Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on great albums and the reissues they could someday see. As we welcome one of our favorite ladies in rock back to her famous band, we remember their last album altogether and the pop success it enjoyed.
One of the best pieces of classic rock news to come out of this nascent year is easily the announcement of singer/keyboardist Christine McVie returning to Fleetwood Mac. McVie retired from the band (and touring in general) after the band’s incredibly successful The Dance tour in the late 1990s, leaving singer Stevie Nicks, singer/guitarist Lindsay Buckingham, bassist (and ex-husband) John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood to continue as a quartet, but made two surprise appearances with the band in England last year, later expressing her desire to rejoin the band.
While no official plans have been firmed up (beyond the possibility of a full tour), it certainly provokes one to think of the phenomenal albums the quintet have created – in particular, their final set as a quintet, 1987’s Tango in the Night. One of the band’s most modern (for its time, anyway) productions was also one of its most rapturously received, going triple platinum in the U.S. (and eight times platinum in the U.K., where it was the first Mac album since the Peter Green era to chart higher in England than the States) and spinning off four Top 40 hits. For all its success, though, it’s one of two by this lineup of the band (the other being its predecessor, 1982’s Mirage) that have not been remastered or expanded by Warner Bros./Rhino.
I think you know where this is leading, of course: after the jump, we’ll be looking out for love for Tango in the Night, and imagine what an expanded reissue might look like!
The general history of Fleetwood Mac alone is one for the books. After gradually moving away from blues rock (with guitarists like Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Bob Welch at the helm), the addition of power couple Buckingham and Nicks (whose eponymous 1973 album is one of the greatest high-profile LPs unreleased to CD) gave the band a chart-topping album with their 1975 self-titled LP, which had hits in “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me.” Against all odds, the band survived sex, drugs and three relationships gone awry (Buckingham and Nicks, the McVies and Fleetwood and his wife) to create Rumours in 1977, a pop masterpiece that yielded four Top 10 hits and went 19 times platinum in the United States.
Follow-up albums Tusk (an ambitious 1979 double LP) and Mirage (1982) were commercially successful though not as rapturously received as Rumours, and the band largely went their separate ways through the decade. All but John McVie took stabs at a solo career, with Nicks having the most chart success with singles like “Edge of Seventeen,” “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Tom Petty and “Stand Back.” (Buckingham had more modest successes with “Trouble,” “Go Insane” and the maniacally catchy “Holiday Road” from National Lampoon’s Vacation.)
But the past was starting to catch up with the band: Fleetwood went bankrupt while Nicks and John McVie suffered drug-related issues, with Nicks checking into the Betty Ford Clinic. Would Mirage (decidedly not a favorite of Buckingham’s) be their last effort? Fortunately, Buckingham gradually invited his old bandmates to participate in what was conceived as another solo album with producer Richard Dashut, and another Fleetwood Mac LP began to form.
Tango in the Night bears heavy elements of Buckingham’s solo work – propulsive and jittery, with occasional flashes of out-there trickery (the echoing repetition of “Caroline,” the off-kilter choruses of singles “Big Love” and “Family Man”). But there are some shining moments for the band’s leading ladies. Nicks wrote or co-wrote “Seven Wonders,” “Welcome to the Room…Sara” and “When I See You Again” and, by most accounts, committed them to tape pretty quickly (she only spent about two weeks recording with the band, otherwise busy with promoting her 1985 solo album Rock a Little and battling addiction). But it’s McVie that really gets to shine on Tango: the singer who gave us “You Make Loving Fun,” “Say You Love Me” and the beautiful Rumours deep cut “Songbird” is in rare form, writing or co-writing nearly half the record, including major singles “Everywhere” and “Little Lies,” plus forgotten single “Isn’t It Midnight” and album side “Mystified.”
Shortly after the release of the album, Buckingham succumbed to the pressure of what he felt was having to steer the band, and departed. The band continued as a sextet, adding singer/songwriter/guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette and chasing a more adult contemporary sound on Behind the Mask (1990) and Time (1995), the latter of which saw Nicks and Vito depart, replaced by Bekka Bramlett (daughter of Bonnie) and Dave Mason of Traffic. (The classic lineup, sans Christine McVie, have recorded one album, Say You Will (2003) and a 2013 EP.)
While reissues of Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk were heavy on outtake material, a healthy deluxe version of Tango in the Night could be assembled from released material. Four non-LP B-sides turned up during the singles period for the album, and five dance mixes were commissioned from major remixers. (A new mix of “Isn’t It Midnight” would surface on a box set in 1992.) These tracks, combined with a few possible things in the vault, give us the bonus disc we present to you as part of this Reissue Theory post.
Tango in the Night: Expanded Edition (Warner Bros./Rhino)
Disc 1: Original LP (released as Warner Bros. 25471, 1987)
- Big Love
- Seven Wonders
- Tango in the Night
- Little Lies
- Family Man
- Welcome to the Room…Sara
- Isn’t It Midnight
- When I See You Again
- You and I, Part II
Disc 2: Bonus material
- You and I, Part I (B-side to “Big Love” – Warner Bros. 28398, 1987)
- Book of Miracles (Instrumental) (B-side to “Seven Wonders” – Warner Bros. 28317, 1987)
- Ricky (B-side to “Little Lies” – Warner Bros. 28291, 1987)
- Down Endless Street (B-side to “Family Man” – Warner Bros. 28114, 1987)
- Big Love (Arthur Baker Extended Remix) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20683, 1987)
- Seven Wonders (Jellybean Extended Remix) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20746, 1987)
- Little Lies (Jellybean Extended Remix) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20761, 1987)
- Family Man (Arthur Baker Extended Guitar Version) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20842, 1987)
- Everywhere (Jellybean Extended Version) (U.K. 12″ A-side – Warner Bros. W 8143-T, 1987)
- Isn’t It Midnight (Alternate Mix) (from 25 Years: The Chain box set – Warner Bros. 45129, 1992)
- Big Love (Buckingham/Nicks Vocal) – the 12″ mixes indicate that Stevie recorded at least some vocals for this song; the fullest possible version of that would be cool to hear
- Joan of Arc (Outtake)
- Special Kind of Love (Demo/Outtake)
What would you say about a reissue of Tango in the Night? Let us know below!