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Warner re-release another older album, this one originally from the year 1977 and performed by Fleetwood Mac. While the name was familiar to me, all I knew they had written was the original version of Dreams which was successfully covered by The Corrs a few years ago. However after popping this in the player I was inundated with familiar tunes, memories of an era gone by, timeless pop songs – this is a great album. A little bit of research into this album and it is revealed that it was included in Vibe magazines 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century (12/99) and in Q magazines "Best Relationship Albums Of All Time" (03/00). Here’s a snippet from the Warner press release:

<table width=385><tr><td> Recorded in 1975, ‘Rumours’ opened the doors to America, transforming Fleetwood Mac from a modestly successful blues-based British band into a full-on rock phenomenon. So it seems fitting that 25 years later, this classic album with haunting and timeless melodies is re-released in this outstanding new multi-channel medium.</td></tr></table>

As you can see, this is not just any old release – this is a highly acclaimed album. So what tracks can you look forward to when popping this into your DVD-audio player? Please let me continue.

Rumours

Album
Firstly as I am sure you all know by now, DVD-audio offers a much higher quality and dynamic range than normal DVD-Video or CDs. While they produce a sampling rate of a mere 44.1 KHz, DVD-audio can attain 192 KHz for stereo and 96 KHz for multi channel sound. If the source material was mixed exactly the same as it was originally, but placed on the DVD-Audio format in stereo it would be an improvement, however taking the original engineer’s tapes and mixing a multi channel version is just fantastic.

I was quite surprised how many songs on this album I recognised since I couldn’t have named any significant number of Mac tracks until I dropped it in the player. Opening with the pop-tastic Second Hand News, to quote a well known film this album had me from the word “Hello” (actually it wasn’t the word “Hello” as I don’t think this features on the album at all, but you get the gist). It’s an upbeat song about splitting up with someone, in this case Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and the opening rhythm guitar coming in from the rears to the fronts is enough to make you drool. It is a nice introduction, instantly letting you know that this is a totally new experience. Following this, the melodious tones of Dreams which perhaps shows its age when compared to the newer cover version, is still a great song which like any on this album, could have been handled poorly with the sound engineers misusing the new multi channel format. However they are restrained and create a more natural sound, which the band can be proud of.

Rumours

Go Your Own way is probably the most recognisable title from the album and is even today, a great track. The complicated drums, inspired from the Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man explode in with loads of bass causing me great satisfaction. This was recorded in the seventies originally, so there is a lot of use of lighter drums on this album. These tend to sound a little thin, but I think it was intentional of the original recording rather than a fault. The Chain might not ring any bells at first, from its name or from the actual song. It sounded vaguely familiar when I played it however it is not until a few minutes into the track that it totally changes to an exquisite bass guitar solo which was instantly recognisable as the old Formula One theme. The notes are thick and luxurious, travelling fluidly from the speakers with the drum crescendo building up from silence into a thundering end to the song.

It is worth mentioning the bonus track Silver Springs which was originally destined for the album. It was left off in 1977 due to the space requirement of an LP record. For some reason which we can only assume was laziness it was also left off the CD release of this album. The unprecedented audio storage space provided by DVD-audio gets around this and so it has been inserted into the middle of the album, placing Songbird at the end. I believe Songbird was often a common closing song for Fleetwood Mac and so it makes sense for it to be placed here.

Extras
Apart from the two DVD-Audio tracks, there is an obligatory Dolby Digital 5.1 track to make sure this disc is compatible with all DVD players. Also present are short interviews discussing each track by the band. These are quite informative, especially if you are a fan. This was where I found out that Silver Springs was originally dropped due to space reasons (according to Mick Fleetwood). All DVD players should be able to access these mini interviews. The menus are adequate, but the transitions between some of them are great. For instance, one set shows Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks dancing across the frame. This is not video. Remember, DVD-Audio does not support video like that, so the DVD-Audios producers have taken frames from the video and played them back together, with short pauses in between each frame, giving the impression of them both gliding across the floor. It’s a nice menu system taking on the colours of the original artwork. Each song is presented with a still frame with the song title, the name of the band member that wrote it and a playlist button, obviously taking you to the playlist. There is no button for “Next Track” or “Previous Track” however this does not really matter since the previous/next buttons on the remote control perform these functions with no problems.

Rumours

Overall
I didn’t realise this was such a great album and the DVD-Audio version does not disappoint. Luckily the original producer was available to create the surround mixes which is always a good thing as he obviously has the band’s best interests at heart. Some reasonable extras, good menus and excellent production make this a worthy purchase and a respectable addition to any music enthusiast collection. Delicate mixes breathe life into these classic songs which will leave you wondering what other delights Warner have up their sleeves for the up and coming DVD-Audio releases.



The reviewer would like to thank FrÄnK for the use of the original CD for comparison purposes.


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