Newest Review: ... and excitement. Caroline is a very percussive song, slightly plodding in tempo during the introduction, then quietens down with a softly... more
More to this album than at first appears
Tango In The Night - Fleetwood Mac
Member Name: GentleGenius
Tango In The Night - Fleetwood Mac
Advantages: Well performed, good songs, well arranged, easy to listen to
Disadvantages: Stevie Nicks's voice, but that's personal to me
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 ~~
Summary: An all-time, possibly underrated classic