The reputation of British-American folk rockers FLEETWOOD MAC hasn’t always been the best one. Yes, of course, there’s been the critical and commercial peak in the second half of the 1970s following infamous on/off couple Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the former blues rockers. 1977’s Rumours turned out to become one of the best selling albums of all time, only followed by a backclash during the course of the early 1980s. By the 1990s the band clearly lost its creative course, had various band members leaving and returning over the years while also managing to carefully destroying their own reputation. I mean, 1995’s Time didn’t even chart in the US. Over the course of the past two decades all band members of the legendary Rumours line-up somehow finally managed to get along eventually and a new generation of musicians discovered their music and brought it to the attention of a younger audience. A 2012 tribute album, for example, featured contributions by LYKKE LI, ANOHNI, BEST COAST, TAME IMPALA and HAIM.
This year, Rumours celebrates its 40th anniversary and while its legacy remains strong till this day, one tend to forget about the record that followed ten years later. Tango In The Night, the 14th full-length by the band marked a return to broader commercial success and is – to this day – the final album by the classical FLEETWOOD MAC line-up: of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. It’s a special sounding one in the band’s history and one that always felt a bit underrated compared to Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, the experimental Tusk and maybe even its 1982 predecessor Mirage. Most of that back-clash might come from the fact that Tango In The Night is quite possibly the most pop-sounding album the former blues-rockers have ever released. Once again produced by long-time producer Richard Dashut and Buckingham it was originally intended to be another solo album by the band’s leading man. Compared to the previous records, Tango In The Night shows a more polished and synthetic sound, one that was closer to the 1980 solo material of the band’s members. The Stevie Nicks-lead Seven Wonders could have also been part of one of her stand-alone albums while the Christine McVie tracks Everywhere and Little Lies are almost too cheesy radio hits although they proved that the band was still able to write proper hit singles back then.
The recording process was quite a struggle, took 18 months and especially Stevie Nicks became a force of unreliability as her legendary cocaine addiction forced her to check into rehab more than once. Welcome To The Room… Sara is a song about that scenario and although Nicks is less present than on previous album her distinctive voice still manages to provide goosebumps whenever she takes over the microphone. All twelve tracks on Tango In The Night are really well-crafted 80s pop/rock tunes, from the playful Buckingham classic Big Love to the sensual Mystified and straight to the way too uplifiting closing moment You And I (Part 2) – if you happen to love good 1980s radio pop there’s a lot to discover on this one, trust me.
Compared to other FLEETWOOD MAC releases this LP clearly lacks of a rawer rock energy, even though Buckingham placed a few guitar solos here and there. Tango In The Night turned out to be too shiny and polished, unfolding itself as an almost desperate attempt to create a mainstream album. Still, it’s a really good record, packed with sparkling 80s pop beauty and one that underlines the band’s profound songwriting skills. Within the band’s history it was one of the final moments where everything was in place as Buckingham announced its departure from the group only shortly after the album’s release. This year, all five members of that era plan to release a new studio album hopefully. It’s the first one in that constellation since Tango In The Night and we surely can’t wait to see them come full circle for quite possibly one last time.
Tango In The Night will be re-released via a newly remastered deluxe edition on March 31 on Warner Bros Records, featuring previously unreleased material, remixes, bonus-tracks and other shiny stuff. Get your copy right here.