New York Times, May 13, 1987

The Pop Life

Edgy Wistfulness from Fleetwood Mac

by Stephen Holden

Fleetwood Mac's exquisitely produced new album, "Tango In The Night" (Warner Brothers) is filled with ghostly voices and delicate folk-rock instrumentation all interwoven into the pop musical equivalent of a moody Gothic romance.

Looking out for love
In the night so still
Oh I'll build you a kingdom
In that house on the hill

Thus begins Lindsey Buckingham's song, "Big Love." The album's opening cut and first single (currently No. 7 on Billboard's Hot 100). "Big Love" establishes a mood of edgy, sophisticated wistfulness that runs through all 12 of the album's cuts.

Song after song expresses a mixture of longing and remembrance, as Mr. Buckingham's shimmering arrangements for the quintet's three principal singers - himself, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks - evoke the members of the group calling to one another from mist-shrouded turrets, across vast distances. In the album's two most beautiful productions, "Mystified" and "Little Lies," Ms. McVie's mournful, smoky folk alto winds through lush jungles of whispering voices strung with delicate acoustic instrumentation. The album's one sour note is an inferior Stevie Nicks song, "Welcome to the Room . . . Sara," in which the singer's voice rings harsh and flat.

Mr. Buckingham, the group's 37-year-old lead guitarist and co-producer, has long been the principal architect of the Fleetwood Mac sound, but on "Tango In The Night," the group's first studio album since "Mirage" (1982), he assumed near-total control. Mr. Buckingham, who is a master of aural detail, and the music's gossamer textures - woven with Irish lap guitar, zither, ukulele and other electronically enhanced folk instruments, surpass in refinement even those of the group's 1977 blockbuster album, "Rumours."

"'Tango In The Night' took about 18 months to record," Mr. Buckingham recalled the other day. "The bulk of it was cut in the home studio that used to be my garage in the Hollywood hills. Most of the vocal parts were recorded track by track. The voices used in the textured vocal choirs were mostly mine. I used a Fairlight machine that samples real sounds and blends them orchestrally. Constructing such elaborate layering is a lot like painting a canvas and is best done in solitude."

According to Mr. Buckingham, "Tango In The Night" resolves - both personally and esthetically - many of the problems that plagued Fleetwood Mac after the success of "Rumours."

"'Tusk,' the album that followed 'Rumours,' was a brazen act of rebellion for which I took a lot of flak," he said. "Because of that, the 'Mirage' album, was, in my mind, a reactionary piece of work that tried to reprise 'Rumours' and had very little vision. When the group left the road after the 'Mirage' tour, there were many issues left unresolved. This album is as much about healing our relationships as 'Rumours' was about dissension and pain within the group. The songs look back over a period of time that in retrospect seems almost dreamlike."

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.