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Positive Feedback ISSUE 56
july/august 2011


Fleetwood Mac, Rumours 45RPM Warner Music Reissue
by Danny Kaey



If, by now, you haven't heard of Fleetwood Mac's most successful commercial record, Rumours, you may crawl back under the rock you have lived all these years. Recorded back in 1976, this 11th studio album was released February 4th, 1977 to great success. Spawning off several hit singles, "Go Your Own Way", "Don't Stop", "Dreams" and of course "You Make Loving Fun", this record's success gave Fleetwood Mac a new lease on life (and a whole lot of dollars) so to speak.

Go through any music repertoire site and Rumours undoubtedly will invariably be listed as one of the best 50 or so records ever made. It is easy to see and hear why: catchy rhythms, great song writing and an overall nice and musical flow make this quite simply a great record. Sonically, it's typical 70's fair: multi-tracked, somewhat congested sounding, the band gave their 3M 24-track machine a great workout. Engineers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut, though fond of good sound, captured some truly great music on the masters. The first release in 77 then, sounded quintessential: a clean copy of mine has good bottom end, a typical 70's mid-range sound and an overall previously mentioned congested sound.

Several reissues followed, including a DVD-A release as well as a complete remaster in 2004 by Bob Inglot, Warner's go-to mastering engineer from 1982-2007. But there was more to be had. Some years ago, Warner decided to embark on a major 70's rock reissue campaign which of course included Rumours. For this title specifically, mastering mavens Steve Hoffman and Kevin Grey where hired to produce the ultimate fidelity reissue to be released on 331/3 and 45RPM vinyl.

Bluntly put, this pair of reissues blow socks of any other, previously available version of this album and by a wide margin. What Steve and Kevin where able to retrieve from the masters is simply staggering and incredible. The biggest change in sound are perhaps the fully restored dynamics, which, on the 45RPM version at least, are orders of magnitude better than the original release. Whereas the original "Dreams" for example merely hints at dynamics, this reissue will give your woofers a work out and then some. On my Zu Definition Mk 2s, bass is taught, tight and dynamically convincing and energizes the room with clean, distortion free sound, particularly as you keep turning the volume higher and higher.

Steve credits this increased level of dynamic realism to the vastly superior playback and mastering chain as well as modern day vinyl playback equipment. Back in the 70's, engineers simply had to reduce and squash dynamics as no real-world record player would have been able to handle the dynamic swings.

Clarity, instrumental separation have also been dramatically improved; the famous 70's midrange suck-out is also far less prominent, Nick's vocals having just the right timbre, volume and shimmer. All in all this is simply a must have reissue for any music lover and Fleetwood Mac fan especially. Considering Warner issued this as a "limited" edition run, copies are flying fast. While the 331/3 will give you perhaps 95% of the 45 in terms of sonics, I'd go for the 45 and 33. You'll always have at least one available in the years to come!