Fleetwood Mac's Alternate Collection is insightful but lacks LA bells, whistles and cocaine pixie-dust

Once more into the archives for alternative takes on old Fleetwood Mac favourites

Fleetwood Mac: The Alternate Collection cover art
(Image: © Rhino)

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This box set brings together alternative takes on five Fleetwood Mac albums (originally released individually and separately for Record Store Day) – Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Tusk, Mirage and Tango In The Night – and a live set. Perfect, then, for RSD, in which obsessives and completists compete to snag those precious rarities. Outside of that, though, it’s very much a companion piece rather than the main event.

There’s a reason why Rumours, in particular, is one of the most commercially successful albums of all time (it was the UK’s biggest-selling vinyl album in 2020, 43 years after its release), and it’s that it is a nigh-on perfect pop-rock record. Once you leave the blues era of the band, the LA bells, whistles and cocaine pixie-dust are what make it. 

You’re not going to beat the breathtaking, vicious, bitter sparkle of Go Your Own Way as you already know it, and this alternative version doesn’t – it’s fine, but a little flatter, a little less magical. It all makes more sense as a project when the songs are stripped back to show their inner workings, as on The Chain, and it’s in the vastly different demos, acoustic takes and early versions that these discs come into their own. 

Meanwhile, the live album, stitched together from various performances, crackles with the tension and beauty this era of the band is synonymous with. For fans, this box set will never replace their first long-player loves, but it will give some insight into how they came to life. 

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.