Without a doubt, there was some pressure on Fleetwood Mac in the months leading up to the release of Rumours in early 1977. Was it possible for the band to match the runaway success of their 1975 self-titled album? The earlier collection had spent 37 weeks in the U.S. Top 10 and took longtime fans who remembered when the Mac were a gritty blues combo by surprise. Musically speaking, everything about the Mac was falling into place—Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie were hitting new heights as songwriters, and the rhythm section of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood found a deep-pocket groove to bring their pop confections to life. Personally, however, the fractures and turmoil were profound, and are integral to the album’s story. As it was being written and recorded, Nicks and Buckingham’s long romantic partnership was coming to a bitter and contentious end, and Christine McVie was splitting with husband John. From this drama came a collection of songs about love—what it feels like at first blush, how it can sustain you, and, especially, the pain of losing the feeling. Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” is an angry kiss-off to Nicks; his “Second Hand News” explores life on the rebound. Even the joy of McVie's “You Make Loving Fun”—she is ostensibly celebrating a new romance—comes with a bitter edge, since the inescapable implication is that she knows all about loving that is not fun. The emotional turbulence is easy to detect, but the thrill of Rumours is in how the group channeled anguish into joyous pop. The sheer craftsmanship on display is a wonder to behold—the impossibly catchy hook of “Don’t Stop,” the half-shouted chorus of “The Chain” that invites participation, the spooky, myth-shrouded exploration of loneliness in “Dreams.” Music fans the world over took notice—Rumours far exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, becoming not just a hit album but a landmark of 20th-century pop.