Fleetwood Mac is a band with a strange back-story. Originally an English blues band, later an English rock band, and finally an intercontinental English/American pop hit machine, it’s almost impossible to keep track of who was in the band in what years—or who was dating who, for that matter.
Bare Trees is not the Fleetwood Mac that most Americans are familiar with. This 1972 album comes three years before Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the group, and thus has a very different sound from their hit Fleetwood Mac and Rumours albums.
I confess to loving the latter-day incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, and I’m a huge fan of Stevie Nicks’s work both with the group and as a soloist. But despite my bias, I was in love with Bare Trees from the first song. This is a strong album that is worth listening to over and over again.
Danny Kirwin and Bob Welch—two people are aren’t even in the Fleetwood Mac I’m more familiar with—sing many of the vocals, with the more familiar voice of Christine McVie coming forward in a few of the songs. The tunes are catchy, inventive, emotional, and have a rock-and-roll earnestness that is lacking from some of Fleetwood Mac’s later work. That earnestness managed to make up for the lack of Stevie Nicks’s patented angst.
You won’t hear these songs on the radio—even the best classic rock stations have gotten enamored with the Fleetwood Mac and Rumours albums—but Bare Trees is definitely not to be overlooked.
4.5 out of 5 stars.