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Over My Head - Fleetwood Mac

Despite their massive success in the UK in 1969, after the departure of Peter Green Fleetwood Mac spent more and more time touring in the USA trying to "crack the American market". A series of fairly ordinary albums ensued, but their relative success in the states prompted a permanent move there from the UK. Eventually, following the exit of guitarist Bob Welch, Mick Fleetwood, while checking perspective studios, heard a track by duo Buckingham Nicks and invited Lindsey Buckingham to join the group. Buckingham said he'd only sign up if partner Stevie Nicks could join too. The new band became the second great Fleetwood Mac line-up. They now had three songwriters, all swapping ideas, which gave new inspiration and freshness to Christine McVie's contribution. After years of relative disinterest in their music, I heard "Over My Head" on the radio and rushed out to buy their excellent new album, "Fleetwood Mac", - the same title as their first album - thereby, I'm proud to say, being one of the first in the UK to notice the excellence of the latest Mac incarnation. Looking back, it's easy to spot now that Fleetwood Mac were the first major rock group to feature two significant female band members, the prototype being the woman lead singer plus three or more men as was the case with Grace Slick in Jefferson Airplane, Sandy Denny in Fairport Convention or Janis Joplin in Big Brother and the Holding Company. This made a big difference to their sound, their music and how they were seen by the world and was a crucial factor in the success of the next album, the classic "Rumours".

Back in Islington Arts and Entertainments, throughout the nineties we had an ever-increasing ratio of women to men. Initially there were three: the forty plus Helen, an old school Council administrator, hard-working, painstaking, loyal and caring with a passionate love for choral and classical music; Pru, a young radical, incisive newcomer; and Ros, somewhere between the two, a nominally progressive egalitarian, powered by a confusing mix of new and old values with a frighteningly virulent work-ethic.

Pru chewed Biro's remorselessly, leaving them looking like candles in a haunted mansion, particularly when experiencing pmt. In the days when "periods" were still a delicate subject, not to be spoken of in mixed company, she would march from the room, leaving an open box of Tampax on her desk, announcing angrily that "if men had periods, they would have invented a cure for them by now!" before slamming the door behind her. It was Pru who memorably refused to have an important meeting with the Head of Parks and Open Spaces until he had taken down his "topless girlie" calendar from his office wall, and made many other excellent stands that forced permanent changes to the accepted "old school" male ways of the borough.

Ros, however, was susceptible to an extreme version of PCTS (see last post), whereby she would ride roughshod over anything or anyone who got in the way of her role as a successful working mother. It was early days for this kind of thing, and she was a pioneer. I remember her arriving late at a meeting of the North London Lesbian and Gay Festival Steering Group, bursting in like a hell's angel on a motorcycle at the Royal enclosure at Ascot, baby in arms. I was the only other heterosexual present so you can imagine the collective horror as she breast-fed the infant throughout the meeting - talking all the while - before performing the coup de grace of a very visual and smelly nappy change, her most recently used nipple drippingly visible throughout.

There is an extraordinary sense of peace in "Over My Head" despite the song's subject matter. It is as though Christine McVie feels that her struggles are over, she can at last be herself and that she has, like the band, finally arrived and has the space to fulfil her potential.

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