Fleetwood Mac are certainly no stranger to changing band lineups. But in 1995, what might have been their strangest line-up released their penultimate album overall - which might have been their least regarded in decades.
When Time hit record stores in the fall of 1995, most of the group's "classic" line-up had departed the fold. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham had walked before the band were set to tour behind Tango in the Night in 1987. After Behind the Mask, a 1990 album recorded with Buckingham's replacements Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, both Vito and Steve Nicks would bid farewell to the band. (Nicks' departure was spurred by a dispute with Mick Fleetwood over whether to put the Rumours-era B-side "Silver Springs" on a greatest hits album of hers or a career-spanning box set for the band.) As a final blow toward the unbelievable unity the band managed during the late '70s and '80s, the tour-averse Christine McVie (who'd lost her father while on the road in support of Mask) decided she'd had enough of performing live.
But you can't keep a good band down: spurred by Bill Clinton using "Don't Stop" as a campaign song in his successful bid for the American presidency, the entire classic line-up reunited for his inauguration - a move they insisted was a one-off. Burnette was next to ponder a move, cutting a solo album in 1993. With Fleetwood Mac down to literally the band's namesakes - Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass - desperate measures were to be taken. Enter two new members: a rock legend and the daughter of two more.
"It was in a period where I was still working solo but I was free enough to say, 'Well yeah, OK. Let’s give it a shot,'” Dave Mason later said of getting the call from Fleetwood to join the Mac. Known as the founding guitarist for Traffic, a contemporary of Fleetwood Mac's, his versatile style seemed poised to give the group a little steady muscle. Subbing in for Nicks and McVie was vocalist Bekka Bramlett, the daughter of another rock/soul contemporary couple, Delaney & Bonnie. Her longtime friendship with Burnette meant he, too, would come back to the group.
But while that line-up - now at least a quintet - would tour through 1994, the band's longtime label of Warner Bros. still thought their intended album needed some more magic. So, Christine McVie was coaxed back to record five new songs (including lead single "I Do"). The catch: they were all made separately - and not only the production of longtime collaborator Richard Dashut helped keep the sonic glue together. (In another nod to times past, album track "Nothing Without You" - co-written by Delaney Bramlett the same year Mac's classic quintet took form - featured backing vocals by none other than Lindsey Buckingham.)
When Time was released, no one quite knew what to do with it; it missed the U.K. Top 40 and failed to chart at all in America. There was no tour, and Burnette and Bramlett decided to try their hand as a country duo shortly thereafter. Of course, this story has a happy ending for fans of classic Mac: Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie rejoined the fold for a blockbuster tour and live special in 1997, and - minus McVie - they recorded their most recent album, Say You Will, in 2003.