Lindsey Buckingham has a brand new solo album available today. It’s called Lindsey Buckingham. By the time you read this I might have heard it four or five times – but as I’m writing this, I’m hearing it for the first time. I’m so excited about this. I have been for months. Lindsey Buckingham is one of my all-time favourite musicians. One of the people I’ve listened to the most in this world. I love his solo albums. And he is the reason I keep returning to Fleetwood Mac. I discover new depths to Tusk every single time I listen to it (and that’s most weeks at the moment). I really do believe that’s one of the all-time pop-music masterpieces.
What a hot run Lindsey was on across the very late 1970s and into the early 1980s. That’s my favourite period. He was guesting up a storm (Warren Zevon, Leo Sayer, Bob Welch, Walter Egan) and he was contributing to solo albums by his bandmates (Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks). He was pumping out material as a solo artist – including the infectious theme tune for the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and he was the producer, song-shaper and moody main man for the Fleetwood Mac brand. His magic touch makes the song Gypsy one of the group’s very best. (I’ve often said that’s Lindsey’s best guitar solo married to Stevie’s finest lyric). Go back and listen to that album (Mirage). It gets forgotten but it’s one of the band’s strongest statements in pop.
Lindsey is a genius.
I’m convinced of that.
And it’s one of my great thrills in life to know that this piece right here– a piece I wrote for a series of my favourite guitarists – is one of the most-read pieces of writing from my Off The Tracks website. Every month it ranks in the Top 10. How cool to know that people are reading that; perhaps incredulous, maybe doubting my sincerity. But they’re still reading it. (Or clicking on it at least).
I’ll never get sick of listening to Fleetwood Mac, reading about them – or writing about them. And Lindsey is one of the big drawcards for me. His wizardry is astounding. He finds melodies in places where others wouldn’t even know to look, or how to get started. His harmonic touch is deft and surprising. He can really shred too. I still reckon he’s one of the most underrated guitar players, which might seem silly – because those that know know – but, boy can he wail! That’s why I wrote the piece about him being the best guitarist in the world.
And if there’s not enough evidence on the Fleetwood Mac albums he helped to generate and on the solo albums that he’s pumped out across the 80s and then again particularly in the 00s and 2010s, well you can hear it in some of his surprising guest turns. He’s there on the brand-new album by Halsey. He was on a recent Nine Inch Nails record. He even turns up on the two Fleetwood Mac albums released when he wasn’t a member of the group. And his guitar is such a tonic. So crucial.
But so what, eh? These are the ravings of a fan! A lunatic up late at night just so he can greet the brand new, self-titled album with open arms and open ears and a huge grin on his face. Up far too late and typing away, almost hysterical. A killer guitar solo here. A tasteful bit of playing right there. What good is this if I’ve already decided he can do no wrong?
Well of course there are Lindsey Buckingham albums I like more than others. There are songs that are brilliant and others that are just okay. Not everything is a slam-dunk. But the new album instantly sounds like some of his finest work. Which is just as well, since it is being ushered into the world with the backstory that this is the album that got him fired from Fleetwood Mac the second or third time around.
Story goes, he had the album all lined up and wanted to tour. But it was the Mac’s 50th birthday. There are all sorts of layers – because it’s the world’s greatest and longest-running musical soap-opera. But Stevie got the shits with Lindsey. And Mick backed the racetrack runner that would always bring in the bucks. Next thing you know Neil Finn and Mike Campbell are scrambling to cover for Lindsey. They did a fine-enough job in the end. (I was at one of the NZ shows – two years ago almost to the day).
It’s not nothing that the two times Lindsey has left/been fired Fleetwood Mac has chosen two guitarists to try to cover/replace him.
Anyway, look. There are some gems to be found in the back-catalogue. There are deep cuts on Fleetwood Mac records. There is a solo anthology of Lindsey’s best bits. And there are songs galore that feature his unique touch. More than once, he has basically put his solo album plans on hold and handed the songs in to be shaped into the bulk of a new band record.
This time he didn’t. He wanted to put this album out. And tour it. Then go on the road again with the main job. But it didn’t happen. He was booted. Then he got sick. Recovered. Got divorced. Banked a few more crazy stories – and kept up the arrested-development bitching about Stevie (and she about him). And now he might well end up in the band again. For his chance at a victory lap blowing minds with his guitar.
It’s all just another weird chapter or two in the incredible Fleetwood Mac saga.
But regardless, this new album might be his best solo album – and its certainly his best since those brilliant early 80s gems that he just happened to plop out while still making some of the best Fleetwood Mac music of that era. Not only that, he often fixed and fussed over the songs that Christine and Stevie brought in half-finished, or lacking a certain dynamic, a particular sheen.
What a phenomenon.
So check out Lindsey Buckingham by Lindsey Buckingham today. And marvel at his brilliance. And I’ve made you a wee playlist of some of his cameo spots from across the years. Which further shows the range, and highlights his magic-touch.
And because it’s Friday, I’ve also made you the 30th edition of the weekly Something For The Weekend playlist.