Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 09.12.11 in Reviews

Tango In The Night

Fleetwood Mac

What began as Lindsey Buckingham’s third solo disc morphed into one of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest and best albums because the guitarist wasn’t happy with the idea that 1982′s Mirage, an effort he considered substandard, might otherwise be their last. Like that record, this 1987 smash is blatantly commercial: It spawned four Top 20 singles in the U.S. and went triple-platinum; in the UK, it was the seventh-best-selling album of the ’80s. But unlike Mirage, it doesn’t feel like a compromise: Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie all contribute forceful material and performances, and John McVie and Mick Fleetwood’s rhythmic interplay may be at its all-time tightest: The pounding opening cut, Buckingham’s “Big Love,” rightly remains a club favorite. Despite whatever discord that might’ve taken place behind the scenes (Buckingham exited shortly before the Tango tour), Mac’s chemistry is once again palpable.

One of their biggest and best albums

Nowhere is that synchronicity more compelling – and more telling – than on what became the band’s final American smash, McVie’s “Little Lies.” All three songwriters contribute their own distinctive vocal styles, and still manage to harmonize as one. Yet the song describes how a lover would rather be deceived than hurt by the truth, which might as well be a mantra for the band: Both it and the rest of this distinctly nocturnal Tango is full of tingly pop touches offset by chords that are just slightly discordant, sounds both meticulously gentle and subtly unsettling. Like the synth line that snakes through “Little Lies,” there’s something beautifully off about the whole album, a haunting quality that not only complements the soft rock on display but also threatens to dislodge it completely.