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Heroes Are Hard To Find
Fleetwood Mac

Reprise MS 2196
Released: August 1974
Chart Peak: #34
Weeks Charted: 26

The Mac are back, having escaped the autocratic machinations of their sometime manager, and they're sounding really good. Penguin was poor, Mystery To Me was iffy, but Heroes Are Hard to Find is a solid piece of work. For one thing, they rock more and smoother on this album than they have since Future Games; for another, they've finally settled into a homogenous style of which the last two records had only tastes: Penguin's "Remember Me" and "Revelation," Mystery's "Hypnotized" and "Keep On Going." They've dropped Bob Weston, the competent but unnecessary second guitar; Bob Welch now handles all guitars, and the lyrical spirits of Peter Green and Danny Kirwan aare invoked on Heroes, with success. Those clear, linear guitar leads over busy rhythm figures, and high, simple vocals, have always been the Mac sound, though it's undergone certain shifts in emphasis to accomodate the artistic preferences of first Green, then Jeremy Spencer, then Kirwan, and now Welch and Christine McVie. Their sound is, to use an all-but-dead word, unique: there just ain't no other outfit that sounds remotely like Fleetwood Mac.

Fleetwood Mac - Heroes Are Hard To Find
Original album advertising art.
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The title track roars in with a blast horns -- an uncharacteristic overstatement for this band, a change from their usually subtle mix. But it works well, giving the song a strong punch. Written by Christine McVie, it's built around two chords, like many of her songs, including this album's "Come A Little Bit Closer" and "Bad Loser" (written about that manager); it's to her credit and the band's that the arrangements and musicianship are so artful that you hardly notice how plain the songs are. A number of Welch's songs are, as usual by now, in that shifting, swaying "Hypnotized" bag, halfway between shuffle and samba. The standouts are "Angel," which manages to be diffuse, swinging, and funky all at once; "Bermuda Triangle," a second installment in Welch's catalogue of parascientific phenomena which began with "Hypnotized" (it's got a fierce, almost American Indian backbeat laced with choice acoustic guitar licks); "Born Enchanter," a Crusaders-style jazzer with Welch on vibes; and "Safe Harbour," a brief instrumental full of arpeggios and cymbal washes, which Welch has described as "Albatrossesque, a floater." There's no dreck anywhere on this record. The vocals are as beautifully harmonized and uncloyingly sweet as can be, and the bottom laid down by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood is Gibraltar-steady, hustling along, keeping every song right on the money -- these two guys have propelled their band through nine albums, and for my dough, rock hasn't got a better rhythm section. This is a classy band, and Heroes is a strong, mature, and rewarding effort.

- Gerrit Graham, Phonograph Record, 11/74.

Bonus Reviews!

After a brief identity crisis (another band usurping their identities), the real Fleetwood Mac is back on record. They've still got the same smooth soft rock sound they've had for three years, since Jeremy Spencer found religion (or vice versa). The group's gone a little funkier in places, which turns out both annoying ("Born Enchanter," "Angel") and intriguing ("Heroes Are Hard To Find"). Their smoother numbers alternately mesmerize ("She's Changing Me") or narcotize ("Coming Home"). A major problem remains in Bob Welch's naggingly nasal vocals, although he's usually swathed in protective layers of lush harmonies.

Overall, though, Heroes Are Hard To Find stacks up as a very pleasant album, thanks chiefly to a pair of Christine McVie tracks. "Prove Your Love" is exquisitely pretty and "Come a Little Bit Closer" is a gorgeous tune reminiscent of the Beach Boys and especially of the Raspberries' brilliant "Overnight Sensation." Add the ominous "Bermuda Triangle" and an attractive "Bad Loser" and the end results are definitely worth investigating.

- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 10/24/74.

Fleetwood Mac came over in the second wave of the British musical invasion and though the personnel has changed since then, the percussion/bass core of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie remains the same while keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie and guitarist/vocalist Bob Welch have been members long enough to make them almost "originals." Though the band no longer plays the hard blues they rose to fame with, they remain one of the stronger rock entries in the pop sweepstakes. Ms. McVie is a superb singer with a bluesy voice, Welch is a top-notch guitarist and the band as a unit has learned to mix good blues with more pop oriented rock material. Good use of strings here does not interfere with basic sound, and group gets a bit more commercial each time out without losing the distinctive sound they have reached. Best cuts: "Heroes Are Hard To Find," "Come A Little Bit Closer," "Bermuda Triangle," "She's Changing Me," "Prove Your Love."

- Billboard, 1974.

The proof that their formula has finally trapped them is the pitifulness of their attempts to escape -- with string synthesizer, pedal steel, half-assed horns, and other catch-22s of International Pop Music Community. Bob Welch sounds bored, which is certainly poetic justice, and even Christine McVie is less than perfect this time out. Their worst. B-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Welch's peak as a songwriter (with new highs by Christine McVie) is also his swan song with the group. * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

 Reader's Comments

Harold Potter

A lot of the music on this album sounds more like Bob Welch 'priming' for his solo career, more than it sounds like Fleetwood Mac. These are much shorter, more to the point, musical statements -- Power Pop, if you will. Oh, it's good alright, the songs are enjoyable (a couple of them are groovy), it just doesn't sound much like Fleetwood Mac.

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