that resembles glue and is plainly obvious to all who pass you by so I feel that an element of brushing might help afterwards, at least to get out the U-hu effect…

I wash hair then wildly spray away to my hearts content. Happy with the amount that I have sprayed, I regain consciousness (as the smell and spray essence is a little over powering) and try to then master the art of a jolly good blow dry.

Now I shall mention the stickiness bit. To my past knowledge of such products, I expect some stickiness, but perhaps I was not ready to as much as I did encounter. The stickiness was over whelming to say the least. From beneath my locks, I felt the product was practically clinging onto to my scalp for dear life. Now with the feeling resembling wearing a rather fetching swimming cap, I try to ‘style’ my way to complete glory. My hair now feels the consistency of straw. I pick up the bottle at study it carefully. Then I attempt to put down the bottle and find that it has now stuck to my hand. Now humbly near tears, I then precede with a small party piece in which I remind myself of that elderly French mime artist who Des O’Connor used to have on his show a great deal who did a rather amusing mime of something being stuck to his hand and then on the inside of his jacket pocket. I feel myself now loosing control over my purchase and then manage to put it down without loosing any skin. Sticky is not the word. I now get the impression that this stuff is everywhere other than the very place it should be and that’s on the roots of my hair.

However, after a good deal of shaking one’s head and pouting a lot in the mirror, I finally get to grips with my wild style. I found this spray has a mind of its own and if not a fully qualified hairdresser or carpenter, I feel that others will have the same experiences too.

I study bottle from floor level, remembering not to venture picking it up again…

Another question…tutt.

‘Need The Expert’s Tip?’

Now they tell me!

‘For beautifully defined hair ends, use Shockwaves Control Eazy Endz!’


I doubt I shall be buying that too. I can imagine long queues of sticky handed women traipsing back to Superdrug with six inch long hair in spikes and lining up for yet more sticky stuff. I resist.

I read the ingredients to see if there is anything there I can pronounce… As well as the usual alcohol (not advisable to drink if style becomes that uncontrollable after using the product) I see it does contain water and a lot of ‘parfum’ It also advises to run under warm water if the nozzle becomes blocked. A feat, I think I will practise for a while as I feel that this may happen more than once.

What I do like to see, although never use, is these website addresses on the most unattractive products. If I felt the strong need to not to end my life, I could look up the website or even join a little chat room! There are some phone numbers to call both in the UK and abroad if my tears didn’t stop by themselves, all well readable if you are three centimetres high or if you have fantastic eyesight.

The Verdict On Hair;

I received some strange looks from the playground this morning on dropping my child off at school from the other worried looking mums. Ha! At least I am trying to do something with my hair! Some look concerned, others give my promising nods of appreciation. My hair now feels thicker, and even in the slight morning breeze, it doesn’t budge an inch! Yes! Mission accomplished! If only this stuff had been around in the early eighties when I donned myself in baggy Louis XIII shirts and lip-gloss. I could have joined in with all those Flock Of Seagulls gigs my friends were going to!

I must work on that stickiness on the bathroom walls. Once I have perfected the art of re decorating, then I just might stick with this!


I do like this spray only because, since stuck in a time warp, I feel that I should be still donning rock hard hair. Please only use if you a true Adam Ant fan, otherwise if you want to be more like AndI McDowell in the skin care ads, then give this shockwaves thing a wide berth and grab some of that face putty instead.

This may have been some use to you.

Thanks for persevering.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Four Hippies And A Penguin...

Following the welcomed arrival of the young and now married, Christine McVie to the line of Mac, the band now complete with guitarist, Bob Welch, wasted no time in writing and recording a new album. Since brushing off any acknowledgeable Peter Green quality, what we find in this album, ‘Future Games‘, is the foundations of the Fleetwood Mac we knew as one of the greatest international bands of the 20th Century.

After the raw, bluesy feel to the previous, Kiln House, it seemed that the addition of a soft, female voice, melted the minds of these scruffy, beer drinking musicians. Their work stands out on this album as creative and gently inspiring. The general outlook of this album is melodic and serene due to it’s two newest members yet, unfortunately it lacks the harsh rock and roll element of the original line up, still in a coma since the abrupt departure of Peter Green. It comes across, as altogether dipped, quite unrepentantly in thick honey to the point that it oozes perfect smoothness. The guitars are drowned out by unassuming bass and calmed vocals. Many would argue that the arrival of Christine was the end of Fleetwood Mac as their small fan base had come to know them, but I disagree. I think the change here within the band was merely a change that needed to happen. Times were moving on and the band had to stay in the running if they wanted to create a bigger impact on the music industry. Still slightly small fry, they were not prepared to go quietly into the dusty vaults were all the failed bands go.


In 1971, Fleetwood Mac had already gone through giant disruptions on a massive scale. The voice behind the shadow of Green had been Jeremy Spencer. Whilst he gave ‘Kiln House’ it’s exciting and humorous side line, he was also weak in the presence of drink and drugs. Like Green, he became disillusioned with the world around him and turned to religion as a warm comfort. After doing a disappearing act during one of the band’s tours, he was found, eventually in amongst a strange religious cult named the Children Of God. Both parties deciding to leave the other alone, and whilst out there, they picked up Bob Welch. Since the only man nearest to completing the line up for the blues era from Green was Spencer, the band quickly followed a more middle of the road feel which was brought in by Christine due to her previous folksy experiences with Chicken Shack. It is the basic qualities of this feel that is the underlying current of the most successful Fleetwood Mac records to date.

The simplicity of the album is first recognised in the details of the album cover. A list of the tracks, a collection of small, black and white photographs and one including a penguin., a list of the members and the ones who have gone. Interestingly, it also states that Spencer was one of the founder members of the band in 1967. It was founded originally by drummer Mick Fleetwood, guitarist Peter Green and a musician called Bob Brunning who went on to write the biography, Behind The Mask, capturing the bands’ existence. All it shows here, is that Spencer was, then and still now, regarded as one of the very important members of the band’s history. Green’s name still heralds a tribute by the band on stage, yet this is also the same legendary blues player who was found sleeping rough in South London back in the Eighties. I guess, sometimes there’s no accounting for recognition…

This short and minor acknowledged album is regarded as another one of those significant land marks in the history of the band. Due to the graceful engineering of Danny Kirwan and Christine McVie, they steered the drifting ship towards a more pleasing sound. Since it was Green’s ambition to generate something different (the reasoning behind ’Albatross) it would appear that in this album, FM have simply joined the rest of the world. It is notably a breakthrough in the career of each of it’s musicians, yet, it was not the way Green would have wanted to go. I guess he would say it was too wet…

The opening ’Woman Of 1000 Years,’ is more watery than Jefferson Airplane with it’s wistful guitar picked up from Albatross, although this track lacks the originality and magnetic quality of the latter. It is dreamy and beautiful but FM fans at the time must have been gravely disappointed. The blues had been washed away with the bath water. ‘Morning Rain,’ on the other is a point from where the first album to feature Buckingham and Nicks came from. Completely taken over by the strong influences of Christine, it now becomes apparent where the original sound of the latter day FM came from. She was a strength and direction of the band from the day she joined. If the rest of the them had been behind the wheel, then Christine was the SatNav.

Bringing her piano/keyboard techniques to the band, it opened up new experimental doors for them. Adding that certain jazz feel to the band, the element was still strong for the bass line to continue to be blues. The vocals were shared up using Christine’s slightly deeper, nasally vocal as a poetic compliment to the male leads. It is then perhaps in ‘What A Shame,’ that she lets the guys off the hook. Bringing in a diversity of John Perfect on sax, the blues edge takes a hold once more. A genre that always haunted the band.

Green’s ghostly ‘Black Magic Woman,’ with it’s voodoo presence, is still a personal favourite in the band’s set on tour today. This instrumental piece imitates a jazz/blues feel that we found in the soundtrack of The Blues Brothers. It’s not a definitive track here, but it shows that the band, at the time, were keen to try other things. This is also apparent in a smoothed out ‘Future Games,’ where it would seem the band were experimenting with a Who sound. With it’s distance vocals, it comes across as a bit of a mess. Thankfully, with the gentle yet tuneful ‘Sometimes,’ the direction of this album becomes clear. The track is laced with playful riffs and minor keys giving it a romantic approach. A good, strong track with vocals to match. Perhaps the track of the album that stands out the most, it doesn’t appear to be a Fleetwood Mac typical record. This track sounds, like any early track from a big rock group should, totally unrecognisable. What is surprising though is that the flat and mediocre ‘Sands Of Time,’ was the only single release from this album. It failed to make a mark on the chart. It is uninspiring and dull on the ears, yet still Christine through and through…

Moving towards that folksy, more relaxed theme due to the arrival of Mrs John McVie gave Fleetwood Mac a different perspective on the world. It changed their mood, the way they wrote and the way they composed. If previous albums were anything to go by, to drop the blues was probably not a good idea, yet what we find on this album is hints of the band to come. Each note is carefully crafted and skilfully produced in it’s feminine essence. If we compare it with the last album, Kiln House, it’s Future Games that stands out to the be the for runner of the Buckingham/Nicks revolution. Any albums before the entrance of long skirts and higher voices seems to be a thrown together, shouting heap of masculine, truck driver blues…

So what if the blues element is absent from here, at least they perfected the art of producing something more polished.

Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks replaced Bob Welch in 1975.

Danny Kirwan left in 1972 and attempted a solo career.

Tracks include;

Woman Of 1000 years
Morning Rain
What A Shame
Future Games
Sands Of Time
Lay It All Down
Show Me A Smile.

Fleetwood Mac in 1971 were;

Mick Fleetwood - drums
John McVie - bass
Danny Kirwan - guitar and vocals
Christine McVie - piano and vocals
Bob Welch - guitar and vocals.

1971 Warner Bros. Records Inc.
©m.duffy 2006

HMV - £7.99 delivered
Virgin - &9.99 delivered - CD - £9.98/Vinyl

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Concert For Diana, But Who Were They All?

Last weekend was one of those times when you didn’t know what to feel. One minute we were staring the enemy in the face as they tried to repeatedly blow us up with car bombs or burn us inside one of our airports, and the next we are leaping up and down in front of a stage, wailing because it’s the first time we’ve seen Duran Duran perform live. It was a weekend to remember, yet something bothers me. We know how to deal with the society we now live in. Every time I step onto a train and head to London, I am immediately texted by several close acquaintances who tell me to call them as soon as I get there and as soon as I arrive home. London, my home city, now is a playground not for just the rich and famous but for the terrorists among us - we are dicing with death when we board a train or a tube. I have a close friend who drives a tube train - a wonderfully paid job, but in the light of recent years, I wish he was still working at the bank.

However, surprisingly enough, it is the Diana concert I feel somewhat disturbed by. It was, at previously mentioned, a delight for us thirty something’s to see Duran Duran and how much John Taylor has aged, on stage once more, and I am convinced that somewhere up above us, there she was, bopping away to ‘The Reflex’ with the rest of us, but I thought that when we feel the need to tribute someone in such a fashion, we do it by attending to their own wishes and their own tastes. I rather get the feeling that Diana was sitting up there with a puzzled expression trying to figure out who Lily Allen is, or is supposed to be. I do wish, and perhaps this is my age talking here, that we had kept the show to music that she liked and that was of her time. I don’t mind sitting through Sir Elton so long as he doesn’t pout off stage as he was reported to have done this year, but where was George Michael? The Princess’s favourites just weren’t there, and this got me thinking, is it because if we had booked Tony Hadley and Martin Fry of smooth and lip glossed ABC, not one would have come?
I do believe it goes deeper than that. Diana was a mega star in her own right, despite the fact that she hated it. She was a legend, a goddess and for me, that twinkling princess who married her prince and tried to live happily ever after except we wouldn’t let her. No, I think the thing that crawls though my bones is that we will always have to celebrate her life with a six hour show at the Stadium. If we had booked Spandau Ballet, we would have been lucky if we had filled the Arena. And as a result of this sad tale, we can’t seem to celebrate someone as rich in personality and individualism as she, if it means we can’t have simultaneous broadcasts of a mammoth show. I think an intimate gathering of her very favourite musical heroes would have been far more fitting. Nellie who? I don’t think it was all really Diana’s scene….

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's A Bitch Convincing People To Like You...

Suitably camp and beautifully adjusting to life in the B52’s lane, the Scissor Sisters have quite simply squeezed into the most teasingly unconventional gap in the musical market before anyone else had dared to spot it. They are glamorous and extravagant in show, yet on the quiet, they appear to be a visual fusion between The Primitives and Alien Ant Farm. In regards to the impact they have on this mere mortal is that stranger than strange X factor feel. On one hand, I shall, unfortunately, forever remember Eton Road’s second to last flopped attempt to stay in the competition by covering ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing,’ (in which I feel Anthony could have made a successful career out of being the next member of the Scissor Sisters) and again, on visual appearance, they rather remind me of that oddly shaped group that went out on the first show…‘The Unavoidables’ or who ever they were. It was this song and the first on the ‘Ta - Dah’ album that shot to number 1 over here in September this year. This album was released only eight days later, a shrewd move considering the track was still sitting at number one, so consequently, everyone rushed out to get it. The public weren’t going to hang about on purchasing the second album by a band who played instruments, were made up of boys AND a girl and actually wrote their own songs, a feat in anyone’s charts nowadays…

This bunch of not so oddly shaped Earthlings came from somewhere out of the campest clubs of New York City around 2001. Capturing the glam scene of all that was glitter boots and heavy eyeliner, the Scissor Sisters (of which, neither are actually sisters) have certainly taken their adequacies of being a pop/disco band and adding all the colour and flamboyance of Moulin Rouge and Barnum, thus creating the strangest of sounds, lyrics and at the same time, regenerating some themes of some pretty dire groups gone by. Racy and Matchbox spring to mind…

Taking the most incredibly delightful personal names, these people, who all look as though they should go out and get themselves decent jobs, are a blessed relief due to the fact that it’s fairly obvious to the untrained eye, they are not kids. They do, however, playfully tease us with their takes on alternative themes and fresh new sounds. The disco feel is strong in their most popular track in their career so far, ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.’ It is complete with lazar sounds not unlike the stuff that lived comfortably on a Donna Summer record. They may appear fun loving and on the list of a children’s disco CD along side The Tweenies and that hideous song from Lazy Town, but don’t be fooled, their hidden meanings go further down to a more adult level. Naively, we may fail to notice that their band name comes from a lesbian position, and on the members initial meeting at a fancy dress gig, two of them had come as late term abortions; I shall leave that up to your imagination to conger up an image of what ever that is…

Various other members were found through ads in local New York papers at the same time vocal song writer gave up his job as a stripper in a gay club. (Still want that cd for little petal’s seventh birthday party?) No matter, one can’t get away from the exuberance of this band. They are intriguing and enticing to the mind, even though some of their tracks are too much like ‘The Scaffold,’ and Gilbert O’Sullivan, we can get over those tracks. ‘I Can’t Decide,’ is almost the question that they asked on the particular genre of this track. It’s too ‘When I’m 64,’ mixed in with a Mud B side. The honky tonk piano perhaps should only be left up to Elton John in his more madder moments. However, it still shows, in it’s complete absurdity the wackiness of this hyper glam band. It shows to us how they are simply not afraid to delve into certain styles that we dared not ever play again. Strangely it was Elton John that collaborated with them on ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.’

It is almost unbelievable to think that such tracks as ‘Lights’ were actually recorded only last year, they sound that old. The funkiness of this track can only be created by a handful of white guys in larger than life shades and some black dudes with lamp shade designed Afro’s. This is disco how we remember it and it surprisingly sounds fresher than before. If you’re not strutting your stuff by the end of this track, you don’t have a pulse. In the same vein, the Goldfrapp imitation of ‘Kiss You Off,’ gives the sinister slant to the album where Ana takes the lead vocal. The glam disco feel is still just as strong and so is the idea of the flamboyance of this band. Their inspirational edge on something that is regarded as dated and dusty is giving that sparkle back into those awfully embarrassing office parties that we have to endure (mine is imminent). The ‘Night Fever,’ styled song is probably enough to get the David Brent’s of this world up and throwing themselves around. You will find track after track of sheer disco brilliance. I wonder perhaps if this was what Madonna was after when she had the idea of ‘Confessions On A Dance floor.’ On this album it works and somehow Madonna’s album of this year didn’t work. I guess what they should have done is swapped titles. It is in the very middle of this album we get to feel the strong resemblance between the song writing talents of the band and their mentors, eighties Bouffant hair babes, B52’s.

Yet they also conger up a great amount of depth in ‘Land Of A Thousand Words.’ The mood is taken right down to Velvet Underground level and the mood evolves around a Lou Reed styled vocal. It’s deep and meaningful with swathes of violins and soft, swamping backing vocals. A track to sway your legs to, if you feel the need. A suitable interval for this album, and although this was a hit for the band, I didn’t think it truly has a place on here. They could have quite have easily continued the party theme right the way through and held it together without the whole disco idea being too in the listeners face and ears.

What also appears on this album is a bonus track of no importance. It’s Gary Numan creepy and probably doesn’t suit the album as it should perhaps be better for Robbie Williams when he is having one of his Bipolar days. It’s feeling is too metal (if at all) and was recorded on a day when all their glitter Spandex was in the wash. It doesn’t fit, and yes, it shows the diversity of this band, but it’s a style that doesn’t suit the ears. So, I guess on a lighter note, we can be grateful for the ‘Voice Of The Beehive,’ Barbie themed ‘Paul McCartney’ which is a tribute to the music of this great man who should have signed a pre nuptial agreement (never mind Paul, you know for next time)


Taking that opened throated sound from the BeeGees and mixing it with Madonna ‘dance floor,’ beats, they have managed to avoid being laughed at and listened to seriously. One is almost quite eager to see them continue their sequenced existence, giving George Michael great waves of jealously (damn! I wish I could have dressed like that!) If of nothing else, anyone who can successfully bring back Spandex isn’t all bad. Looking at them admiringly now, even with the one who looks like Graham Norton in shimmering silk and lip gloss, it is no wonder that their audience is predominately people in their thirties and forties. I personally welcome them. They take me back to days of Lionel Blair’s, Les from Bay City Rollers and The Sweet. Arh! Good days!

So now, we can gather up in our arms all those outfits from the attic, we can brush down our Elvis ‘Vegas’ suits and Car Wash wigs and enjoy glam rock and the art of disco. The Scissor Sisters have brought it all back. So let’s go unconventional and uninhibited into the night. The dance floor belongs to us 30 something’s, yet again…

Ditties included;

I Don’t Feel Like Dancing
She’s My Man
I Can’t Decide
Land Of A Thousand Words
Kiss You Off
Paul McCartney
The Other Side
Might Tell You Tonight
Everybody Wants The Same Thing
Transistor *

(*Bonus track)

HMV £10.95 (ripped off, should have gone to Tesco’s.)
Polydor Records 2006.
They will be touring Europe from 7 April 2007

Scissors Sisters are;

Jake Shears - vocals
Baby daddy - bass guitar/keyboards
Ana Matronic - Mistress of Ceremonies vocals and percussion
Del Marquis - lead guitar
Paddy Boom - drums (it is thought)

(and no one else who had a silly enough name to join)

©m.duffy 2006

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Would You Care To Dance...?

Rock legends, Fleetwood Mac stunned home grown American audiences when the band announced a one off special come back gig with the original ‘Rumours’ line up. Despite all the tantrums, splits and divorces that have cloaked the band with the same sensationalism as Electro Shock Treatment, they still managed to hold their heads up high and smile affectionately at each other throughout the performance. It was filmed for television and shown so late one night on BBC1 that the entire world forgot to tape it. The ‘soundtrack’ of the phenomenal occurrence was this perfectly produced album, ‘The Dance.’

With a inner sleeve that depicts the band in incredulous poses of well lit miracles, it is hard to imagine this band still sounding, and above all, still looking exactly the same. If only for Mick perhaps looking a touch greyer around the gills, it is amazing to see Stevie ‘Tinkerbelle’ Nicks still looking not a day over ‘Rumours.’ If Diana, the Princess of Wales was the most photographed woman of the 20th Century, then Fleetwood Mac were the most beautified band. Their charisma is quite staggering to the point that they appear out of this world. It is hard to believe that the two old gits at the back, one on drums, the other on bass, once shared the back of a transit van to use as transport and dressing room when their biggest venues was either The Swan in Fulham or The Toby Jug in Tolworth. (If you have ever patronised these establishments as much as the author here, then you will have some idea as to the impact of their fame.) So, through countless line up changes, solo careers plus members leaving and then suddenly returning after admitting never to darken the studio door again; here we are with yet another, masterpiece…

In the Summer of 1997, Fleetwood Mac showed off their immortal talents for a special gathering for MTV. (Well, anyone would say yes to MTV), and the result was this polished live album. Perhaps there are very few bands in this world who can get away with a pitch perfect live set. The Stones, is about the only other band who can pull off a live performance, but then again, Jagger never had a pitch perfect voice. For a band who managed to fuse live sounds and studio effects with imagination and versatility, Fleetwood Mac had tricked us over the years with what was ever better, live or studio recordings? In this set, they show also their ability to put on a shining performance. Born to play live, their feed from an audience where they do, feel the most comfortable.

The usual suspects are all here. There really is not need to remind ourselves how ‘The Chain’ goes or the fiddly bits of ‘Go Your Own Way,’ end, so there is no room for disappointment here. We are, however, treated to a clutch of pieces that may have passed us by. To be a truly focused FM fan, one has to be totally converted to a new type of religion, that is to say, a lifestyle where upon you are obliged to listen avidly to every album and single B side. It is the latter, where you will always find the best gems. Even on a live recorded show, ten years after the reality of ‘Tango In The Night,’ (in Christine McVie’s die hard Brummie accent,) they can still surprise, just when you thought you knew all there was to know. A running theme of percussion gives a new twist to ‘Everywhere,’ the dreamy anthem from ‘Tango..’ mixes beautifully with the darker, more disturbing ‘Rhiannon,’ that follows. Nicks proves with this track that although her vocals have certainly deepened over the years, it can only be a good thing. An atmosphere of bewitching tales surrounds this aging singer now, who, dare I say it, is growing into an ever more fascinating woman through her older years.

Buckingham has to flex his rhythms somewhere doesn’t he, and even he, an accomplished guitarist and songwriter in his own right, has leant heavily on the steadfast-ness of the world of Fleetwood Mac for his hunger penetrated recognition. The extraordinarily titled, ‘I’m So Afraid,’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea and certainly exposes us to the introverted side of the band, is the baby of the Buckingham limelight. It twists through the chords and spirals out of control towards the end as all great Buckingham tracks do. We’ll let him be and flick over to the next. One cat howling is enough for one evening, I think…

Yet the night is young and much merriment is in store for a frantically over paid audience of media this and that so why not throw them off balance by shoving in a jolly ditty entitled, ‘Temporary One?’ If Buckingham has a mental illness, it would be a split personality. We still are in awe of the fact that this musician of the highest calibre can set our brains a’ wondering if he is quite well one minute and transfix us the next with he cutesy harmonies and jumpy Tweenie lyrics. Can this man be okay with himself, or does he just mull over paranoia behind closed doors? Who knows, if being a member of FM can dampen his extraordinary soul every so often then he can play anything backwards if it makes him happy in the privacy of his own front room.

Strangely a track pops up here which we also find on the massive come back album, ‘Say You Will,’ which they didn’t record for another six years. The folksy themed ‘Bleed To Love Her,’ appears in this 1997 set, a track that they were working on for a while before this set was even recorded. Another trick of the FM clan here, they write a song, record it a few times, play around with it for a while then shove it onto an album six years later and make us all believe that it’s new. (!)

We have to mention that there is many a snap still left in a floppy piece of celery, and this acoustic take on the yet thunderous ‘Big Love’ is a piece that will force you to reconsider who is in your top ten of greatest guitarists. I shall not say too much here, only that if Lindsay Buckingham is not on your list after this track, then you need the nearest audiology clinic…

Of course a Fleetwood Mac concert would not be the same without Stevie input and she doesn’t fail to inspire us here either. Giving us the very best of her lowered vocal, she rocks us to sleep with an emotional and yet, magically musical rendition of ‘Landslide,’ with her friend, ex lover and guitarist, Lindsay Buckingham. Watching these two perform in a single spot light will take the oldest of the audience back to when these two were young, in love and impressionable. A gentle and very romantic moment. But fear not, our ears are in for a stage breaking treat as we move towards the end of this perfected album. We are thrown back an era with the loud, chants of ‘My Little Demon,’ and perhaps the best track on the album that certainly needed no real introduction, back to back with another Nicks delight, a gentle country themed love song, ‘Silver Springs.’

We are subjected to ‘Go Your Own Way,’ in full band filling style which leads neatly into an even mightier ‘Tusk,’ and then finally ‘Don’t Stop,’ the swansong of the band complete with marching band, streamers, balloons, fireworks and questions of ‘well, this is all very well and good but where the hell has the band gone…?’

This military, glossy ending captures a warmth in the heart and a melting of the soul when we suddenly realise that the world is not as threatening and as violent as every one thinks it is. It is still warm, heart felt and sincere, if we just look hard enough, and on the days that we fail in their search for humanity, we find an album by a band who we can trust and hug, not to mention, forgive for all those line up changes that just really didn’t work…

Just when we thought it was over, the album, ‘Say You Will,’ was released in 2003 and they, again enjoyed a handful of minor single releases from it. It didn’t feature Christine McVie. She had been reported to have been touched by the desire to retire from the band…

Solo projects for certain members will always pull the band in different directions for the rest of their days.

Tracks included on this album;

The Chain
I’m So Afraid
Temporary One
Bleed To Love Her
Big Love
Say You Love Me
My Little Demon
Silver Springs
You Make Loving Fun
Sweet Girl
Go Your Own Way
Don’t Stop.

On ‘The Dance,’ FM were;

Lindsay Buckingham
Stevie Nicks
Mick Fleetwood Mac
John McVie
Christine McVie.

HMV - £7.99
The video of the show is available from HMV
Reprise records 1997
©m.duffy 2006


Breathing. Like a soft stroke over brushed carpet,
She purrs contentedly. Then
Stretch, slowly, gracefully,
Pushing each claw firmly out to view,
Soft licks of her nose and she -
Blinks, slow and momentarily.

My cat - all knowing, thinks.
Walking, padding, silently
Across the rug.
She stops, sniffs and paws on an invisible spider,
Making it’s way towards the door.

The sun develops a ray of sparkling light,
Through an open window.
It steals from my cat her brilliance,
Each whisker poised and proud.
She soaks the sun and closes her eyes -
Masterful and happy,
My cat….