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‘In The Meantime’: Christine McVie Was “As Revealing As Ever”, Says Dan Perfect
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‘In The Meantime’: Christine McVie Was “As Revealing As Ever”, Says Dan Perfect

Dan Perfect, nephew of Christine McVie and co-producer of her final solo album, ‘In The Meantime’, tells Dig! how the record came together.

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“This was therapy,” Christine McVie said, in 2022, of recording her 2004 album, In The Meantime. “I was coming out of a relationship and just got it all off my chest.” McVie’s third and final solo album was underheard and underappreciated on release. Now, with In The Meantime freshly reissued both on vinyl and in a gorgeous new Dolby Atmos mix, the time is ripe for its reappraisal – as Dan Perfect, McVie’s nephew and the album’s co-producer/co-writer, tells Dig! in this exclusive interview.

Listen to ‘In The Meantime’ here.

Returning to England: “I’d just had enough”

A mainstay of Fleetwood Mac throughout many of the band’s ever-changing line-ups, Christine McVie had not been a prolific solo artist. She had released one self-titled album in 1970 (Christine Perfect, issued under her maiden name) and another in 1984 (Christine McVie). Her incredible career in Fleetwood Mac, alongside the demands of touring with the band, had left her without much time and energy for writing and recording music under her own name.

McVie left the group in 1998. “I was tired of living out of a suitcase, tired of travel, plus I had a fear of flying,” she said in 2017. “I’d been doing it longer than Stevie [Nicks] and Lindsey [Buckingham], and I’d just had enough. Plus, my father was really sick and I wanted to come back to England and rediscover my roots, and I was quite adamant that this was what I wanted to do.”

Dan Perfect remembers how his aunt begin considering a return to recording. “Chris, in the late 90s, she pretty much thought she’d retired,” he tells Dig! “She came back to England, bought a country house, and got the dogs. The reality of it was that she was bored out of her brains. And it took her quite a bit of time for her to really realise that.”

The genesis: “Chris has always written from the heart”

“It was her manager, Martin Wyatt, who started to put the idea in front of her of doing a solo album,” Perfect remembers. “There were logistic problems because she didn’t want to travel anymore – instead, she wanted to bring people over. And she didn’t really want to go to a recording studio. I don’t know that she quite knew what she might do, but with a bit of encouragement the ball started rolling.”

Following a few false starts, the In The Meantime songs began to come to McVie. “Chris was inspired, and the subject of the album, really, in retrospect, was a somewhat unhappy love affair and the narrative trajectory through first infatuation, through passion, disappointment and acceptance,” Perfect says today. “She came up with a couple of songs that she was inspired by. Chris has always written from the heart, and her oeuvre is the love song. And when Chris got into something, she really got into something.”

McVie herself confirmed, in interviews promoting the album, that In The Meantime was about a specific person, but “nobody knows this bloke, he’s not famous”, she said in 2004. “They’re love songs. I suppose the thread is about one man, different periods during that relationship, and the feelings that happened.”

The recording: “Chris was a great collaborator”

As McVie didn’t want to go into a recording studio, there needed to be alternative ways to get her new songs out of her. Fortunately, technology was advancing at a rapid place in the early part of the new millennium, and Perfect was skilled in using computers for recording in a way that made his aunt feel comfortable.

“I certainly had the practical tools to help her out, and record what she’d done,” he says. “I put a bit of backing together for her to listen to it. And it just so happened she loved what I did. I played 12-string guitar on one of the tracks, and immediately we just started to get on with it.”

Perfect was of a younger generation, with enormous respect for McVie, and their musical partnership soon grew and equalised. “I was initially quite intimidated at presenting any ideas to Chris,” he says. “As you would be in that scenario. But actually, that very quickly went, because Chris was a great collaborator, and she liked the team. She liked playing with other musicians, she loved the spark, and she was very much a group player. She was not a big authorial, I-do-it-all-myself person.”

Perfect also remembers McVie being open to contemporary music, and that – during recording – “we were listening to Garbage’s first album. And there’s no doubt that some of that is in there, which Chris fans would be very unaccustomed to hear. But there’s definitely that rawer edge, slightly angrier tone in some of the songs that she really liked.”

The release: “Because I didn’t tour it, it didn’t sell so many copies”

“We were very enthused about it,” Perfect says of the finished In The Meantime. “In a normal world, we would have toured it. But Chris just didn’t want to do that. I think we just accepted that. We were pleased with the album. We put it out but it didn’t really get a lot of hearing.”

“At the time, I didn’t go on the road, I wasn’t keen,” McVie said in 2022, looking back at the album’s release. “So because I didn’t tour it, it didn’t sell so many copies. I always thought the songs were good, though.”

Originally released on CD and through the iTunes Store, on 7 September 2004, In The Meantime was a low seller – certainly compared to the millions McVie had sold as part of Fleetwood Mac – and Perfect reflects on how this affected his aunt. “I think she felt a bit embarrassed that we put it out and it didn’t sell very well. I think that she was a few times in print a bit apologetic about it, and unnecessarily so,” he says. “It was her natural underplaying. But, frankly, other than Stevie Nicks, none of the solo projects have stood up to the success of Fleetwood Mac.”

“It’s about the darkest thing I’ve ever written,” McVie said, of In The Meantime in 2017. “I don’t think it sold anything but the point was to prove I could still write, still play, still sing.”

The reissue: “It’s an intimate portrait of Chris”

Because In The Meantime wasn’t widely heard at the time, its reissue, both on vinyl and in the new Dolby Atmos mix – the latter’s surround-sound technology helping listeners to pick up detail and amplify small sounds – is a renewed opportunity to hear some of the best Christine McVie songs. It’s also possible to now take a longer view, considering the album in the context of McVie’s career both with Fleetwood Mac and as an artist in her own right.

The personal nature of In The Meantime almost calls back to McVie’s first album, 1970’s Christine Perfect, which she made after leaving Chicken Shack but before joining Fleetwood Mac. Again, just like she would do with In The Meantime, McVie underplayed that album’s significance. She said in 1980 that “when I made that record, I wasn’t really sure about my talent, or about what direction I wanted to go in musically”. Yet Christine Perfect is a landmark of British blues and a portrait of defiant womanhood. The strength of that record is in its juxtaposition of McVie’s voice and the bluesy material, with an elusive, vulnerable quality. This combination was all her own.

The same can be said of In The Meantime. Again, McVie opens up her psyche and experiences, even though, sonically, it is a very different album to her debut. “I do think it loops back to her younger self,” Perfect says. “I think it’s an intimate portrait of Chris. I think it’s as revealing as she ever was in her songs. I think here you have a really good, up-close view of Chris.”

The legacy: “I feel that it honours Chris”

“I took apart the whole thing and reconstructed it in Atmos,” Perfect says of the new In The Meantime reissue. “Chris was very enthusiastic about the Atmos contribution, though she may not have been able to tell you entirely what it meant! But she could tell the difference, she had really great ears.”

Sadly, Christine McVie died in November 2022, aged 79. The process for the In The Meantime reissue had started before she passed away, but Perfect had to complete it without his aunt’s guidance. “It was a way to deal, in some degree, with her death,” he says. “I felt I had a real duty to honour her voice and really showcase her tone and her delivery, and make the tracks all in the service of that. I feel that it honours Chris as well as I can, and as well as the music can, and I hope she would have been delighted with it.”

Buy the vinyl reissue of ‘In The Meantime’.

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