Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums from the Lost and Found (Part 1): Christine McVie

by Jeff Fiedler

Albums from the Lost & Found is a regular feature on thegreatalbums.com in which contributor Jeff Fiedler reviews and helps us rediscover great pop albums that seem to have been lost to time.

For as massive a concert attraction and catalog seller as Fleetwood Mac remains and as much of a staple as the band’s music is on classic-rock and adult-contemporary stations, it’s fairly weird just how seldom you hear any solo material on the radio from any of the band’s members or alumni besides Stevie Nicks. Every once in a while, if you’re lucky, you might hear something from Bob Welch (“Sentimental Lady,” “Ebony Eyes”) or Dave Mason (“We Just Disagree”), but your average radio listener probably isn’t even aware that either of those two men was ever a member of Fleetwood Mac. But when was the last time you heard any of Lindsey Buckingham’s solo material on the radio? Or Christine McVie’s? Sure, they didn’t have the long run of solo hits that Nicks had, but Lindsey and Christine can both at least claim to each have a Top Ten hit to their credit and an additional Top Thirty hit, so it’s weird that their respective Top Ten hits have all but disappeared from the airwaves in recent years while Nicks hits like “Stand Back,” “Edge of Seventeen,” “Leather and Lace,” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” remain ubiquitous.

Equally odd is the fact that, for all the solo albums that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham have both made over the years, Christine McVie only ever released one solo album during her time with Fleetwood Mac, a self-titled 1984 outing on the band’s label, Warner Brothers. [McVie has only put out two other solo discs during her career, one pre-dating her tenure with Fleetwood Mac – 1970’s Christine Perfect – and the other – 2004’s barely-promoted In the Meantime – quietly released after her departure from the band.] 

While Christine McVie  did reasonably well on the charts (reaching #26), it’s a little surprising that it didn’t do even better, because it sticks to the same winning, sunny brand of pop she regularly wrote for and perfected with Fleetwood Mac. (It’s McVie who’s responsible for singing and writing “Say You Love Me,” “Don’t Stop,” “Over My Head,” “Think About Me,” “Hold Me,” “Love in Store,” “Little Lies,” “Everywhere,” and “Save Me.”) Buckingham and drummer Mick Fleetwood both even make guest appearances here, at that, Buckingham providing backing vocals on three cuts and guitar on two others, while Fleetwood plays drums on “Ask Anybody.”

The album also impressively sports guest appearances by Eric Clapton, who provides lead guitar on the cowbell-laced “The Challenge,” and Steve Winwood, who provides some synthesizer work on four tracks and also shares lead vocals on “One in a Million,” co-writing “Ask Anybody” with McVie as well. McVie’s also backed throughout by a wonderful rhythm section consisting of guitarist Todd Sharp (who wrote or co-wrote eight of the ten cuts here), bassist George Hawkins (formerly with Kenny Loggins’ backing band), and drummer Steve Ferrone (formerly the beat-keeper for the iconic ‘70s R&B outfit Average White Band).

Not surprisingly, the songs here are great, particularly the breezy Top Ten hit “Got a Hold on Me,” which features cameos from both Buckingham and Winwood and sports a phenomenal multi-layered chorus that also gives Ferrone a chance to show off from behind the kit, and the incredibly underrated “Love Will Show Us How,” one of the most insistently up-tempo singles McVie has ever cut, either with or without Fleetwood Mac. The latter song did follow “Got a Hold on Me” into the Top 40, stopping at #30, but is a much more appealing song than its chart position indicates and should have fared much better than it did. Other highlights include the aforementioned “The Challenge,” the haunting and lovely album-closing ballad “The Smile I Live For” and the Christopher Cross-like up-tempo pop of “Keeping Secrets."

It's anyone's guess why McVie has put out so fewer solo albums than either Buckingham or Nicks, but then, perhaps that ended up working in Fleetwood Mac's favor, as it was the very presence of McVie's consistently strong material that most redeemed the band's outings after Buckingham's (and, later, Nicks') departure from the group, McVie originals like Behind the Mask's title cut, "Skies the Limit," "Save Me," and "Do You Know" and Time's "I Do" and "Hollywood (Some Other Kind of Town)" all ranking among her most criminally overlooked songs for the band.