Lindsey Buckingham: Gift of Screws

Ron Hart

Summary: Fleetwood Mac’s unsung wunderkind returns to the rock with his fourth and finest solo album, the long-in-the-works Gift of Screws.

Lindsey Buckingham

Gift of Screws

Label: Reprise
First date: Sept. 16
US Release Date: 2008-09-16
UK Release Date: 2008-09-15

Remember the days when Fleetwood Mac was an all-boys club? Back when Peter Green led the band, Jeremy Spencer was on rhythm guitar alongside the group’s namesake, with one of the greatest rhythm sections in rock history, Mick Fleetwood on the drums and John McVie on bass? Unfortunately, unless you're a rabid English blues rock enthusiast or one of those vinyl hounds who troll such brilliant, obsessively-knowledgeable blogger sites as ChrisGoesRocks, chances are the only incarnation of the Mac that you remember is the group’s popular 1970s lineup, featuring original members McVie and Fleetwood, along with Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie. Sure, this version of the group made some incredible music together, as any fan of Rumours and Tusk will proclaim, but the dearth of their legend was defined by the rampant drug-imbibing and wife-swapping ways of their excessive lifestyle outside of the studio... the kind of lascivious behavior that would have tabloid cockroaches at TMZ frothing at the mouth to cover.

Now, this is just a hypothetical thought, but it’s interesting to think how Fleetwood Mac would have fared had they never replaced Green and Spencer with Christine Perfect (nee McVie) in the early '70s. And, upon, the departure of Bare Trees guitarists Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch, only recruited Buckingham, after hearing he and Nicks's largely overlooked slice of classic California soft rock in their sole 1973 offering, Buckingham-Nicks. After all, Buckingham, a gifted songwriter and guitarist in his own right, helmed the majority of the musical direction of all three of Fleetwood Mac’s cherished mid-to-late 1970s albums. Thus, it isn’t much of a stretch to consider the sound of the band as an all-male trio, and chances are the proverbial outcome might have been more akin to the jittery prog-pop style and cocaine flow of Tusk than the free-flowing pheromones and interpersonal conflicts of Rumours.

But at this point, why speculate, because if you pick up and have a listen to Lindsey Buckingham’s outstanding new solo album, Gift of Screws, you get exactly what was described above: Buck-era Fleetwood Mac without the chicks. That is, at least on three of the album’s tight, terse ten tracks, where the power trio of McVie, Fleetwood, and Buckingham deliver the goods with the kind of sonic musculature and showmanship that used to be the Mac’s M.O. The best of these is the album’s title cut, a propulsive rocker in the vein of the more kinetic moments of Fleetwood Mac’s 1972 masterpiece Bare Trees and the bluesy “Wait for Me”, both of which exhibit the musical synergy of McVie, Buckingham, and Fleetwood better than anything they have ever recorded together.

Elsewhere, tracks like “The Right Place to Fade” and “Did You Miss Me?” will remind fans of material from Fleetwood Mac’s surprise 2003 comeback album Say You Will, which would make sense, considering a good portion of the music from that album came from the original sessions for Gift of Screws, which initially was intended to be a double-disc set, but has since been pared down to its leaner, meaner incarnation.

Other songs here will remind you of Buckingham’s previous solo effort, 2006’s magnificent Under the Skin, which saw him utilize the Plectum-style guitar picking technique to a level of intricacy normally reserved for such living gods of the British folk movement as John Martyn and Bert Jansch. He incorporates this method of playing once again on Gift of Screws, wholly evident on tracks like “Time Precious Time” and “Bel Air Rain”. And there might not be a more poignant protest anthem in these times of bogus bailouts than “Treason”, a shimmering acoustic lament that stands out as one of the finest moments of Buckingham’s already-storied career.

If this is what Fleetwood Mac would’ve sounded like as an all-male trio, they should’ve kicked those chicks to the curb a long time ago.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.