There’s a reason that 1980s nostalgia has never really taken hold, and that’s because the 1980s generally sucked. Sure, interesting things were happening on the fringes, but mainstream culture was taking the express elevator all the way down to Yuppie Hell. And playing through the speakers in that elevator was Tango In The Night.
With 1977’s Rumours, Fleetwood Mac had accidentally invented the 80s in all its selfabsorbed cocaine glory three years early. A decade on, the pharmaceutical vitality which gave that album its spirit had given way to the hollow-souled, million-dollar chintz of Tango In The Night. That it sold by the truckload tells you all you need to know about 1987.
This 30th-anniversary ‘deluxe’ edition is the musical equivalent of digging up a Blue Peter time capsule and finding the films of Sylvester Stallone on VHS. In both cases, you can’t help thinking: “Did people really like that shit?”
As with Rocky IV and Rambo, Fleetwood Mac’s 14th album has not aged well. The twinkling keyboards and electronic drums that cling to Everywhere and Little Lies like an Exxon Valdez oil slick may have been state of the art in 1987, but then so was the Sinclair C5.
But the production isn’t the biggest problem here – the songs are. Whatever magic Mac once possessed had long since been dispelled by time and internal psychodramas. Lindsey Buckingham would once have dismissed Family Man and You And I, Part II for being too trite, Christine McVie’s Mystified is barely a breath away from lift music, while Stevie Nicks’ increasingly strangulated warbling has the emotional resonance of a goat being strangled by a goose.
There are flashes of the old brilliance. Big Love remains one of the oddest hit singles ever, with its hypnotic guitar tones and coital moans. Even better is Tango In The Night itself, presented here in two different incarnations. The percussive original version is as sultry and humid as the jungle on the album’s cover, while a demo version, sung by Nicks, spoons on the ethereal atmosphere that’s missing elsewhere.
The two extra discs of outtakes and remixes will satisfy 80s fetishists, but for anyone whose name isn’t Gordon Gekko, Tango In The Night should be buried with those Stallone videos.