Album #447 – Tusk

Album #447

Tusk is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Fleetwood Mac’s smash hit album, Rumours, released two years prior. The expectations were high but, the band and singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham in particular, did not want to recreate their mega selling, Grammy winning breakthrough. Therefore, bassist John McVie described Tusk best when he said that the album was a mix of music from three different solo artists and not the work of one cohesive unit. In fact, many things hampered the sales figures of Tusk. The sound was very different from Rumours, which meant casual fans would move on. The album was played on radio in full before it’s release which caused many to tape the album. Think of it as a precursor to an album being leaked online for millions to download, months before it’s release. And, because Tusk was a double album, it was more expensive. Tusk cost over a million dollars to make. At the time, it was the most money ever spent on an album. Lindsey Buckingham changed his sound and style completely during the sessions for Tusk. Gone was the curly afro and the Southern California mellow style and in was a look that he continues to embody to this day. In fact, the sessions for Tusk were filmed for a behind the scenes documentary and a pivotal scene shows Buckingham arriving to the studio with his “new” look, his band mates were shocked and angry at what he had done. Another scene filmed just before the makeover, showed his anger over the direction in which the album was going. This put the band even further apart. Buckingham’s influences also grew. He was getting heavily into punk and new wave; The Clash were among his influences during this period. Buckingham’s songs are very similar to the music he would release in the early 80’s, when his solo career kicked off. Quirky, new wave pop showing his experimental side of production which became something Buckingham would continue to embody throughout the 80’s, with and without the Mac. In fact, Buckingham and Nicks launched solo careers after the year long tour for Tusk ended. To me, Nicks songs are the best and most conventional on the album. Sara, Beautiful Child, Sisters of the Moon and Storms pick up where Nicks left off on Rumours. Strong songwriting that revealed her feelings and to me, make them the best tracks on the album. Buckingham’s production does not get in the way of these songs by any means and makes them stronger. The centerpiece of this double album has to be the title track. Part chant, part war cry, Tusk is a great example of the change in direction Lindsey Buckingham was going through musically. The song reached the top 10 on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and is one of the few hits to feature a legit marching band (The USC Trojans to be exact). You can see that song’s influence on Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl and Katy Perry’s Roar. While Tusk never had any definitive songs like Rumours, it is an album that deserves to be on this list and is a lesson to all musicians that hit the big time after one album and the pressure to follow it up. Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen and U2 are some of the few artists who followed it up right. Other highlights include: Over & Over, Think About Me, What Makes You Think You’re The One, Save Me a Place, That’s All For Everyone, Angel and Brown Eyes (featuring an uncredited Peter Green, the original guitarist of the Mac, on guitar). Overall, I give Tusk, 5 out of 5.

Next: The Wall by Pink Floyd

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