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Album Reviews Article Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac (1975)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac (1975) Deluxe Edition

Fleetwood Mac 1975, Deluxe EditionFLEETWOOD MAC

Rhino (4-CD, 1-LP Box Set)

**** (four stars out of five)

The latest, and possibly the last, in Rhino’s series of deluxe boxed Fleetwood Mac albums (they’re not really going to tackle Behind the Mask and Time, are they?) sits in a most peculiar position.

On the one hand, 1975’s eponymous LP features some of the band’s most beloved songs — “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “Crystal,” “World Turning”; three more sizeable radio hits — “Say You Love Me,” “Over My Head” and “Monday Morning”; and, of course, the most seismic new additions the group’s ever-changing lineup had seen, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.

On the other hand, however, Fleetwood Mac is so dwarfed by what came next, the mega-platinum double punch of Rumours and Tusk, that it is often… not overlooked, but certainly underrated. A fate which this box loudly declares to be utterly without merit.

The original album is problematic, it is true. The lineup was still finding its feet in the studio, still figuring out its capabilities. The songs which would probably have made it onto the record regardless of who the new kids might have been — McVie’s “Sugar Daddy,” “Over My Head” and “Warm Ways,” and Michael and Richard Curtis’s “Blue Letter” — could have been recorded just as successfully by at least the last couple of incarnations, while “Say You Love Me” escapes that definition only by virtue of a distinctly Buckingham-esque arrangement.

Sonically, too, it felt a little underwhelming, a bit too nice. A bit easy listening. Nothing like the aural feast that tears from the grooves of Rumours and beyond. Or maybe that’s just hindsight talking, because the first thing you notice this time around is, just how aggressive it can be.

Four discs (plus remastered vinyl of the original album) serve up Fleetwood Mac and four attendant single edits (disc one); early versions and a live appearance on the Warner Bros. sound stage (disc two); a compilation of tracks from the accompanying tour (disc three) and, finally, a 5.1 surround sound mix that brings a whole new ambiance into play.

Remixed, the album feels tougher, wilder. Buckingham’s guitar is seldom less than in-yer-face, while it feels as though the original mix was completely set aside, in favor of what the early versions and the live tracks reveal to have been the group’s natural sound.

Not every track has been re-envisioned, not every change is for the best — the added laughter and effects appended to “Sugar Daddy” do not raise the song above its customary mawkish demeanor, and the vocals on “I’m So Afraid” feel thinner than the song demands.

But “Over My Head” suddenly touches Tusk‘s “Warm Ways” in the quest for all-encompassing perfection; “Landslide” and “Crystal” feel more raw than ever; and “World Turning” is simply unhinged. Again, you catch hints of this in the alternate versions, and extensions of it in concert… the seven minute “Rhiannon,” taken from the Sound Stage tapes, is a tout-ensemble peak that Mac in general, and Nicks in particular, never recaptured. History itself might not have been rewritten had this mix been deployed back in 1975, but the album’s reputation may well have been.

With just one of the non-album tracks, the aptly-named “Jam #2,” having seen release in the past, the box is generous. The live discs afford us the opportunity to hear this lineup tackle selected highlights from the past (“Hypnotized” is a genuine treat), and though the liner essay feels a little too rote, the booklet itself packs some terrific photos. Indeed, no matter how much you love the other box sets in this series, Fleetwood Mac might well be the one you need to hear the most.

Maybe they should tackle Behind the Mask next.

Dave Thompson / Goldmine / April 2018, p. 31.

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Album Reviews Article Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac (1975)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Deluxe

Fleetwood Mac 1975, Deluxe EditionFLEETWOOD MAC

Fleetwood Mac: Deluxe

Reprise R2 559454 (1 LP/3 CDs/1 DVD). 1975/2018. Fleetwood Mac, prods.; Keith Olsen, prod., eng.; David Devoe, Dan Hersch, others, engs. ADD? TT: 3:27:04

PERFORMANCE **** 1/2

SONICS ****

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this album. I’d been a keen fan of Fleetwood Mac since its early days, and each release was greeted with great expectations. Like a lot of British blues bands of the late 1960s, in the mid-’70s the Mac seemed to struggle toward a difficult career coda; lineups didn’t last, and we even had to endure a completely different band touring under the Fleetwood Mac name.

But from the first joyous moments of Fleetwood Mac, it was clear that this new version of the band was something special. I’d heard and liked the California power pop of Buckingham Nicks, but had no inkling how well that duo could complete an entirely new Fleetwood Mac identity. Hearing Lindsey Buckingham’s “Monday Morning” ring out of my speakers was akin to hearing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” for the first time. The extraordinary harmonies of Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie were the sound of angels, as yet another British singer found her true roots in California.

Fleetwood Mac 1975, Deluxe EditionThe shock of how good this record was accumulated as the disc played out and it became clear that the Mac had changed stripes. Always a guitarist’s guitar band with some great songwriting but vocals that were secondary to the overall sound, this Fleetwood Mac was all about the songs and the singing. Buckingham’s inspired guitar work was in support of the whole meal, but was not itself the main course. For the first time, the band featured three outstanding singers and songwriters, who balanced each other fully in all the compositions. The stalwart rhythm section of Christine McVie on keyboards, her husband, John McVie, on bass, and Mick Fleetwood on drums kept the core identity of the band on course.

Perhaps most important, the new lineup brought Christine McVie into focus. By this time, the Mac had long been a guy’s band, with Christine a featured element. Now she was the fulcrum between the old and new lineups, her dusky soprano the anchor between Buckingham’s jolly, effusive tenor and Nicks’s soaring alto. With Buckingham and Nicks as her band partners, McVie, one of the greatest R&B singer-songwriters England has ever produced, upped her writing game. She delivered soulful expressions of sexual emotion in “Say You Love Me,” “Over My Head,” and “Sugar Daddy,” and of abiding tenderness in “Warm Ways.” What’s more, it was now a woman’s band, with Christine and Nicks contrasting brilliandy. Nicks countered McVie’s earthiness with an ethereal, otherworldly quality in her writing epitomized by her self-branding vehicle, “Rhiannon,” and the timeless life metaphor of “Landslide,” still so apt today. Buckingham’s shimmering pop songs, including “World Turning,” cowritten with McVie, fit perfectly.

What we hear here is the magic of discovery. This band hadn’t even played together live when they began work on these tracks with producer Keith Olsen, and they were all finding something new about themselves. Perhaps one can’t attribute spirit or emotion to the technical job of recording sound, but I believe that Olsen’s original analog vision for this music can’t be improved on by a digital remastering. The 180gm vinyl of this new set is heavier than the original LP, and lovingly mastered by Dan Hersch in what might be called a modernization. Fleetwood’s drums are now closer to the front of the mix, but something unexplainable is missing from the sense of how it all hangs together. Instead of the music surrounding Buckingham’s voice, now it shoots past. Playing the new LP, I kept wanting to turn the volume up, but that only further diluted the song’s emotional core. If you want an LP of Fleetwood Mac, get an original pressing.

The real pay dirt is in the three CDs. The remastering, though inferior to the original CD, sounds appropriately bright, and fuller than the previous digital transfers in 1984 and 2004. Disc 1 also includes mixes of the singles “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me,” and “Blue Letter.” On Disc 2 we hear ideas being worked out in early takes, as well as live tracks from a Warner Bros, soundstage, where “Over My Head,” Rhiannon,” and “World Turning” hint at the concert staples they would become.

On disc 3, Fleetwood Mac morphs before live audiences into the band we still recognize today. The foundation jam tracks “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown),” from the Mac’s Peter Green era, still strut their stomp but are clearly not where this group is headed. The beautiful, hypnotic “Station Man,” a relic from the wonderful Kiln House, does manage to fit within the contours of the New Mac, and the expanded set list, which includes the soulful “Spare Me a Little,” emphasizes even more how much the new lineup has begun to orbit Christine McVie. Disc 4 is a DVD with a 5.1-channel surroundsound mix of the original album and two-channel, 24-bit/96kHz mixes of the four singles from disc 1. The music is also available as digital downloads and from streaming services.

Say you love me to my face

I need it more than your embrace

Just say you want me, that’s all it takes

Heart’s getting torn from your mistakes.”

—Christine McVie from “Say You Love Me”

John Swenson / Stereophile / April 2018

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Article Fleetwood Mac (1975)

Landslides, Goose Bumps, and Other First Initial Feelings

“Do you always trust your first initial feeling?”

That was the memorable question poetically posed in the song “Crystal,” a gorgeous composition written by Stevie Nicks, featuring a moving lead vocal by Lindsey Buckingham that was first recorded for their 1973 debut effort as a duo, Buckingham Nicks; and then more famously redone for Fleetwood Mac, the game-changing 1975 release that will forever hold a special place in the enduring history of this legendary band.

Fleetwood Mac — also commonly known as “The White Album” — would ultimately prove in the best possible way that hood things do indeed come to those who dare to trust their first initial feelings. Whereas The Beatles’ “White Album” captured a brilliant band just as it was starting to splinter in separate directions, Fleetwood Mac’s own “White Album” marked the opposite — that notable moment when another genuinely fabulous band’s most beloved and successful lineup first came together. In a sense, Fleetwood Mac stands as the late-breaking origin story that tells the true tale of how a dynamic but little-known duo from America joined forces with what was left of a better-known but somewhat struggling blues band from England, then somehow all simultaneously becoming international superstars in the process. And to think, it all happened because Mick Fleetwood took a giant leap of faith and trusted a gut instinct as if it was pure crystalline knowledge.

“Thankfully, the undeniable musical genius of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks struck an instant chord with me when I first heard them,” Mick Fleetwood says today, with a laugh. “So I trusted my first initial feeling, and believe me, that has made all the difference.”

“This Fleetwood Mac album represents a magical time to remember when the planets all aligned for us,” adds Christine McVie, still sounding extremely grateful, all these years later. “This is where the goose bumps all began.”

Long ago and far away in the distant time called the middle ‘70s, Fleetwood Mac was an established veteran band that had already survived numerous incarnations and dramatic personnel changes since their early days in the British blue-rock scene of the late ‘60s, initially fronted by Peter Green, a notable guitar god who had left the group back in 1970. There were times when one really needed a scorecard to keep track of who was on the Fleetwood Mac team. Then in late 1974, Fleetwood Mac hit another significant bump in the road when the group’s latest lead guitarist, frequent lead singer and songwriter Bob Welch, announced he was leaving. And now there were just three band members left in the ranks of Fleetwood Mac — name partners Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, and Christine McVie (former Christine Perfect) still there and still perfect on keyboards and vocals, and by now married to her bandmate.

It is what we’re discussing here. It is what made Lindsey’s guitar and that vocal blend with Stevie stay with me. It is whatever makes music and people connect. Ultimately, It is what it’s about.”—MICK FLEETWOOD

A sudden departure like Welch’s might have ended up causing some lesser bands to throw in the towel, but not a band with an endlessly energetic and optimistic drummer and then-manager like Mick Fleetwood. Rather, Mick instantly flashed back a few weeks to a tip he had taken in search of a relatively inexpensive place to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album — their tenth — in the Los Angeles area. At the behest of Keith Olsen, an excellent producer and engineer acquaintance of his, Fleetwood took a little time to go check out the Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, much later to become legendary thanks to Dave Grohl’s documentary of the same name. While there, Olsen demonstrated Sound City’s sonic potential by playing Fleetwood a few tracks from the Buckingham Nicks album he had produced there. Though the release had already come and gone commercially, something about the music stayed with Fleetwood, particularly the unusual and impressive guitar work from this Lindsey Buckingham character. “Lindsey’s style was so stunning and unique, it was what hit me first, and it hit me hard.”

“Mick has a sixth or seventh sense about these things,” Christine McVie says, before adding, “He may have made a few mistakes in band personnel over the years, but this was definitely not one of them.”

“That hour and a half spent in Sound City changed everything,” says Fleetwood. “I think Keith Olsen played me ‘Frozen Love,’ ‘Crying in the Night,’ and ‘Crystal’ — which we ended up re-cutting for Fleetwood Mac — by Buckingham Nicks. I do not believe I even heard the whole album. Bob Welch had not left yet. So I was not looking for a new guitarist or other band members at the time. It was purely the music that, by some miracle, made such a vivid impression. And I give myself kudos there because the music Lindsey and Stevie were making was very different — it wasn’t blues or the sort of thing I’d been brought up on. But what it did have was something that from the start in this band, Peter Green — who taught me so much — me, and, John used to call simply ‘It.’ We’d always say, ‘Yes, but does it have It.’ It is what we’re discussing here. It is what made Lindsey’s guitar and that vocal blend with Stevie stay with me. It is whatever makes music and people connect. Ultimately, It is what it’s about.”

And yet it all almost didn’t happen because, as Stevie Nicks still loves to jokingly remind Mick Fleetwood, his initial call was to Lindsey Buckingham to ask only him about joining Fleetwood Mac, and not her. “In my defense, our pressing need at the moment was for a guitar player,” Fleetwood recalls with a laugh. “To Lindsey’s credit, Buckingham made it immediately and eminently clear that he wasn’t going anywhere without Stevie Nicks.” Thankfully, Buckingham’s bold insistence on this matter led to Fleetwood Mac making perhaps the single greatest package deal in all of musical history. Yet before this wildly successful musical merger could happen, there were a few matters to attend to, like these young Americans getting to know the current British band members to see if they could work and play well with another.

The now-legendary Fleetwood Mac chemistry test took place at El Carmen, a Mexican restaurant on 3rd Street in Los Angeles. “We already loved the music,” remembers Mick Fleetwood, “but the dinner was the audition. Because the only thing Chris said to me was, ‘There’s nothing worse than two women who don’t get on. And I’ll know right away.’ So that was a very pivotal dinner. Luckily, Chis loved Stevie, straight away — this sparkling, little high-energy lady. And that was that. Lindsey and Stevie were asked to play with us without ever playing a note with us. It’s almost insane in retrospect considering the high risk, but somehow Christine and all of us knew.”

As Christine McVie remembers, “What Mick said to me before the meeting was, ‘Chris, if you don’t like the girl, then it’s not going to happen.’ I had never been in a band with another girl before, so it was important. So we met for Mexican food. First, right from their entrance, I was so struck by the way Lindsey looked when he in walked in the door — I said to myself, Wow, this guy is a god. And then Stevie walked in laughing, so cute and so tiny, and I took an instant liking to her. She has this wonderful laugh and a fantastic sense of humor. So by the end of that evening, I said, ‘Mick, let’s do this.’”

For Christine McVie, the key moment came a little later when the group finally gathered for their first musical rehearsal. “I had written a new song called ‘Say You Love Me’ that ended up being a bit of a hit,” she explains. “So I just started playing the song, and when the chorus came around and I sang, they started piping in with these perfect three-part harmonies. We carried on singing, but we all got enormous goose bumps. I looked at Mick, and he looked at me, and we went, ‘This is it.’ We would talk a lot about ‘The It Factor’ then, and this was It all over. Right from that moment, we went straight into making this album, and the whole experience was this wonderful giant discovery. We all had the best time, and I think that joy comes across even when you listen to it today.”

“As soon as Christine heard the Buckingham Nicks music she knew there were musical and harmonic possibilities she could not deny,” says Fleetwood. “A huge switch went off in her head, and by hearing all the harmonies and layering, there was something thrilling here to explore. We’d only touched a little on harmonies with Bob Welch, but these two new voices exploded in our heads, and suddenly, all these possibilities opened up because these two were so good, such powerhouses. When I first heard Lindsey and Stevie, it was like hearing The Everly Brothers on steroids, where they know instinctively what they are doing at any given moment. Christine adding her own earthy tones and soul to that made for some extreme magic right away. Hearing us all together for the first time is the reason we’re all still talking about this album after all this time.”

For Christine, the addition of Buckingham and Nicks was not simply a golden opportunity, but also the best kind of artistic challenge. “I was excited by their talent, but I also sensed I had to upgrade my game as a songwriter to keep up with them after I heard the Buckingham Nicks album,” she explains. “I thought, Crickey, these two can really write. So I got on my piano — one of those transistorized Hohners — in a tiny bedsit that John and I rented in Malibu, right on the ocean. And I sat there and wrote ‘Over My Head,’ ‘Warm Ways’ — those two at least. And I also found Lindsey, and I could co-write — ‘World Turning’ was our first song together and a strong start.”

Even all these years later, the overall strength of the material featured on Fleetwood Mac remains astounding, with McVie singling out “Monday Morning” and “I’m So Afraid” by Buckingham, and “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” by Nicks as just a few of her many favorites. And somehow, despite all the change and the new infusion of talent, including Buckingham’s growing strength as an arranger and producer, there remains the pulse of Fleetwood Mac, thanks in large part to the distinctive pulse of the group’s rhythm section. “If you change members in a lot of other big bands, I don’t think they change the essence, the musical identity as much as we have,” says Mick Fleetwood. “Put on this album and put on Live At Chess Records with Peter Green, and it is stunning to think that can be the same band, but somehow it is. I feel like there are other bands that have survived, but no other that changed as much, and despite or perhaps because of that somehow survived as well. I think perhaps John and I hanging in there allowed this funny diverse band to keep changing and evolving. It was really all three of the writers’ songs — and our balls — keeping it going. And the album you’re writing about that is that line in the sand where you can see the biggest and most significant change. It came along at a time when it could have the end, but instead it became a new beginning.”

With the initial sessions for Fleetwood Mac proceeding so well in Sound City, Mick Fleetwood couldn’t wait to take this new version of Fleetwood Mac on the road. As he recalls, “At that time I was the manager — or the nearest facsimile to a manager we had — so I remember going to see Mo Ostin at our label, Warner Bros., while we were making that album, and it was so evident to all of us that something was happening. So I took some of the tracks, and I remember I went around the corner for two brandies to pluck the courage before seeing the big head honcho. I sat down with Mo and said, ‘I’m just saying, if you don’t hear something special here, will you let us go? Because I really believe this is something special.’ It was a kind of naive threat, I think. And of course, Mo loved it. Then I said, ‘This is so special, I think we need to go out as a band because I knew when the record came out, we had to be ready for whatever came. Also we really needed a little pocket money.”

Right from that moment, we went straight into making this album, and the whole experience was this wonderful giant discovery. We all had the best time, and I think that joy comes across even when you listen to it today.” —CHRISTINE MCVIE

Thinking back now, Mick Fleetwood says, “We were literally knowing but unknowing about what lay ahead for us. But I wanted to make sure we were tried and tested and ready for whatever was coming. Lindsey and Stevie walked onstage with nobody knowing who they were as part of Fleetwood Mac, playing some of our old music, a few songs of theirs, and of course, some of the stuff on our album to come. Yet when we walked on the stage together, we instantly saw our audience coming alive, as something new unfolded onstage. So we did a short tour like that, went back and finished the album already knowing that we were ready for whatever came. We knew there was this tremendous chemistry onstage. We became very aware of what a remarkable player Lindsey is and of young Stevie’s amazing stage presence, and how that changed the game. And the rest is history.”

As Christine recalls, “Obviously, we started out in some half-empty halls, but right away there was something happening onstage that ignited between the five of us. Even back then before all the social media, there was word of mouth and good reviews, and gradually the audience heard the buzz and started showing.”

Fleetwood Mac was released in July 1975 by Warner’s Reprise label, and shared that minimalist title with the group’s 1968 debut. Gradually, the new album became a slow-burning sensation — reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 more than a year after entering the chart. Ultimately, the album would spend 37 weeks in the Top Ten and more than fifteen months in the Top 40. The “White Album” became the second-biggest album of 1976, outsold only by Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive. As singles from the album, “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon,” and “Say You Love Me,” all went Top 20, “Monday Morning” became an FM favorite, and “Landslide” slowly but surely emerged as an enduring standard. Another radio favorite was “Blue Letter,” a song with a lead vocal by Buckingham, which Lindsey and Stevie had demoed with their former Polydor labelmates, The Curtis Bros., making it a rare cover for this lineup of Fleetwood Mac.

In the end, the goose bumps were only the beginning. “There was such a sense of excitement, you didn’t want to leave the studio,” say Christine McVie. “We are so diverse in so many ways, including that we have men and women, Americans and Brits, and three main writers with very different styles of writing. We all sing on each other’s songs. And the songs themselves are diverse. Yet there’s always a thread that catches all the songs together and makes all the pieces fit. Even before there was ‘The Chain,” there was something tying us all together.”

David Wild / Fleetwood Mac – Deluxe Edition / January 19, 2018

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Album Reviews Article Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac (1975)

Mac-ing a mountain out of a molehill

REVIEW
Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac — Deluxe
** (two stars)

Rhino 0081227940669
(CD/2CD/3CD+DVD+LP)

Do you need another expanded copy of Fleetwood Mac? We’re not so sure. There’s the remastered album, though arguably it has always been a mixed bag, carried on the strengths of Stevie Nicks’ and Christine McVie’s excellent contributions.

There is a disc of demos which, in truth, don’t stray too far from the finished products, with only slight alterations being generally noticeable, such as some added guitar work on “Say You Love Me” or a fully acoustic “Landslide.” Similarly extras such as Jam #2 and single versions of the hits were all issued on a 2004 package.

The remainder showcases previously unreleased live takes from the Jorgensen Auditorium in Connecticut, among other venues and while overall enjoyable, versions of songs like “Rhiannon” reveal that at their worst, the band are given to bloated pomp; with chief offenders being the indulgent guitar playing of Buckingham and Nicks’ clumsy lyric changes.

There are some interesting live cuts of “Why” and “Hypnotized” (Mystery To Me); “Station Man” (Kiln House); “Spare Me A Little Of Your Love” (Bare Trees); “Don’t Let Me Down Again” from Buckingham/ Nicks and Peter Green’s “Oh Well” and “The Green Manalishi With The Two Pronged Crown” — clearly performed with love but still best heard when performed by early Mac.

Completlsts will want It but better was to follow, and this set is overall a reminder of that.

Hannah Vettese / Record Collector / January 2018

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Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac (1975)

Fleetwood Mac ‘Deluxe’ out Jan 19

Fleetwood Mac will be releasing three editions of its 1975 self-titled album, including a fully-loaded Deluxe set, on January 19. The band issued a new release about the reissues on its official website. The reissue sets up the promotion for the band’s world tour, which is expected to kick off in 2018.

Deluxe (3CD/DVD/LP): The original album with newly remastered audio on CD and LP; rare and unreleased studio and live recordings; plus a DVD with 5.1 Surround Sound and high-resolution mixes of the original album.

Expanded (2CD): The original album with newly remastered sound expanded with rare and unreleased studio and live recordings.

Remastered (CD): Original album with newly remastered sound.

Remastered audio will also via digital download and streaming services. The deluxe can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.

Fleetwood Mac Deluxe Edition Track List

Disc One – Original Album Remastered and Singles
1. “Monday Morning”
2. “Warm Ways”
3. “Blue Letter”
4. “Rhiannon”
5. “Over My Head”
6. “Crystal”
7. “Say You Love Me”
8. “Landslide”
9. “World Turning”
10. “Sugar Daddy”
11. “I’m So Afraid”
12. “Over My Head” – Single Version
13. “Rhiannon” – Single Version
14. “Say You Love Me” – Single Version
15. “Blue Letter” – Single Version

Disc Two – Alternates and Live
1. “Monday Morning” – Early Take
2. “Warm Ways” – Early Take
3. “Blue Letter” – Early Take
4. “Rhiannon” – Early Take
5. “Over My Head” – Early Take
6. “Crystal” – Early Take
7. “Say You Love Me” – Early Version
8. “Landslide” – Early Version
9. “World Turning” – Early Version
10. “Sugar Daddy” – Early Take
11. “I’m So Afraid” – Early Version
12. “Over My Head” – Live
13. “Rhiannon” – Live
14. “Why” – Live
15. “World Turning” – Live
16. Jam #2
17. “I’m So Afraid” – Early Take Instrumental

Disc Three – Live
1. “Get Like You Used To Be”
2. “Station Man”
3. “Spare Me A Little”
4. “Rhiannon”
5. “Why”
6. “Landslide”
7. “Over My Head”
8. “I’m So Afraid”
9. “Oh Well”
10. “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)”
11. “World Turning”
12. “Blue Letter”
13. “Don’t Let Me Down Again”
14. “Hypnotized”

Check back soon for details on how you can enter to win a free copy of Fleetwood Mac Deluxe!

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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)

FLEETWOOD MAC
TANGO IN THE NIGHT
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)

Categories
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

Categories
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

Categories
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

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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
(3CD+DVD+LP/2CD/CD)

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)

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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

Categories
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

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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

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Mirage (1982) Mirage - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2016)

Fleetwood Mac reissues Mirage, Deluxe Edition

Fleetwood Mac releases deluxe edition of 1982 album Mirage.

Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage brought the on-again, off-again band into the Reagan era, and now the classic 1982 album is getting a deluxe reissue that adds two discs of rare gold.

A disc of demos covers early versions of every song on the album—a highlight is Christine McVie’s initial take of “Hold Me,” which had a traditional piano-rock chorus rather than the smooth, layered experimental totally ’80s vibe the final cut got. (I kinda like the piano-rock version better?)

The third disc is a Mirage tour concert from the LA Forum that’s been circulating for years as a crappy bootleg. Nice to have it all cleaned up.

Chris Kohler / Wired / October 7, 2016

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Mirage (1982)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (Deluxe Edition)

If ever there was a case of the media building up and then knocking down a band, it was the one involving Fleetwood Mac in the late-’70s and early-’80s. The critics cheered when the group—newly energized by the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks—delivered its chart-topping eponymous album in 1975 and the even better Rumours a year later.

But many of those same critics spoke less kindly of the follow-up to Rumours, 1979’s Tusk. According to them, it eschewed commercialism in favor of self-indulgent experimentation, though major experimentation was in fact largely limited to the excellent title cut. Then, when the group reverted to fully accessible form on its next studio album, 1982’s Mirage, reviewers griped that the band was going backwards; never mind that this radio-friendly LP delivered exactly what the critics claimed was missing in its predecessor.

Well, as I noted last year, Tusk ranks among the most underrated albums of the rock era. But Mirage—which Fleetwood Mac’s members recorded in France after pursuing solo projects—is arguably even more underrated. …

Read the full review at The Morton Report

Jeff Burger / The Morton Report / Monday, September 26, 2016

 

 

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Article Mirage (1982) Mirage - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2016)

Mick Fleetwood reflects on overlooked Mirage

1982-mirage-album-cover

Mick Fleetwood talks to Rolling Stone about the band’s ‘overlooked’ smash Mirage

Ahead of new reissue, drummer Mick Fleetwood talks “wild and romantic” France sessions, opulent video shoots, and more

“I don’t think it would be wrong to say it sort of got overlooked,” says Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, reminiscing about his band’s 1982 album, Mirage, which will be reissued in a deluxe package via Warner Bros. on September 23rd. It’s something of an odd statement to make about a record that charted at Number One on the Billboard 200, spawned multiple hit singles and went on to sell more than three million copies. Of course, when you’re in Fleetwood Mac, the definition of what constitutes success is relative.

The album, the band’s 13th studio effort overall and fourth to feature singer Stevie Nicks and singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham alongside longtime members Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, came on the heels of one of the more impressive runs in rock: the lineup’s smash 1975 “debut,” Fleetwood Mac; the now-more-than-40-million-selling follow-up, Rumours; and the sprawling and sonically adventurous Buckingham-helmed double–LP Tusk (a commercial “failure” that still managed to move several million copies). By the time the band reconvened for Mirage in May 1981, they had been off the road for close to a year, during which time three members had recorded – but not yet released – solo albums (Buckingham’s Law and Order, Fleetwood’s The Visitor and Nicks’ eventual chart-topping, multi-platinum Bella Donna). That time apart, combined with the tensions that had been brought on by the experimental nature of the Tusk album, left them ready to recapture a bit of the old Rumours magic, so to speak.

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“There’s no doubt that having come off Tusk there was a conscious effort to make Mirage into more of a band album,” Fleetwood says. “Because Tusk had been very much Lindsey’s vision. And it was a great one – along with [1969’s] Then Play On, it’s probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac album. So it was a highly successful creative moment. But at the time we took some blows for it, and Lindsey in particular, because the album wasn’t as successful as Rumours. How could it be, anyhow? But that being beside the point, I think Lindsey sort of handed back the mantle on Mirage. It was, ‘Let’s just do this as a band.’ That was the vibe going into it.”
The result was an album that, if judged by its two hit singles – Christine McVie’s buoyant “Hold Me” and Stevie Nicks’ somewhat autobiographical “Gypsy” – seemed to represent something of a step back to the concise, sharp-focus pop-rock that had characterized Rumours and Fleetwood Mac. Indeed, says Fleetwood, “If you were a sort of super-intellectual critic, which is maybe not a great place to come from, it would be fair game to say the album kind of went backwards.” But, he adds, “Having said that, the amazing thing is that, looking back on it now, in the present day, so many of those songs are at a very high level in the continuing story of Fleetwood Mac.”

All the more reason, then, to revisit Mirage now. The new three-CD-plus-DVD deluxe package presents the original 12-track album in remastered form, along with one disc of B sides, outtakes and rarities, and another that collects 13 songs from two nights at the Forum in Los Angeles during the band’s 1982 Mirage U.S. tour. Also included is a vinyl copy of the album and a DVD of the original collection in 5.1 surround sound (additionally, there are two-CD, single-disc and digital download versions available). “The fact that we’re talking about it again is actually really cool,” Fleetwood says of Mirage. “Because we ended up making a far better album than we gave ourselves credit for for many years.”

They also made an album that is more varied and quirky than it gets credit for. In addition to the two hit singles, there’s plenty more of the sort of expertly crafted soft rock the band had become known for by that point, such as Christine McVie–penned tracks like “Only Over You” and the propulsive opener (and minor hit) “Love in Store.” But there’s also the brittle electro-pop of Buckingham’s “Empire State” and lilting country-folk of Nicks’ “That’s Alright,” the latter a holdover from the Buckingham Nicks days a decade earlier. Furthermore, unlike the lineup’s three previous efforts, which were recorded mostly in and around California, Fleetwood Mac, along with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut (who co-produced with Buckingham and the band), tracked Mirage largely in France, at the famed Château d’Hérouville, outside of Paris. Explains Fleetwood of the change of scenery, “My recollect was I asked the band if I could record overseas to help me out with some tax issues. And very kindly they did that. But in truth, knowing me, I think the main purpose of it was to get them the hell out of L.A. so that we could make an album without imploding.”

“I personally had probably too much fun. I used to go into Paris every weekend and misbehave.”

The band’s new environs offered up a different sort of vibe than the Southern California studios they were used to calling home. “We were at the Château, which was an historic place,” Fleetwood recalls. “If you look it up, you’ll see that some incredible shit was done there – [Elton John’s] Honky Chateau and all that. A whole load of people had recorded there. So it was an amazing place. It was wild and romantic. It’s a mansion in the French countryside, with cooks and food and wine, you know?” He laughs. “I personally had probably too much fun. I used to go into Paris every weekend and misbehave and come back for work on Monday morning. But it accomplished what we needed, and, all joking aside, the fact that we were in France and we were in the middle of nowhere, truly I think it had great value.”

The band’s choice of location for recording their music wasn’t the only aspect of Mirage that showed Fleetwood Mac breaking with their past. They also explored new avenues in terms of how they offered up that music for public consumption. Mirage was released in June of 1982, less than a year after the launch of MTV. As a legacy band that had often proved surprisingly adaptable to current trends, Fleetwood Mac embraced the music-video age to great success. So much so, that, rather than merely mimic playing their songs in the clips, as most artists did in the network’s earliest days, Fleetwood Mac opted to take on acting roles. The first single from Mirage, “Hold Me,” came complete with a storyline that showed the band frolicking in the Mojave Desert, with Fleetwood and John McVie playing archeologists who excitedly stumble upon a cache of buried guitars and other musical instruments. The elaborate clip for “Gypsy,” meanwhile, had the distinction of being the most expensive music video ever produced at the time. “I’m really glad we made it,” Fleetwood says, “even though it cost a fortune for us.”

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As for the shoots themselves, the directors of the videos for both “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” have since discussed the fact that the band’s well-publicized and mythologized romantic entanglements led to some uncomfortable moments on the sets. Fleetwood, however, says he doesn’t recall as much. “I don’t have huge memory of any gossipy things happening,” he says. “But the amount of pain we were used to going through, maybe it was noticeable. Although we had an uncanny ability to suck it up. But ‘Gypsy’ especially, it’s interesting because they’re featuring Lindsey and Stevie dancing in it and you’re going, ‘This is quite profound. …’ It was like, ‘Wow, that’s a scene!'”

He continues: “In general, though, we were really professional, and I believe from memory we were all hugely cooperative and into [doing the videos], really. There was no ‘I don’t wanna fucking do that,’ one-shot-and-we’re-out-of-there type stuff. And the directors, they were young filmmakers with big budgets, and they seemed quite conversant with handling lunacy. So they were fun days.” Fleetwood laughs. “I mean, to me everything was fun because I was having a party 24/7. So it didn’t really fucking matter! But I think we were good candidates for that sort of thing.”

It would seem that Fleetwood Mac were in fact very good candidates for that sort of thing, as both “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” became staples on MTV, helping the band to achieve two of the biggest hits of their career. In fact, Fleetwood now acknowledges that “those songs became more memorable than the album as a whole. And that’s sort of an unusual slant.

Mirage is part of our history,” he continues, “and as the band heads no doubt to a wind-down of some description in the next few years ahead, I think these types of cataloging events are important. Because it’s certainly not an album to be discarded. And now this little project is representing it, and giving it measured and investigated amounts of kudos. That’s a good thing.”

Richard Bienstock / Rolling Stone / Tuesday, September 20, 2016

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Tusk (1979) Tusk - Deluxe & Expanded Editions (2016)

REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tusk

Fleetwood Mac’s beautiful and terrifically strange 1979 LP Tusk poses the question: What happens when love dissipates, and you have to find a new thing to believe in? What if that thing is work?

Rating: 9.2/10

The autumn of 1979 was, by any reasonable accounting, a challenging time to be alive. The world felt tenuous, transitional: panicked families were fleeing East Germany via hot air balloon, China was restricting couples to one child each, fifty-two Americans were barred inside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, pending release of the Shah. It was also the year of Tusk, the album in which Fleetwood Mac, a soft-rock band second only to the Eaglesin their embodiment of easy 1970s gloss, completely lost their minds. It was the band’s twelfth album, though only its third with the now-iconic lineup of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, keyboardist Christine McVie, and singer Stevie Nicks, and it reflected a personal tumult so claustrophobic and intense it felt global in scale—an after-the-fall re-telling of catastrophic heartache and its endless reverberations.

By this time, Fleetwood Mac was widely beloved for its melodic, harmonized jams, which evoked Laurel Canyon, curtains of strung beads, turquoise jewelry, pricey incense, scarves flung over floor lamps, and brandy poured into a nice glass. Despite their smooth, murmuring sound, few of the band’s records pull punches emotionally, but even compared to a cry of pain like “The Chain,” Tusk is singular. It is pocked with heartbreak, resignation, lust, hope, and deep hurt. It poses unanswerable questions. It reckons with the past, and what that past means for a future. It invariably makes some people want to lock their door, excavate half a joint from the recesses of their couch cushions, and spend the next fourteen hours contemplating the Buckingham-Nicks union as one of the great failed loves of the twentieth century.

Just two years earlier, the band had released Rumours, a collection of pert and amiable love songs that sold over ten million copies and spent thirty-one weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Rumours is presently among the top ten best-selling albums in American history, and, as of 2009, has shipped more than forty million units worldwide. It was—it remains—an album owned by people who have only ever owned eleven albums.

Commercial success on that scale is, of course, a complicated thing to navigate; for Fleetwood Mac, it was presaged and then aggravated by outrageous amounts of cocaine and an awful lot of intra-band copulation. I don’t mean to be reductive about the group’s emotional dynamic, but I can’t think of another assemblage of five able-minded adults who created and survived such a preposterous tangle of romantic investments and divestments (to wit: Nicks and Buckingham, McVie and McVie, Nicks and Fleetwood, Fleetwood’s wife and former member Bob Weston, McVie and the lighting designer, and Fleetwood and Nicks’ then-married best friend—to cite just the handful of permutations known to the public).

By the time *Tusk *was released, the two primary relationships sustaining the band (Christine and John’s marriage, and Lindsey and Stevie’s long-standing romance) had fully dissolved, which seemed to qualify Fleetwood Mac, in some perverse way, to go on to become one of our best and bravest chroniclers of love’s horrifying tumult. Being tasked with singing backing vocals for a song written by your ex-lover, about you, months (and eventually years) after the relationship ruptured? Hold that in mind—just how excruciating that must’ve been. Then find a video of Buckingham and Nicks performing “Silver Springs” (a song written by Nicks about Buckingham, withheld from Rumours, and later released, either cruelly or keenly, as the B-side to the single “Go Your Own Way,” a song written by Buckingham about Nicks) and try not to lose your mind completely when, as if to narrate the precise mechanics of their break-up, Nicks announces: “I’ll begin not to love you… Tell myself you never loved me.”

It’s “Silver Springs,” more than any other track in the band’s pre-Tusk discography, that tells the story of how Buckingham and Nicks lost each other, and, ergo, the story of Tusk; performing the song live, they frequently end up locked in a kind of tense combat stance. When Nicks’ cool, steady voice begins to dissolve into something feral and nearly deranged (“Was I just a fool?” she finally hollers) she’ll often take steps toward him. He always meets her gaze, calmly, and with determination. Maybe they’re putting us all on, but there’s something in those moments that makes True Love—the preposterous, fairy-tale kind, the sort that never resolves itself, that can’t be outrun or eschewed, not ever, not after decades, not after a lifetime—seem entirely possible, even to the most hard-boiled cynics. I bring this up because it’s the only explanation I can think of as to how the band kept going, despite what must’ve seemed, to anyone watching, like a cataclysmic implosion. True Love doesn’t care if your relationship ends; it remains, it buoys you.

If Rumours was the band’s break-up record, Tusk covers arguably even more complicated ground: how to transform a romantic partnership into a purely creative one, while remaining mindful of all the perilous ways in which love nurtures art, and vice-versa. That the band did this at all, much less successfully, much less good-naturedly—in promotional photos for Tusk, Nicks is pictured resting her left hand disconcertingly close to a bulge in Buckingham’s blue jeans—is dumbfounding.

The result is a beautiful and terrifically strange album. From the outset, Buckingham was insistent that the band not churn out a sequel to Rumours. His was a defensive, contrarian pose: Let’s deliberately not recreate that colossal commercial and critical success; let’s instead do something different, artier, less bulletproof, more experimental, more explicitly influenced by punk and new-wave, and less indebted to pop. Tusk contains twenty songs and is seventy-two minutes long. It retailed for $15.98 (or $52.88, in 2016 dollars). Its terrifically unattractive cover features a grainy, off-center photograph of a disembodied foot getting chomped on by a dog. The title is a euphemism for cock. Its sequencing is plainly insane, seesawing between two equally manic moods: “Everything is totally going to be fine!!!” and “This plane is going down and we’re all going to die!!!”

Tusk took thirteen months to make, and was the first record to amass production costs of over a million dollars. It was called self-indulgent, and it is. Legends abound regarding the details of its composition and recording. Nicks described their space in Studio D as having been adorned with “shrunken heads and leis and Polaroids and velvet pillows and saris and sitars and all kinds of wild and crazy instruments, and the tusks on the console, like living in an African burial ground.” Everyone agrees Buckingham was losing it a little—that he was chasing something (artistic greatness? avant-garde credibility?) and pursuing it wildly, haphazardly, like a crazed housecat stalking a black fly about the living room. Did he really have a drum set installed in his bathroom so he could play while on his toilet? (More reasonable minds have suggested he merely liked the acoustics in there.)

One solid argument against Tusk—though it could also be levied against Rumours—is that it lacks narrative coherence, in part because it features three songwriters (Nicks, Buckingham, and McVie), each working in their own distinct style. Still, while Nicks and McVie contributed some truly lovely tracks—“Sara,” “Beautiful Child,” “Think About Me”—the record clearly belongs to Buckingham, who wrote nearly half its songs, insisted upon its scope, and is its unquestionable spiritual center, the hamster on its wheel. The engineer Ken Caillat described Buckingham as “a maniac” during the sessions. He said it without equivocation. “The first day, I set the studio up as usual. Then he said, ‘Turn every knob 180 degrees from where it is now and see what happens.’ He’d tape microphones to the studio floor and get into a sort of push-up position to sing. Early on, he came in and he’d freaked out in the shower and cut off all his hair with nail scissors. He was stressed.”

At one point, Buckingham insisted that the band rent out Dodgers Stadium, and arranged to have the 112-piece U.S.C. Marching Band back them on the title track (his bandmates went along with this; none of the group’s foundational romantic relationships were intact, but Tusk still couldn’t have been made by people who didn’t trust one another implicitly). “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone?” Buckingham and Nicks chant, their voices paranoid. Buried somewhere in there is a riff that could have sold a zillion cassingles, had this been 1977. But it wasn’t.

Though Tusk’s most memorable tracks are also its strangest (like “The Ledge,” a manic, pitter-pattering kiss-off in which the band’s signature harmonies are overridden by a guitar that’s been tuned down and turned up), there are a handful of songs that harken back to Rumours’ rich palatability. “Save Me A Place” plays like an extension, at least lyrically, of “Go Your Own Way,” in which Buckingham begrudges his lover’s unwillingness to grab what he’s half-offering her.  A lot of Buckingham’s lyrics from the late ‘70s seem to simultaneously admit trepidation and cast him as the aggrieved party; he seems, in an endearing way, oblivious to his own caveats, or how they might dissuade another person. “Guess I want to be alone, and I guess I need to be amazed/Save me a place, I’ll come running if you love me today,” he sings on “Save Me A Place.” He later described the song as vulnerable. “None of us had the luxury of distance to get closure… It’s about a feeling that’s been laid off to one side and maybe not been fully dealt with, sadness and a sense of loss.” It captures the wildness of recovery: what happens when love dissipates, and you have to find a new thing to believe in? What if that thing is work?

Buckingham funneled all of his disorientation into these songs. Tusk is, more than anything else, a document of that feeling and that process—of bewilderment turning into ambition writ large. What happens when a complicated, wounded person grows exhausted and unimpressed by the commercial medium he took to naturally, maybe even instinctively, but no longer believes is important or curative? It’s not hard to imagine the voice of Buckingham’s internal foil during these sessions, whispering seedily, naysaying each new melody, pushing for more: “This is fine, but it’s not Art.” I don’t know anyone who cares about making things who hasn’t at some point lobbed the exact same challenge at themselves: Can’t you do better? Hasn’t someone done this before? Haven’t you done this before? You get the sense of a broken-down person trying to rebuild himself. He is diligent about getting the architecture right.

All of which makes “I Know I’m Not Wrong”—the first song the band started recording for Tusk, and the last one to be finished – even more poignant. When Tusk was reissued, in 2015, the expanded release included six (!) different “I Know I’m Not Wrong” demos, all recorded by Buckingham in his home studio. The chorus is a declaration of intention, of confidence: “Don’t blame me/Please be strong/I know I’m not wrong.” It’s not a thing a person gets to say very often. But Tusk isn’t a record that gets made more than once.

Amanda Petrusich / Pitchfork / July 17, 2016