Saturday, July 11, 2009

Basslines: The Chain

Fleetwood Mac: The Chain


When I told my wife about this week's theme, she told me that I had to post Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" from the classic 1977 album Rumours. Of course, she's the Fleetwood expert... not me. This is her take on the track.

Although he is honored in the name of the band, John McVie is arguably the least recognized of the members of Fleetwood Mac (that is, the five most well-known and long-lasting members). He doesn’t provide lead vocals like Lindsey, Stevie, or Christine, and he’s not an ebullient showman like his partner-in-crime Mick. What he provides, however, are solid basslines that make up the backbone of several of the band’s hits.

That’s never more apparent than with The Chain, off the mega-selling album Rumours. Besides the fact that its lyrical content represented the well-known turmoil going on in the band at the time, the most interesting aspect of this song is that it actually started out as two separate pieces. John, Mick, Lindsey, and Christine had worked out the part that begins with John’s memorable bassline (about 3:00 in), but that’s all they had – a great musical demonstration, but certainly not a complete song. Enter Stevie with a song she had written during the Buckingham Nicks days. After some resistance by Lindsey, the group decided to put the two together, with Stevie’s contribution leading off. It was a perfect fit.

So, here’s The Chain – featuring two demonstrably different musical movements, with an unforgettable bassline seamlessly tying them together.

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