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Back in 1987/1988, a very special album blew my mind. I was going through one of life's better stretches, and when I first heard Fleetwood Mac's Tango In The Night, it seemed to be speaking directly to me...through its overall mood perhaps, rather than through the lyrics.
Tango In The Night reached no.1 in the UK album charts in April 1987, re-entering in April 1994 and stalling at no.28. Fleetwood Mac did release a couple of quite successful albums in between Rumours and Tango In The Night, but I wasn't overly impressed with them...however, they as a band came back on a sparkling rainbow of easy to listen to, brilliant music, continuing in their late 1970s Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks mode, which is light years away from how they sounded during the 1960s with Peter Green at the helm.
The first track, Big Love, is a mid-tempo, rolling sort of song with Buckingham taking the lead vocals. There is quite a heavy percussion sound, utilising a vigorous drumbeat accompanied by a hissy cymbal. The backing vocals, provided by Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, are sharp, intermittent and of a grunting nature. There is quite a nice guitar break at the beginning of the middle eight. The lyrics aren't particularly mind-blowing, with some of them being difficult to understand, but for me it is the music of this song which is more important than anything. Overall, I find the song catchy, lively, and laced with a slight touch of poignancy, rolling along to a very energetic, almost screaming guitar solo at the end.
Seven Wonders is the next track on this album, with the vocals being strongly carried by Stevie Nicks. This track is quite heavy on percussion, but the other instrumental aspects are for the most part, fairly laid-back, with the concentration being on the singing. I actually hate Stevie Nicks's voice, but on this album I cast my prejudices aside, because of its shining merit. This is an extremely sad, poignant song, despite its middling tempo, it containing lots of minor notes....and, it tugs at my heart strings, as it does tell a story for me....maybe one that's probably best forgotten about, but the words say it all. This is probably, at a pinch, my favourite track on the album.
Everywhere is cute, feel-good song, beginning with a roll on an instrument that I can't identify, with quiet synthesiser backing, then it launches into an extremely catchy, jaunty tune. Christine McVie takes the vocals on this track, which for me is a treat as I far prefer her voice, and Stevie Nicks adds the backing. This song has a solid beat, banged out on what I feel is either a muted electric guitar, or perhaps bass. Back in 1988-ish, I went to a lot of parties, and this is one song which never failed to get everybody on their feet dancing, albeit gently. The mood of this song, although it is very happy, is edged with an urgent kind of poignancy, which matches the words that convey the feelings of somebody in the first glow of new love, hardly unable to contain their bewilderment and excitement.
Caroline is a very percussive song, slightly plodding in tempo during the introduction, then quietens down with a softly rolling guitar, into a tune which has a touch of sadness around the edges. The vocals are sung by Lindsey Buckingham, he putting a strength into his voice which isn't normally typical of him. The words aren't particularly mind-blowing, but perhaps they aren't supposed to be....simply a man's observation of a girl he's attracted to, called Caroline. This isn't my favourite track on the album - although it's perfectly OK - because the tune doesn't appeal to me as much as the others, and it does drag a bit. I feel this is a track where the instrumentals are the focus, rather than the tune, lyrics and vocals. It does have an urgent sound which some people may find either appealing or off-putting.
The title track, Tango In The Night, begins with a mysterious sounding intro, with the vocals sung by Lindsey Buckingham backed by harp, and soft but rather urgently played guitar. When the body of the song is launched into, the percussion becomes quite prominent, joined by some heavy, fuzzed-up guitar rolls. The song alternates between that more forceful part, and the gentleness of the intro. I don't find the lyrics easy to make out, but repeat (as with some of the tracks above), that this is probably more about the instruments and the playing of, than anything else. The tune is quite unusual and interesting, a little dark around the edges and deliciously urgent-sounding with a slow, but decent guitar break in the middle. Usually, when a single is released from an album, it is mostly the title track which has the success, but in this case, such didn't happen as Everywhere was probably the most popular.
Mystified is a slow song, with soft vocals by Christine McVie. The backing is a little plodding, very percussive, and with some steady plucking on that instrument which I'm unable to identify. The tune is quite complex and takes a few hearings to get into, with the vocals being that of a typical love song. There is a lovely, very soft, dreamy guitar break in the middle which enhances the romantic mood of the rest of the song. I wasn't keen on this track when I very first heard it, but it grew on me quickly...however, to be appreciated, it does need to be listened to in the context of the album as a whole.
Little Lies, together with Everywhere, is one of the better known tracks on this album. Again we have Christine McVie on lead vocals, overdubbing herself (obviously in the studio) with some breathy backing sounds, which get harsher when Stevie Nicks adds her bit. The percussion on this song is quite heavy - high pitched, but energetic, and the overall tempo is middling. The mood of the song is partly dreamy, partly a little sad, edged with a quiet almost desperation...you know, that kind of resigned feeling we get when someone we're madly in love with messes us about a lot, but we aren't ready to break away. Similarly to some of the other tracks on this album, there is a definite poignant streak present, which for me is the immediate 'catch' that draws the listener in.
Family Man is quite percussive during the intro, continuing through the song. The main vocals are sung by Lindsey Buckingham, with the two females joining in periodically, to a point where they are almost taking over. The tune is quite unusual and does take some getting used to, but is interesting all the same...a bit jerky, but it does make sense. There is a finger up the spine guitar roll which joins in now and again, that for me being what pushes the song up further in my estimation than otherwise might be the case. The combination of instruments on this track is fairly unusual, in that castanets are used to add to the beat. Also, overdubbed male voices (presumably Buckingham's) put in an appearance here and there, in a very bassy, almost doo-wop style.
Similarly to the other tracks on this album, Welcome To The Room Sara opens with some prominent percussion which is quietly played, yet very much in the forefront. Stevie Nicks takes the vocals in her typically nasal, quite harsh-sounding voice, with Lindsey Buckingham providing the backing. This is another tune which takes a few hearings to get completely used to, but the words are quite meaningful in the sense that they home straight into problems which most people at some time or another have in their romantic relationships, hence probably can thus easily identify to this song. The mood is one of anger, bewilderment and regret!
Isn't It Midnight begins with heavy guitar, heavy percussion, and has a definite, solid beat. Christine McVie sings the main vocals, and the fairly fast tempo tune has a mysterious, spine-chilling feel to it. The unidentifiable musical instrument which is common to Lindsey Buckingham period Fleetwood Mac material is prominent in this song, melding with the rest of the band to create an interesting piece of music. On the surface, this song sounds a bit throwaway, but with several hearings, a deeper meaning can be detected. As far as production and instrumental technique is concerned, this is probably the strongest track on the album as everybody is in complete sync with everybody else, and the arrangement is perfect, with a slightly screaming, fuzzed guitar as the forefront instrument carrying the song down to a close.
When I See You Again begins with Stevie Nicks singing, backed by a very soft, solo guitar. Her voice, not good for me at best, really doesn't suit this sort of song. However, what a damned good song! Through the proceedings, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie provide some tasteful backing vocals, and the whole song is steeped in a kind of mystery, which is enhanced by the occasional input from some very soft synthesiser way, way in the background. There is something about this song which digs deep, but I'm not quite sure why....it has a very unusual tune which is simultaneously poignant and uplifting, although it's meant to be sad. This for me is one of the best tracks on the album, and it can float me off into all sorts of places inside of myself...some of which are probably best kept away from for the most part, but it's nice to touch onto them briefly once in a while.
You And I - Part II starts in quite uptempo mood, and is probably one of the better known tracks on the album. The tune has a strong Van Morrison feel to it...he almost could have written it himself, but he'd have performed it in a different style. It is quite a pretty song, lilting and light, with Buckingham, McVie and Nicks all taking a turn each at both backing and forefront vocals. That unidentifiable instrument plays a piece in the middle-eight, adding an almost whimsical feel. There is something gently romantic about this song, yet listened to closely, the lyrics are not as happy as the tune sounds. This is probably, just on first hearing, the easiest song to catch onto on the whole album, and it does close it down nicely....that's if you can 'get' what the collection of songs is truly all about.
Although Stevie Nicks does appear on the vocals on nearly all of the tracks, the songwriting is courtesy of Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. To my own ears, the album is very definitely stamped with the Lindsey Buckingham sound, but I accept that my knowledge of Christine McVie in general, including her music, is too limited for me to make any comment about her writing contribution. However, and as mentioned above, I far prefer her voice to that of Stevie Nicks.
Taken as a whole, Tango In The Night jumps about in mood. Some of it is light, whimsical and fun, then it'll launch into a deep mood of poignancy, once or twice bordering upon darkness, but the whole album I feel has to be listened to very carefully to pick up on the more subtle changes.
This is an album which I will play when I'm in one of my more reflective moods, as it can remind me of a time of my life when the light was shining on me big and strong, but there was always that little shadow lurking in the background, threatening to envelop at any moment. As said above, my overall favourite track from the album definitely is Seven Wonders, with You And I - Part II snapping at its heels in a closely fought second position.
In summary, Tango In The Night is a very tasteful collection of well-written, well-performed and well-arranged songs that on the surface sound very much in middle of the road pop, but lift up the layers, and something infinitely deeper lies within. However, for those who don't want to probe too far underground into songs and their meanings, it still provides a pleasant, up-market, very polished listening experience.
At the time of writing, Tango In The Night can be purchased from Amazon as follows (on CD):-
New: from £2.49 to £23.00
Used: from £1.93 to £23.00
Collectible: from £8.95 to £10.50
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
I'm sure that like so many of us, certain pieces of music, albums or artists hold some form of special significance to us. For me the album that I hold to be special would have to be "Tango in the Night" by the great "Fleetwood Mac". Though most would say that it in no way compares to their "Rumours" album for me this is their cream of the crop. Whenever I hear this album it reminds me of my father as this was one of his favourites and he would play it over and over again to me to show me just what good music should sound like.
Fleetwood Mac underwent many different band line-ups during their career but out of them all this is pretty much their classic band line-up and the one that most of us would be familiar with. At the time of release back in 1987 the band consisted of;
Lindsey Buckingham: - Vocals, Guitar
Stevie Nicks: -Vocals
Christine McVie: - Keyboards, Vocals
John McVie: - Bass
Mike Fleetwood: -Drums
The only thing that I ever found odd about this was how they managed to find a man called Lindsey and a woman named Stevie to appear in the band, but oh well they did make for a wonderful singing pair.
By having three vocalists within the group the range and diversity of their song styles was pretty great and was coupled incredibly well with the unique playing style of Lindsey Buckingham, who played all of his guitar parts by picking the strings with his fingers as opposed to using a plectrum. Along with the masterful playing ability of Mike Fleetwood who had an amazing talent for making his drum kit literally sing out the beat.
1. Big Love
Immediately we are greeted with a very clean and crisp sounding start to the album with Lindsey's velvety tones running rampant over this quick paced beauty that is Big Love. Probably one of the most memorable sections from this song though is "oh" "ah" sounds that we hear through the song, which in fact where produced by only Lindsey using various pitch levels to his voice to give them a male and female sounding vocal to it. All in all this song makes for a great start to the album.
2. Seven Wonders
So with this track we see Stevie absolutely belt out this song which is certainly one of my favourites, and brings back memories of driving to Devon on holiday with my father as he seemed to have this song on constantly the whole way there. Despite having listened to it so many times though the track still sounds just as fresh and captivating each and every time. The chorus line of all three vocalists blend together wonderful and make for a spine tingling hook to the song.
The track starts off with the lovely keyboard work of Christine, who then proceeds to enchant us with her fantastic voice. Like most of the bands works this song has a very light and airy feel to it, especially with the lofty sounding backing vocals through the chorus. The musical content of the song is kept to a very simple and plain style to allow for the vocals of all three singers to really reign supreme throughout the track.
Without a doubt this is the best Fleetwood Mac song in my opinion and one that seems to mysteriously be missing from their greatest hits album for some reason. A great drum backing beat from the great man himself Mike Fleetwood overlaid with a tremendous bass guitar and keyboard line, which gives Lindsey and Stevie something to really work over as they lay down some thick and smooth harmonies.
5. Tango in The Night
The title track to the album starts off very calmly and gentle, but despite this subtle sound to the tracks beginning you can feel the more powerful chorus section building up through most of each verse. The song also boasts a tremendous guitar solo from Lindsey towards the end of the track. In comparison to their previous tracks on the album this song has a much darker and heavier edge to it, and makes for a wonderful break in the album.
The feel of the album instantly lifts straight back up into the clouds with this track and brings with it an uncomplicated sound along with it. The only problem though is I just feel that this song suffers from where it is on the album as following on from the title track of the album leaves this song feeling flat in comparison.
7. Seven Wonders
The lofty harmonies are laid on nice and thick with this song sees both Stevie and Christine teaming up to absolutely rip into this killer track. Fleetwood Mac never seem to have an overall complex song structure to any of their tracks, but this just stops the ear from being distracted from the main vocal lines. This being said though there is still enough in the music side of this song to enhance the overall sound of it.
8. Family Man
After the girls have had the reign of the vocals over the last few, it is time for Lindsey to once more take the lead, and he truly does just that as his voice leads the way with his spritely Spanish sounding guitar work rattles along with it. The song has quite a funky and almost poppy beat to it and keeps the song moving along at a good pace.
9. Welcome To the Room... Sara
The tempo of the album remains at a nice and smooth pace with Stevie returning to the lead vocals for this track. This again is another great sounding track, but just doesn't seem to match up to the rest of the album. Lindsey and Christine provide some great sounding backing harmonies throughout the song as well.
10. Isn't it Midnight
The album jumps back into a much rockier feel and sound as Lindsey's guitar playing gains a real edge to it during the intro and verse sections of the tune. During the chorus lines though the song lifts into a much higher and lighter plain. This track manages to also showcase some more of Lindsey's majestic soloing abilities.
11. When I See You Again
Unlike a majority of the rest of the album this track has a much more stripped back and bare feel to it which just gives Stevie the opportunity to demonstrate just how good a vocalist she is. Lindsey and Christine join in during the chorus parts to make for a wonderfully haunting sound to the track. The music to the song is literally made up of just Lindsey's guitar and the odd occasional piece of percussion from Mike.
12. You and I (Part 2)
After the last tracks almost absence of musical instruments this track makes back up for it and brings a really upbeat and bouncy feel to the ending of the album. The vocal for the track is given a massive range by at times alternating the vocal line over both your left and right speaker making the song sound absolutely massive and all encompassing.
One of the great things about this era of Fleetwood Mac was the great ease at which the band slipped between male and female main vocalists without it sounding out of place at all. This really gives this album something for everyone and doesn't leave the listener becoming bored of the same style being used over and over again which unfortunately some bands can fall prey to. The album spawned no less than six singles from it with their biggest success being Everywhere which peaked in the UK charts at number four. Even now after a good 23 years this album still sounds and feels just as strong as that first time my father started to teach me just what great music is all about, and has been a solid favourite of mine since then. All in all if you are tempted into sampling just what Fleetwood Mac are all about then this is a great place to start and if you should like it then their Rumours album is an absolute corker too, and certainly worth your listening time as well.
1 Big Love
2 Seven Wonders
5 Tango In The Night
7 Little Lies
8 Family Man
9 Welcome To The Room... Sara
10 Isn't It Midnight
11 When I See You Again
12 You And I (Part II)
Mention Fleetwood Mac to a lot of people and they still associate them with the original rock/blues combo started in the 60s by Peter Green; however, the band have come a long way since then and undergone many changes in both personnel and musical direction. The addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the line-up in the 1970s gave the band a distinctly hippy flavour, which mellowed further as the 70s turned into the 80s. Unfortunately, Buckingham and Nicks both focused on their own solo careers as the 80s progressed, but they reunited with the band in 1987 to produce the Tango In The Night, an album that typified their style at the time and stood out like a beacon against the monotonous background of late-80s electro-pop.
Big Love - With its psychedelic video and heavy-breathing accompaniment, Big Love was unlike anything else around at the time. The first of six singles to be released in the UK from Tango In The Night, it reached number 9 in the charts in April 1987 (7/10)
Seven Wonders - Very reminiscent of earlier songs like Gypsy and Dreams, and a wonderful example of the quality of Stevie Nicks' vocals. Also charted as a single in 1987, only reaching number 56 in the UK charts (7/10)
Everywhere - There are very few songs that stop you in your tracks and make you completely re-evaluate your taste in music, but for me, Everywhere is one of them. Musically and lyrically it is gorgeous - and when coupled with the simulated 17th century video, it conjures up an atmosphere and romance that I had never before felt from a song. The highest charting single from the album, reaching number 4 in the UK charts (10/10)
Caroline - A little too jerky and uneven for my liking. The heavy bursts of drums spoil the rhythm for me and the lyrics, although delivered strongly, aren't enough to compensate (5/10)
Tango In The Night - The title track from the album is very absorbing and typical of the music that Fleetwood Mac were creating at the time. Very strong instrumentally and lyrically (7/10)
Mystified - Similar to Seven Wonders but a little more melodic. I think this would have been more successful as a single release (8/10)
Little Lies - Another successful single, reaching number 5 in the UK charts. Probably the best lyrics of any song on the album and a pleasing mid-tempo accompaniment that makes for a wonderfully thought-provoking song (9/10)
Family Man - Similar in format and tempo to Big Love but not as rich lyrically, and with an annoying "am-what-I-am-what-I-am-what-I-am" chorus. Reached the dizzy heights of number 54 in the UK charts in 1987 (6/10)
Welcome To The Room... Sara - Written solely by Stevie Nicks and very identifiable as such, being very similar to some of her solo work (Rooms On Fire, Stop Dragging My Heart Around). Not a high-point of the album for me (4/10)
Isn't It Midnight - This is probably the one song on the album that connected it musically with the pop mood of the time. You can shut your eyes and imagine you are watching a work-out routine from Fame or Footloose (7/10)
When I See You Again - Another typical Stevie Nicks offering. Her voice is wonderfully well-suited to ballads but they all sound the same to me (5/10)
You And I (Part II) - I have never found part 1 on any album or listed in any discography so I have to assume it never made it out of the studio. Anyway, this is a jolly, upbeat track. Not really what you would expect from Fleetwood Mac but still very enjoyable (8/10)
In summary, the album is worth every penny you pay for it. Not many bands that undergo major reincarnations come out better for it, but I think Fleetwood Mac did, and Tango In The Night epitomises their 70s/80s renaissance.
Fleetwood Mac's Tango In The Night will always remain special to me as long as I live because it was my first real 'favourite album', and ten years later its brilliance and individuality remains untouchable.
By the late 80's the band was running its course and much of the prior emotional baggage had been put to bed, giving each band member a unique opportunity to put their individual touches on the record, and each excelled in order to produce and album without so much as an 'average' track on it (save for the last, at a pinch).
In terms of highlights, there are many but Seven Wonders and the majestic title track Tango In The Night stand out, the latter featuring a suburb atmosphere and guitar solo.
Despite not touching the likes of Rumours in terms of sales and popularity, Tango In The Night is by far my favourite Fleetwood album, and with good reason!
This album by fleetwood mac was released in 1987 and sold something like 10 million copies, in my opinion it is their best album since rumours
Its poppy highly produced and every song just sounds great.
Its one of thoes albums that you can play all the way through.
Fleetwood mac started of as a blues outfit with peter green and formed into this massive selling mild rock band.
The album rumours ten years prior to this became one the best ever selling albums.
This album produced some good pop hit singles with the nice and catchy ( everywhere ) to the sexy ( big love ) and the single little lies.
For thoes that are not familiar with fleetwood mac but like good music music with some good guitar solos and production then this is a great album for any collection.
I personally love all the tracks on this album and consider it their best album .
The album has a sily sound to it, and the voices of stevie nicks is in glorious form.
The album is also full of some intresting and varied guitar solos that are mixed within the pop elements of the songs.
fleetwood mac at their finest
Fleetwood Mac's 1987 album Tango in the Night was released a decade after their landmark Rumours album and became their next most successful record, selling about 15 million copies worldwide. The first single off the album,Lindsey Buckingham's Big Love, attracted a lot of media attention for two reasons: 1. the video cost a whopping $250,000 to make, a huge amount for a 3 minute video, even in the decadent '80s and 2. the "love grunts" that featured in the song. There was a lot of speculation about who was responsible for the female "love grunts", many were convinced it was Madonna and others were sure it was Stevie Nicks. In the end it turned out to be Lindsey himself with the help of a little studio wizardry. The song was a huge hit and put the band firmly back on the musical map. It's definitely my all-time favourite song. Six singles were released in total, three Christine McVie tracks, two Lindsey songs and one Stevie track. Most of the tracks were big hits on both sides of the Atlantic, though Stevie's Seven Wonders didn't do as well in the UK. Her profile was never as high in Europe as Christine Mcvie's, whose singles were almost always guaranteed hits. Little Lies, Everywhere and Isn't It Midnight still get plenty of radio airplay while Seven Wonders seems to be forgotten. Lindsey left the band a few months after the release of the album and the band's fortunes both in terms of artistic achievement and public success have suffered ever since - at least until he re-joined the band in 1997, briefly.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Big Love
2 Seven Wonders
5 Tango in the Night
7 Little Lies
8 Family Man
9 Welcome to the Room...Sara
10 Isn't It Midnight
11 When I See You Again
12 You and I, Pt. II