Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fleetwood Mac "Tusk" memories

October 19, 1979. It was a Friday, and I was a senior in high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. I should have been running in a cross-country meet, but I had quit the team a few weeks earlier for various reasons, not the least of which was so I could play basketball again instead. At any rate, I was a Fleetwood Mac fan, and this was the day that their new album "Tusk" was to be released. Their last album, "Rumours," had been released during my 9th grade year and had conquered the world, so there was rampant excitement and expectation swirling in anticipation of this new DOUBLE album, basically 3 years in the making! The local album rock station had played the album in its entirety the day before, but I missed out on the whole preview except for the last song "Never Forget - " a little piano ditty by Christine McVie that was definitely "Rumours-"like. So, on my way to the high school football game that night, I stopped in a record store near Suburban Center and bought "Tusk." At halftime of the football game, me and a friend went out to my car to open it up and look at the inner-sleeve stuff - liner notes/photos. No liner notes. No lyrics. Just a weird photo montage on every side of the sleeves. But what REALLY struck us the most was....what the hell happened to Lindsey Buckingham?! Did he quit the band? Who was this new clean-cut looking dude in the pictures? After a few seconds we realized it WAS Lindsey Buckingham after all, shorn of his big, moppy, fro-like locks. He looked like Jamie Mitchell now, who was a friend of ours at school. Crazy. So...after the my room....under the headphones I went. Always my favorite thing about music in those days....sitting down comfortably....breaking the album open....carefully putting it on the turntable...and then waiting....waiting to hear, like a gold miner or gambler or speculator, if there was going to be anything on this album that would be breath-taking, historic, life-changing, beautiful. You just don't get that with cd's in the 21st century for a number of reasons which we will save for another time. The album began with this slow, torchy, sort of bluesy song by Christine McVie, "Over and Over." Nice enough, but hardly an album opener! But then came the 2nd song, "The Ledge," a sort of punky ramble with a lot of echo (it was mainly recorded in Lindsey Buckingham's bathroom), Lindsey and Stevie sort of sharing back and forth. And the next 2 songs on side 2 were more of the same - not radio-friendly, sort of experimental songs by Lindsey. I liked it well enough, but it wasn't Rumours! But then came the last song on the first side...Stevie Nicks' first song on the album...the haunting, lovely, lther-worldly "Sara." I think I played it 3 or 4 times in a row. So amazing. Long story short...I liked "Tusk" a lot, but, being a conservative kid by nature (non-experimental, pop addicted), I was a tad disappointed for a number of years with this album. But, since the late 80's or so, it has not only been my favorite Fleetwood Mac album, I believe it's one of the great albums of all-time. If you skip over all of the Christine McVie songs, it's even better! Buckingham-Nicks at their creative peak. It was all downhill after this for Fleetwood Mac, although Lindsey's songs are great on every album. Or, al least interesting. If you have never checked out "Tusk," but it today!


  1. My friend Phil still swears by vinyl. after hearing the difference, I can understand why - all that analog goodness. But unfortunately MP3s are just more economical, and capitalism is all about economics. That's why we're releasing the new Pageant Music album digitally... maybe when we complete the second installment we'll do a double-album vinyl release.
    This review does make me want to check out Tusk - I'll have to give it a listen. Maybe Eliza B has a copy...

  2. you know what made vinyl great? The blank spaces.
    The anticipation during the time from when the needle drops & pops into the groove and the first beat of the song, or the fade in on a live cut is really a decent rush. Then there's the 3 second gap between songs. Particularly on a first listen- What will this next thing sound like? Will it compliment what I just heard or totally contrast with it? There's still a gap going between songs on my iPod, but the anticipation seems more subdued. Maybe I'm older. Maybe I just miss the pops & cracks of the needle... I dunno.