This Beautiful Luggage, Stevie Nicks’ 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault

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For a while in the late 70s it seemed there were two main kinds of parties, one exclaimed the living room you were in was “Detroit Rock City” and the other twirled around in maxi or midi skirts whispering rumours of “Second Hand News.” Where I lived, no one—at least at parties—played The Clash, The Sex Pistols, or even XTC.  I have to admit that I haven’t listened to Rumours or Destroyer for a very, very long time, can’t face those too familiar chords and harmonies. Both bands were the height of excess for that era, what with one breathing fire from behind stage makeup and other demanding a waterbed boardroom, and their music is forever associated with those excesses of the 70s.  With Fleetwood Mac touring again, I searched out their new album and found that it is a mysterious “maybe” album, yet to be released, even though they are on tour and working together as a group.  Stevie Nicks has a new one out, though.

Rumours of Something New

There are sixteen songs on this album and Nicks wrote them between 1969 and 1995, quite a span in musical styles and her development as an artist.  One might expect this to be a sprawling mishmash, just as that time span had been, but this is actually quite a lovely album. This old material, songs Nicks chose to leave unreleased over those years, is made new with the production of Dave Stewart, of Eurythmics’ fame.  We are lucky enough to have a coherent and strangely attractive album.  Even for those of us who may not ever be able unsheathe Rumours again, Stevie Nicks sounds new again.

“Starshine” is a hit from any of those eras and should do fine now. There isn’t a single tune that sounds like it belongs to a party from long ago.  They are old tunes but they are new to us and newly done.  That is true for many albums by veteran artists. This one is a wonderful surprise and it has its Rumours moments, such as “All the Beautiful Worlds”—from whatever era it originated.

Definitely New in 2014

In the end it doesn’t matter when the songs were written; they are sung and produced now and the result is almost as good as that unmentionable album from the 70s. Nicks obviously shelved at least sixteen amazing tunes over her career so far.  She is also, apparently, the holdout to the full reunion of Fleetwood Mac’s new album. If she has rid herself of prior to touring with the rest of the crew, then we should be in for a real treat from all of them—perhaps with a board room you can walk into, even. 

I probably will never listen to Rumours again but I would certainly love to hear that crew put out something that could be as overheard as that album was back in that era—the era of the emergence of punk rock, the era one of the extremes of white pant suits and ripped denims held together with safety pins. Stevie Nicks sounds fine in 2014, her 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault giving us insight into what might have been had things turned out differently.  Still, it’s nice to have something new from the past in 2014.



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