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That Wasn't a Hit?!?: Fleetwood Mac, 'Landslide'

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The cover of Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album (Wikimedia Commons)

Every so often, we turn our series That Was A Hit?!? on its head with Soundcheck frequent guest Chris Molanphy, calling it instead, “That Wasn't A Hit?!?” We look back at songs that -- although we may now think of them as hits -- actually weren't hits (at least in their original form) at all. 

Today, we look at Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." "If you flip on oldies or lite radio right now and they're playing a Fleetwood Mac song, I give it a one-in-three shot they're playing 'Landslide,'" says Molanphy. "'Landslide' is kind of their big radio song of the last couple of decades." 

However, "Landslide" wasn't one of the singles off of their 1975 self-titled album -- instead, the album's singles were "Rhiannon," "Say You Love Me" and "Over My Head" -- all of which charted in the Billboard Top 20. Instead of releasing "Landslide" as a single, the group moved right on to their next (highly successful) album, Rumours. Although the song became a staple of the group's concert sets, it was, as Molanphy says, "kind of a buried classic." 

The song ended up being resurrected decades later by Billy Corgan, lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins. He covered the song in 1994, and his version reached #3 on Billboard's modern rock charts -- "the first version of 'Landslide' by anybody to chart on a Billboard chart," according to Molanphy.

The song was later re-released as a single by Fleetwood Mac as a part of their live reunion album The Dance, and then eventually made its way to the Billboard Top 10 when the Dixie Chicks covered the song in 2002. 

Guests:

Chris Molanphy

Comments [1]

Chris Molanphy from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I'd like to correct a minor point I made in this conversation with John, based on subsequent research I did: "Rhiannon," though it was the highest-charting U.S. single from the 1975 'Fleetwood Mac' album, was NOT the first single. Interestingly, in America, the album's first single was "Over My Head," which makes a kind of sense -- it's the song on the album that's most AOR-ish and closest to the band's pre-Buckingham/Nicks sound as a blues-rock band with Bob Welch. I can't be sure, but I have to imagine the label and the band we're taking baby steps with that first single to reintroduce the band without alienating their core late-'60s/early-'70s audience; "Head" lead singer Christina McVie was also a known quantity to longtime fans. "Rhiannon" was the album's *second* U.S. single, and the band's first to feature a Stevie Nicks vocal. This, in the end, might help explain why "Landslide" was never tapped as a single in '75-'76: one Nicks-fronted song was, perhaps, all the band and its representation thought the public was ready for at that point. (By the time of 'Rumours' and its sole No. 1 hit, the Nicks-fronted "Dreams," that obviously wasn't an issue anymore.)

Jun. 26 2013 03:49 PM

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