A Stones-loving friend of mine points out that one of rock & roll's quintessential moments occurs in the video documentary 25x5 when Mick Jagger joins Keith Richards at the mike for a rousing rendition of "Happy," circa 1972. It's not unreasonable to suggest that Stevie Nicks has the same moment in the "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" video. She steps to the mike, tilts her head endearingly, and sings to Tom Petty, "Baby, you could never look me in the eye/yeah, you buckle with the weight of the words ..." Nicks was never one to avoid naked emotion; it throbs and pulses throughout three-and-a-half hours and 46 songs on Enchanted, the impressively substantial 3-CD box set from Nicks. After joining Fleetwod Mac in the mid-Seventies, Nicks emerged as the princess of rock & roll, a dervish of fringe and feathers, leather and lace, and an unabashedly romantic to the point of parody. Of course, it's a lot easier for female performers to get away with being complete romantics as opposed to their male counterparts; guys are more in danger of being Michael Bolton than Chris Isaak. Still, Nicks never shied away from matters of the heart, either in her career-making years with Fleetwood Mac or her six solo albums, from which the box set is collected. The most striking aspect of Enchanted is Nicks' dedication and passion for songwriting. As a composer and co-composer, her themes and images are simple and uncomplicated: magic ("Enchanted," "Beauty and the Beast," "Battle of the Dragon," "Rhiannon"); the elements ("Outside the Rain," "Rooms on Fire"); heaven ("Street Angel," "Desert Angel," "Sleeping Angel"); colors ("Blue Denim," "Leather and Lace," "Rose Garden," "Violet and Blue," "Blue Lamp"); dreams of womanhood ("Garbo," "Wild Heart," "Belladonna," "Sweet Girl," "Kind of Woman"); and love (all of them). Her gypsy spirit is so generous, so expansively pagan in its worship and respect of the elements and emotion, it permeates every aspect of her music - lush, fey arrangements, crystalline lyrics, and a physical persona that is equal parts renaissance Madonna, sage goddess, and indeed, enchantress; "Well, you live by the light of the moon and I live by desire ..." sings Nicks in the seldom-heard "Thousand Days," as if to illustrate her point. The spell is cast over the first two CDs of the set, 30 selections from her six solo albums woven so tightly it's hard to imagine this material wasn't originally presented as such. It's here you'll get the post-Mac, MTV-era Nicks, she of "Stand Back," "Nightbird," "Talk to Me," but only on the third disc do the hidden treasures get discovered: B-sides that got lost in the crush ("Thousand Days"), remnants of the past (1973's "Long Distance Winner" from Buckingham Nicks), unreleased studio tracks ("Reconsider Me"), and film cuts never released outside the soundtrack albums (1982's glorious "Sleeping Angel" from Fast Times at Ridgemont High). It's quite possible that this final disc could stand as the ultimate Nicks collection. Not only does Enchanted span 25 years, it ends with what will forever be Nicks' theme, the ecstatic, yearning "Rhiannon," re-recorded here solo, with only piano accompaniment and her raspy vibrato forever asking her lover's question: "Would you stay if she promised you heaven... will you ever win?" It's the appropriate track to close a quarter-century of distinguished work, because the reply is a simple, "Yes." Stevie Nicks won.
4 Stars - Margaret Moser
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