One of the effects of COVID-19 on the 2020 record-buying calendar was the delay and subsequent splitting of the annual Record Store Day event. Originally earmarked for April, and delayed to June, it was finally split over three days in August, September and October.
Cynics would argue that the extra dates gave record labels more opportunity to flood the market with unwanted Paul McCartney picture discs. Given the state of the global economy, let’s just give our independent record stores the ability to claw some revenue back. Plus, EMI needs no excuses to release unwanted Paul McCartney picture discs, as the forthcoming reissue of The Frog Chorus will attest. As if 2020 wasn’t already bad enough. Surely the former Beatle’s 1984 collaboration with Rupert the Bear should be consigned to landfill, yet I’m sure Gen-Xers everywhere will snap it up.
One regular highlight of Record Store Day each year has been Fleetwood Mac’s inevitable release of an alternate version of one of their landmark albums. Culled from the bonus materials on the band’s deluxe edition box sets back in 2012, they’re presented as standalone albums with alternate takes and demos sequenced closely to the resulting albums. Record Store Day in 2016 gave us The Alternate Tusk, 2017 gave us The Alternate Mirage, 2018 The Alternate Tango In The Night, and 2019 The Alternate Fleetwood Mac. Finally, for the September drop of Record Store Day 2020, we get the big daddy of them all, The Alternate Rumours.
As interesting a listen as the ones that preceded it, this release has all the weight of being linked to the band’s ubiquitous, best-selling, US #1 / UK #1 hit album. These demos, early takes and alternate takes all sound fairly close to the finished product, except maybe The Chain, which sounds almost like a throwaway, witchy Stevie Nicks song prior to the rest of the band writing it up into what it ultimately became. And Dreams sounds even more relevant now, given its use in one of 2020’s most uplifting viral videos (not to mention Mick Fleetwod’s hilarious response).
Unfortunately, this looks like it might be the final release in the alternate studio album series, given that all of those deluxe box set reissues have been exhausted. There’s still plenty of live material left over from those sets they could revisit, or an exploration into the band’s 1980’s Live album. Or who knows – they may look at the band’s later Buckingham/Nicks era records, or even the earlier stuff. Either way, it seems unlikely that the faucet will stop completely, given that Fleetwood Mac releases on Record Store Day have been as regular as other heavyweights such as David Bowie.
Hit: Don’t Stop (Alternate)
Hidden Gem: The Chain (Demo)