Solo Anthology: The Best Of Lindsey Buckingham

Lindsey Buckingham

Rhino, 2018

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Lindsey Buckingham’s solo career has been so spotty and under-the-radar that all but the most devoted fan probably have had a tough time keeping up with it. Between 1981 and 2011 he released six solo albums in between commitments to Fleetwood Mac and other musical avenues. There are a couple of live releases and, of course, the bookends Buckingham Nicks (that led to him joining Fleetwood Mac) and Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie (that led to him being fired from it months later).

It’s not a voluminous output, so at first glance, two CDs devoted to it seems overly generous. And if that’s not enough, a third CD exists (in most editions, and in the one sent for review) with nothing but live versions of his solo and certain overplayed Mac songs. It’s this CD, I suspect, that will likely entice most listeners to pick this up, although in a fair world it would be Buckingham’s guitar ability on stage that would be the main draw over the recognition of “Go Your Own Way.”

As anyone who listened to Tusk knows, Buckingham has a tendency to be willfully odd, and so his six solo albums can wind down unexpected songwriting paths. They are never willfully obscure but not always pop-friendly the way you’d expect them to be, sort of like if the rough edges of Tusk were sonically smoothed out and enhanced with some awe-inspiring fingerpicking but the off-kilter sentiment remained the same. In short, his albums are always interesting, sometimes brilliant, and genuinely individual.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Again, though, two entire CDs used to represent six is quite generous and a bit unnecessary, unless the goal was to get the casual listener to have everything necessary in one package, in which case this is perfect. You won’t need another Buckingham album besides this anthology, at least until he releases whatever’s on tap after the unceremonious firing from the Mac. Working non-chronologically but sequenced well, the collection shifts from ‘80s synth pop offerings like “Go Insane” to the modern rock “Gift Of Screws” to the acoustic near-country of “Down On Rodeo” to the melancholy dream pop of the tracks from Under The Skin, Buckingham’s best album.

Standout tracks above the two mentioned include the ethereal “Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind,” the lovely “Rock Away Blind,” the winsome “Trouble,” and the very good “Doing What I Can,” which is in the running for Buckingham’s best solo song. Over half of 1992’s Out Of The Cradle is represented here while only one cut from 1981’s Law and Order makes it, showing Lindsey’s assertion that his solo career truly began after the last great Fleetwood Mac album, 1987’s Tango In The Night. Hard to argue.

What bears repeating here is Buckingham’s skill on guitar. He squeaked into Rolling Stone’s Top 100 guitarists issue as #100, which is not only a shame but a disservice. Check out the solo “Big Love” on the third disc or the speed and skill required to pull off “Rock Away Blind” and you’ll understand. Sometimes the songs rely a little too much on gimmickry or are a little too willfully obtuse, but it’s a solo career and so there was no Christine McVie or Mick Fleetwood to rein him in.

On the one hand, this collection earns its stripes by including both songs from the National Lampoon Vacation movies, especially the brief “Holiday Road,” which is here in both studio and live version and is a fun rave-up that breaks up the seriousness of the first disc. On the other hand, the third disc is a mixed bag at best; perhaps bored of playing certain tracks on solo tours, Buckingham opts to slow down the tempo of many of the songs, making it a slog to get through “I’m So Afraid,” “Go Insane,” “Tusk,” and “Never Going Back Again.” His guitar is on point, but other than enticing Mac fans, they really don’t tell the solo story the way the first two discs do.

But taken all together, this is a fantastic collection that does its job – perhaps too well – and is worth picking up for anyone even remotely curious on Lindsey’s entire solo career outside of the big Mac machine.

Rating: B

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