"Under the Skin"
Friday, October 6, 2006
"WHEN THE STAGE IS DEAD and empty," Lindsey Buckingham asks on his
new album, ". . . what's it all about, sitting there on your own?"
For the man who led Fleetwood Mac to some of rock 'n' roll's
greatest commercial and artistic triumphs, the stage has been empty
for a long time.
Before this year, he had released just one solo album, one
Mac-reunion live album and one Mac-reunion studio album. What was he
doing on his own all those years? Well, for one thing, he was making
the homemade demos that became the weird, often flawed, often
exhilarating solo album "Under the Skin."
It resembles neither the classic Fleetwood Mac albums nor anything
on the radio today. It is a stripped-down production in which
Buckingham plays one or two guitars against maybe a rhythm loop and
his own whispery high tenor. The lyrics, which often suggest bad
high school poetry, are no more than hints about the real drama that
lies in the music. But that music is often magnificent, even in the
claustrophobic confines of this one-man band. Like his hero Brian
Wilson, Buckingham has a knack for composing captivating melodies
that he can then harmonize to suggest expansive hopes or crushing
When he asks, "What's it all about?" on the song "Show You How," his
wife answers by telling him to slow down, but she does so in a
syncopated, ricocheting melody that is more dizzying than calming.
The title track is an intoxicating tug-of-war between the swooning
vocals and the layered strumming guitars. He similarly stretches the
harmonies on two obscurities from the '60s: the Rolling Stones' "I
Am Waiting" and Donovan's "Try for the Sun."
Buckingham handles every instrument and vocal himself except on two
tracks, when he is joined by his old bandmates Mick Fleetwood and/or
John McVie. On one of those tracks, "Down on Rodeo," he seems to
muse on his old band: "We never took quite enough chances / We never
had quite enough time." On this album, Buckingham has taken some
chances and has certainly taken his time.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Monday at the State Theatre.