While retaining some of the sound of the French Kiss album that landed Bob Welch three hits, record producer John Carter helped the former singer for Fleetwood Mac put together a slick and more than respectable album of adult-oriented pop/rock with Man Overboard. Four years away from his success with Tina Turner, and long after he wrote "Incense and Peppermints," the man known simply as Carter co-wrote the decent title track with Welch, as well as the third song, "Nightmare." N. Gammack contributed "Don't Rush the Good Things," which the sticker on the LP cover declares is "the hit single" (Billboard and radio disagreed), with seven additional tunes composed by the singer/guitarist. Don't look for Christine McVie or Lindsey Buckingham on this one; the biggest contributor next to Welch is producer Carter, but there are guest appearances by Wendy Waldman, Venetta Fields, and former Eagle Randy Meisner on backing vocals, all embellishing the excellent "Fate Decides." Like the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver's Dream Kid, this album's brilliance grows on you, and after five or six spins you wonder why it wasn't huge. "Don't Rush the Good Things" was the single and has hit written all over it. Too bad it wasn't, though it shows up done by Tina Turner as a bonus track on the extended CD version of Private Dancer. Welch's take on it sounds like something you can't place mixed with a dash of Bad Company's "Rock & Roll Fantasy," though not as rocking, of course.
There's some extraordinary stuff here, and it is more likely the fault of Capitol Records that a hit artist delivering such topnotch material, with just as exceptional production by Carter, didn't duplicate the success of French Kiss. "The Girl Can't Stop" and "Jealous" are top-shelf songs -- really impressive radio-friendly pop music. Much of the Man Overboard album could have also found a place in the dancehalls; the first two tracks on side two would've been very nice as extended dance mixes. This was three years before Madonna would take pop music back into the clubs and, with the Devo quirkiness of the title track, the dashes of industrial rock, and the bit of risk at play here, Man Overboard deserved to bring Welch to another arena. The album holds up remarkably well years after it was created, and emerges as a great -- not just a good -- disc by the former Fleetwood Mac vocalist. Had he stayed with that band, this music would have enhanced the frivolous side of the Tusk album: basically all the Lindsay Buckingham tracks except for the title track. Substitute some of those anemic tunes with "Justine" and "Nightmare," and both Fleetwood Mac and Welch would not have suffered soft areas in their careers. This album is the best argument for them to put the animosity aside long enough to bring Bob Welch back into the fold. Fleetwood Mac needs the tension that is always created by clashing egos. Let 'em kiss and make up and battle it out in the studio -- it will give this gem an opportunity to get looked at and heard again.