Fleetwood Mac were the biggest band in the world in 1978. They were so big that they somehow managed to take a song into the Top 10 without even recording it– sort of.
Back in the mid-’90s, I stumbled upon some old copies of Rolling Stone at a book store. One of the issues was from early 1978, and the “Random Notes” section featured an odd blurb on Fleetwood Mac. Apparently, a radio station in Atlanta had been playing a brand-new Fleetwood Mac track that listeners were going nuts about. One problem: Fleetwood Mac was still touring behind Rumours, and they had no “new” songs. This “new Fleetwood Mac song” from Atlanta was something else entirely.
Back in the classic days of radio, record companies would send promotional 12″ singles to radio stations to use for airplay. The DJs had to pay attention to the labels before playing the songs, as sometimes the records were at 33 & 1/3 rpm and sometimes they were at 45 rpm. Well, apparently the DJ in Atlanta made a mistake and played the new single from the Atlanta Rhythm Section, “Imaginary Lover,” at 45 rpm instead of the proper 33 & 1/3 speed.
A disaster ensued, right? Perhaps not! After reading the article, I immediately grabbed my old vinyl copy of ARS’s Champagne Jam, popped side two onto my turntable, and set the speed to 45. I couldn’t believe my ears:
Imaginary Fleetwood Mac: “Imaginary Lover”
The phone lines at the radio station went crazy. Everyone wanted to know where the could get this fabulous new track from the Mac. You certainly can’t blame the listeners– it’s almost eerie how much the sped-up version sounds like Stevie Nicks, and the quicker pace of the solo even mimics Lindsey Buckingham’s lightning-fast finger technique on guitar.
Now that I’ve heard the pseudo-Mac version of “Imaginary Lover,” I can barely even listen to the original recording. It just seems so slow and plodding. Don’t feel too bad for the boys in the Atlanta Rhythm Section, though–their version of “Imaginary Lover” (played at the proper speed, of course) managed to make it all the way to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.
This little musical anomaly has always been one of the Analog Kid’s private pleasures. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Atlanta Rhythm Section: “Imaginary Lover” (Buie/Daughtry/Nix)
From the album Champagne Jam
Polydor Records, 1978