Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Celebrating Tango In The Night, Fleetwood Mac’s overlooked pop classic

I believe that Tango In The Night is a better album than Rumours.

Some people express their most contrary opinions because they crave attention. I do it purely because I hate to lie. To myself, and to you.

Look, I have Fleetwood Mac issues. Endless car trips soundtracked by their long and boring 1997 live album The Dance will do that to you. I’m aware of their legacy, all 17 (!!) albums of it, but they don’t move me in the same way they do most.

Yes, I know and love the Peter Green debut album. And yes, I have come to begrudgingly admit that Rumours is among the most important rock records ever made, with a hell of a story behind it.

Tusk has its moments, sure. Had Ween released “The Ledge” a decade later, I’d probably be trying to convince you it’s a masterpiece.

But when it comes to the Mac, I’m all about Tango… and you can’t take that away from me.

It’s the overlooked classic in Fleetwood Mac’s arsenal. Of course, overlooked is a relative term. It’s their second highest selling records – over 15 million copies sold, thank you very much – but in the shadow of Rumours, sometimes it feels like it doesn’t even exist.

I’m certain there’s a strange subconscious reason behind my preference of Mac albums. I was still in nappies when Tango was released, and I’m sure its songs were probably inescapable across TV and radio. Maybe the slickness was easy for my developing mind to absorb, or maybe it’s just one of those things, how we always look fondly upon the music of our childhood.

And can we talk about that slickness? This album is like an 80s sportscar; it’s dated and ostentatious, perhaps laughably so in some cases, but you can’t help but marvel at the way its put together.

The synths. The drums. The weird grunts in “Big Love.” Everything shimmers. For a band who had been around for 20 years, and who’d had their biggest hit a decade earlier, the record was remarkably on trend.

And it largely happened on the band’s own terms.

The gargantuan team that revolved around Fleetwood Mac wanted – nay, needed – a hit record, presumably to retain their jobs. So, they hatched a plan to get the band back on the charts.

“It had been so long since we had interacted that lawyers and people like that were sort of getting into it,” guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham told Creem. “Their idea of how to get Fleetwood Mac back together to make an album was to bring in a young, hot producer.

“But it just didn’t work out that way: he didn’t know how to handle us salty old guys—and I realized, too, that if we were going to do it all, it just wasn’t our style to go in half-assed and be a part of something that was piecemealed together.

“So, this guy went back to New York and Richard [Dashut, long-time Fleetwood Mac producer] and I sort of took over and went from there.”

One of the best things about the record is how it serves as a kind of middle finger. A kiss off at critics who were ready to report that the band was dead. A shot fired at anyone who figured the band were about to slide into the annals of history, rather than make something as vital as their 1977 breakthrough. This was Fleetwood Mac proving that they were still relevant.

But the best thing about the album is its songs. Particularly its first side. Opener “Big Love” is good, second track “Seven Wonders” is great, and track three, “Everywhere,” is pop brilliance so refined that it deserves to be in a museum. A song so perfect that its very existence makes you happy to be alive. It’s joy incarnate.

Perhaps the only thing really missing from Tango is a little more Stevie Nicks. Her performance on “Seven Wonders” – co-written with her friend Sandy Stewart – is strong enough that it could have been her only contribution and she still would’ve remained a matchless part of the band. But it’s an album with less of her stamp than Stevie fans would like.

There are many reasons why this might have been the case.

Firstly, Nicks was making and promoting a solo record [1985’s Rock A Little] while the sessions for Tango… were happening. While Lindsey Buckingham channelled all his energy into the band, Nicks wasn’t interested in Fleetwood Mac being the only musical feather in her cap.

Some reports suggest that Nicks wasn’t all there when she was in the studio, getting bored almost immediately and drunk just as quickly. Nicks was fresh out of rehab and recording the album at Buckingham’s house, which he shared with his girlfriend Cheri Caspari.

“I can remember going up there and not being happy to even be there and we were doing vocals in their master bedroom and that was extremely strange,” she told the Miami Herald in 2016.

“In all fairness, it was like the only empty room and they had a beautiful master bedroom all set up like a vocal, booth but I found it very uncomfortable, personally.

“I guess I didn’t go very often and when I did go I would get like, ‘Give me a shot of brandy and let me sing on four or five songs off the top of my head.’

“And then I was on Klonopin and not quite understanding why I was feeling so weird and this doctor kept saying, ‘This is what you need.’ It’s the typical scenario of a groupie doctor. Discuss rock’n’roll with you, so in order to do that he would keep upping your dose so you’d come in once a week.”

Then there’s the fact that bad blood between Nicks and her former boyfriend – and Tango’s creative controller – Buckingham never really subsided.

“The other members of Fleetwood Mac, from the beginning, have always been lovely to me, have always known how important my songs are to me, whereas, with Lindsey, he would rather I just stayed at home doing laundry,” Nicks told BAM in October 1987.

Neil Finn and Mike Campbell have recently joined Fleetwood Mac to replace Buckingham. It all came as a bit of a shock, but it’s not the first time this had happened.

It was in the wake of Tango… that Buckingham left the band for the first time, to be replaced on the ensuing tour by session players Rick Vito and Billy Burnette.

“We’re closing in on 20 years and there’s a time to put everything to rest and get on with other things, and I would like to do that,” Buckingham told Creem magazine in 1987.

“During the sessions, we sensed this was probably the last thing Lindsey would do with us,” Christine McVie told BAM.

“It was sort of said, but not said, you know? He admitted his solo career was becoming his priority. But by the end of the album, he did sort of agree to tour, then at the eleventh hour, he just pulled out, saying that he simply couldn’t cope with it.”

Mick Fleetwood later expressed regret at how little kudos Buckingham got for his part in Tango

“He was coerced and persuaded to do that album – mainly by me,” the drummer told Classic Rock magazine in 2013. “And, to his credit, he put aside everything that he’d dreamt of doing, including making his own album, for Fleetwood Mac; but then realised that he’d made a mistake…

“Lindsey was not being heard. We just didn’t get it.”

I’m not here to convince you that Rumours is overrated. But, as this band’s legacy becomes more and more about one big album, I urge you not to forget Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 pop classic.

It’s not a flawless record. “Family Man” is just a bit too ridiculous and hasn’t aged all that well, nor has the lite-disco romp “You And I, Pt. II.”

But Tango In The Night deserves to be more than a footnote in the Fleetwood Mac story. More than a mere afterthought offered once you’ve exhausted yourself talking about cocaine, Rumours and how much they all hate each other.

And for those pariahs, like me, who just don’t get their kicks from Rumours, maybe this will serve as a more effective entry point into the world of Fleetwood Mac.

Dan Condon / ABC / Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tango in the Night (1987)

Fleetwood Mac to issue ‘Tango in the Night – The Alternate’ on Record Store Day 2018

Fleetwood Mac will be issuing Tango in the Night – The Alternate on Record Store Day on April 21. The special vinyl release, limited to 4,000 copies in the U.S., features early versions and demos from Fleetwood Mac 1987 album Tango in the Night. The Alternate will be exclusively available on Record Store Day at participating stores.

Visit Record Store Day for more information, including the list of releases and participating record stores.

DESCRIPTION: An album of alternate takes from the Tango In the Night Deluxe Edition, originally released in 2017. Includes early versions and demos of “Tango In The Night” and “Seven Wonders”. On vinyl for the very first time. Worldwide run of 8500.

Album Reviews Article Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night [Deluxe Edition]

Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night, Neal Preston
(Neal Preston)

Warner Brothers (3-CD, LP, DVD Box Set)

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Five years on from their last album, Mirage and 10 years after Rumours, Fleetwood Mac were more-or-less in tatters when they re-emerged in 1987. Lindsey Buckingham was in the throes of a new solo album, Stevie Nicks in the grip of all manner of personal problems, Mick Fleetwood and the McVies were living their own lives. If Tango in the Night was not a contractual obligation that they had no choice but to fulfill, then it’s hard to imagine why they even thought they could make a record.

Actually, the answer to that is simple — Christine McVie did a TV program, Fleetwood and Buckingham joined her for the occasion and between them they hatched what was simultaneously one of the most anticipated albums of the age and, once past the admittedly sizable fan club, one of the most unnecessary. 1987 was the year of hair metal et al. Who cared about Fleetwood Mac?

Even today, Tango is viewed less as the final installment of that imperious succession of monsters that this latest incarnation of the band had released, and more as the first in the run of “who cares?” sets that wound down the band’s original career (Behind the Mask and do-you-even-remember Time followed it up.)

And yet… song for song, performance for performance, Tango in the Night is one of the strongest albums in the band’s entire canon. Be honest — even Fleetwood Mac (1975) and Rumours have the songs you skip on the occasions you play them; Tusk is only perfect if you weed out one-third of its bodyweight; and Mirage… well, it’s Mirage, isn’t it.

Tango, though, defiantly boasts just two truly deplorable songs, and as they are both the work of Ms. Nicks (“Welcome to the Room… Sara” and the positively wretched “When I See You Again”), we will accept that she maybe wasn’t in the best place for the sessions… and, according to the liners, wasn’t even in the room for more than a couple of weeks.

Even the love grunts that punctuate “Big Love” were recorded by Lindsey and Christine, and then sped up to a Nicksian pitch, and on the subject of “Big Love,” it’s peculiar the way history has written it off as little more than a barrage of snorting, to which a half-written song has been painfully grafted. Because, listened to again, it’s great and, if you can overlook the retching, it’s a nigh-on perfect locomotive rocker, and second only to the title track in terms of intensity.

Tango in the Night itself is phenomenal, an anguished guitar work-out that harks back to the Peter Green-era “Green Manalishi” in terms of deliverance and release, and makes you wish that this was the side of Fleetwood Mac that snagged the headlines… add “I’m So Afraid,” “The Chain” and “Tusk” to the line-up and there’s barely another band on earth can touch Mac for that earthy, emotional ooomph.

Christine McVie, too, seems more than usually inspired; the songs on which she takes at least a co-credit (the hits “Everywhere” and “Little Lies,” and three tracks written with Buckingham) include some of her finest ever Mac contributions, with “Mystified” maybe her best of all time. And, while the production (very ’80s, as you’d expect) might well have painted over a lot of the cracks that had obviously splintered the quintet, a second disc of demos and alternates (and a couple of B-sides) reinforces the strength of both songs and players. The “full version” of album closer “You and I, Part II,” now sensibly subtitled “Part 1 and 2,” is consummate Fleetwood Mac; a song that effectively incorporates everything that had made them so magical for the past 12 years. What better way could there have been to conclude this phase of the group’s existence?

The remainder of the deluxe box set, in comparison to those that preceded it, feels sparse but really, it isn’t. One disc rounds up the various 12-inch mixes that accompanied the album’s five singles; another serves up the promo videos and a lush 5.1 mix of the album; and finally, the original LP is present on vinyl, and a lovely job they made of it.

Yes, the liners could have been more expansive, delving deeper into the triumphs and tragedies that we know accompanied the sessions… and for heaven’s sake, how many times did the author need to refer to the band’s career as a dance? Across a touch over two pages, Tango becomes “the last dance,” “a graceful turn in the extended dance,” “a complex moment” in a “complicated dance” and, of course, we are still being moved by the band’s “dance with history.” Which makes you wonder which of their albums is next for the beautifully boxed, deluxe-o-rama treatment? Well, it probably won’t be Time. The one after that, on the other hand…

Dave Thompson / Goldmine / June 2017 (p34)

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (Deluxe Edition)

The music of Fleetwood Mac could fairly be said to define the 1970s – in all its style, tumult, and excess.  Where did that leave the union of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham once a new decade emerged?  1982’s Mirage found Fleetwood Mac trying to recapture the magic of 1977’s epochal Rumours, and succeeding in large part.  Yet Mirage felt as if it firmly had one foot planted in the previous decade.  With its belated follow-up, 1987’s Tango in the Night, the band embraced the 1980s and created an album for all time.  In true Mac fashion, the group was also dissolving in the process.  Now, Tango in the Night is the fourth of their albums to receive a multi-format reissue campaign from Warner Bros. Records and Rhino including a slipcased 3-CD/1-DVD/1-LP Deluxe Edition box set.

The tango, is of course, a dance characterized in part by “stylized body positions” per Merriam-Webster – or an “interaction marked by a lack of straightforwardness.”  Both of those definitions have bearing on the Mac’s nocturnal dance, as producer-arranger Buckingham and longtime co-producer Richard Dashut crafted a stylish and beguiling set of textured, varied soundscapes that could hardly be called straightforward; note even the lurking, ominous eyes in the otherwise-tranquil, Henri Rousseau-inspired cover artwork.  The productions embraced the technological advances of the late 1980s and the prevailing, synthesized radio-friendly sound, while crucially never ignoring that Tango in the Night was a “band” record.  It may not be as conceptual as Rumours or as boldly experimental as Tusk, but Tango remains a potent collection nonetheless.

Seven of the twelve songs on Tango were, in full or in part, penned by Lindsey – betraying its roots as a solo album.  The pulsating opener “Big Love” is quintessential Buckingham, with the band offering taut accompaniment to his vocals, guitar and Fairlight sampler.  Both utterly contemporary and appropriately edgy, with Buckingham providing the provocative male and female utterances that are a key part of the track’s rhythm, it became one of Tango‘s six (!) singles and made it all the way to the top five of the Hot 100.  “Caroline” is an impressionistic and mysterious ode to, or warning about, a captivating woman, driven by its thick, heavy and percussive drum sound.  Title track “Tango in the Night” captures Buckingham’s mastery at creating a sonic atmosphere as it shifts from calm to restive, a soft ‘n heavy mélange of rumination.  “Family Man” is a gentler composition with its simple lyric statement of “I am what I am/A family man…”

Three tracks were co-written by Buckingham and McVie, who are currently preparing for the release of their first joint album, simply entitled Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie.  Their swooning “Mystified” is a gentle, lightly tropical oasis on Tango, while the rocker “Isn’t it Midnight” (co-written with Eddy Quintela, McVie’s then-husband) is a cool depiction of a roguish figure.  The gleaming, uptempo “You and I (Part II)” has sweetness and longing in equal measure.  (Part I of the song was released on a non-LP single; while that edited version isn’t present on the Deluxe Edition, the combined full version of Parts I and II can be found on Disc Two.)

In David Wild’s typically excellent liner notes to this reissue, Stevie Nicks notes that “Christine is the hit songwriter in Fleetwood Mac.”  Indeed, McVie penned the album’s two chart-topping and arguably most enduring hits: the shimmering romantic declaration “Everywhere” (No. 1 AC/No. 14 Pop) and the bittersweet, insistent “Little Lies” (No. 1 AC/No. 4 Pop).  The latter was also penned with Quintela.  Both songs proved undoubtedly that Fleetwood Mac, a decade post-Rumours, were still indisputably a force with which to be reckoned.

Stevie Nicks’ three major contributions to Tango all showed different aspects of her strong personality despite the fact that she wasn’t closely involved with the album’s creation.  “Seven Wonders,” predominantly written by her friend Sandy Stewart, is a wistful reflection with a big hook, given a strong pop-rock sheen in Buckingham and Dashut’s production.  Nicks brought Gone with the Wind imagery to “Welcome to the Room…Sara,” a personal account of her stay at the Betty Ford Center.  Though the lyrics are typically enigmatic, the emotional underpinning shines brightly.  The tender “When I See You Again” boasts both gravitas and intimacy as a duet performed by famous ex-lovers Nicks and Buckingham.

An entire disc of Demos, Alternates, and B-Sides is available as part of the Deluxe Edition or the 2-CD iteration, and as per usual in this series, these rarities are exceptional finds.  All of the tracks are previously unreleased other than the B-sides: Tango yielded four unique flipsides including Buckingham’s “Down Endless Street,” Buckingham and Nicks’ “Book of Miracles,” and Buckingham and McVie’s “You and I (Part I)” and “Ricky.”

“Book of Miracles” is Lindsey’s instrumental arrangement of Stevie’s “Juliet,” which subsequently appeared in a different, full version with lyrics on her 1989 solo album The Other Side of the Mirror.  “Juliet” itself is heard in a raw, rocking run-through version, too, as well as a demo of Nicks’ “Ooh My Love,” which would also find its way to The Other Side.  Listen for Stevie’s effusive in-studio chatter following “Juliet” for an extra bit of fun.

Of the alternate versions, an early take of “Seven Wonders” is compelling even in embryonic form, while two versions of “Mystified” – an instrumental, and a lo-fi vocal version – in tandem offer a window into the song’s creation.  The rather fully-produced demos included here are real treats, as well.  “Tango in the Night” is radically different than the completed version.  There are a couple of never-before-released songs, too.  Buckingham’s “Special Kind of Love” is a slice of buoyant pop, and his and McVie’s “Where We Belong” has an in-progress feel that leads one to wonder how it would have developed had the band continued refining it.  Nicks’ “Joan of Arc,” also mooted for Tango, is not among the still-generous array of selections here.

The Deluxe box also boasts a third disc of fourteen 12-inch remixes sure to please completists.  These reinterpretations by Arthur Baker and John “Jellybean” Benitez of five Tango tracks (“Big Love,” “Seven Wonders,” “Little Lies,” “Family Man” and “Everywhere”) don’t supplant the originals, of course, but capture a particular time and place – that of the late-1980s dance/pop scene.  Their inclusion is mightily welcome on this set.  Unlike previous releases in this series, no live concert has been included, likely because Lindsey Buckingham departed the group before the tour supporting Tango.

The Deluxe Edition’s DVD has the album’s five era-defining music videos, and a pristine 24/96 stereo version of the album. (No surround mix was available this time around.) For listeners with the capabilities to enjoy it, this high-resolution version is the preferred way to experience Tango in the Night.  A vinyl LP of the original album only rounds out the package.  A gatefold houses the LP as well as a slots for each of the discs in a unique sleeve.

The various components of Tango in the Night have been optimally remastered by Dan Hersch, while the previously unreleased material has been lovingly mixed by Brian Kehew with Bill Inglot, who produced the set with Steve Woolard.  David Wild provides the essay in the 12-page LP-sized booklet, drawing on fresh and revealingly candid (and often humorous!) quotes from Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood.  Mick marvels at the “strange but true” story of the band, but one thing is clear listening to this revitalized Tango in the Night – that these rock-and-roll survivors could put aside their differences to come together and create something vital.  This Tango is as mysterious and beguiling as ever.

Joe Marchese / The Second Disc / April 18, 2017

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night

If you were never much of a fan of the world-beating, Buckingham-Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night was the album that bore out all your reservations. Bland, self-indulgent, easy-listening, cold, clinical, calculating, mercenary: On the surface, especially in 1987, it was all of that where the band’s previous million-sellers hadn’t quite checked all the boxes.

Time and trends have been kind, though. Tango in the Night’s hits never really left the radio, becoming nearly as ubiquitous as those from Rumours. And a lot of what was previously dismissed as overproduction now simply sounds modern. Lindsey Buckingham, the band’s grand marshal, has been given his rightful place among rock’s bonafide Creative Geniuses. The climate is ripe for critical reassessment.

Fair enough, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

From a cynical perspective, Tango in the Night is the sound of a band doing exactly what it had to do in order to reclaim lost sales (the preceding Mirage and Tusk had sold mere millions rather than tens of millions), please record company execs and radio programmers alike, and keep pace with then-current trends.

The whole thing has a gauzy, digital coating that comes from a combination of cold professionalism and heavy reliance on technology. It’s all right there in the two most enduring radio hits, “Everywhere” and “Little Lies”. Both Christine McVie compositions, they are the very embodiment of adult-oriented, FM-radio easy listening. Where McVie’s previous unabashed love songs felt endearing and sweet, these feel slight and rote. McVie and her bandmates seem like mere vehicles that are necessary for the technology and production to flow through. To a cynic, “Everywhere” and “Little Lies” have stuck around for their utility. When there are no more FM radio stations or waiting rooms around not to offend anyone, they will finally go away.

Those specific hits are emblematic of the album as a whole. The other tracks are either second-tier versions of them or toned-down versions of Buckingham’s whimsical indulgences.

But it all works. Each track is so listenable, so much a ready-made, state-of-the-1987-art symbol of the Fleetwood Mac you know and love, that the whole collection takes on an additive power. Yes, this is Fleetwood-Mac-by-numbers, but it is the best Fleetwood-Mac-by-numbers you could possibly imagine. Which, even 30 years later, is preferable to a lot of other pap on the radio.

The project that became Tango in the Night began as a Lindsey Buckingham solo album, which is its saving grace. His arranging skills and attention to detail make the even boilerplate material interesting. Take away the twinkling harp on “Everywhere”, the tinkling xylophone on “Mystified”, or the sneering backing vocals on “Little Lies”, and the songs hardly demand to be heard twice, much less a hundred times.

Stevie Nicks did not have much involvement in Tango in the Night, as she was busy with her solo career and averse to recording in ex-lover Buckingham’s home studio. When she does show up, she sounds disheveled. This quality works to the band’s benefit on “If I See You Again”, one of those vulnerable Nicks ballads. When Buckingham takes the vocal at the end, it is easily the album’s most poignant moment for anyone familiar with the pair’s turbulent history.

For his part, Buckingham picks up the slack and delivers a solid set of songs. “Caroline” remains one of the most fun, sing-along-inducing melodies he has written. The sultry title track, while not subtle, features some of his most scorching guitar work. It also lends the album some much-needed dynamics. “You and I, Part II” is breezy yet laced with regret. In hindsight, it is easy to hear Buckingham trying out techniques that would serve him very well in his subsequent solo work.

This “30th Anniversary” edition of Tango in the Night has an excellent audio remaster to recommend it. It can’t remove some of the dated synth sounds, but it does get rid of a lot of that gauzy coating and add more dimension and definition. The second disc, with outtakes and demos, offers few revelations aside from a couple nice Buckingham/McVie tracks that were shelved. The Deluxe version adds 12” remixes from Arthur Baker, videos, hi-def audio, and vinyl.

Yes, on the surface Tango in the Night confirms every troubling notion about the world-beating version of Fleetwood Mac. But this well-done reissue also reaffirms a surprising number of the strengths that got them to that position.

Fleetwood Mac
Tango in the Night
Warner Bros.
US: 31 MAR 2017

Rating: 7/10


John Bergstrom / Pop Matters (UK) / 12 April 2017

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (Deluxe Edition)

Fleetwood Mac’s peak occurred between 1975 and 1977, when the band—reinvigorated by the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks—issued an eponymous album and Rumours. Many critics viewed the 1979 follow-up to the latter LP, Tusk, as a bit of a disappointment, and after that it was all supposedly downhill—way downhill.

I’m not buying this party line, as I’ve noted in my reviews of deluxe reissues of Tusk and 1982’s Mirage. I think those albums were largely terrific, and I can say the same about 1987’s Tango in the Night. I’m probably not alone in rejecting the critical consensus about Tango, moreover, since the CD has sold more than 15 million copies and ranks as the second-bestselling album of the group’s career (after Rumours).

The record, which started out as a Buckingham solo project and wound up being his last album with the group, has now joined the Fleetwood Mac reissue series. And, like its predecessors in that series, this repackaging lives up to its “deluxe” billing. Three CDs respectively deliver a 2017 remaster of the original album; 13 B-sides, demos, and early and alternate versions; and more than a dozen 12-inch mixes of five Tango tracks. There’s also a DVD that includes videos for five of the tunes and a high-resolution stereo mix of the LP; and, for those who miss the pre-digital era, a vinyl record that contains the 2017 remaster. If all that’s not enough to keep you busy, you can turn to the enclosed oversized booklet, which features an essay about the album, plus lyrics, photos, and credits.

The rhythmic original LP, which sounds better than ever thanks to the remaster, is loaded with pleasures, not to mention hit singles. Among the highlights: Buckingham’s “Big Love,” which gives Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” a run for its money in the sensuality department; and such ear candy as “When I See You Again” and “Seven Wonders,” both with passionate Stevie Nicks vocals; and the sublime “Everywhere,” “Little Lies,” and “Mystified,” all sung by Christine McVie. Songs like these leave no doubt that Fleetwood Mac were masters of melody and production and that any one of its three vocalists would have been enough to make another band famous. A few tracks, such as “Family Man,” deliver more studio wizardry than emotion but the bulk of this material is the real deal.

Disc two is stronger than you might expect. “Down Endless Street” is as catchy as anything on the original album and, while you can see why Tango’s versions improved on some of the outtakes and demos here, they’re virtually all interesting and well-executed.

It’s difficult to be as enthusiastic about disc three, which dilutes everything that’s special about Fleetwood Mac by introducing disco beats and embellishments. If you’re nostalgic for Studio 54, this is the record for you. If not, you’ll likely prefer the songs on the original album.

I have mixed feelings about the DVD. It’s good to see the videos—which feature “Big Love,” “Seven Wonders,” “Little Lies,” “Family Man,” and “Everywhere”—but it would have been better to have some concert material from the period; what we have here instead are pretty visuals accompanied by a lip-synching band. As for the high-resolution version of the album on the DVD, it sounds even better than the CD; but it would have sounded better still if it were a 5.1 surround mix.

Happily, the album is being made available in several formats. Casual fans can opt for a single CD with the remastered album, though I’d recommend that listeners seriously consider a two-CD package that incorporates the disc of outtakes and other rarities. The everything-but-the-kitchen-sink edition described above is a somewhat more debatable (and, of course, pricier) purchase, but if you’re a big fan of the group, you might well be glad to have it.

Jeff Burger / The Morton Report / April 3, 2017

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

Fleetwood Mac: Tango In The Night

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night 1987Fleetwood Mac
Tango In The Night
*** (3 stars)
Warner Bros 0081227946388

Big box for Big Love

If their roller-coaster career offers frequent comparison to a high-gloss soap opera, then Tango In The Night is surely the lull before the storm: everyone seemingly on their best behaviour, the sleekest of production values and a plot that moves the story on while never straying too far from the crowd-pleasing formula that won us over in the first place.

Some 14 albums in, this actually ended up the second best-selling of their career but, despite outward appearances, all was not well with the classic line-up, who hadn’t actually released a new record in five years. Stevie Nicks was largely absent promoting her own material during the 18 months that work took on the album, and Lindsey Buckingham quit in August 1987, just four months after its release.

Largely remembered for the mainstream pop hits of “Little Lies” and “Everywhere,” this 12-track 30th anniversary collection has been remastered and the deluxe edition, packaged with a vinyl repress, comes with a CD of B-sides, outtakes and demos (10 of which are previously unissued). A third disc compiles 14 ubiquitous remixes in all their ’80s glory and the DVD includes the five singles’ videos and a stereo mix of the set.

Mark Elliott / Record Collector (UK) / April 2017 (p92)

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (expanded)

Any kind of contemporary reflection on Fleetwood Mac is going to necessarily make reference to the band members’ endeavours off the field of play. That’s not because they were better known, or even as well known, for their extracurricular activities as their music, but rather because the individual members’ personal lives seeped into the songs with such frequency and ferocity as to render the two worlds inextricable. There was certainly never a Chinese wall.

If anything, Rumours’ resurgence in recent years, the result of a bright new Urban Outfitters-clad generation discovering it, has been pleasantly innocent and pure, with the evergreen nature of the songs themselves apparently holding the core appeal rather than the stories behind them. It seems daft to talk about a record that’s shifted 28 million copies in a manner that suggests it’s somehow been hard done by, but there was a time when Rumours wasn’t cool — when “Dreams” was most prominent in the popular imagination for having just been covered by The Corrs, and when the very specific Seventies production style — clean lines, sharp tones — was viewed as positively kitsch.

Overall, though, Rumours — and, by way of extension, the entirety of the band’s Buckingham-Nicks glory years — is always going to be viewed through the prism of what was going on behind the scenes because that tension, be it romantic, creative or chemical, made the songs what they were. “Go Your Own Way” wouldn’t hit home the way it does if you didn’t know that every syllable was actually, honestly dripping with seething resentment. Fleetwood Mac’s folklore made their self-titled album, Rumours and, to a lesser extent, Tusk and Mirage what they were.

This is precisely why Tango in the Night is the anomaly in the catalogue. Unlike its predecessors, it wasn’t a product of the strife surrounding it; for the first time, Fleetwood Mac made an album in spite of intra-band turbulence, rather than because of it. By the time they started work on it in late 1985, nobody in the group was in an especially good place; as Lindsey Buckingham would later surmise, “everybody was leading their lives in a way that they would not be too proud of today.”

They were drugged up and worn out. It was probably the glow of youth wearing off; the lifestyle they’d fallen into as individuals had lost its lustre by this point. Stevie Nicks was struggling, her prodigious cocaine habit no longer romantic but sad; she wasn’t long out of the Betty Ford Center, and had more or less lost interest in the band with her solo career burgeoning. When she did turn up to cut vocals for Tango in the Night, she made a point of knocking back brandy beforehand; as a result, Buckingham would quietly bin most of her takes after she’d left.

His own investment in the band had dwindled, too. He’d put out two solo LPs, Law and Order and Go Insane, and was intending to cut a third when Mick Fleetwood nudged him back in the direction of writing for the group, if only because the financial rewards were likely to be more lavish. Despite his own personal issues, Fleetwood remained the anchor and the likeliest cheerleader for another record, with Christine and John McVie adrift; the former making her own records and the latter quite literally, as he retreated from music to go sailing.

Relations were strained, then, and nobody could reasonably claim to be on top form. That they managed to make a record isn’t necessarily all that impressive. Contractual commitments probably would’ve seen to that either way, as they did for The Rolling Stones around this time in the Eighties; Undercover and Dirty Work are now long forgotten and so they should be, sounding every inch what they were — albums made at a time when Ronnie Wood was probably the member of the band of most sound mind (talk about dire straits). The minor miracle was that Fleetwood Mac made a classic with Tango in the Night.

That there were multiple songwriters within the band was basically the foundation they were built on and the strange thing is that it never really proved problematic, either between themselves or in terms of how the records ran; even McVie’s contributions on Rumours, for instance, which are unlikely bedfellows for the rest of the album in terms of content and tempo, never derailed the overall sense of cohesion. Buckingham had overseen a similar atmospheric homogeny on Tusk in masterful fashion, bringing together no end of disparate creative threads to create a sprawling record that wasn’t ever properly fractured. It’s quite the trick and it’s one he pulled off again on Tango in the Night; it’s obvious that the writers were in very different places musically and personally, and yet the whole album is dripping with the same coat of lush pop gloss, laid on thick enough to conceal the fault lines.

The singles from the record would go on to rank amongst the band’s biggest hits; on that front, it’s McVie and her sharp ear for melody that are the stars, with “Everywhere” and “Little Lies” the out-and-out pop highlights. The former has an irresistible buoyancy that falls just the right side of the line in terms of its saccharine charms where, say, “Don’t Stop” overstepped the mark in its cloying optimism. The latter, meanwhile, features one of the hooks of the decade on the chorus. “Big Love” would become a setlist staple, too, simmering with the viscerally nervous energy that’s always been Buckingham’s calling card; that sense of simmering drama runs through the title track also, and he’s such a methodical writer that you know it was there by design rather than accident – even if the situation surrounding him surely fed into it.

As much as Tango in the Night might be viewed as a classic, it certainly isn’t timeless; everything about the sonic architecture screams the Eighties. It’s largely Buckingham’s doing and the instrumentation consistently sounds very much of its era — the chugging guitars on “Isn’t It Midnight,” the twinkly synths throughout “Seven Wonders,” the simple electronics that “You and I, Part II” opens with and that sound like they were plucked straight from an old arcade game like Outrun.

With that decidedly retro image of Tango in the Night in mind, though, it’s easy to forget just how vibrant, rich and layered the production is. That’s really brought to the fore on this remaster, on which the songs are a little brighter and deeper than we’ve ever heard them. Buckingham was a stickler for detail on the original and it was this perfectionism that led to him applying the same palette to every track, regardless of who’d written it, an approach he’d been refining ever since Tusk.

The sound, then, involves a clear break from the group’s Seventies identity, but many of the same themes continue to swirl. That’s especially true of Nicks’ contributions; always the band’s most confessional songwriter, she mines her own demons as usual, recapping rehab with “Welcome to the Room…Sara” and dropping a lyrical clanger in the process, her interpolation of the titular line from “The First Cut Is the Deepest” less nimble intertextuality than bizarre shoehorning.

She’s on affecting form throughout, though, and inevitably her relationship with Buckingham pops up on “When I See You Again”; given that this is the final album by the classic Rumours lineup and frankly the final true hit full-length they had, in the wider imagination that track is probably the one that closed the book on their tormented musical back-and-forth. Buckingham left the band a few months after the album came out, missing most of the tour in support of it; years later, he’d admit that he did so in order to finally put Nicks behind him. That frisson, clearly, had yet to properly fizzle out.

The reissue itself arrives to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Tango in the Night’s release and, as usual, is pleasant but not essential in and of itself. The remaster, as mentioned, makes everything a touch punchier than in 1987, and whilst the bonus material is by no means indispensable, there’s plenty of it and lots to aid the more devoted fan in picking apart Buckingham’s creative process.

The second disc offers up the B-sides “Down Endless Street” and “Ricky” — the former’s worth a look, the latter less so — as well as previously unreleased demos of songs that didn’t make the cut, like “Ooh My Love” and “Juliet.” The stripped-back alternate take of “Mystified,” also new, is perhaps the pick of the bunch, along with an early sketch of the title track that lacks vocals. Disc three collects the 12-inch mixes (remember them?) and will doubtless hold value for nostalgists; this is definitely a record that lent itself to being chopped up and bent out of shape, so solid was its pop grounding.

If Tango in the Night really is the point at which Fleetwood Mac ‘stop’ in the minds of anybody beyond their committed followers — and let’s be honest, the man on the street would probably struggle to name an album of theirs after this one — then it genuinely is a fitting place for them to have brought the curtain down. The Eighties stylings are so pronounced as to be almost aggressive and you can understand why, on a superficial level, that still puts off the same kids that are just now getting into Rumours, but scratch beyond that and you still have the consummate Fleetwood Mac record; brilliant pop songs, plenty of high drama and a story surrounding it all of its own, of the hazy portal the album provided them to escape from their problems.

It’s a remarkable testament to the talent of the five of them that they produced a classic despite being so burnt out heading into it, like a washed-up old prizefighter coming back for one last bout and rolling back the years to upset the odds. For many other bands, Tango in the Night would’ve been their masterpiece. It has to settle for second place in this particular catalogue, but divorced as they are stylistically, Tango in the Night shares something in common with Rumours — it reinforced the bedrock of the Fleetwood Mac mythology. One last time, they took their broken hearts and made them into art.

Fleetwood Mac
Tango in the Night (expanded)
Label: Rhino Release Date: 31/03/2017

Joe Goggins’s rating: 9/10


Joe Goggins / Drowned in Sound (UK) / March 28, 2017

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

Timely reissue coasts from gloss to gloom

Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 classic Tango in the Night is a blend of solid-gold pop and super-slick production, interwoven with the sound of a band sliding into chaos.

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night 1987The mid-80s were not the kindest time for 60s and 70s rock legends. For every gimlet-eyed operator who successfully navigated an alien and unforgiving landscape of power ballads, crashing snare drums, Fairlight synthesisers and MTV moonmen – the Eagles’ Don Henley and Glenn Frey; Tina Turner – there were scores who seemed utterly lost. It was a world in which the natural order of things had been turned on its head to such a degree that the drummer from Genesis was now one of the biggest stars on the planet. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed … at best, they ended up making albums that diehard fans pick over for tiny morsels that suggest they’re not as bad as the reputations preceding them; at worst they made stuff they’d spend subsequent years loudly disowning, involving terrible clothes, inappropriate producers, awful cover versions and – in extreme cases – attempts to rap.

In theory at least, Fleetwood Mac should have been in more trouble than anyone. The band that reassembled after a four-year hiatus to record 1987’s Tango in the Night was in even greater disarray than usual. The celebrated complications in their personal lives that had fuelled 1977’s 40m-selling Rumours were still taking a psychological toll, as was the band’s celebrated capacity for excess. Singer Stevie Nicks emerged from rehab, free of cocaine but soon to become addicted to clonazepam, a tranquilliser so strong she claimed not to remember a subsequent four-month US and European tour. Nicks rarely turned up to the recording sessions at guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham’s home studio; when she did, Buckingham banished her and drummer Mick Fleetwood to a Winnebago on the driveway, horrified at the state they were in. Bassist John McVie’s drinking was out of control; he had an alcohol-induced seizure the year Tango in the Night was released. The era was brought to a suitably miserable close when Buckingham and Nicks had a physical altercation after the former announced his departure from the band.

Tango in the Night should have been a disaster; instead it sold 15m copies. But despite Buckingham’s belief that its synthesised slickness successfully “bulldozed” away the chaos behind its making, this 30th-anniversary edition, complete with two CDs of outtakes, B-sides and remixes, reveals Tango in the Night isn’t quite so straightforward. It is certainly polished to gleaming perfection – the only outtake that isn’t improved on is the version of closer “You and I,” four minutes longer and packed with gorgeous vocal harmonies and dreamy atmospherics, curiously excised from the album. And there’s some bulletproof pop songwriting here, a lot of it from the pen of Christine McVie, always the most poised of Fleetwood Mac’s trio of composers: “Little Lies,” the peerless “Everywhere” and “Isn’t It Midnight,” the latter a confection of booming drums, precise, tinkly synth and wailing guitar solos that sounds as if it’s just waiting to appear in the background of a film starring Ally Sheedy.

But there are also tracks that speak loudly about Tango in the Night’s background. Most obviously, Nicks’s performances, which are pretty frayed at the edges. She pulled herself together for “Seven Wonders,” a song as gold-plated as any of McVie’s – though, in fact, it was written by Sandy Stewart and her contribution to its composition extended to mishearing and thus mis-singing a line. The reality of Nicks’s situation is revealed in “Welcome to the Room … Sara,” a fractured retelling of her time in rehab (“This is a dream, right?”) and “When I See You Again,” an acoustic ballad – or as acoustic as anything got in Tango in the Night’s heavily buffed sound world – on which she sounds authentically zonked, a spectral presence at the centre of her own song.

Buckingham, meanwhile, couldn’t seem to stop an unsettled twitchiness seeping into even his most commercial songs: the staccato vocals of “Family Man”; the title track’s surges from quiet tension to florid solos; “Big Love’s” backing of grunts, moans and scampering guitar riffs. The latter found an unexpected audience in Ibiza as a Balearic anthem, but it’s hardly blissed out. Quite the opposite: it’s edgy and self-loathing (“I wake up alone with it all”); music with its eyes nervously darting about.

This deluxe reissue feels timely. Buckingham may publicly fret that Fleetwood Mac are “incredibly unhip”, but we now live in a world where their influence hangs heavy over pop, from the sound of Haim to hipster DJ collective Fleetmac Wood, who play nothing but Fleetwood Mac records. Rumours is hailed as a work of consummate songwriting power, rather than the kind of thing punk came to save us from, Tusk is viewed as an experimental tour de force rather than a confused sprawl, and even 1982’s soft-rock compromise Mirage is lauded by artists including Hot Chip. But somehow Tango in the Night has escaped critical re-evaluation: something of what you might call the unrevived 80s – the aspects of the decade too crushingly uncool to warrant nostalgia – still clings to it.

But if anything, Tango in the Night seems even more deserving of the “flawed masterpiece” tag than Tusk. The gloss can’t hide the turmoil, no matter how thickly it’s applied. As with Roxy Music’s Avalon, you’re struck by the sense of an album with something far darker and odder at its core than its reputation as a yuppie soundtrack suggests. In the 30 years since its release, the five people behind Tango in the Night have not managed to make another album together. That’s a pity – as the run of albums that began with 1975’s Fleetwood Mac and ended here demonstrates, the quintet were once an unstoppable musical force, even when forces conspired to stop them. But listening to Tango in the Night’s repeated lurches from breeziness to angst and sparkle to gloom, it doesn’t seem terribly surprising.

Alexis Petridis / The Guardian (UK) / Thursday 23 March 2017

Album Reviews Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night

Tango in the Night is the final album the band would record as an infamous quintet. It’s a pop and production masterpiece, yet remains this monolithic, lucrative idea of a Fleetwood Mac record.

Rating: 8.7/10

It started with “Sara.” The first two Fleetwood Mac albums to feature Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks—the self-titled album and Rumours—featured production typical of the pop-rock generated in Los Angeles in the ’70s. They were professional and pristine, exhibiting an instrumental and emotional warmth that was, in terms of the actual recording technique and the cerebral atmosphere of the people making the records, a product of isolation. On their next record, Tusk, Buckingham shifted the balance of Fleetwood Mac’s studio pop. He deliberately produced his songs so that they sounded trebly and makeshift—as if they were translated from brain to tape as quickly as possible—and produced Nicks’ and Christine McVie’s songs with a lush and carefully-sculpted dimensionality. “Sara,” a song Nicks wrote to a daughter she never had, is so gently shaped that every instrumental and vocal materializes in the song like vapor in the atmosphere. At the Blockbuster Music Awards in 2001, Nicks said that when she writes songs, she tries to “make little worlds” for the listener. Whether intentional or not, this sensibility invaded Buckingham’s production of the song; “Sara,” as it appears on Tusk, is its own world, a complete environment, a beach house built out of sighs.

The follow-up to Tusk, 1982’s Mirage, was a kind reflexive scaling back; both Warner Bros. and Buckingham wanted to regenerate the success and the coherent atmosphere of Rumours. It didn’t take. The band members had already drifted too far from each other: Nicks sang country-western and synth-pop songs; Buckingham quoted Pachelbel’s Canon; McVie’s formal romanticism began to take on a crystalline quality; the production flowed in the direction of their individual fascinations. After a brief tour, the band went on hiatus. Nicks released two successful solo albums; McVie and Buckingham put out one each. In 1985, Buckingham had begun work on an additional solo album, when Mick Fleetwood suggested Buckingham fold his new songs into the more monolithic, more lucrative idea of a Fleetwood Mac record.

The resulting album, Tango in the Night, is exactly that: a monolithic, lucrative idea of a Fleetwood Mac record. It was recorded over eighteen months between 1986 and 1987, mostly at Buckingham’s home studio in L.A. Buckingham devoted himself to the record, laboring intensely over its songs, its sounds, and the integrity of its design. Recording technology had advanced substantially since the early ’80s, and Buckingham found the methods by which he could determine the shape and temperature of a Fleetwood Mac song had expanded.

“Most of the vocal parts were recorded track by track,” he told the *New York Times *in 1987. “The voices used in the textured vocal choirs were mostly mine. I used a Fairlight machine that samples real sounds and blends them orchestrally.” Out of these newly available materials, he could practically build an entire band, which was useful at the time. Mick Fleetwood was almost entirely consumed by his cocaine habit, and the band had been experiencing an internal drift for years. “Constructing such elaborate layering is a lot like painting a canvas and is best done in solitude,” Buckingham added.

The album’s artwork, “Homage a Henri Rousseau” by Brett-Livingstone Strong, is so lush and romantic that it walks a fine line between formal elegance and kitsch, blending the terrestrial with the celestial. It’s an accurate illustration of Tango in the Night’s sound design, of the glitterings and humid shimmers that Buckingham placed in the songs. He made each track on Tango just as he produced “Sara”: less an arrangement of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals than a complete world, a living panorama. There’s a phenomenal wholeness to the recordings on Tango that seems like a superficial compensation for how deeply fragmented the band was at the time.

After Nicks resurfaced from her cocaine addiction at the Betty Ford Clinic, she visited Buckingham’s studio for a few weeks. Three of her recordings figure into the finished Tango, only two of which were written by her. Her voice, invariably hoarse after years of cocaine abuse, often warps or fails the already incomplete material. She howls her way through “Seven Wonders,” a song written mostly by Sandy Stewart. (Nicks receives credit because she misheard “All the way down you held the line” as “All the way down to Emmiline”; for Nicks—and I don’t disagree—sometimes accident and authorship are indistinguishable.) For all of its bluster, the song is not only enhanced by the incidents of its arrangement but is the incidents of its arrangement; try to imagine the song without its synth hook and hear the rest of it evaporate. On “When I See You Again,” Nicks’ voice almost crumbles and shatters into atoms. “Stevie was the worst she’s ever been,” Buckingham told Uncut in 2013. “I didn’t recognize her…I had to pull performances out of words and lines and make parts that sounded like her that weren’t her.” Fittingly, each verse and chorus that Nicks sings sounds generated by a different uncanny assemblage of Stevie, among them one who sings in a kind of mutilated whisper. After the bridge, Nicks completely disappears. Buckingham finishes the song.

Buckingham’s songs on Tango are less knotted than they were on Tusk and Mirage, newly permissive of space. The first single, Buckingham’s “Big Love,” is a song that inadvertently simulates the essential failure of the album. It is devoted to a totally abstracted and imaginary form of love, while Tango in the Night is devoted to a totally abstracted and imaginary form of Fleetwood Mac (neither of which could be assembled in reality). The song’s arrangement feels austere and detached, a byproduct of the narrator’s alienation, but it’s also decorated with overlapping, pointillist guitar phrases. Even the empty spaces on Tango feel like deliberately-wrought emptinesses—for instance, the airy synths that hover over the verses of McVie’s “Everywhere,” or Buckingham’s title track, which through its sense of space imparts the feeling of rowing through fog and mystery.

Still, it’s McVie whose work is most realized by Buckingham’s impressionism. Her “Everywhere” is the best song on the record. Like “Big Love” it too is about encountering an idea too big to contain within oneself (love, again). But where “Big Love” apprehends it with icy suspicion, “Everywhere” responds with warmth, empathy, and buoyancy, describing a kind of devotion so deeply felt that it produces weightlessness in a person. Its incandescent texture is felt in almost any music that could be reasonably described as balearic. Elsewhere, “Isn’t It Midnight,” McVie’s co-write with Buckingham and her then-husband Eddy Quintela, seems an inversion of the values of “Everywhere,” a severe ’80s guitar rock song that gets consumed by a greater, more unnerving force by its chorus, as if it’s succumbing to a conspiratorial dread. “Do you remember the face of a pretty girl?” McVie sings, and Buckingham echoes her in an unfeeling monotone (“the face of a pretty girl”) while behind him synths chime in a moving constellation, UFOs pulsing in the dark.

This is the essence of Tango in the Night: something falling apart but held together by an unearthly glow. More of a mirage than Mirage, it is an immaculate study in denial (its most enduring hit revolves around McVie asking someone to tell her “sweet little lies”). It’s a form of dreaming where you could touch the petals of a flower and feel something softer than the idea of softness. In this way, Tango seems to emerge less from Buckingham’s pure will and imagination than from a question that haunts art in general: How can one make the unreal real, and the real unreal?

The remaster of Tango in the Night isn’t as topographically startling as last year’s Mirage, where new details seemed to rise out of the mix as if in a relief sculpture; it sounded good on CD in 1987. The reissue does sound warmer and brighter, and the instruments feel less digitally combined, which lifts background elements to the surface, like the seasick drift of the bass notes in “Caroline” and the coordinated staccato harmonies in the title track. The reissue also includes two discs of b-sides, demos, and extended remixes, several of which were previously unreleased. “Special Kind of Love” is described as a demo but sounds like a completely developed Buckingham song, gentle and simple, with every edge expressively filigreed; it could’ve been a potential second sequel to “You and I.” “Seven Wonders” appears in an earlier, more relaxed arrangement, with Lindsey’s guitar warmly swanning between the notes that would eventually be reconstructed in perfect digital isolation by a synthesizer.

The demos also reveal the ways in which the songs could fold into and out of each other. On the “Tango in the Night” demo you can hear Buckingham, at the edge of every chorus, begin to invent the trembling choral part that opens “Caroline.” Nicks’ eventual solo track “Juliet” is present in two of its primordial forms—as the instrumental “Book of Miracles” (credited to both Buckingham and Nicks) and as a five-minute “run-through.” The run-through is especially curious, reducing “Book of Miracles” to a formulaic blues-rock over which Nicks’ voice produces a just-barely musical static, full of wobbles and distortions and exclamations. After the take she says, ecstatically, “I thought that was wonderful! I didn’t play! I did not play because I am so smart!”

Nicks exhibits a strange, dissonant giddiness in this moment that isn’t present in any of the band member’s memories of the recording process. At the time, in his interview with the Times, Buckingham imaginatively described Tango in the Night as a restorative process. “This album is as much about healing our relationships as Rumours was about dissension and pain within the group,” he said. “The songs look back over a period of time that in retrospect seems almost dreamlike.” Twenty-six years later, Buckingham summarized the experience to Uncut in more severe terms: “When I was done with the record, I said, ‘Oh my God. That was the worst recording experience of my life.’”

The jealousy and resentment he felt toward Nicks for the success she experienced in her solo career, and the prevailing feeling that his architectural work on the band’s records went unnoticed and unappreciated, had built to a flashpoint. Later in 1987, the band met up in anticipation of the promotional tour for Tango, for which they had already secured dates and signed contracts. At the meeting, Buckingham announced he was quitting the band. “I flew off of the couch and across the room to seriously attack him,” Nicks told Classic Rock in 2013. “…I’m not real scary but I grabbed him which almost got me killed.” They spilled out of McVie’s house and into the street. Buckingham ran after Nicks and threw her up against a car. She “screamed horrible obscenities” at him, and he walked away, from the moment and the band. What’s left, after these harsh fragments of reality are swept away, is Tango in the Night: a remarkably complete album, a lavish garden growing out of negative space. Just a dream.

Brad Nelson / Pitchfork / March 11, 2017

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

Tango in the Night reissue arrives March 31

Stevie Nicks: Recording ‘Tango’ in my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom was ‘extremely strange’

Update: Rhino has pushed back the release date of the Tango in the Night Deluxe reissue to March 31.

On March 31, Fleetwood Mac releases a 30th anniversary expanded edition of one of its most popular and influential albums, Tango in the Night. The lavishly packaged reissue offers a remastered version of the original album, a disc of B-sides and outtakes, plus another disc of 12-inch dance mixes of its hit singles like “Big Love” and “Little Lies” and a vinyl LP.

The 30th anniversary edition of Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 album, Tango in the Night, hits retail on March 31. The album includes four Top 40 singles, “Big Love,” “Seven Wonders,” “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” and remains the last studio album to feature the original Rumours lineup.

For Stevie Nicks, the group’s star attraction, recording her parts for the 1987 album proved difficult. After the completion of a ragged tour for her third solo album, 1985’s Rock a Little, she went into rehab at the Betty Ford Center for a cocaine addiction. After her release, she was misguidedly placed on a Klonopin regimen. Few in her inner circle thought rehab would stick unless she was dosed on anxiety medication. They were wrong.

Her first test: joining her Fleetwood Mac band mates for the 1986 tracking sessions for Tango in the Night. The band hadn’t recorded since the release of Mirage in 1982.

Nicks’ ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, the group’s guitarist, was co-producing the band’s efforts, again, but this time the tension was poisonous, even by Fleetwood Mac’s standards.

I’d leave and Lindsey would take all my vocals off, and I’m not blaming him for that because I’m sure they totally sucked.”

“When I started recording for Tango, they were recording at Lindsey’s house up on Mulholland somewhere. He lived there with his girlfriend Cheri and this record was being recorded at his house and I didn’t find that to be a great situation for me. Especially coming out of rehab,” Nicks said in an interview last year. “And then I was on Klonopin and not quite understanding why I was feeling so weird and this doctor kept saying, ‘This is what you need.’ It’s the typical scenario of a groupie doctor. Discuss rock and roll with you, so in order to do that he would keep upping your dose so you’d come in once a week.”

Nicks sets the scenario: “I can remember going up there and not being happy to even be there and we were doing vocals in their master bedroom and that was extremely strange. In all fairness, it was like the only empty room and they had a beautiful master bedroom all set up like a vocal booth but I found it very uncomfortable, personally. I guess I didn’t go very often and when I did go I would get like, ‘Give me a shot of brandy and let me sing on four or five songs off the top of my head.’”

At her urging, Nicks said, Buckingham would cue up one of his songs or Christine McVie’s. Stevie would blend in like she always had. Except it wasn’t like she always had.

“I’d leave and he’d take all my vocals off,” Nicks said. “And I’m not blaming him for that because I’m sure they totally sucked. Vocals done when you’re crazy and drinking a cup of brandy probably aren’t usually going to be great and Lindsey is very precise when recording. … I wasn’t into it.”

For all of its problems in creation, Tango in the Night was a hit with consumers worldwide. In the U.S. the album spent 44 weeks in the Billboard Top 40 and spawned five chart singles, the biggest being McVie’s infectious “Little Lies.” The album was ultimately a hit with Nicks, as well. She feels the songs Buckingham contributed to the album — “Big Love,” “Caroline,” the title track, “Family Man” and his cowrite with McVie, “Isn’t it Midnight” — represent his best set of songs on any Fleetwood Mac album.

Tango has grown in stature since its release. The band has oft-been cited as an inspiration by alternative pop, rock and country acts like the Dixie Chicks, Little Big Town, Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Hole, Haim, Sheryl Crow, Mumford and Sons, Ladies of the Canyon, Best Coast and Camper Van Beethoven.

Tango in the Night songs have been covered by a growing number of next generation and vintage acts. Vampire Weekend and Moustache each recorded McVie’s “Everywhere,” as did R&B star Chaka Khan. Singer-actress Hillary Duff, Ari Hest and Anna Ternheim all cut “Little Lies.” One Direction might as well be covering a Tango or Mirage track, given how close the British boy band channeled ’80s Fleetwood Mac on the 2016 cut, “What a Feeling.” Ditto Little Big Town on “Night On Our Side,” a track from the country group’s new album, The Breaker.

Since McVie’s return to the band in 2014, the Tango in the Night material has once again taken its place in the band’s concert setlist with her “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” among the highlights. Nicks’ “Seven Wonders” even returned on the 2014-15 On With the Show Tour’s first leg for the first time in 27 years, thanks to its featured spot during her acting debut on FX’s American Horror Story: Coven in 2014.

The Tango reissue’s remastering reinvigorates the music in a way the original 1987 CD release never could. There’s a new sense of muscle to the Mick Fleetwood-John McVie rhythm section on the title track. There’s air in the mix, allowing for the intricate harmonies and instrumentation — both organic and synthesized — to reveal its subtle layers. Disc three of the deluxe package offers 14 tracks of 12-inch remixes by that decade’s prominent DJs and remixers Arthur Baker and Jellybean. Fleetwood Mac, like seemingly everyone else in the Me Decade, found its footing in the dance clubs.

Some of the unearthed B-sides and outtakes, like McVie’s exotic and percussive “Ricky” and Buckingham’s hook-filled “Down Endless Street” and reflective “Special Kind of Love” are superior to a handful of songs that made the original 12-track running order.

Tango remains the last studio album to feature Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours lineup. Alas, Nicks’ discomfort in the studio shows in her performances. Her best song here, “Seven Wonders,” was actually written by Texan composer Sandy Stewart. Nicks contributed one line. “I was so used to saying ‘All the way down to Emmiline’ so we used that. I asked Sandy, a really good friend of mine, and she said fine. It totally created a character. It was a song I loved. … And on that show [AHS] I got to make a full-on music video,” said Nicks.

“Welcome to the Room…Sara” is Nicks’ oddest song, with vocals that veer off-key, but as the reissue reveals, it’s among her most personal.

With lyrics cribbed from Nicks’ Bella Donna outtake, “Blue Lamp,” the song is redeemed musically mostly by Fleetwood’s inventive, island-flavored drum pattern. The music, Nicks said, was inspired by the 1986 David + David hit, “Welcome to the Boomtown.”

‘“Welcome to the Room … Sara’ was written about Betty Ford [Center.] I went in there as Sara Anderson – the one and only time I was married, to my friend Robin’s husband Kim Anderson,” said Nicks. “I was inspired by the fact when you go into Betty Ford it is like, ‘Welcome to the room whoever you are,’ because it is one big room and you spend 30 days in there. Quite an experience you go through from day one to day 30. … It is a little more weird when you are famous. People are a little harder on you. I will never do cocaine again. That was my mantra. I will never be ‘Welcome to the Room Again Sara’ here.”

Ironically, the Nicks songs that didn’t make the album’s final cut, the ones that wind up on the second disc of Tango B-sides and outtakes, are her most vital of the period. A driving Tom Petty-like rock version of “Ooh My Love,” later re-recorded in a more ethereal fashion for Nicks’ 1989 solo album, The Other Side of the Mirror, is a find. We almost had her bewitching, yet still raw, “Joan of Arc” demo, a song Nicks wrote inspired by primatologist Jane Goodall, but she pulled it off the disc last year. “I still want to record it,” she explained. “The song has its really good moments but it’s not good enough to go out as that version.”

Said Tango special edition producer Bill Inglot of the outtakes collection: “When I put that stuff together I wanted to create a disc that would be playable. If you can get away with it you try to create a record. I don’t want to put out bonus material or outtakes if people play it once. That’s not the goal to create something.”

Howard Cohn / Miami Herald / Friday, March 10, 2017

[jwplayer mediaid=”378676″]

Tango in the Night (1987)

Hear early version of ‘Seven Wonders’

Rhino Records has shared an early version of “Seven Wonders” from the forthcoming Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night reissue, due out March 31. The early version uses the same Stevie Nicks vocal as the completed track, but there are some unreleased parts at the end of the song. Other differences include some different guitar arrangements throughout the song.


Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

UPDATE: Tango in the Night reissue bumped to March 31

UPDATE, 2/15: Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night reissue is now scheduled to be released on Friday, March 31. No details were given for the delay.

Previously reported release dates:

  • March 10
  • February 24

[jwplayer mediaid=”378676″]

Rhino Records will be reissuing Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 album Tango in the Night. The deluxe edition will include the remastered original album; one disc of b-sides, demos, and outtakes; one disc of the 12″ single remixes; one DVD of the album’s music videos; and the full album on 180-gram vinyl LP.

Tango in the Night reached No. 7 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, spawned the Top 40 singles “Big Love” (#5), “Seven Wonders” (#19), “Little Lies” (#4), and “Everywhere” (#14). In the UK, “Isn’t It Midnight” (#60) was also issued.

The release marks the 30th anniversary of the last full-length studio album featuring the classic 1975 lineup of the band.

Sample the demo for “Tango in the Night” below.

The following editions of the remastered album will be released:

Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night 1987, reissue
(Rhino Records)
Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night 1987, reissue
(Rhino Records)

Here is the track list of the Deluxe edition:

Disc 1: Original Album Remastered

  1. Big Love (Remastered)
  2. Seven Wonders (Remastered)
  3. Everywhere (Remastered)
  4. Caroline (Remastered)
  5. Tango in the Night (Remastered)
  6. Mystified (Remastered)
  7. Little Lies (Remastered)
  8. Family Man (Remastered)
  9. Welcome To The Room… Sara (Remastered)
  10. Isn’t It Midnight (Remastered)
  11. When I See You Again (Remastered)
  12. You And I, Pt. II (Remastered)

Disc 2: Demos, Alternates & B-Sides

  1. Down Endless Street (B-Side)
  2. Special Kind of Love (Demo)
  3. Seven Wonders (Early Version)
  4. Tango in the Night (Demo)
  5. Mystified (Alternate Version)
  6. Book of Miracles (Instrumental) (B-Side)
  7. Where We Belong (Demo)
  8. Ricky (B-Side)
  9. Juliet (Run-Through)
  10. Isn’t It Midnight (Alternate Mix)
  11. Ooh My Love (Demo)
  12. Mystified (Instrumental Demo)
  13. You and I, Part I & II (Full Version)

Disc 3: The 12″ Remixes

  1. Big Love (Extended Remix)
  2. Big Love (House On The Hill Dub)
  3. Big Love (Piano Dub)
  4. Big Love (Remix/Edit)
  5. Seven Wonders (Extended Version)
  6. Seven Wonders (Dub)
  7. Little Lies (Extended Version)
  8. Little Lies (Dub)
  9. Family Man (Extended Vocal Remix)
  10. Family Man (I’m a Jazz Man Dub)
  11. Family Man (Extended Guitar Version)
  12. Family Man (Bonus Beats)
  13. Everywhere (12″ Version)
  14. Everywhere (Dub)

Disc 4 (DVD): The Videos 

  1. Big Love
  2. Seven Wonders
  3. Little Lies
  4. Family Man
  5. Everywhere

180-gm Vinyl LP

Side A

  1. Big Love (Remastered)
  2. Seven Wonders (Remastered)
  3. Everywhere (Remastered)
  4. Caroline (Remastered)
  5. Tango In The Night (Remastered)
  6. Mystified (Remastered)

Side B

  1. Little Lies (Remastered)
  2. Family Man (Remastered)
  3. Welcome To The Room…Sara (Remastered)
  4. Isn’t It Midnight (Remastered)
  5. When I See You Again (Remastered)
  6. You And I, Part II (Remastered)

Tango in the Night (demo)

Seven Wonders

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Looking out for big, big reissue!

A preview of Rhino Records’ latest reissue project, Fleetwood Mac’s glossy 1987 album Tango in the Night

Later this year, Rhino Records will be reissuing Fleetwood Mac’s 14th studio album Tango in the Night, the latest release in a series of deluxe packages focused on the band’s back catalog (Rumours, Tusk, Mirage). Although details of the reissue are still forthcoming, it is expected to contain the remastered original album; bonus discs of session material and outtakes; new liner notes; and rare period photographs.

On December 8, 2016, Rolling Stone contributing writer David Wild confirmed in a Twitter post that he had written the new liner notes for the reissue project. It remains to be seen which route Wild took in reflecting on the tumultuous Tango in the Night sessions, which were first laid bare in drummer Mick Fleetwood’s revealing 1990 autobiography Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac. Those circumstances ultimately led to the departure of key member Lindsey Buckingham and the addition of his replacements, guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, to support the album’s ensuing world tour. As a band practically defined by its personal dramas, it would almost seem careless to omit or downplay such a critical juncture in the band’s history.

Packed with the radio-friendly singles “Big Love,” “Seven Wonders, “Little Lies,” and “Everywhere,” Tango in the Night attracted a whole new generation of fans and contributed to the Fleetwood Mac’s legacy as one of the most enduring and resilient recording acts in rock history. At the time, MTV networks saturated music-video play with the album’s singles (a grand total of six was released!), which propelled the album to become an international smash. To date, the album has sold more than five million copies in North America and two million overseas.

In 2014, Mike Duquette, founder of the catalog music blog The Second Disc, featured Tango in the Night as a proposed reissue in his column Reissue Theory. In anticipation of the Tango in the Night reissue, we look back on his thoughtful post (including a hypothetical track list) and celebrate the album that marked the return of Fleetwood Mac to the forefront of the vibrant 1987 pop music scene.

Excerpt from ‘Reissue Theory: Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night’

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on great albums and the reissues they could someday see. As we welcome one of our favorite ladies in rock back to her famous band, we remember their last album altogether and the pop success it enjoyed.

One of the best pieces of classic rock news to come out of this nascent year is easily the announcement of singer/keyboardist Christine McVie returning to Fleetwood Mac. McVie retired from the band (and touring in general) after the band’s incredibly successful The Dance tour in the late 1990s, leaving singer Stevie Nicks, singer/guitarist Lindsay Buckingham, bassist (and ex-husband) John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood to continue as a quartet, but made two surprise appearances with the band in England last year, later expressing her desire to rejoin the band.

While no official plans have been firmed up (beyond the possibility of a full tour), it certainly provokes one to think of the phenomenal albums the quintet have created – in particular, their final set as a quintet, 1987’s Tango in the Night

—Read the full post here and be sure to scroll down to the comments section for fan discussion and commentary.

Tango in the Night (1987) Tango in the Night - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2017)

Tango in the Night to be reissued in deluxe format

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 album Tango in the Night will soon be getting the deluxe treatment, according to a new report. No date has been issued yet, but this latest reissue follows in the steps of Rumours, Tusk, and Mirage, which have all been reissued with remastered sound, bonus tracks, new liner notes, and period photographs.

Update, 12/8/16

Rolling Stone contributing writer David Wild has finished writing “a new set of liner notes,” presumably the one for the forthcoming Tango in the Night reissue.

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Tango in the Night (1987)

TODAY IN STEVIE HISTORY: Fleetwood Mac films Tango in the Night live video

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night, 1987Following guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s acrimonious split from the band in 1987, Fleetwood Mac forged on with a scheduled world tour, billed as the “Shake the Cage Tour,” and promoted its 14th album Tango in the Night, which Buckingham had meticulously produced. New members Billy Burnette and Rick Vito had the formidable task of filling Lindsey’s critical role on guitar, which they handled with skill and professionalism, as they performed Buckingham’s signature set closer “Go Your Own Way,” as well as a number of founding Fleetwood Mac member Peter Green classics (“Oh Well,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” and “I Loved Another Woman”).


Filmed over two nights at Daly City’s Cow Palace (located at the southwest border of San Francisco), the band performed most of the hit songs from Tango in the Night, which included “Seven Wonders,” “Little Lies, “Everywhere,” and the international single “Isn’t It Midnight.” The set also included several songs from Rumours, such as “Dreams,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Gold Dust Woman.” Despite Buckingham’s absence, the tour was a commercial success and helped fuel sales of the album in upwards of 12 million copies worldwide.

With a slick, late 1980s production, complete with over-the-top close-up shots, particularly of Stevie Nicks, the video clearly marked its time in history, big hair and all.

Fleetwood Mac, New Lineup, 1987

2013 Rumours Tour Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Eye of the Hurricane

Heroic drug abuse, physical violence, epic strops… Forget Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s craziest album was Tango in the Night.

In December 2012, three members of Fleetwood Mac cried together. in public, at the memory of something that had happened all of 25 years previously. Singer Stevie Nicks, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and drummer Mick Fleetwood were doing a round of media interviews to announce the band’s 2013 tour when they were asked about the events of 1987, when Buckingham quit the band following the release of the album Tango in the Night. Buckingham did not respond directly to the interviewer. Instead he turned to Nicks and Fleetwood and reiterated his reasons for leaving the group at a critical stage of their career: foremost among them, his sense that Nicks and Fleetwood had lost their minds and souls to drugs.

“What Lindsey said in that interview was very moving, ” Fleetwood says. “He told us: ‘I just couldn’t stand to see you doing what you were doing to yourselves. Did you ever realise that? You were so out of control that it made me incredibly sad, and I couldn’t take it any more.’ It was really powerful stuff. This was someone saying: ‘I love you.’ It hit Stevie and me like a ton of bricks. And we all cried, right there in the interview.”

It was a moment that Mick Fleetwood describes as “profound.” But even after all these years, his memories of that time in 1987 are still raw. For when Lindsey Buckingham walked out on Fleetwood Mac, he did not go quietly. When Buckingham told the band he was leaving, it led to a blazing argument that rapidly escalated into a physical altercation between him and former lover Nicks, in which she claimed she feared for her life.

“It is,” Fleetwood says, “a pretty wild story. It was a dangerous period, and not a happy time.”

And yet, for all the drama that came with it, Tango in the Night was a hugely important album for Fleetwood Mac. It became the second biggest-selling album of their career, after 1977′s 45-million-selling Rumours. Just as Rumours had done in the ’70s, so Tango in the Night defined soft rock in the ’80s. Perhaps most significant of all, it marked the third coming of the Mac, following the successes of the Peter Green-led blues rock Mac of the late 60s and the Buckingham/Nicks-fronted AOR Mac of the 70s. And for Mick Fleetwood, it represented a personal triumph. While he freely admits that his own drug-fuelled insanity was instrumental in Lindsey Buckingham’s exit, it was Fleetwood who kept the band together once Buckingham had gone. And this was key to the success of Tango in the Night.

“My motto” Fleetwood says, “was ‘the show must go on’. It was almost an obsessive-compulsive desire to not give up. And it worked.”

There is an irony about Tango in the Night that it began not as a Fleetwood Mac album but as a solo project by the man who would leave the band once it was completed. In 1985, Lindsey Buckingham was writing and recording songs for what was planned as his third solo album. Fleetwood Mac had been on indefinite hiatus since 1982, following a world [North America] tour in support of their album Mirage. In that time there had been solo albums from the three singers: Nicks’ The Wild Heart sold a million copies; Christine McVie’s eponymous album yielded a US Top 10 hit with Got A Hold On Me; but, to Buckingham’s chagrin, his album Go Insane didn’t make the Top 40.

There had also been problems for them over these years. Nicks had been treated for drug addiction. More surprisingly, Mick Fleetwood had been declared bankrupt following a string of disastrous property investments. It was rumoured that Fleetwood Mac had split up. “At that time,” Buckingham later admitted, “the group was a bit fragmented.” By the end of ’85, Buckingham — working alone at his home studio in Los Angeles had three songs finished: Big Love, Family Man and Caroline. But while he was busy making music, Mick Fleetwood was busy making plans to get the band back on track. The wheels had been set in motion when Christine McVie recorded a version of the Elvis Presley hit Can’t Help Falling In Love for the film A Fine Mess— backed by Mick Fleetwood and the band’s other remaining founding member, her ex-husband John McVie. She invited Buckingham to produce, alongside engineer Richard Dashut. “It was the first time for nearly five years that we’d all been in a working environment together,” Christine said. “We had such a good time in the studio and realised that we still had something to give each other in musical terms after all.”

Mick Fleetwood was more forthright. “The reality,” he says, “is that Fleetwood Mac were intending to make an album. And Lindsey was in many ways pressured into it. ‘Hey, we’re making an album — let’s go!” Buckingham relented, partly out of a sense of duty, had a choice,” he said, “of either continuing on to make the solo record, or to sort of surrender to the situation and try and make it more of a family thing. I chose the latter.” That Fleetwood didn’t know is that Buckingham’s agreement was conditional. “I had the idea,” Buckingham said, “that that was going to be the last work with the group.”

For all that, Buckingham threw himself into the album. He either wrote or co-wrote seven of the twelve tracks on the album. He also acted as co-producer with Richard Dashut. And it was at his home studio that most of the recording was done. What was unusual about the recording of Tango in the Night was the absence of Stevie Nicks for much of the process. Nicks contributed three songs to the album, but was in the studio for only two to three weeks. “She was not hugely present,” Fleetwood says. ”I don’t remember why. And I don’t think we would remember — Stevie and me were nuts!”

Fleetwood says that he and Nicks were doing more cocaine during the making of Tango than when they were recording Rumours — an album on which they seriously considered thanking their drug dealer in the credits. “Actually” he admits, “it was way worse on Tango in the Night. For sure.”

1987-little-lies-video-screen-cap“Certainly , I smoked a lot of pot. But I was never a big user of coke,” Buckingham notes. And by the mid-80s, he’d had enough. ” The subculture was pretty much at the point of burning itself out,” he recalled. “The ‘anything goes’ attitude that existed in the 60s had become something entirely different. But still, everyone thought you had to do certain things to play, and I don’t know that I ever thought about it that way.”

While Tango was being recorded at his home, he found a way of keeping the two cokeheads — plus assorted hangers-on — at a safe distance. “Lindsey had a Winnebago put in his driveway,” Fleetwood says. “And that’s where Stevie and I would go with our wrecking crew. With me, the party never stopped. I was like Keith Moon. And for Lindsey having that around his own house was a fucking nightmare. So he gave us our own house outside in the garden. It wasn’t until years later that I asked him: ‘What was all that about?’ And he said ‘I couldn’t stand having you punks in the house. You’d turn up at the studio with people that you’d met from the night before, and you’d start gooning around. You were too fucking crazy.’ Lindsey was never a drama queen, enjoying the ’80s drug culture like Stevie and me. It wasn’t his scene. He wasn’t comfortable being around that much craziness. And we were blissfully unaware — completely oblivious to things that needed to be addressed.” The drug taking was only one part of the problem. There were other things eating away at Buckingham.

For all the money and fame that Fleetwood Mac’s success had brought him, Buckingham felt compromised on an artistic level — pressured by what Mick Fleetwood calls a “this monolithic thing known as Fleetwood Mac.” There is, Fleetwood says, a “tortured side” to Lindsey Buckingham.

Lindsey Buckingham didn’t enjoy the ’80s drug culture, according to Mick Fleetwood. He wasn’t comfortable being around that much craziness.

“Staying honest and staying creatively alive is very tricky in a commercial business,” Buckingham said. “You’re trying to hold on to a certain idealism, and not succumb to becoming a parody of oneself. Are you trying to flex your muscles creatively, or are you trying to sell records? In my mind it was pretty much clear-cut. There wasn’t a lot of middle ground.” Buckingham felt he had won this battle with Tusk. The easy option for Fleetwood Mac would have been to make another Rumours. Instead, Buckingham spiked the Tusk album with weird, left-field songs such as the new wave influenced Not That Funny and the bizarre title track. “A precedent was set by Tusk,” Fleetwood explains. “Lindsey could say: ‘I want to do this within the framework of Fleetwood Mac,’ without pissing everyone off.” Buckingham loved the dichotomy in Tusk: the contrast between his songs and Stevie’s and Christine’ s . “You got that sweetness and me as the complete nutcase,” he said. ”That ‘s what makes us Fleetwood Mac.” But he felt that the band’s next album. Mirage, was too lightweight, lacking the experimental edge of Tusk. And that nagging feeling returned to him as Tango in the Night was being completed.

Buckingham had written many oldie songs for the album. In addition, the songs he had recorded solo remained mostly untouched. “Those songs,” Fleetwood says, “were already very sculpted. All we did was rip some drum machines off and put drums on.” One trick of Buckingham’s, in Big Love, was especially brilliant. For the song’s climax, he used variable speed oscillators on his voice to create the effect of a male and female in a state of sexual excitement — the “love grunts,” as he called them. “It was odd that so many people wondered if it was Stevie on there with me,” he said, a little disingenuously.

Although there were other great songs on the album—slick pop rock tunes in the classic Fleetwood Mac style, such as Christine’s Little Lies and Everywere, and Stevie’s Seven Wonders — Fleetwood calls Tango in the Night “Lindsey’s album.” But for Buckingham himself, there was a sense that in the transition from solo album to band album, something had been lost. A perfectionist, intensely analytical, he felt that Tango in the Night was too predictable, too safe.

“For political reasons, I was pretty much treading water,” Buckingham admitted. “We sort of lost the moment, going back to try to find that Rumours territory. I couldn’t do that as a producer and as a player. I was demoralised. Maybe I wasn’t even motivated to go back. I did the best I could.” Fleetwood also believes that Buckingham felt undervalued in his roles of producer and arranger of others’ songs. “He was going, ‘Shit, does anyone ever realise what I do?’ Insecurities, we all have them, and that was part of Lindsey’s personality. I have insecurity even about walking on stage and thinking I can’t play drums. I don’t blame Lindsey for thinking: ‘It would be nice if someone thanked me for all the fucking work I’ve done!”

But the biggest problem for Lindsey Buckingham was, of course, Stevie Nicks . “I’ve known Stevie since I was 16 years old,” he said. “I was completely devastated when she took off. And yet I had to make hits for her, I had to do a lot of things for her that I really didn’t want to do. And yet I did them. So on one level I was a complete professional in rising above that, but there was a lot of pent-up frustration and anger towards Stevie in me for many years.” That frustration had first become evident on Rumours. Nicks wrote about Buckingham in the song Dreams, in which she sang the line: ‘Players only love you when they’re playing.’ Buckingham responded with Co Your Own Way, in which he claimed uncharitably, ‘Shacking up’s all you want to do.’ And over the years, things had only got worse.

“He got very angry with me,” Nicks said. “He tossed a Les Paul across the stage at me once and I ducked and it missed me. A lot of things happened because he was so angry at me.”

During one Fleetwood Mac show, Buckingham kicked out at Nicks. “it was just a little something coming through the veneer,” he said later. “There has been a lot of darkness. There was a time when I felt completely unappreciated by her.” Buckingham’s frame of mind was not helped by the not inconsiderable success that Nicks enjoyed in her solo career. In 1981, her solo debut, Bella Donna, went to No.1 in US. Other hit albums and singles followed. Buckingham’s solo records sold next to nothing. “Jealousy is the wrong word,” Fleetwood says. “But it was hard for Lindsey. The reality is, she’s Stevie Nicks! And Lindsey I think felt left out. That was his cross to bear.”

“We didn’t realise how unhappy Lindsey was,” Mick Fleetwood says.

Despite the hostility. Nicks tried to retain sympathy for Buckingham.” Lindsey and I were really breaking up when we joined Fleetwood Mac. We’d lived together for five years. It’s one thing when you break up for that person to go their way and you to go your way, quite another to break up and have to sit together in the breakfast room of the hotel the next morning. Not easy.”

But neither Nicks nor Fleetwood saw what was coming. “We just didn’t realise quite how unhappy Lindsey was,” Fleetwood says. “He had to get out. And of course he did.

Tango in the Night was released on April 13, 1987. The first single from the album, Big Love, was already a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and a tour was scheduled to begin in Kansas City on September 30. But when the band gathered at Christine McVie’s L.A home to discuss plans for the tour, Buckingham told them he was out. And at that moment, it turned nasty.

It was Nicks who landed the first blow. “I flew off of the couch and across the room to seriously attack him,” she recalled. “And I did. I’m not real  scary but I grabbed him which almost got me killed.” Nicks ran out of the room with Buckingham in pursuit. “He ended up chasing me all the way out of Christine’s maze-like house,” she said. ‘Then down the street and back up the street. And then he threw me against a car and I screamed horrible obscenities at him. I thought he was going to kill me, and I think he thought he was probably going to kill me too. And I said: ‘If the rest of the people in the band don’t get you, my family will – my dad and my brother will kill you.”

Buckingham walked away. “We were all in shock,” Fleetwood says. “It was very upsetting for all of us, Stevie most of all.”

But in this crisis, Fleetwood acted quickly. “Most people would go: ‘You’ve just made an album and one of your lead components is not there? You’d better retreat rapidly, lick your wounds and reassess what the hell you’re gonna do.’ Well, that was not what my mind told me to do. I went: ‘We’re not stopping.’ And literally within a week, I convinced everyone that we should not stop and have this be a catastrophic non-event and have no promotion for the album.” Fleetwood was able to remain calm and pragmatic because he, and also John McVie, had been in this situation before – firstly, and most traumatically, when Peter Green, the original Fleetwood Mac’s guitarist, quit the band and the music business in 1970 after one too many bad acid trips. “When we lost our mentor, Peter Green, we felt completely adrift,” Fleetwood recalls. “We went: ’What the fuck are we going to do now?’ Seriously, I thought we’d never get over losing Peter. But we got through it. And then it became: there’s no such phrase as ‘the band’s going to break up’. And that became habit-forming. So when Lindsey left, we already had a blueprint.”

Guitarists Billy Burnette (left) and Rick Vito (Corbis)

For the tour, Fleetwood brought in not one but two guitarists to replace Buckingham, a measure of Buckingham’s high calibre. Billy Burnette, the son of rockabilly singer Dorsey Burnette, was a country artist of minor repute. Rick Vito had worked with John Mayall, Jackson Browne and even David Soul. Fleetwood knew he was taking a risk. “On paper,” he says, “it was sort of insane. But it worked.”

It had to. “We still did that tour,” Nicks said, “because we we’d signed the contracts. We couldn’t call in and say: ‘Oh, we can’t do the tour.’ We had to do it. Or Fleetwood Mac would have been sued forever.”

The tour was a huge success. It wasn’t the same without Buckingham. Fleetwood accepts that. But the numbers including eight sold-out shows at London’s Wembley Arena – spoke for themselves. And with the new-look Fleetwood Mac out on the road, sales of Tango in the Night went above and beyond Fleetwood’s expectations. In the UK the album went to Number One on three separate occasions, and three singles went Top 10: Big Love, Little Lies and Everywhere. In the US those three tracks reached the Top 20, along with Seven Wonders , and the album sold three million copies in a year.

“The album was well received,” Fleetwood says. “Somewhat sadly, the kudos of that was never really fully attributed to Lindsey because he wasn’t present. But on the other hand, there’s a comedic sense to it — that we were promoting an album that was mainly his body of work. It was like Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys: ‘I’ve made the album, but now I’m staying at home.’

“But also, when I look back, I see another example of how desperate Lindsey was to be heard. Basically, he was coerced and persuaded to do that album – mainly by me. And to his credit, he put aside everything that he’d dreamt of doing, including making his own album, for Fleetwood Mac. But then realised that he’d made a mistake and went: ‘Oh my God – I’ve got to get Out.’ Lindsey was not being heard. We just didn’t get it. And really, I think that excuses him for letting the side down.”

Mick Fleetwood is not sure it is simple coincidence that Fleetwood’ s two biggest-selling albums, Rumours and Tango in the Night, were made when the band was at its most dysfunctional. “Also,” he says, “I’m not sure I should be so proud of it.”

Equally, Fleetwood has reservations about Tango in the Night. “It’s an interesting album,” he says. “But it’s not my favourite Fleetwood Mac album sonically. We got a little too involved in electronic-y ways of doing things.” But that album is undoubtedly a classic of its time. With it, Fleetwood Mac were reinvented for a new era. One of the biggest bands of the 70s became one of the biggest bands of the 80s. And from an album created amid chaos came some of the best songs of the band’s entire career. Even Lindsey Buckingham conceded this much. “On the whole, that album is lacking in direction,” he said. ”But there’s good stuff on there.”

In the 90s, Buckingham rejoined Fleetwood Mac, and, more importantly’, made his peace with Stevie Nicks. They have both come a long way since that dark day in 1987: Buckingham now married and a father of three, Nicks happily drug-free. And every night that Buckingham and Nicks go on stage with Fleetwood Mac, all that remains between them is what Mick Fleetwood calls “the good stuff”.

“Stevie and Lindsey are not ‘in love’ but they love each other,” Fleetwood says. “And that’s why they’ve been able to get through some awful situations. There’s something I was asked recently: ‘What’s the most misconstrued thing about Fleetwood Mac?’ I said ‘I don’t want to sound over-sentimental, but I think that people don’t actually understand that we really do love each other — a lot.’ And you know, sometimes  that’s been lost amid all the fear and loathing. But, to say the least, it’s been an interesting journey.

Special thanks to FleetwoodMac-UK for making this article available.

Paul Elliott / Classic Rock (UK) / October 2013

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Stevie Nicks: ‘Lindsey left Fleetwood because he thought I was going to die’

Lindsey Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac in 1987 to distance himself from Stevie Nick and the dramas of band life. (Photo: Neal Preston)
Lindsey Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac in 1987 to work on his solo career and to distance himself from Stevie Nicks. (Photo: Neal Preston)

Singer reveals the impact of drug addiction

Stevie Nicks has revealed that her addiction to tranquilizers played a part in her former boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham’s decision to quit Fleetwood Mac.

This year sees the band heading out on tour again, with their seminal album Rumours already having been re-released. The original lineup surprised some when they reunited in 1997, but apparently it was guitarist Lindsey Buckingham who had been reluctant before then.

Buckingham left the band after they released the relatively successful Tango In The Night, and says himself it was down to his desire to work on solo albums.

But Stevie Nicks suggests his departure had something to do with her addiction and Buckingham’s concern for her health.

“I went into rehab on December 12th, 1993 and came out on the 27th of January – 47 days to come off Klonopin. I nearly died,” she tells Rolling Stone.

“And I think one of the reasons that Lindsey left is because I was very, very high on this horrific tranquilizer. I didn’t even make it to most of the recording sessions for Tango In The Night. I was sick.

“And I think he was horribly worried that I was going to die.”

After her stint in rehab Nicks went on to complete a three month tour and says that after that she felt the people around her were reassured that she was going to be OK.

“I was going to be OK, and everyone knew I was going to be OK. And I think that’s when Lindsey thought Fleetwood Mac could go on, because his beloved ex-girlfriend was not going to die. She was going to make it.”

There had been speculation that Fleetwood Mac would be performing at this year’s Glastonbury Festival as the dates had been left conspicuously clear at the end of their North American tour.

But it apparently is not to be, with new dates announced which rule out the possibility.

The band will, however, be visiting the UK in the autumn — in either September or October — to play a series of shows.

Their seminal album Rumours is also on course to re-enter the UK Albums Chart this weekend, nearly 36 years after its initial release in February 1977.

Adam Tait / Gigwise / Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Classic Album Review: Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night

The Classic Album Review is back after a two week hiatus. Maybe it was the trip across the pond that did it, and got me thinking of the best cross-Atlantic musical collaborations to date. Fleetwood Mac naturally came to mind first, and seeing as it’s suddenly become cool within the past few years to celebrate them (Radiohead and Deerhunter have openly professed their love), I figured it was their turn.

When people think of Fleetwood Mac, they undoubtedly think of Rumours, copious amounts of cocaine consumption, incestuous affairs where every band member sleeps with every band member, and Steve Nicks.

I’ll be the first to admit that Tango in the Night is not some kind of  rarity, with critics dismissing it as the final demise of the band into a mushy-adult-contempo-soft-boiled-soft-rock -commercial-radio-mess. As the second bestselling FM album, a heavy rotation on CHFI to this day, and the last release from the legendary McVie-McVie-Buckingham-Nicks-Fleetwood line-up, there doesn’t seem to be anything remotely indie about it. But who cares? What it is, is a damned good recording with some of the best guitar, drum, and bass lines known to man. Besides, that’s not what this series is about anyway.

Here’s the long and short of it: Tango in the Night has some of the happiest songs that take me to the crux of musical glee. There’s something about upbeat Christine McVie songs that puts me into a temporary, lulled yet elated state of mind, and there’s no funk too deep that it won’t drag me out of.

In its heart of hearts, Tango in the Night is a Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham (who I still have a crush on, despite his increasing resemblance of a deep fried Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown from Back to the Future) show. They both produce all of the best tracks (“Everywhere,” “Big Love”) on the album, along with some of its guiltiest rockin’ 80’s pleasures (“Isn’t It Midnight,” “You and I Part 2”).

Let’s go through a play-by-play:

Big Love – The original is still by far, my favorite Buckingham penned and voiced FM tune. It’s very synth, slick, and is simply an odd little ditty that works, even with the weird “uh-ah” wheezes that serve as some kind of back-up vocal substitute.

Seven Wonders – This is Stevie Nicks’s greatest contribution to Tango in the Night. I’m not sure if this is because this was the time period where she was addicted to tranquilizers that her doctor at the time had prescribed to help defeat her cocaine addiction, or if she was doing this as a favor in-between her solo career. Either way, it’s one of the few Stevie songs that’s not a downer, and though I love her more melancholy songs, I’m happy this one came along as it serves her nomadic spiritual crystal-collecting image well.

Everywhere – This might as well be the only song on the album, because it would single-handedly make Tango in the Night one of the best albums of the 80’s . I listen to this song an average of three times a day, everyday, and there’s nothing in my life that it can’t seem to solve. indicates that I have listened to it around 200 times since January 15, 2010, and if you hear it for yourself, you may understand why. There’s something about it that is akin to magic…it’s got that fairy-dustsish feeling that pacifies me to the point of stupid grin for no apparent reason. Maybe because I would imagine this is what it feels like to be dumb and happy all the time must feel like (or young love, as this was co-written by McVie’s new and second husband, which must have been more than awkward for alcoholic ex-husband John).

Caroline – Kind of what Peter Gabriel was doing at the time with all of his tribal-beat-new-age-sex-sounding songs, only with an anthem-ish edge.

Tango in the Night – I can imagine how this might be the type of song I will be playing around the house a decade from now, much to my childrens’ mortification at their uncool mom. OK, so it’s got a bunch of terrible cliched 80’s mood guitars churning away unnecessarily to fill the oddly high number of dramatic pauses. But how can you resist that opera-like chorus, or that ridiculously over-the-top guitar solo towards the end??

Mystified – A surprising Buckingham/McVie collaboration that isn’t what you might expect from them. Slow, methodical, and longing. One of those long-forgotten adult-contemporary FM songs you dust off that makes you remember how good it was.

Little Lies – The other huge McVie standout that still reminds me of riding in the back of my parents’ car in the late 80’s / early 90’s, where I would always downplay my joy at hearing something my parents might have liked, too. I’m still riding in the back of their car, but no one plays this song nearly as often as they ought to.

Family Man – This one just puzzles me, as does its placement in their Greatest Hits collection. Well, maybe Buckingham just had a kid or something.

Welcome to the Room Sara – The first of Nicks’s two slow numbers, and neither of them are very memorable. Her voice is sounding increasingly goat-bleatish at this point.

Isn’t It Midnight – Completely shameless 80’s rock-out that I hate to admit I love in a nostalgic Ray Ban, caped neon cap kind of way.

When I See You Again – See above.

You and I Part 2 – A slightly higher class rendition of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time,” demonstrating Buckingham’s irrepressible ability to make even the tackiest beat sound catchy.

Now that I have the opportunity to, I want to talk a bit more about Christine McVie. Tango in the Night demonstrates that she had become a songwriting force and performer in her own right. I always felt she deserved more attention as an equal force to be reckoned with along with Nicks, but that she wasn’t really recognized publicly as one-half of the female talent of the band. Maybe that’s my false perception coming into play, but I thought her equally tawdry but comparatively unglamorous personal life contributed to some of her being downplayed in the group. Buckingham, too I felt carried much of the band in its heyday both as a songwriter, vocalist, and plucky guitarist. He added a distinctive flair to everything he wrote, usually with some sort of staccato accent.

Allison / Panic Manual / August 4, 2010

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Mick Fleetwood Tango in the Night (1987)

Fleetwood Mac goes its own way

Band finds there’s life after Buckingham

MICK FLEETWOOD swears he’s leaped out of coffins only three times in his life, two of which were during performances by his band, Fleetwood Mac.

It’s an impressive record. But the band has risen from the dead more often than Mick.

In the beginning there were Peter Green, Fleetwood, John McVie and Jeremy Spencer. That was back in 1967. Fleetwood Mac was an outgrowth of the John Mayall Blues Band and its stock in trade was American blues, pure and simple. A lot has changed since then.

The band underwent periodic lineup changes with long, long gaps between albums. Even when the lineup wasn’t changing the dynamics were spectacular: The band even aired its private turmoils in Rumours, probably its finest album.

Each independent project (Fleetwood’s The Visitor, Stevie Nicks’ Belladonna, Lindsey Buckingham’s Law and Order) fueled rumors that the band’s days were over.

But each time Fleetwood Mac came back, stronger than ever.

Take the current reincarnation, for example. Shirley MacLaine would be proud.

Most bands would fold when their chief songwriter-guitarist-matinee idol packs it in just before a tour.

Not the Mac, not Mick.

“When Lindsey (Buckingham) decided not to do the tour,” Fleetwood said recently, “I decided, rather than roll over like a dead dog — which is not my style; I don’t think it’s Fleetwood Mac’s style — let’s at least keep the momentum going. We had everything going in a tour mode: We were booking gigs, we were putting a crew together.”

The band went out and recruited two guitarists, Rick Vito and Billy Burnett.

Is Fleetwood pleased with the current lineup?

“Oh, very much so. I mean, it’s still Fleetwood Mac in terms of what we’re playing, because we haven’t gone in and made a new album,” he said.

“I’m loving having two guitar players because in the early days we had three guitar players. It’s just brought a lot of new energy, a lot of excitement about what I know will happen in the future.

“In the meantime it’s blending really, really, well. We felt quietly confident …we wouldn’t have dreamt of going on the road in some gaffer tape situation.”

No, this is no gaffer tape situation.

Vito and Burnett are no strangers to the Mac.

In fact, Burnett is “like my brother” says Fleetwood. Son of rockabilly legend Dorsey Burnett, Billy has been a part of Fleetwood’s off-time band, the Zoo, for four years. He’s co-written music with Christine McVie. Vito has recorded with John McVie and John Mayall and most recently was touring with Bob Seger.

There was a comfortable feeling.

“We didn’t miss one beat,” says Fleetwood. “Rick and Billy just started exactly when we were supposed to. Had it not worked out then we would have canceled the tour, obviously.

“I was very much of the mind that we should continue to find a replacement or replacements for Lindsey, having been with Fleetwood Mac since it started and seeing varous changes taking place, this one being the most recent.

“One thing that we’ve never done is hang around, waiting and wondering. Just get on with it. If you want to continue being in the band, and you have that sort of feeling about it, then the people that are there have to become part of Rally Around Fleetwood Mac.

“We went into rehearsals and it took a half an hour before everyone turned around and said ‘Let’s go!’

Critics and fans have been rallying around the defiantly named “Shake the Cage Tour” as well. “The beast has some life in it yet,” said Rolling Stone. Weekly concert receipt reports routinely place the Mac in the top 10 since the tour began.

The most recent album, Tango in the Night, has been well positioned on Billboard’s album chart for 32 weeks now.

And that brings up a ticklish situation. Buckingham had a hand in writing seven of the album’s 12 songs. And he co-produced it. He gets co-credit for the cover concept and some additional engineering.

OK. Buckingham’s out. Doesn’t that leave a rather large hole?

It does, indeed. And you can either try to fill it or ignore it.

“We don’t do any of Lindsey’s songs,” said Fleetwood. “With respect to him, I don’t think it would be proper. One, it would be a tacky thing to do. Two, I wouldn’t dream of asking Billy or Rick to come into a situation and have to get up and be confronted with that sort of pressure. And thirdly and luckily, we don’t have to do that.

“The girls have plenty, more than enough, songs to draw on. Plus we’ve got some 20 years of records to draw on, which we are. We’re going way back to early blues stuff, which we’re having a lot of fun doing. People are loving it.”

They do one Buckingham song: “Go Your Own Way.”

Appropriate. But in no way meant to be acrimonious.

Buckingham’s departure “was like having the plug pulled,” says Fleetwood.

“It was not an easy thing for either Lindsey or us to go through after 12 years,” he said. “It’s no small thing to basically say goodbye to someone you’ve been working with that long. But needless to say, Lindsey changed his mind, which put us in a bit of a dilemma and him, too.”

As far as Fleetwood’s concerned, it’s all turned out for the best. Buckingham tried, but couldn’t bring himself to go on tour, he said.

“I give Lindsey all due credit,” he said. “Aside from initially feeling like one was sort of let down, in actual fact, in retrospect, he showed a lot of strength to tell us ‘I’m not doing it.’

“I’m glad it didn’t work out, because he would have been miserable, we would have been miserable, and it would not have been a pretty sight.

We’ve seen that sort of tour before, haven’t we?

At this fall’s MTV Video Awards show in Los Angeles the band made a big show of the newfound energy and togetherness. Both Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, looking healthy and chipper, said their next album project would be a Fleetwood Mac album.

The U.S. tour ends Dec. 18, followed by a short rest, followed by Australian and European tours. The band should get into the studio by late spring, early summer.

“There won’t be a big five-year gap,” assures Fleetwood. “We’ve had enough of that.”

P.S.: Mick started leaping from coffins at the tender age of 12 while on a carpentry shop tour with his English boarding school class. “The next time,” he says, “was when I was relatively out of my brain, in early Fleetwood Mac times.” He had a touring case made up like a coffin and used it onstage until the rest of the band made him get rid of it.

The third time was this past Halloween. He did a drum solo from inside the coffin.

Some things never change, eh?

Robert J. Hawkins / San Diego Union-Tribune (CA) / December 4, 1987

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Tango in the Night (1987)

Stand Back: Stevie Nicks is a chum after her bath

Stevie Nicks, female rock icon of the 70s, is a motor-mouth.

She has a low, gruff, sexy speaking voice that goes on and on, telling about the new Fleetwood Mac, how she keeps young, her college days and the current tour which brings the band to Cedar Rapids Sunday.

She’s surprisingly open and chummy, even with a total stranger.

Her Gazette interview, scheduled for a recent Thursday evening, was postponed when a call came to say she was in the tub. Could she call back in 25 mintues?

When she calls, from a St. Petersburg hotel room where she is based for three days during Florida concerts, she confides that she only allows herself to conduct interviews on days off.

“I love to talk. But talking is much worse for your voice than singing really loud,” she says, explaining that talking makes one’s pitch drop, causing the vocal chords to slam together.

She says that despite some reports, she has no throat nodes. Nodes require surgery that would mean musical suicide for her: “that voice that some people hate and some people love would be clear as a bell and would sound like a million other people.”

Nicks, recently cleaned-up after a visit to the Betty Ford Center for chemical dependency, says her voice is in good shape. “My voice is pretty strong now. After all these years of singing I’m a pretty strong singer because I do sing all the time. On this kind of a tour I just have to take real, real good care of myself and make sure I get a lot of sleep — which is hard for me because I’m not used to getting eight hours of sleep.”

She may look fragile, but Nicks, at 39, is one of those lucky people with boundless energy.

“I’m stronger than anybody I know. I can probably tour harder and sing harder than anybody. I’ve got a lot of energy. 

“I SING AND DANCE all during my getting-ready for the show. I drive people absolutely crazy because I’m always playing music,” she says. “I can’t just walk on that stage cold.”

What does she listen to? Lots of new rock music. “For me, it keeps me young and aware of what’s happening in music. I really know what’s happening all the time. I really do love music and I love new music. I love hearing a new song that I think is so special that I instantly send somebody out to get it.

“That’s what I try to do with my songs — reach out and make somebody’s day a little bit easier. It works both ways.”

Nicks owns a home in Phoenix and rents a house in Los Angeles, in close proximity to her bandmates. The band, formed in England 20 years ago as a traditional British blues band, has seen many members come and go.

Its 1977 Grammy-winning Rumours album remained at No. 1 for 31 weeks (only “Thriller” has held the top spot longer), but was followed by two less-than-successful albums, Tusk and Mirage. Now it is enjoying commercial success again with a new album, Tango in the Night, and the hit single “Little Lies.”

“Once you’re in a band like that it’s like a real, real old friendship. It’s very hard, in a year or two, to replace a friendship. To go around and try to re-create a situation like this is pretty silly for any of us. Bands like Fleetwood Mac don’t come around a dime a dozen. As long as some of us want to go on we will.”

One longtime member, Lindsey Buckingham, decided he didn’t want to go on, and departed a few months ago. Those left behind — Nicks, Christine McVie and co-founders Mick Fleetwood and John McVie — decided they could take one of two attitudes about Buckingham’s departure, she says. “Everyone was very, very pensive about this and you can have one of two attitudes: ‘I guess we should just all go off and quit’ or ‘he quit, we didn’t’.” They chose the latter, replacing Buckingham with Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. Both Vito and Burnette are songwriters and play guitars. “Rick does what Lindsey did. Billy plays all the parts Lindsey did rhythm-wise but couldn’t do in concert.”

Nicks and Buckingham go back a long way. They were asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1974 after Fleetwood heard their album Buckingham Nicks.

“Mick called us up pretty much sight unseen and said ‘Do you want to be in this band?’ Which is similarly the way that Rick and Billy joined. Lindsey decided to leave and within three days we were in rehearsal,” she says.

Buckingham was Nicks’ first ticket to rock stardom. He auditioned her for his San Francisco-area acid-rock band Fritz and they opened for such rock luminaries as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. They were never married, but they were an item until the time of the Rumours album.

“In my heart he’s been gone for a long time,” she says. “I let Lindsey go a long time ago. I’m probably the only person in the whole world who was not surprised that Lindsey left.

“It’s all for the best. Lindsey just needed to go find whatever it is he’s searching for. He’s searching for a dream he hasn’t found yet. I really hope he finds it — I want him to be happy.”

She says her San Francisco days with Buckingham shaped her music and her career.

“I am kind of a traditional rock ‘n’ roller and the way I feel about music is because of my years in San Francisco,” she says. “If I hadn’t lived there I probably would’ve ended up in country music or something other than rock ‘n’ roll. I’d never sung rock ‘n’ roll in my life.”

Before that, she played the guitar and “sang all the time — at school assemblies, at home, I was always singing somewhere. Suddenly one night I was in this band (Fritz) that took up all my time. I was not quite 20, but overnight I was completely committed to this band. I’ve never rehearsed that much since. I also had to go to college. I had no social life whatsoever in college.”

She attended San Jose City College for five years, majoring in Creative Speech and Speech Communication without quite graduating. “If I hadn’t gone so seriously into music I probably would’ve been a teacher,” she says.

A fourth Stevie Nicks solo album (her first, Bella Donna, came out in 1980) is in the works, she says. Meanwhile, she contributed a song to the all-star album A Very Special Christmas, along with U2, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, John Cougar Mellencamp, Madonna, Whitney Houston and others. The album benefits the Special Olympics. She brought a portable recording studio along on the current Shake the Cage Tour, but after lugging it around for three weeks she “sent it all home because there just wasn’t enough time.” The tour began Oct. 1 and this leg ends Dec. 18. 

THE CURRENT ISSUE of Rolling Stone reviews a recent Shake the Cage tour concert, saying Fleetwood Mac “has come up with a tight two hours of melodic, arena-friendly rock.”

Nicks says the concert will be 2 1/2 hours long, with only three songs off the new album. “We went back through each album and chose what we thought everybody’s favorite songs were. If you happen to love Fleetwood Mac, you’d probably really love this concert,” she claims.

Nicks also gets to perform two songs from her solo career, “Stand Back” and “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You.” “I was really surprised” when the band asked her to perform her own songs, she says. “It was a real nice thing to happen, and since it wasn’t my idea I feel real good about it.” 

Fleetwood Mac performs Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Five Seasons Center. Tickets are general admission, $16.50 in advance. $17.50 on Sunday, on sale at the Five Seasons Center box office and its outlets. 

Concert postponed to Sunday evening

The Fleetwood Mac Five Seasons Center concert has been postponed from Saturday to Sunday.

The Five Seasons Center released this statement Thursday from the promoter:

“Due to medical reasons, Stevie Nicks is unable to perform three nights in a row. Therefore the concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8
p.m., has been rescheduled to Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.”

The Five Seasons center will give refunds until 7:30 p.m. Sunday. All refunds are handled through the Five Seasons Center box office. Any questions may be directed to the Five Seasons Center administrative office, 398-5211.

Dee Ann Rexroat / Cedar Rapids Gazette / Friday, November 20, 1987
(This article was transcribed by Stevie Nicks Info)

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Tango in the Night (1987)

Review: Fleetwood Mac brings crowd to its feet with greatest hits

Music review on Fleetwood Mac’s concert at The Omni Monday night.

Lindsey who?

That was the only logical response – other than resounding applause – after Fleetwood Mac’s concert at The Omni Monday night.

The long-running Anglo-American band may have found it necessary to replace Buckingham with two musicians when he quit in August, but any negative reaction to Fleetwood Mac’s performance without him was lost in the cheers of the crowd of 11,000.

The playing of guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette, in fact, enabled the band to drop back in time and very satisfactorily mix blues music it recorded in the 1960s with songs from “Tango,” the current album – and one Buckingham masterminded before leaving to pursue a solo career.

The only noticeable effect stemming from Buckingham’s departure was a more prominent role visually for blond vocalist Stevie Nicks. Otherwise, the emphasis was on the music – well-crafted pop songs.

It was virtually a greatest hits performance by Burnette, Vito, Miss Nicks, keyboardist-vocalist Christine McVie, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie. Fleetwood and Ms. McVie, the only remaining original members of the band founded by Peter Green in 1967, provided a strong base that demonstrated why they’re regarded as one of the strongest rhythm sections in pop music.

The band, backed by three vocalists and a percussionist, moved fluidly through older hits such as “Say You Love Me” and “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)” to new ones such as “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies.” Vito, who toured with Bob Seger last year, and Burnette, son of the late rock vocalist Dorsey Burnette, adequately filled in for Buckingham on songs such as “Go Your Own Way” – and Vito distinguished himself with his soaring guitar work.

After a shaky start, Miss Nicks’ voice improved as the concert progressed, while Ms. McVie’s performance vocally and on keyboards was -as during past tours – as constant as the propulsive playing of Fleetwood and John McVie, who remains the least animated member of the band.

Caption: Photo: Vocalist Stevie Nicks

Russ Devault / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / November 10, 1987

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Fleetwood Mac keeps truckin’

Buckingham goes his own way as the band takes to the road

FLEETWOOD MAC KNOWS how risky it can be for a hit rock band to confront a live audience with the unfamiliar.

The group received an object lesson in the dicey nature of novelty about 10 years ago in Kansas City, co-founder Mick Fleetwood recalled in a phone interview last month.

“We went out and played material that nobody had ever heard, and we just died. We just weren’t drawing on enough stuff that people knew. We weren’t booed off, but we realized something wasn’t going as well as it normally did. We hung ourselves in public.”

The new songs that were duds in concert turned up soon afterward on an album called Rumours, where, given the chance to seep in, they went over well enough. That 1977 album became one of the all-time blockbusters, with sales approaching 20 million.

Most of the songs Fleetwood Mac plays on the tour that brings it to the Civic Center Sunday night will be familiar to its fans. Even so, the group’s first tour since 1982 is full of the risk of novelty. The songs may be standards, but this is a radically changed Fleetwood Mac.

Over the summer, shortly after the release of Tango In The Night, the best Fleetwood Mac album since Rumours, key member Lindsey Buckingham announced he was finished with the band. Although Fleetwood Mac had two other popular singers and songwriters in Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, Buckingham had figured most prominently in the group’s success over the past 12 years. More than a guitarist or a lead male voice, he was an important shaper of Fleetwood Mac’s high-gloss studio sound. Buckingham was the main architect of Tango In The Night, an album that’s as impressive for the crispness and splendor of its sound as for its generally strong songwriting. Tango was recorded in a studio Buckingham had built in his Los Angeles home. When the other members of Fleetwood Mac began planning to tour, the guitarist announced that home was where he was going to stay.

Lindsey ‘simply doesn’t want to’

“I understand why Lindsey’s not doing the tour – because he simply doesn’t want to do it,” Fleetwood said. “I can think of nothing more horrible than ‘doing it for the company store because I’ve got to do it.’ ”

When Buckingham joined with Nicks in 1975, Fleetwood Mac was well practiced at breaking in new personnel. The band started in 1967 as a British blues-rock group centered around alumni of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. By the time Buckingham joined, drummer Fleetwood and bassist John McVie already had gone through six guitarists in a line stretching back to Peter Green, the band’s original leader.

Fleetwood said there never was any question about carrying on with the band after Buckingham quit to pursue a solo career.

“I just didn’t feel like rolling over and dying. People that know about us realize the band doesn’t easily disappear.” At Fleetwood’s suggestion, the band started tour rehearsals with Billy Burnette, a guitarist, singer and songwriter who had recorded on his own and with Fleetwood’s side-project, Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo. Enlisted for the lead guitarist role was Rick Vito, a veteran session player who most recently had toured with Bob Seger.

“Billy was not a stranger to anyone in the band. He’d written with Christine and done demo stuff with Stevie. We went into the first day of playing just to see what was happening. I just had a strong intuition that everyone would like it.”

With the personnel change, said Fleetwood, came a commitment to be more of a cohesive, ongoing unit than the loose aggregation of individual careerists that Fleetwood Mac had become. During the ’80s, Nicks emerged as a headliner with three hit solo albums, and all the other Mac members except John McVie released records of their own. Every few years, between solo projects and coping with such publicized personal problems as Christine McVie’s troubled romance with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, Fleetwood’s bankruptcy and Nicks’ treatment at the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse, Fleetwood Mac’s members would get around to recording together.

“All ’round there’s a new philosophy about what we’re doing and what we hope to be doing,” Fleetwood said. “It has to be a little more definite in terms of ‘Are you really in the band called Fleetwood Mac, or are you in it just every five years?’ Stevie volunteered what she wanted to do – which was to put all her energy into the band for quite some time.”

When Fleetwood Mac starts work on its next album after the current tour, the labor will be shared more evenly than it was with Buckingham overseeing the recording sessions as co-producer, Fleetwood said.

“When somebody is as talented as Lindsey most certainly is, and you give somebody the range to do that, you can find yourself a little bit looking on rather than participating. But the nucleus of the band is still very much there. It’s not as if we’ve lost an arm and a leg.”

For diehard fans

On tour, Fleetwood Mac will move into its post-Buckingham period by “pretty much steering clear of Lindsey’s material. I would hate to ask the two guys to come in and sing that – that’s not a cool thing to do.” In addition to songs by Nicks and Christine McVie and Buckingham’s Go Your Own Way, which Fleetwood described as “more a band-oriented song,” the show will include some blues-based material, “stuff from way back when the band first started. I don’t think people will be real familiar with it, except real diehard Fleetwood Mac fans.”

Risky, perhaps – but Fleetwood Mac, a band known for coping with changes as well as any other major rock group, has arrived once more at a point in its history where it can’t avoid taking risks.

Fleetwood Mac plays Sunday night at the Civic Center. The Cruzados open the show at 7:30. Tickets cost $17.50.

Mike Boehm / Providence Journal (RI) / October 30, 1987

1987-1988 Shake the Cage Tour Fleetwood Mac Mick Fleetwood Tango in the Night (1987)

Tangoing without Lindsey Buckingham

The liner of the latest album reads like a precocious kid’s school project. Produced by Lindsey Buckingham; arranged by Lindsey Buckingham; additional engineering by Lindsey Buckingham; cover concept by Lindsey Buckingham; half of the music and lyrics by Lindsey Buckingham.

So Fleetwood Mac gets ready to head out on tour to promote the album, Tango In the Night, and who decides not to go?

Right – Lindsey Buckingham.

After 12 years with the band, he has quit and gone back to work on a solo album.

“It had been building up,” says Mick Fleetwood, co-founder of the 20-year-old group. “He was making it clear that this was the last Fleetwood Mac album he would do. Finally, going on the road became the catalyst for leaving. He basically doesn’t enjoy the road.

“But if you’re a rock band, that’s what you do.”

If you’re this particular rock band, you’re like a ticket agent at an airport – you get used to arrivals and departures.

So Billy Burnette and Rick Vito replace Lindsey Buckingham, who replaced Bob Welch, who replaced Jeremy Spencer 16 years ago. Peter Green, Daniel Kirwan and Robert Weston have all come and gone. Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, now the heart of the Fleetwood Mac sound, were additions along the way. John McVie and Fleetwood are the only remaining members of the original band, which had its beginning in 1967.

“I prefer to see Lindsey happy out of the band rather than unhappy in it,” says Fleetwood, speaking by telephone from Los Angeles before a rehearsal session. “We’re fairly familiar with change, and it’s all been healthy, I think.”

He downplays the problem of touring with a new album that bears so many fingerprints of an ex-member. “We’ll only do about three songs off this album,” Fleetwood says. “One thing we’re not short of is material to draw on.” True. Their charted hits range from “Over My Head” in 1975 to “You Make Loving Fun” in 1977 to “Sara” in 1979 to “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies” from “Tango In the Night,” and Fleetwood Mac is not averse to playing them.

“When I go to a concert, I like to hear the band do things I’m familiar with,” Fleetwood says. “When I browse around in a record shop, I tend to buy `greatest hits’ albums.

“The reason the audience is there is because they know you. We did a concert once with only new material, and we died.

“Besides, it would be unfair to the new members to say, `Here are 10 Lindsey Buckingham numbers. Learn them.’ That wouldn’t be very classy.”

When Buckingham decided to call it quits, deciding on his replacements was “painless,” according to Fleetwood. “In the Fleetwood Mac tradition, we kept going,” he says. “Billy Burnette is an extremely close friend who has played in my band, The Zoo, for the past four or five years. He had gotten to know everyone in Fleetwood Mac as a friend.

“I had known Rick Vito for several years, too, and had seen him perform. Also, he had been a huge Fleetwood Mac fan for years.”

If replacing Buckingham was a smooth, quick move, getting the album made in the first place was not.

“Logistically, it wasn’t easy,” Fleetwood says. “Lindsey had started working on the solo album he’s working on now, and the others were out doing other things. We had some meetings, with everyone hemming and hawing, and finally started talking about getting into the studio.

“Then Christine got a gig doing a movie sound track. She asked us to work with her on that, one thing led to another, and four of us found ourselves in a studio.”

That put them on course to make Tango In the Night, which was a relief to Fleetwood. “I was certainly keen to do it,” he says. “If we didn’t, there was a chance we never would do another album, and there would be no more Fleetwood Mac. I want the band to be a going concern.”

Buckingham was quoted by Rolling Stone magazine last spring as saying that this could be the last “Mac” album. Fleetwood says that isn’t so. “There’s no chance that this is the last album,” he says, and promised that the next one wouldn’t take four years to come together, as this one did.

He contends that the departure of Buckingham won’t seriously hamper the group’s song output. “There are no worries at all in that area,” he says. Neither of the latest hits is a Buckingham song, by the way. Nicks and Sandy Stewart wrote “Seven Wonders” and Christine McVie collaborated with Eddy Quintela on “Little Lies.”

Buckingham’s absence in the studio is likely to be felt. “Lindsey was definitely an instrumental part of the recording,” Fleetwood says. “It just will be different.”

The sound of the band could change subtly. “I hope so, in some respects,” says Fleetwood – but the Fleetwood Mac-ness seems to survive each goodbye.

“Christine and Stevie are inherently the basis of Fleetwood Mac music,” says Fleetwood, 45. “And with me on drums and John on bass as the rhythm section, that somehow ties it all together. When you hear us, you know it’s Fleetwood Mac.”

Jim Pollock / USA TODAY via Gannett News Service / October 2, 1987

Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night (1987)

Fleetwood Mac: War & Peace

“I WANT TO look eighteen or younger, right?” says Christine McVie, aged 42. “I know — an impossible task!”

“Could you hold your head a bit lower?” asks Adrian Boot, photographer. “It’s better for the structure of your face.”

“My double chin you mean?”

“Precisely. Nicely put though, wasn’t it?”

The photo session and interview with McVie and Mick Fleetwood in their Mayfair Hotel suite passes off pleasantly. Fleetwood poses his six foot six inches with his usual good nature and improbable dandification: striped trousers and shirt, shiny waistcoat with fob-watch chain (curving across a hint of embonpoint), embroidered slippers, yellow and white socks and a matador’s hat. This is a man who, 25 years ago, used to drive a vintage Jaguar sports car to the dole queue and blow the giro on petrol rather than food.

There is no sense of them carrying an exaggerated opinion of themselves. They still sound English, not Californian — Fleetwood slightly public school, McVie a trace of Brummie. But they do possess a comfortable awareness of status based with monumental solidity on Fleetwood Mac having sold the best part of 40 million albums around the world since 1975 and, in particular, on being one of the few bands who have written the soundtrack of a year, if not of an era. Rumours, released in February, 1977, stood at Number One in the US charts for 31 weeks, selling 20 million worldwide. It was the successor to Carole King’s Tapestry in the adult rock market. In Britain, if you couldn’t adjust to the Sex Pistols, you sang “Rhiannon” in the bath. It put a grateful record industry back on its feet.

So, of course, Fleetwood Mac are people for whom doors are opened. Before we can begin Fleetwood is caught up in making arrangements for that night’s Paul Simon concert and the “private” reception to follow. Very early that morning, when they flew in from California, he had immediately been offered seats for the Hagler-Leonard closed-circuit cinecast. he’d refused them, pleading jet lag with a reluctant nod at advancing years.

Journalistically this was a shame because Fleetwood Mac were just embarking on the same remarkable endeavour that Leonard had completed during the small hours — a successful comeback after five years out of the spotlight. Trying to remember all the old moves, keeping the chin out of the way.

Later that week a Sunday Mirror reporter tracked down Peter Green, the peerless guitarist who formed Fleetwood Mac in 1967, wandering around Richmond looking like a tramp. He is said to have a house in the area but he often sleeps on a bench at the railway station. The photographer tried to capture his filth, his obesity, caught him with a hand raised to show off his grotesquely long finger-nails. Children pull faces at him and call him “the werewolf”. He is a man on whom all doors are shut.

The name of the band used to be Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Now the distance between them could hardly be greater. It’s not what anyone ever wanted. But it took Fleetwood Mac a very long time to learn how to keep pain out of their pursuit of happiness.

IT HAD STARTED so well. Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and singer/keyboards player Christine Perfect were founder members of the British R&B boom. Whether they knew it or not, they were barnstorming around with the aristocracy of a rock generation. Green replaced Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and was succeeded by Mick Taylor — McVie on bass for all of them. Fleetwood played with Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express and had a month with Mayall before being fired for drunkenness. Christine was a member of Chicken Shack and went out with Spencer Davis.

Then in ‘67, seeking freedom from Mayall’s demanding ego, Green invited Fleetwood and McVie to join him from the Bluesbreakers crowd, adding the unknown Jeremy Spencer, a manic Elmore James impersonator. They recorded their debut album in three days and it stayed in the British charts for 13 months. Then Green began to roll out Mac’s single hits — “Need Your Love So Bad,” “Albatross,” “Man Of The World,” “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi” — a brilliant series of evolutionary moves away from the straightahead blues (in the middle of which they further excited their public by enlisting a third lead guitarist, Danny Kirwan). By 1969 they were one of the biggest live draws on the European circuit. Things could hardly have been sweeter.

What hadn’t struck any of the principals was that things fall apart. Or, more particularly, that people fall apart.

Suddenly Green announced that a Roundhouse gig in London’s Chalk Farm on May 24, 1970, would be his last with the band. All the stuff Fleetwood and McVie took in their stride he simply couldn’t stand any more. A turmoil of social, moral and religious ideals was whirling through his head and, if what he said about it was rarely coherent, it added up to guilt. Guilt about girls he’d casually screwed. Guilt about the children of Biafra whose bellies ballooned while he made a fortune playing guitar. He tried to assuage it. He read a New Testament Jeremy Spencer had given him. He gave thousands to famine relief charities. He began to study classical music, an antidote, one imagines, to the devil’s rock for which he’d become so prominent a disciple.

Nothing worked. Certainly not Fleetwood’s persuasions. “I always told Peter, I don’t see why on earth you feel guilty about being liked and by being liked being successful,” says the drummer sitting in the Mayfair 17 years on, still passionate about it, still grieved. “But he said it was all evil, he had to give everything away. He was…highly sensitive.”

Fleetwood still insists on viewing it as a crisis of personal ethics. Many others can’t accept such an upheaval as possible from the shrewd, ambitious Green they knew and can only go along with the story that he was spiked with a huge amount of LSD one night in Germany.

Green himself said at the time: “I was drawing away from music into just being a Christian person and it made me very happy, but it only lasted two or three weeks…” It seems that, although the conviction remained, the happiness never came back. One of the great rock guitarists has spent the last 17 years as gravedigger, barman, hospital orderly, petrol pump attendant, mental hospital patient, tramp and God knows what else, with only brief and abortive interludes as a musician.

Oddly enough, Jeremy Spencer had always seemed a far more likely candidate for a crack-up with a very obvious conflict between loony humour and inner seriousness. He would assure journalists his favourite reading was The Bible yet it was Spencer who managed to get Mac banned from The Marquee club by going on stage with a wooden dildo protruding from his unzipped fly. But it may be that it was the question of his musical identity that really screwed him up.

As a blues purist he was obsessed with perfecting his imitation of Elmore James while as a stage performer his party piece was an impression of Elvis Presley. This went down a storm with the punters at the time, but privately Spencer was agonising about his inability to write anything that amounted to more than “Dust My Broom” Part 243. The first hint of it came when he didn’t appear at all on Mac’s third album, Then Play On, despairing he had nothing original to offer.

His exit was even more dramatic and startling than Green’s. On the afternoon of a gig in Los Angeles, in February ‘71, he went AWOL, He walked out to buy a paper and he wasn’t seen for four days until he was tracked down to a nearby commune run by a pre-Born Again religious sect called The Children Of God. And that was that. He never came back.

At the time Fleetwood described a conversation with him in which Spencer had poured out his fears about the San Andreas Fault and the pall of “evil” hanging over L.A. which he felt was out to “get him”, as well as his worries about acquiring wealth, the band losing touch with the “real” blues and, on listening to an old tape featuring Green, his own inferiority as a guitarist. Quite a mess.

Naturally Mac were horrified at his fate, feeling that he had been caught at a low ebb and “brainwashed” by a sinister cult, snatched away not only from the band but from his wife and children. However, it has to be recorded that his family joined him immediately and stayed, and that ever since, when old friends have sighted him in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Greece, he has been described as on an even keel and content with life.

SUCH WAS Fleetwood Mac’s first great period of crisis. Fleetwood and the McVies — Christine had joined as Green’s replacement — responded in the way that was to become familiar. Tin hat over the ears, heads down. A cross between a family and a platoon, they had bought a country house at Bordon, Hampshire, converted it into flats and lived together there.

They had a certain wildness, but also a feeling for security. Christine had twice earlier quit music for domesticity with John. She even refused a Top Of The Pops spot for a solo single to go on a planned summer holiday with him. She had been especially upset that Spencer dumped them in the middle of a tour. In front of a reporter she told her husband: “We could have lost a lot of money, lost this house, and that’s everything you’ve worked for for the last eight years.”

You might imagine that McVie didn’t know he’d been playing bass to buy a house, but he was a high-wire man who was always taking sneaky looks at the safety net. He began his working life as a trainee tax inspector, had been very reluctant to leave Mayall, and to this day has only been in two bands. For all the legendary boozing and tumbling through two decades he’s not exactly a fly-by-night.

Fleetwood does seem to have a more fundamental confidence in his own indestructability, probably encouraged by his family background. His father was a wing-commander in the RAF and he spent his boyhood in places like Egypt (at the time of Suez) and Norway. “So I feel comfortable anywhere on this planet,” he says. His Dad is probably the only wingco to have had a pop LP dedicated to him — Tusk.

Through the band’s dog days of the early ‘70s, the core trio took in talented American Bob Welch, lost Danny Kirwan to stage fright (even Green had described him as “neurotic”), signed up mediocre artisans Dave Walker (from Savoy Brown) and Bob Weston (from Long John Baldry’s band), and kept on recording albums that sold 250,000 in the States and 5,000 in Britain. They paid their bills but it was an inglorious business.

That was when their manager Clifford Davis tried to kill them off and inadvertently helped to make them superstars instead. And the band’s penchant for the traumatic shifted ground notably from the psychological to the romantic and the fiscal.

First Bob Weston, their least blessed substitution, had an affair with Fleetwood’s wife Jenny Boyd (sister of Patti Boyd/Harrison/Clapton). In the circumstances Fleetwood — for once looking a bit of an emotional softy in the light of subsequent events — couldn’t stand being on the road. In Lincoln, Nebraska, he called a halt to Mac’s umpteenth US tour and they flew home. Then, astonishingly, Davis formed a new band and, in February, ‘74, put it out on tour in America as Fleetwood Mac. Ill-advisedly, he told Rolling Stone that Fleetwood and McVie’s names were nothing to do with it: “This band is my band. I’ve always been sort of the leader.”

Audiences walked out. The real Mac slapped an injunction on the impostors, but were then grounded by Davis’s counter-suit. “That was the only time I really got panicky!” says Christine. “Because we couldn’t work, not until we’d proved he didn’t own the name.”

By the time they’d extricated themselves, Davis and Weston were out and Mick Fleetwood was managing the band. The LP Heroes Are Hard To Find, delayed by a Davis claim, had been released to the same mass indifference that had greeted most of Mac’s output post-Green. It was obvious they needed a shake-up. At Fleetwood’s instigation they agreed to move en bloc to California, although Christine in particular took some convincing. “I hated the idea,” she recalls. “It was a very scary proposition.”

In December ‘74, Bob Welch gave up the unequal struggle to drag Mac up by their bootstraps and went off to form his own band, Paris. So Fleetwood Mac were down to the eternal triangle — and no guitarist.

Meanwhile in England the bogus Mac rechristened themselves Stretch and put out a single called “Why Did You Do It?,” a whinge at Fleetwood for taking them to court — and the bastard was a hit.

HOWEVER, THE Fleetwood Mac principle of unorchestrated manoeuvres in the dark was about to achieve its greatest triumph. Just before Welch left, the eager new manager was scouting L.A.’s cheaper studios with the next Mac album in mind. At Sound City, to demonstrate their equipment they played him a tape by a duo called Buckingham-Nicks. By chance Buckingham was down the corridor and looked in. Short of a guitarist a couple of weeks later, Fleetwood remembered the encounter and asked the duo round. They hit it off and Buckingham-Nicks were invited to join Fleetwood Mac, on New Year’s Day ‘75, without so much as a 12-bar jam to confirm that their rapport extended into music.

This epiphany has become enshrined in rock lore as one of the moments that made an epoch. For Mac though it was only typical. It had been just the same when Spencer got religion. Welch was the first candidate they saw and he too was signed up without picking a note.

Buckingham-Nicks liked Fleetwood and the McVies well enough but they weren’t overexcited about the prospects of joining what had apparently become an irremediably Second Division outfit. Although they had been struggling in L.A. lately, their backgrounds had prepared them to anticipate success in life: Stevie’s Dad had been — simultaneously — Vice President of The Greyhound Bus Company and President of Armour Canned Meats; Lindsey’s father owned a coffee company. Still, they’d been in the music business for eight years with barely a sniff of a breakthrough, and had been living together for five years in steady descent down the ladder of poverty. They decided to give it a try. Stevie asked Mick if she could borrow all Fleetwood Mac’s albums off him because she didn’t have any of them and she couldn’t afford to buy them.

They went back into L.A.’s Sound City studios and, using material already written by the two separate units, knocked out the Fleetwood Mac LP in ten days. Then, as ever, they toured for six months solid. Initially they were supporting top league earners like The Eagles and Jefferson Starship, but then their product started to perform. Christine McVie’s “Over My Head” was Mac’s first big single hit in the States, and the album went up to 9, then fell away to 40 before taking a real run at it when “Rhiannon” became a monster and finally reaching Number 1 60 weeks after release (a record!).

At last, the dairy — except that the cream had curdled. The seemingly stolid old band which had somehow made a habit of wrecking individuals was about to start ruining relationships.

THE EMOTIONAL chaos began on the road and carried on during the recording of Rumours throughout ‘76. The McVies reckoned that their 24-hour-a-day life together had added up to 40 years of normal time and they’d had enough. For Buckingham and Nicks perhaps it was just their inevitable moment coinciding with Fleetwood Mac’s unforeseen apotheosis — they too split up.

Perhaps the most titillating aspect of the real life rumours we all so enjoyed was the implication that, even in extremis, the band’s play-it-close instincts were still dominant. It seemed that a sort of multiple extended-family incest was taking place. McVie turned up with one of Peter Green’s exes. He and Fleetwood were both said to have had a fling with Nicks. Christine settled in with the group’s lighting engineer, Currie Grant, for the next several years. Meanwhile, Fleetwood divorced his wife and remarried her just over a year later (though they were divorced a second time by ‘79), Buckingham characteristically kept a lower profile (though “meeting a lot of beautiful women”). He was sharing a house with Rumours co-producer Richard Dashut and concentrating, as only a Californian can, on “redefining my individuality.”

The only extra-familial relationships being noised abroad suggested that even stars can get starry-eyed: John McVie was said to have an unrequited crush on Linda Ronstadt (though he ended up marrying his secretary, Julie Ann Rubens, in ‘78) and Stevie Nicks conducted a long-distance phone romance with Don Henley of The Eagles which eventually got a little more cosy.

But nobody quit, though nobody outside the band could understand how or why. Looking back, Christine still asserts: “Everyone cared about everyone else. There might have been problems between me and John, but that didn’t mean we didn’t care about Mick, Stevie and Lindsey and vice versa. We’re friends. Very interwoven. And to let something that successful just all apart, to say, Sod the rest of you, I’m buggering off — there was a certain responsibility not just to the band but to the whole unit. There were a lot of people on the payroll. And then there was the fact that we knew we were good. Whatever happened that was the overriding factor.”

For Buckingham it was clearly a matter of self-control and damage limitation. On Mac’s British tour in ‘77 one journalist watched while John McVie drank himself out of affability and into aggression until he threw a glass of vodka into Buckingham’s face. Buckingham laughed it off and calmed him down.

WITH THE intimate areas of their lives in circus uproar, a bit of straightforward hedonism must have looked very appealing to Fleetwood Mac. Indeed they seem to have relished it royally. Stevie Nicks in her Blanche Dubois mood savoured the moments: “Stepping into the black limousine with the white scarves, the excitement — to me it’s the height of elegance, it’s what I always wanted if I was going to be in a rock band.”

They bought mansions and Rolls Royces. Their merest snacks were banquets, the leftovers a feast. Back-stage vintage champagne was delivered by the crate and cocaine was sometimes wittily arrayed in coke bottle tops. Once, on Christine’s birthday, she came home to find that her then lover, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, had dug out the garden in the shape of a heart and filled it with roses — their friends stood around the edge holding candles. The band spent a million dollars recording the double album Tusk and a lot on solo albums of various merit and success.

Buckingham insists that the extravagant images are greatly exaggerated: “I don’t believe we were full bore into all that. Just having two women there made for a rather more refined and couth atmosphere I would say…though sure, there have been abuses.”

The great pleasure hunt ran its course. On the down-side of elegance Stevie found herself checking into hotels some nights because her house was full of people she’d never met before. Christine McVie, claiming to be “too set in my ways” to be able to accommodate children, elected to have herself sterilised. The unsinkable Fleetwood was afflicted for a time with a weird variant on diabetes, then went bankrupt to the tune of £2m owed to two Californian banks, his lawyer, and WEA. He explained that he had overextended himself investing in property and run out of readies. Back on his feet now, though the “poorest” member of Mac, he reflects: “It was an interesting process. People expect you to fall apart. But it didn’t destroy me. What I’m saying is you can’t put credence in…being able to go out and buy a nice car isn’t the be-all and end-all of you as a person.”

But they began to pick up the pieces. In January 1983, Stevie Nicks married Kim Anderson (the husband of her close friend, Robin, who’d died of leukaemia five months previously). The ceremony took place on the tennis court of her house in Marina Del Ray (they’re now divorced).

Indeed, the mood has changed so much that it’s even possible for Lindsey Buckingham to reflect on what he might have lost by joining the band. “Sometimes I speculate on what I had to give up in terms of my own pure style of playing and writing. What troubled me was that the phenomenon of Rumours, the sales, took over from what the Work was.” Buckingham has the habit of saying “Work” with an audible capital. “You’ve got to remain true to the Work. And that’s quite hard to do at this level. These years have been extremely…demanding, not only in the Work but emotionally. There are lots of ways of getting hurt. Though I’ve lost touch with a lot of what happened. I guess I blocked it out.”

The time had come for Fleetwood Mac to settle down.

1987_tango_in_the_night_coverEVERYTHING ABOUT the recording of Tango In The Night was more pragmatic and practical than in their golden days. Although Fleetwood sticks to the party line about band independence free of record company molestation this is Buckingham’s story of the album:

“We hadn’t worked together for four years and we weren’t really used to seeing one another. When that happens there’s pressure from Warners of course and the people on the periphery, the lawyers and the management, start to move in to initiate an album. There was a group need to record but all our individual managers and lawyers had to talk because there was no one else to put the thing together on a logistics level — the band as such doesn’t have a manager since Mick stopped doing that. The meetings are a little chaotic. More people than I’ve ever seen. But…that’s show business.”

Fleetwood presents sincere pride in the new discipline with which they worked once they’d got through the paperwork to the music. Two to ten and then home to bed. A reformed character.

The album and single did much better than expected — the LP sold 1.5 million worldwide in six weeks — and they’ve made no secret of the fact that their attitude to success has undergone some modification over the last 20 years. Christine, 44 in July, married Eddy Quintela, a Portuguese musician (and co-writer of two tracks on the new LP) last autumn and is still based in Los Angeles. “You know when we got this success what I felt most was an immense sense of security. ‘Thank God I’ve got enough money so that whatever happens I can sort it out.’ My house, which I bought ten years ago, is the closest thing to the Cotswolds you could get. I tend to be very much of a home body. I love my home. I love looking after my roses. I’ve got a wonderful husband and three wonderful dogs…”

BUT THE raven’s still tapping at the window pane. Even after 17 years, the spectre of Peter Green still seems to haunt Mick Fleetwood and he’s remained determined to try and help him whenever he can.

For instance: Green seemed to touch bottom in ‘77 when he went round to Clifford Davis’s office with a gun and, in one of the most improbable rock business confrontations on record, demanded that the manager take back a £30,000 royalty cheque. Green was committed to mental hospital where, a few months later, Fleetwood phoned him inviting him to work on his solo African extravaganza, The Visitor, when he felt ready. “We had a really good time,” says Fleetwood. “He was objective, he was a lot better than I’d seen him for years. He spent some time with me and even got married at my house in L.A. (on January 4, 1978 to Jane Samuel). But all that went wrong and he seemed to slip back.”

Fleetwood the entrepreneur had been so hopeful that he lined Green up with a deal to relaunch his recording career but, to his mortification, when Green saw the contract he said it was “the devil’s work”. Back then, in his frustration, Fleetwood told a reporter: “I’ve totally given up with Peter. After a while it just wears me down.” Now he says: “I’ve got his phone number. I’ll check in with him before I leave. It’s just I get nervous because I don’t know whether he wants to talk or…It’s odd. He’s a stranger now really.”

Over in Richmond the Sunday Mirror man asked Peter Green whether he would ever play the guitar again. “I had one a while ago,” he said, “but it broke.”

© Phil Sutcliffe / Q / July 1987