Various Artists "Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac

Marianne Faithfull, The New Pornographers, and MGMT are among the artist paying tribute to Fleetwood Mac

The reason for Fleetwood Mac’s success and longevity is the talent that has graced this band, particularly the amazing array of songwriters. Certainly the musician ship has been astute, whether the guitar work of Peter Green and Lindsey Buckingham, the bass of John McVie, and the percussion of Mick Fleetwood. The singers are also amazing; Stevie Nicks, Bob Welch, Christine McVie, and Buckingham each brought their unique vocals to the table. But it is the songwriting that all other attributes rest upon, and it is there that Fleetwood Mac excels. It’s fitting that the band draw a diverse group of musicians on a tribute to the band, each expressing him or herself by choosing music from the band’s different eras and songwriters.

When Fleetwood Mac released its eponymous debut in 1968 the album was alternately known as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. The tribute opens with his instrumental song “Albatross” by Lee Ronaldo Band featuring J Mascis. Green’s music was steeped in the blues and Trixie Whitley, the daughter of the late Chris Whitley, brings that influence to her take on Green’s “Before the Beginning.” Billy Gibbon’s & Co.’s take on “Oh Well” focuses on the gritty side of the blues.

Two Lindsey Buckingham’s get a new treatment; Tame Impala gives “That’s All For Everyone” a hazy, ethereal feel, while The Chrystal Ark trades the big drum beat of “Tusk” for electronic keyboards. Christine McVie only gets one nod of appreciation, that from The New Pornographers who closely replicate her original arrangement for “Think About Me.” Surprisingly Bob Welch only gets one cover, “Future Games,” courtesy of the duo MGMT. The electronically altered vocals give a robotic voice to the protagonist.

Stevie Nicks is the big winner on this disc with 10 artists covering her songs. Some of her biggest hits are covered, including “Landslide” by the intensely quiet Antony. Best Coast recreates “Rhiannon” as a happy-beat pop song, while Lykki Li records “Silver Springs” as an echoing vocal and guitar duet. Marianne Faithfull, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot bring new depth to “Angel.” The Kills sparse arrangements darken the mood on “Dreams.” “Gypsy” is updated by Gardens & Villas, while Matt Sweeny & Bonnie Prince Billy turn “Storms” into a gorgeous acoustic ballad. “Straight Back” is straight shimmering pop when done by Washed Out. Karen Elson covers “Gold Dust Woman” in Stevie fashion.

Most of the artist on Tell Me That You Want Me are young enough that many of these songs were hits when they were children, some even before they were born. Still the songs resonate thanks to the incredible craftsmanship of the material. It makes you want to go back, find those early Fleetwood Mac albums, and spend an afternoon or evening reminding yourself why you initially were drawn to this very unique band that crossed both cultures and generations.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Host)