Fleetwood Mac vs. Aerosmith

A co-worker was telling me about the time she went to a big “rock superbowl” (or something. whatever) at some point in the past that featured, among other things, Fleetwood Mac and Aerosmith. I asked her which band headlined. Fleetwood Mac. This pretty well traces the date of the show to pre-1987; in that year, Aerosmith released Permanent Vacation, which propelled them to pop/rock superstardom (where they, annoyingly, spent the next two decades and counting). In the same year, Fleetwood Mac released Tango in the Night, a transition to oldies-act status signaled by desperate attempts at relevance via “cutting edge” production values. For extra fun, we then looked the album up on Robert Christgau’s site, where he has this to say:

Tango in the Night [Warner Bros., 1987] Fifteen years ago, when their secret weapon was someone named Bob Welch, they made slick, spacy, steady-bottomed pop that was a little ahead of the times commercially. Now, when their secret weapon is their public, they make slick, spacy, steady-bottomed pop that’s a little behind the times commercially. This is pleasant stuff, nothing to get exercised about either way—no Rumours orFleetwood Mac, but better than Bare Trees or Mystery to Me, not to mention Mirage. Marginally better, anyway. In a style where margins are all. And all ain’t all that much any more. B+

I remember the album from when I was a kid. I liked it then, maybe because I “didn’t know any better.” I don’t know what happened to Fleetwood Mac after that. I think that, unlike Aerosmith, they lost their drive. They went into semi-retirement, and only got back together to tour and record a little when their bank accounts dipped down into the 7-digit range. Bummer. But not nearly as much of a bummer as what happened to Aerosmith.

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