Review Summary: All the way down to Emmeline
The 80s were both a time of commercial growth and decline for artists. With the rise of New wave and synthpop, many hit artists of the 70s found themselves suddenly skating on thin ice. Mega stars of the previous decade were now struggling to adapt to the new musical landscape. Bob Dylan found himself releasing increasingly mediocre albums, One a surreal electronic rock experiment. Paul McCartney slipped deeper into his cutesy saccharine image and Jefferson Starship took the plunge into pure stadium cheese and never quite recovered. Still, a few slipped through the cracks. David Bowie managed to have a run of hit albums at the cost of his artistic integrity and Phil Collins became one of the biggest artists on the face of the earth. It was a narrow road. You either made it and kept your popularity or fell into the deepest parts of artistic solitude. Fleetwood Mac, a band forged on the blues and then thrown into popularity as an expertly crafted pop rock group were quiet for most of the decade. Despite having one of the best selling records of all time under their belt with ‘Rumours’, they’d been mostly quiet for the decade of leg warmers and hot pink. 1982’s ‘Mirage’ had a few hits but had never reached complete chart domination like Rumours and was instead a more low key affair after the sprawling chaos of ‘Tusk’. When the group emerged in early 87 with a new LP and a new slick synth heavy sound, they managed to fit right in and not risk any of their artistry.
Like many of their previous albums, Tango In The Night is an album built on conflict. Rumours had mixed spiteful bitter break up songs with lush harmonies and fine tuned playing to create a monster hit of a record and in many ways, Tango is similar. While there’s less romantic fury underlying most of the tracks, there’s a sense of paranoia and forebodings underneath the gleam. Stevie Nicks was fresh out of rehab and now addicted to a tranquilliser leaving her absent for most of the recording sessions. Drummer Mick Fleetwood had declared bankruptcy and was also battling a heavy addiction along with John McVie’s worsening alcoholism. Combining this with the arduous recording sessions were each track was laboured on for hours on end to “find the right texture” and a general gloomy atmosphere in the studio, the record feels like its walking on broken glass. But as Nicks’ would say years later, Fleetwood Mac always make the best music when they’re at each other’s throats.
Tango feels a lot like Rumours and their 1975 self titled record, only now done up in an even shinier coat of paint. Warm synths and light guitar textures coat the record and give everything an almost airy, dreamy feeling. While this is most evident on Christine McVie’s absolutely gorgeous ‘Everywhere’ and the ridiculously catchy and upbeat ‘You and Me, Pt. 2’, it’s also subtly integrated into the darker more atmospheric tracks on the record, from the heart wrenchingly uncomfortable ‘When I See You Again’ and another Christine cut, the bitter and angsty ‘Little Lies’. It’s not just synth work though. Lindsey Buckingham still takes time to completely blow the roof off with his blaring guitar riffs, the standout example being the title track which manages to combine the previously mentioned dreaminess with his heavy guitar playing to create a truly unique track. And while the textures are old, oddly enough, it doesn’t sound dated. While many records from this era have a distinct tone that can be smelt a mile away now a days, Tango In The Night still sounds fresh and modern to this day.
Tango In The Night is a record which demands a re-evaluation. While it may be their second best selling album, It’s never usually mentioned in the same breath as Rumours or the 1975 self titled record. This needs to change. Everyone is firing from all cylinders here. This record contains debatably Christine’s strongest material and that’s saying a hell of a lot. Even though Stevie isn’t as present on this record, her contributions, including the soaring pop gem ‘Seven Wonders’ and the regretful and confused ‘Welcome To The Room... Sarah’ Show she could still kick serious ass even in the worst possible shape. While Buckingham dominates this album, his tracks are expertly produced and infectiously catchy, from the sexy and sensual ‘Big Love’ to the booming ‘Caroline’. It’s an album heavy with paranoia and angst, but one that manages to shine through either way.
You and I Pt. 2