Throwback Thursday - Three Classic Albums from the Age of Rock

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

Rumours is the eleventh studio album by the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Largely recorded in California during 1976, it was produced by the band with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut and was released on 4 February 1977 by Warner Bros. Records. The record reached the top of both the United States Billboard chart and the United Kingdom Albums Chart. The songs "Go Your Own Way", "Dreams", "Don't Stop", and "You Make Loving Fun" were released as singles. Rumours is Fleetwood Mac's most successful release; along with winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978, the record has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. Rumours has received diamond certifications in several countries, including the US, Canada, and Australia.

The band wanted to expand on the commercial success of the 1975 record Fleetwood Mac, but struggled with relationship breakups before recording started. The Rumours studio sessions were marked by hedonistic behavior and interpersonal strife among Fleetwood Mac members; these experiences shaped the album's lyrics. Influenced by pop music, the record's tracks were recorded using a combination of acoustic and electric instruments. The mixing process delayed the completion of Rumours, but was finished by the end of 1976. Following the album's release in 1977, Fleetwood Mac undertook worldwide promotional tours.

Rumours garnered widespread critical acclaim. Praise centered on its production quality and harmonies, which frequently relied on the interplay among three vocalists. The record has inspired the work of musical acts in different genres. Often considered Fleetwood Mac's best release, it has featured in several publications' lists of the best albums of the 1970s and the best albums of all time. In 2004, Rumours was remastered and reissued with the addition of an extra track and a bonus CD of outtakes from the recording sessions. A three-CD reissue of the album was released by Warner Bros. on 29 January 2013. The set included outtakes of songs and concert tracks the band played while on tour in 1977.

Rumours is built around a mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation. Buckingham's guitar work and Christine McVie's use of Fender Rhodes piano or Hammond B-3 organ are present in all tracks. The record often includes stressed drum sounds and distinctive percussion such as congas and maracas. It opens with "Second Hand News", originally an acoustic demo titled "Strummer". After hearing Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'", Buckingham and co-producer Dashut built up the song with four audio tracks of electric guitar and the use of chair percussion to evoke celtic rock. "Dreams" includes "ethereal spaces" and a recurring two note pattern on the bass guitar. Nicks wrote the song in an afternoon and led the vocals, while the band played around her. The third track on Rumours, "Never Going Back Again", began as "Brushes", a simple acoustic guitar tune played by Buckingham, with snare rolls by Fleetwood using brushes; the band added vocals and further instrumental audio tracks to make it more layered. Inspired by triple step dancing patterns, "Don't Stop" includes both conventional acoustic and tack piano. In the latter instrument, nails are placed on the points where the hammers hit the strings, producing a more percussive sound. "Go Your Own Way" is more guitar-oriented and has a four-to-the-floor dance beat influenced by The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man". The album's pace slows down with "Songbird", conceived solely by Christine McVie using a nine-foot Steinway piano.

"Gold Dust Woman" is influenced by jazz and features a dobro. The song's lyrics focus on Nicks' struggle with cocaine addiction.

Side two of Rumours begins with "The Chain", one of the record's most complicated compositions. A Christine McVie demo, "Keep Me There", and a Nicks song were re-cut in the studio and were heavily edited to form parts of the track. The whole of the band crafted the rest using an approach akin to creating a film score; John McVie provided a prominent solo using a fretless bass guitar, which marked a speeding up in tempo and the start of the song's final third. Inspired by R&B, "You Make Loving Fun" has a simpler composition and features a clavinet, a special type of keyboard instrument, while the rhythm section plays interlocking notes and beats. The ninth track on Rumours, "I Don't Want to Know", makes use of a twelve string guitar and harmonising vocals. Influenced by the music of Buddy Holly, Buckingham and Nicks created it in 1974 before they were in Fleetwood Mac. "Oh Daddy" was crafted spontaneously and includes improvised bass guitar patterns from John McVie and keyboard blips from Christine McVie. The album ends with "Gold Dust Woman", a song inspired by free jazz, which has music from a harpsichord, a Fender Stratocaster guitar, and a dobro, an acoustic guitar whose sound is produced by one or more metal cones.

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Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy


Houses of the Holy is the fifth studio album by British rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Atlantic Records on 28 March 1973. It is their first album composed of entirely original material, and represents a musical turning point for the band, who had begun to record songs with more layering and production techniques.

Containing some of the band's most famous songs, including "The Song Remains the Same", "The Rain Song" and "No Quarter", Houses of the Holy became a huge success, and was certified eleven times platinum by the RIAA in 1999. In 2012, it was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The title track was recorded for the album, but was delayed until the band's next release, Physical Graffiti, two years later.

Much of the album was recorded in Spring 1972 using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Stargroves, a manor house and country estate in Newbury, Berkshire.[2] Some songs from the album had initially been tried out earlier than this, such as "No Quarter", which was first attempted during a session at Headley Grange.

Several of the songs were produced as trial recordings (demos) at the personal studios of guitarist Jimmy Page and bass player/keyboardist John Paul Jones. Having recently installed these studios in their homes, it enabled them to finish the arrangements which had been laid down earlier. In particular, Page was able to present complete arrangements of "The Rain Song" and "Over the Hills and Far Away", while Jones had developed "No Quarter".


This album was a stylistic turning point in the lifespan of Led Zeppelin. Guitar riffs became more layered within Page's production techniques and departed from the blues influences of earlier records. In the album's opening opus, "The Song Remains the Same", and its intricate companion suite, "The Rain Song", Robert Plant's lyrics matured toward a less overt form of the mysticism and fantasy of previous efforts. Houses of the Holy also featured styles not heard on the first four Led Zeppelin albums. For example, "D'yer Mak'er" is a reggae-based tune (the name of the song being derived from the phonetic spelling of a British pronunciation of "Jamaica"); "No Quarter" features atmospheric keyboard sounds and an acoustic piano solo from Jones; "The Crunge" is a funk tribute; and "The Rain Song" is embellished by Jones on his newly acquired Mellotron. The album's closing song "The Ocean", which features an a cappella section and a doo-wop influenced coda, is dedicated to "the ocean" of fans who were massing to Led Zeppelin concerts at this point of the band's career. Subsequently, one view is that the title "Houses of the Holy" refers to the massive venues they played full of their adoring fans. However, when Page was asked about the significance of the title in a Sirius XM interview in New York City 7 Nov. 2014, he responded, “It’s about all of us being houses of the Holy Spirit, in a sense.”



The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 1 June 1967, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the albums chart in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at number one in the United States. Time magazine declared it "a historic departure in the progress of music" and the New Statesman praised its elevation of pop to the level of fine art. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.

In August 1966, the Beatles permanently retired from touring and began a three-month holiday from recording. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band that would eventually form the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions for the Beatles' eighth studio album began on 24 November in Abbey Road Studio Two with two compositions inspired from their youth, "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", but after pressure from EMI, the songs were released as a double A-side single; they were not included on the album.

In February 1967, after recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", McCartney suggested that the Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band endeavored to improve upon the production quality of their prior releases. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition, writing songs such as "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life". Producer George Martin's innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing allegorical crescendos. Recording was completed on 21 April 1967. The cover, depicting the band posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

According to the musicologist Walter Everett, Sgt. Pepper marks the beginning of McCartney's ascendancy as the Beatles' dominant creative force. He wrote more than half of the album's material while asserting increasing control over the recording of his compositions. He would from this point on provide the artistic direction for the group's releases. Sessions began on 24 November 1966 in Abbey Road Studio Two, the first time that the Beatles had come together since September. Afforded the luxury of a nearly limitless recording budget, they booked open-ended sessions that allowed them to work as late as they wanted. They began with three songs that were thematically linked to their childhoods: "Strawberry Fields Forever", "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Penny Lane". The first session saw the introduction of a new keyboard instrument called the Mellotron, the keys of which triggered tape-recordings of a variety of instruments, enabling its user to play keyboard parts using those voices. McCartney performed the introduction to "Strawberry Fields Forever" using the flute setting. The track's complicated production involved the innovative splicing of two takes that were recorded in different tempos and pitches. Emerick remembers that during the recording of Revolver, "we had gotten used to being asked to do the impossible, and we knew that the word 'no' didn't exist in the Beatles' vocabulary." In Martin's opinion, Sgt. Pepper "grew naturally out of Revolver", marking "an era of almost continuous technological experimentation".

Music papers started to slag us off ... because [Sgt. Pepper] took five months to record, and I remember the great glee seeing in one of the papers how the Beatles have dried up ... and I was sitting rubbing my hands, saying "You just wait."– Paul McCartney

"Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" were subsequently released as a double A-side in February 1967 after EMI and Epstein pressured Martin for a single. When it failed to reach number one in the UK, British press agencies speculated that the group's run of success might have ended, with headlines such as "Beatles Fail to Reach the Top", "First Time in Four Years" and "Has the Bubble Burst?" After its release, at Epstein's insistence the single tracks were not included on the LP. Martin later described the decision to drop these two songs as "the biggest mistake of my professional life". Nonetheless, in his judgment, "Strawberry Fields Forever", which he and the band spent an unprecedented 55 hours of studio time recording, "set the agenda for the whole album". He explained: "It was going to be a record ... [with songs that] couldn't be performed live: they were designed to be studio productions and that was the difference." McCartney's goal was to make the best Beatles album yet, declaring: "Now our performance is that record." On 6 December 1966, the group began work on "When I'm Sixty-Four", the first track that would be included on the album.

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