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Music Review Review: Crystal Visions: The Best of Stevie Nicks (CD/DVD)

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Crystal Visions collects most of Stevie Nicks’s big post Fleetwood Mac hits, and their accompanying videos, as well as a couple Fleetwood Mac live covers from 2005. It’s by no means a definitive collection, and in general, I think her solo work doesn’t match up to the best of Fleetwood Mac, but the DVD/CD set is a pretty solid value.

Nicks has always had a reputation as a kind of mystical hippie enchantress. Her best Fleetwood Mac songs are layered in a swath of ethereal vocals and looped guitars, creating a really moody atmosphere. The live version of “Rhiannon” on this set casts it in even more mood and mystery, stretching out the condensed pop of the original into a more enchanting journey. I think the brilliance of Fleetwood Mac is the way that they managed to fit these really evocative moods and lyrics into tight pop song structures.

Often, the best music comes out of conflicting impulses. The Beatles got better and better as the band drifted apart, with everyone trying to top each other, while at the same time having some of their more extreme ideas honed down by the group structure. Fleetwood Mac reached their pop peak amidst the breakups and romantic entanglement of the Rumors era. Nicks’s solo work lacks some of the emotional vitality of that time, or even of the more laid back, moody Tusk. Collaboration generally makes artists stronger, even if it can be a frustrating process.

That’s not to say Nicks’s solo stuff isn’t interesting on its own terms. “Edge of Seventeen” is catchy and propulsive like the best pop songs should be, and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is another memorable track.

The videos on this disk are a bit dated and 80s, but still enjoyable to watch. This is a really solid set, with a lot of content for your dollar. And, even though not every song on here is a classic, there’s plenty of good material to go around.

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