John: 'What?! Rumours! It's one of the best albums int' whole wide world.'
Kayleigh: "Never even heard of it."
John: "Excuse me! You've never heard of Rumours? Ohhh, you'll love it, I'll burn you a copy...tonight! Ahhh, one of me all time favourite albums."
Kayleigh: "Mine's Now 48."
John: "No, no I'm sorry you can't have a Now album as your favourite album."
Kayleigh: "Why not?"
John: "Cause... 'cause... 'cause you can't have a compilation."
Kayleigh: "I love it, it reminds me of the summer I worked in River Island."
I won't waste any more than just one sentence to recommend watching Peter Kay's Car Share: it's brilliant, it's absolutely hilarious. This scene always makes me laugh; John makes a statement a lot of music fans might agree with, especially people of his age (my mum happens to love the album and the band - it's why I do), and Kayleigh's response is something he just can't cope with. Rumours (1977) is a well-loved album, grammy-winning, it marks the most successful release the band ever made, and one of the most successful albums ever.
As far as Rumours is concerned, I'm on John's side here because it is in fact one of the best albums int' whole wide world. I need to talk about the music itself though. I mean, it's cracking: every single song is fantastic. But why? It probably has a lot to do with the conflict, romantic and otherwise, that Fleetwood Mac were experiencing during the making of the album, and during a significant part of their time as a band. The songs are charged with emotion, and the music is relentlessly passionate. 'Go Your Own Way' is maybe the best example of this feature of the album. However, the album also achieves a wonderfully ambient edge, which isn't as obvious as the emotional songs would let you think. 'Dreams', the song that sparks the car share conversation, and my personal favourite from Fleetwood Mac, is a calm and accepting song. I've maybe listened to it a couple of times a day for the last week or so. It has some fantastic harmonies and Stevie Nicks chooses every word carefully and perfectly. The lyrics blend together with the instrumental section and become inseparable from it. It just fits. Both the first and second side of the record somehow strike a great balance, drifting in and out of moods and emotions, creating conflict and underlining tension.
If Rumours is as wholesome as I make it sound, then Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits (1988) is just a compilation, patched together from their best songs. Compilations are, in this way, apparently the Frankenstein's monsters of the album world. Liking Now albums is a bit different though, I don't really want to make a case for defending them; they're probably like the result of Frankenstein's monster having a baby with another patched together human/monster? But back on topic, this is the point where I disagree with John as I probably like the greatest hits album as much, if not more than Rumours. Although the project of Rumours - an expression of romantic and emotional conflict spanning multiple relationships - is incomparable, people have always liked albums because they tell stories, and there's no reason why any best/greatest hits album can't do this too.
I'm fully aware there's no, 'making of the album' here, but for me, Greatest Hits indirectly reworks and refigures the complicated emotion in Rumours, using songs from Tango in the Night like, 'Everywhere' and, 'Little Lies' to stress the point that the emotions in their relationships don't stop being complicated. It might seem like a lot of the tension and anger would be resolved by moving on - 'Don't stop' seems to suggest this - but how do you move on? In light of this question, the sentiment of 'Little lies' is particularly poignant in showing resignation to the complication, preferring to deny an unhappy reality, whereas 'Everywhere', though it seems hopeful, might underline how difficult it is to resolve the tension in a relationship when you want to be with the other person everywhere and always. The energy of these two songs, and the manic energy of 'Tusk' from the album Tusk (1979), oppose the more measured features on the album like 'As Long As You Follow' and 'No Questions Asked' - both previously unreleased, and give the album an interesting pace which seems like it is desperately trying and failing to resolve the conflict reflected in the complicated relationships. 'Tusk' demonstrates this quite well: 'Don't say that you love me! Just tell me that you want me!'.
I'm willing to admit that Fleetwood Mac, Greatest Hits, is actually a collection of their best songs; it's a window into the most successful period of the band's career. This compilation and all compilations are reconstructed. They aren't the same as the albums or songs from which they are created, but if music is about interpretation then it is about reinterpretation too. Books and screenplays are constantly adapted, and although the-book-was-better people might try and tell you otherwise, you can think that the reinvention of whatever the original thing was is better, and it has a new message of its own. I also don't care if no message was intended for the album, because I know I'm the one giving it one. Greatest Hits (1988) might not seem as wholesome as any other Fleetwood Mac album, but it's a fantastic achievement all the same.