CD Review of Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks by Stevie Nicks

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Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks
starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Reprise
Released: 2007
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In recent years, Stevie Nicks hasn’t exactly been what you’d call prolific as a solo artist; her most recent release was 2001’s Trouble in Shangri-La, and before that, you have to go all the way back to 1994’s Street Angel. Otherwise, she’s either been hanging with her peeps in Fleetwood Mac or, y’know, just kinda chilling out. Between those two discs, she managed to release a three-CD box set of her best material (Enchanted: The Works of Stevie Nicks), which provided a nice career summary, but since she hasn’t put out just a plain old greatest-hits disc in a while – the last one was 1991’s Timespace – you could very reasonably argue that Nicks could do with a new, updated single-disc anthology.

Thus, we now have the CD/DVD package entitled Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks. Stevie’s taken a slightly unique tactic with her selection of the tracks for the CD portion of Crystal Visions, but while you can see that she was trying to switch things up a little bit for variety’s sake, the end result proves interesting but ultimately far less comprehensive than Timespace.

For one thing, she’s weeded out several songs from that release; in addition to losing the then-new tracks added to Timespace (“Sometimes It’s a Bitch,” “Love’s a Hard Game To Play,” and “Desert Angel”), she’s also dropped “Whole Lotta Trouble” (The Other Side of the Mirror), “Beauty and the Beast” (The Wild Heart), and “Has Anybody Ever Written Anything for You” (Rock a Little). Fair enough; none of them were actually hits. In their place, she’s wisely added “Planets of the Universe” from Trouble in Shangri-La – a song which, you may be surrised to learn, was #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club/Music Play chart in 2001 – along with another song from the album: “Sorcerer,” which prominently features guest vocals from Sheryl Crow. What Stevie hasn’t done, however, is include anything at all from Street Angel; not that it was necessarily her best work (okay, actually, it’s probably the weakest effort in her catalog), but, still, to ignore an entire album when you’ve only got six of them to begin with seems a bit harsh.

Here’s where things gets interesting, if not necessarily better. Since the general public has always thought of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac in the same breath anyway, Stevie’s opted to include a few live versions of the Mac songs most closely associated with her: “Silver Springs,” “Rhiannon,” and “Landslide.” Also included is a dance remix of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” called the Deep Dish Club Mix. And just for good measure, we get a live cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” along with a second version of “Edge of Seventeen,” this one performed with the Melbourne Symphony. (The live version of “Landslide” is done with them as well.)

What we’re left with a compilation that will cause fans to grouse with several levels: it isn’t definitive, it creates the impression that Stevie Nicks doesn’t have enough quality solo material to fill out an entire disc without having to fall back on covers and Fleetwood Mac songs, and, perhaps worst of all, they still feel obliged to buy it, anyway, because there’s material on it that they don’t have yet.

Fortunately, there’s one other very good reason for them to pick it up: that aforementioned DVD that’s also part of the package. In addition to 13 videos, the DVD also includes over a half-hour of heretofore-unseen footage of Stevie in the studio during the Bella Donna era, as well as other behind-the-scenes material. Better yet, Stevie’s provided audio commentary for the videos, and you’ve got to give her credit: she’s not afraid to look at some of these videos and say, “What were we thinking?” Nicks finds herself at a particular loss when watching the original, rarely-seen video for “Stand Back,” referred to parenthetically as the “Scarlett Version.” Admitting that she wrote it herself and did an awful job of it (“I can’t exactly remember what the hell my idea was,” she laughs at one point), Nicks offers a play-by-play of the confusing, “Gone With the Wind”-inspired events unfolding onscreen, then declares the end result to be “so completely stupid…that you can see why I had to go and do another video.” When, at the end of “If Anyone Falls in Love,” she sagely observes, “Videos didn’t always make a lot of sense back then,” you can’t help but offer an “Amen, sister.” But if the fans are going to have one valid complaint about this disc, it’s that Stevie includes videos for several songs that didn’t make the cut on the greatest-hits disc, most notably “Blue Denim,” from Street Angel. Come on, Stevie: if they’re good enough for one, surely they’re good enough for the other!

So there you have it: the CD ain’t all that, but the DVD partially makes up for it, making for a package that’s ultimately still worth picking up. Of course, we’re still left without that definitive single-disc Stevie Nicks best-of…but, hey, it’s still over six months ‘til Christmas. That’s plenty of time for Atlantic to recycle her material again!

~Will Harris