Be Honest, Classic Rock Bands: You Would’ve Released Any One of These Fleetwood Mac Deep Cuts as a Single

Fleetwood Mac is one of the more unique bands in rock history in that their musical identity tended to drastically change depending on which men and women comprised their ever-evolving lineup. Sadly, it seems like the death of Christine McVie might mean the end of this band as a recording and touring outfit. But what a legacy of music they’ve left behind. And it’s not just the hits, although they’ve enjoyed plenty of those. Let’s take a look at five hidden gems that might have slipped past casual fans but deserve every bit of recognition we can give them.

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1. “Albatross” (single released in 1968)

The earliest incarnation of Fleetwood Mac was largely driven by the guitar wizardry of Peter Green. He was one of the stars of the blues-rock movement that emerged from Great Britain in the ‘60s, but he had more up his sleeve than just shredding in a 12-bar format.

Case in point: “Albatross,” a mesmerizingly delicate instrumental that actually topped the British singles charts at a time when so many leading lights of the British Invasion were slugging it out. Still, it feels like a hidden gem because it didn’t break big in the U.S., and because much of Mac’s music from that time period now takes a back seat to the music of the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks incarnation, at least to casual fans. 

2. “Rattlesnake Shake” (from the album Then Play On, 1969)

This steaming-hot blues featured a lethal four-man lineup, with Peter Green leading the way while joined by Danny Kirwan on second guitar and the steady duo of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood as the rhythm section. They get settled into a gritty groove on this one, and Green sings the stuffing out of it. Both Green and Fleetwood later copped to the fact that the title was a euphemism for masturbation, making it one of the great rock songs about the subject (along with The Who’s “Pictures of Lily,” Jackson Browne’s “Rosie,” and Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop”).

“Rattlesnake Shake” has been largely overlooked in the Mac catalog since its followup single, “Oh Well,” became the group’s American breakthrough hit. It expertly displays the chemistry of this lineup, though—one that would soon fall by the wayside when Green left the group in 1970.

3. “Over and Over” (from the album Tusk, 1979)

Once Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band, they tended to make most of the headlines—for good and bad. Meanwhile, Christine McVie simply did what she did, which sort of meant everything she did was underrated. Her sweet/sad slow-to-mid-tempo pop/soul was reliably winning, enough so that her “Over and Over” was given pride of place as the very first track on Side One of the sprawling double album Tusk in 1979.

[RELATED: 5 Fleetwood Mac Hits Ranked from ‘Rumours’ Through ‘Tango in the Night’]

The song features one of McVie’s most moving melodies, some subtle and soulful licks from Buckingham in the instrumental runout, and lovely backing vocals from Nicks. Because it wasn’t released as a single, it surely slipped past some listeners’ attention. Check it out if you’d like to hear the late, great Christine McVie at her very best.

4. “When I See You Again” (from the album Tango in the Night, 1987)

The last full-length album to feature the classic five-member Rumours lineup was 1987’s famously fraught Tango in the Night. At the end of it, Buckingham was so fed up that he left before the band could tour behind the record.

In typical Mac fashion, though, they rose above the chaos when it came to the music, and the album turned out to be a hit-laden smash. Stevie Nicks barely visited the studio as she was more focused on her solo work, and yet she managed to contribute several beauties, including this whisper of a ballad. Her lead vocal is searingly heart-rending. When Buckingham comes in at song’s end to ask, If I see you again / Will it be over?, you can hear the tortured history of the pair’s relationship in the ache of his voice.

5. “Steal Your Heart Away” (from the album Say You Will, 2003)

Lindsey Buckingham decided to rejoin the core group of Fleetwood Mac in 2003 after two albums away, and the resulting album (Say You Will) was a qualified success, with some really good stuff marred by typical CD-era bloat (18 tracks!).

Christine McVie technically wasn’t a part of the group at the time, but she did stop by to guest on two tracks, including this effortlessly pretty mid-tempo number. Some of the old vocal blend with the three main singers is evident in the swooning backing vocals, while Buckingham leads the way through a bittersweet melody. The lyrics bemoan the waste of two people who can’t put their relationship together: All alone, we suffer, Buckingham sings. Oh, to steal your heart away. You could have dropped this one on Rumours, and it would have sounded just right next to all the surrounding classics.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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