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<br>Fleetwood Mac - Rumours<p>Listening in Depth</p>

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Listening in Depth

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Rumours.

The best copies exhibit the kind of presence, bass, dynamics and energy found only on the kind of Super Demo Discs we rave about here endlessly: the BS&Ts, Stardusts, Zumas and the like. When you get a good copy of this record, it is a Demo Disc. Who knew? Who even suspected? The grooves don't lie, and these grooves have a lot to say.

More Rumours / More Fleetwood Mac

Sku # : fleetrumou_depth
Manufacturer : Warner Brothers LP

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When you hear a great copy of Rumours, it’s very easy to understand why this is one of the best-selling pop music albums of all time. Just about everyone knows how great these songs are, but these killer sides take it to a whole different level.

Stampers Galore!

You would have to go through at least 25 or more copies of this record to even hope to find one in a league with our best pressings. That's a lot of record hunting, record cleaning and record playing! (If you know anything about this record, you know that the average domestic pressing of this album is quite average sounding; the good ones are few and far between.)

And the stampers, as we've come to learn, aren't the whole story. For one thing, there are at least 75 different side ones and 75 different side twos, all cut by Ken Perry at Capitol on the same three cutters from the same tapes -- but they all sound different! (Ken also cut the original English and Japanese pressings; his KP is in the dead wax for all to see. The two import KP copies that I heard were quite good, by the way. Not the best, but very good. He only cut the originals though, so practically every import copy you can find will be a reissue made from a dub, ugh.)

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Second Hand News

This instruments on this track, and I mean practically all of them, should positively JUMP out of the speakers. Second Hand News is built on a solid foundation of deep punchy bass, so if your copy is at all lean (Nautilus anyone?) you will not be getting what you should out of this song. It's the lead-off batter for one of the best song lineups in the history of pop. Lightweights need not apply.


The drums that open this track and the one monster cymbal crash at the beginning are PERFECTION on the best pressings. If you took ten copies of this album and just played that cymbal crash, I'm guessing you could tell the difference in the sound of every copy. If that cymbal crash doesn't splash you in the face like a bucket of cold water, you do not have a killer copy. It's way out front in the mix and that's the way they want it.

Ideally the bass is very prominent on this track. It should be way up in the mix, loud, tight and note-like, with the guitar and kick drum clearly separated. It absolutely drives the song; the copies that got the bass right on this track really came to life. If you want to know why Fleetwood and Mac are revered as one of the all-time great rhythm sections, this song should provide all the evidence you need. (Try Werewolves of London if this song doesn't convince you. Same sound too.)

Listen for Stevie Nick's humming before she starts to sing. On the good copies it's quite obvious.

Never Going Back Again

The picking of the acoustic guitars on this track should sound wonderful; all their harmonic structures are fully intact and clearly audible. In other words, the guitars were recorded right and that's the way they should sound. They frequently sound dull (lacking texture) or thin (lacking body: the strings are connected to a guitar body, not floating in the air).

The vocals are very silky on the good pressings. Some of the vocals on Rumours can strain; not so here.

Don't Stop
Go Your Own Way

The choruses of this album have them shouting out the lines like lovers during a knock-down drag-out fight, because that's what it is. All the hurt and anger is there in the delivery of the lines. Copies that convey that energy and emotion are doing their job and the rest are faking it.


Side Two

The Chain

Thirty seconds into this track you should be able to tell if you have a hot side two. Tons of ambience, a wide and beautifully transparent soundstage, perfect tonality: all the special sonic qualities of the best pop recordings should be on display from the very beginning of this song. It should also be noted that this is one of the all time great Fleetwood Mac tracks. I'm a fan of their earlier stuff, but you can't argue with a Musical Statement of this calibre.

I can't think of another Fleetwood Mac song with more raw emotion. The best copies bring out the pain in their voices like you would not believe. It's on the tape, but you can only feel the full power of it when the pressing lets you, and those are tough to come by.

You Make Loving Fun

I remember playing this song -- it has to be close to twenty years ago -- when I first discovered how good this album could sound, and thinking that I could hear Christine McVie's voice clearly for the first time. It had always sounded muffled. The reason it had always sounded muffled is simple enough: most pressings of this album are crap. Our equipment from that era was also lacking. Now we can hear her just fine, and on these Hot Stamper copies there's even a fair amount of ambience around her voice, the more the better.

I Don't Want to Know
Oh Daddy

McVie's vocal here is naked and unbelievably heartfelt. Finding a copy that plays better than mint minus on this track is practically impossible.

Gold Dust Woman

Further Reading

We have a large number of entries in our new Listening in Depth series.

We have a section for Audio Advice of all kinds.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in Hot Stamper Shootouts -- The Four Pillars of Success.

And finally we'll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.

Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.

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