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Produced by the same team as last year’s excellent Rave On Buddy Holly, this new tribute album is just as inspired. It features some truly beautiful moments, such as the collaboration between Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and J Mascis on “Albatross,” and also some straightforward, infectious, ear-wormy pop (Best Coast’s take on “Rhiannon” would apply). A fairly common criticism of tribute albums is that the lack of a singular direction on the songs can often make the whole album feel scattered to the point of being unlistenable as an album. To some extent, this album is no different. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that many will just pick and choose their favorite tracks on this album instead of experiencing the whole.
That being said, there may not be a better band for this treatment than Fleetwood Mac. Their most successful period, from which this album leans heavily on, was marked by having three distinct voices and songwriters – Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, and Stevie Nicks. Their disparate views and styles are what made the best Fleetwood Mac albums so interesting and nuanced and keep fans coming back to this day. In theory, at least, the disparate views between every song that the tribute album format allows would work perfectly for Fleetwood Mac – in theory, at least. As great as Just Tell Me That You Want Me can be – and make no mistake, there is a ton of quality here – you can’t help but feel that this is something of a missed opportunity. The track list skews very, very heavily towards Nicks-penned songs. On the one hand, they’re all great songs. On the other, this eliminates a lot of the variety that makes Fleetwood Mac albums so special. No only that, but if you’re going to pick one of the three to cover, Stevie Nicks is probably the hardest to compare to in regards to the unique delivery of her vocals. As great as some singers can be, they’ll always sound somewhat dull if they’re allowing themselves to be compared directly to Nicks.
In the end, that’s more a structural issue than anything musical. If you’re just wondering whether this album is worthwhile: absolutely. When these covers are good, they’re really good. When they’re comparatively “dull,” they’re probably still more catchy than plenty of the music being produced today. Tune in at 5pm today to check out a few of the tracks and decide for yourself.