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Fleetwood Mac tribute album gets little love from critics

The cover of
The cover of "Just Tell Me That You Want Me", a tribute album of Fleetwood Mac songs.

There's a scene in Alex Cox's 1986 punk rock film "Sid and Nancy" where Chloe Webb's Nancy gets into a fight with Gary Oldman's Sid. They are at Sid's mother's house and Nancy is trying on his mom's scarves and frilly things and bouncing on a bed when Sid slaps her. Suddenly we see Nancy running down the street still in the woman's clothes when she catches her reflection in a window and yells, "AAGGHH! I look like [expletive] Stevie Nicks in hippie clothes! Help me! Help!"

And she immediately strips down to her underwear right there in the street.

The critics' reaction to the Fleetwood Mac tribute album "Just Tell Me That You Want Me" is much like Webb's character: One minute it's fun and games with the idea of groups like Best Coast, MGMT, and The New Pornographers reimagining deep cuts from the Mac, but when reality sinks in, it just isn't as fulfilling as what was hoped for.

"The tinkering these acts do with Fleetwood Mac’s songs is mostly on the surface, making them sound either more electronic and alien or more old-fashioned and rootsy, without really illuminating them in any significant way," Noel Murray complains in his A.V. Club review where he gives the compliation a C+.  

The new release was produced by Randall Poster, a hugely successful music supervisor who struck gold last year with a well-received Buddy Holly tribute, "Rave On Buddy Holly." 

Unfortunately, this record isn't that one, which may not be the fault of Poster, or any of the artists, argues Rachael Maddux in Pitchfork. "The fact that the collection is a bit of a mess is a shame, but also a tribute to the band in its own way," she says, rating the collection a 5.6 out of 10.

Many critics noted that despite the fact that Fleetwood Mac has been around 45 years (!) 10 of the 17 tracks covered on "Just Tell Me That You Want Me" are songs penned by Nicks. 

Nicks, it turned out, is a tough act to follow. USA Today's Elyse Gardner wrote that "The Kills turn 'Dreams' into a lifeless dirge, and Best Coast messes around with the chords in 'Rihannon'. But both tracks end up pale reflections of the originals, down to the dusky vocals."  Gardner's headline read, "Fleetwood tribute album is less than Mac-nificent".

So why so many Nicks songs? 

"We put together our master list of songs that we would have to have in consideration," Poster told the Wall Street Journal recently. "We tagged about 30 tracks. The Stevie songs are the most magnetic, in a way, and the most famous and challenging. A lot of those songs were taken on by singers who have a distinct sound themselves. We didn’t want this to sound like bands sitting around a campfire singing Fleetwood Mac."

To quote a famous banner, Mission Accomplished. 

Other notable CDs released Aug 14, 2012: