Lindsey Buckingham

A surefire future member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with '80s hit machine Fleetwood Mac alone, Lindsey Buckingham has always been an artistic visionary and a musical perfectionist. He's been creating the stuff of genius since he and former band mate Stevie Nicks were first united musically in high school in San Francisco 40 years ago. But for all his notoriety as a Fleetwood Mac mover and shaker, Buckingham has in fact almost always created his music as a solo artist.

The 57-year-old Buckingham's latest CD, Under the Skin, his quietest record ever, is one of those deeply personal, reflective albums full of philosophical musings and mystical atmospherics that music mags just wet their pants over -- and in this case, deservedly so. The music press fell in love with Buckingham all over again as the album landed on all kinds of Best Of lists, including Rolling Stone's and Mojo's.

Anyone who saw Buckingham's jaw-dropping solo performance of "Big Love" during the Fleetwood Mac reunion tour shouldn't be surprised by the idiosyncratic minimalist pop that is Buckingham's vehicle of choice these days (quite a change for a madman who toured with a band that included seven guitar players in support of his 1992 solo album Out of the Cradle!). His guitar playing is as precise and melodic as ever, and he milks an impressive range of emotion from his thin voice. Given a bigger treatment, "Slow You Down" from the new album could easily approach the best stuff of Brian Wilson, but big treatments aren't a fit for these songs, and Buckingham has kept things brilliantly simple. It is sure-handed judgments such as these that assure Buckingham's place in pop music history.

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William Michael Smith