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Old 02-13-2016, 12:42 AM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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Tusk, BY MATTHEW FIANDER 12 February 2016 Pop Matters


usk, Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 double album, is full of backstory. If its mega-successful predecessor Rumours had the Behind the Music-made backstories of deceit and division, Tusk (like the album itself) had several conflicting and chaotic backstories. It was the first record to cost over a million dollars. The affairs and divides of Rumours had, by 1979, grown into wider fissures between band members and, in some ways, full-on breakdown. There’s also the notion that this is the cocaine record, a product of excess and disconnection from sense.

Perhaps connecting all these stories together—or fracturing them further—is the idea that Tusk was Lindsay Buckingham’s brainchild. In the liner notes to this new Deluxe Edition of the album, Jim Irvin lays out Buckingham’s mindset post-Rumours. He didn’t want to lean back on success and make the same record again. He was also, so the essay suggests, influenced by the growing punk movement. That Irvin himself seems disingenuous about punk, referring to the movement as a “grubby breeze” and to the moderate chart success of the Ramones or the Damned as “if they were mould spores ready to discolor the musical wallpaper.” And though he sees punk and new wave as music with a “youthfully abrupt” attitude to the past, he does concede that Elvis Costello and the Clash, among others were “speedily evolving.” His attitude, colored by a clear love of the “plush delights” of Rumours, seems to echo Buckingham’s. He borrows the ethos of punk in claiming that Tusk was a “**** you” to the business of music.

Digging into this new 5CD/DVD/2LP version of Tusk, with all its bonus tracks and liner notes and photos, suggests that Buckingham’s view of the record and its making veers us away from the notion of coke bloat. The album isn’t truly about unabashed excess. Instead, this new edition helps us to re-see the record as a deeply self-conscious document, wherein Buckingham’s turn to the Talking Heads and the Clash (influences largely absent on the actual music of Tusk) seem to suggest an any-port-in-the-storm approach to making new music. The truth, though, is that the success of Rumours was hardly a problem. Tusk suggests that Fleetwood Mac was for a moment—due to inexperience, drugs, personal rifts, whatever—unsure not of how to follow up Rumours, but of how to make any other record. The “idiocy of fame” Irvin suggests as a target for Fleetwood Mac rings as naïve even now. Buckingham’s genre-hopping was little more than diving into of-the-moment trends. Mick Fleetwood, according to liner notes, wanted to make an African record, calling it a “native record with chants and amazing percussion.” These starting points for Tusk suggest not a rejection of success, but rather a fundamental misunderstanding of the privilege it brings.

That misunderstanding bleeds into the confused album itself. But this misunderstanding, and all the other confusions that went into the record, is what makes it so fascinating to listen to. For one, Buckingham’s conceits of ambition distract from some of the album’s purest pop moments. “Sara” shimmers” on clean, crisp pianos and beautiful vocals (Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie are actually the voices that keep this record together, though their influence is undersold in the liner notes in favor of the Buckingham defiant-burdened-male-genius narrative). “Over & Over” is bittersweet, dusty country-rock. “Storms” feels both spare and dreamy, leaning on vocal harmonies and tumbling guitar phrasings. “Angel” is stripped down and lean, letting the rhythm section take over rather than Buckingham’s layering. “What Makes You Think You’re the One” is catchy, straight-on power-pop, even with the high-in-the-mix snares and Buckingham’s unruly, edged vocals (which appear plenty on the record).

There is new territory here that works, namely the shift to a focus on drums in “Tusk.” Some of the skronky and brittle guitar tones feel fresh, though they sometimes land (“I Know I’m Not Wrong”) and sometimes fail (“Ledge”). But Tusk is at its best when it merely twists the band’s sensibility into something a bit more edgy and challenging than Rumours. The out-and-out experiments—like the hazy layers of “That’s All For Everyone” and the oddball chug of “Not That Funny”—feel awkward and pretentious, as if Buckingham didn’t quite understand the trends he was immersed in. Meanwhile, other places like “Honey Hi” just pile on the too-polished layers to saccharin effect.

Hearing Tusk now, all the ambition and hand-wringing around its creation feels largely unnecessary, with Buckingham’s ambitions for the album more relevant as ways to square with success that gave far more than it took away. But absent of all that outside story, it plays like a fascinating, uneven record. It is, like so many double albums, too long, but it also pushes the band places it hadn’t gone before. That those places are still firmly rooted in their pre-existing pop aesthetic, the very thing they claim to be turning away from, adds an interesting wrinkle.

The extras here further drive home the self-conscious nature of Tusk, suggesting even more that its excesses were more tantrum than rebellion. The “Alternate Tusk” included with largely unreleased takes is a compelling listen. It definitely doubles down on the album’s eccentricities. Buckingham’s vocals are as edged and shrill as ever. An extended take of “Sara” feels more spacious and haunted than the album take. “Storms” is spare and acoustic, with layers peeled back to reveal the song’s broken-hearted center. It plays like a long shadow to “Landslide.” “Tusk” gives the synths more space than the horns, but all the notes feel 8-bit next to the drums in the mix. Overall, this version is more disjointed and odd than the album version, and certainly worth a listen. But assembled here for a massive reissue, there’s a constructed feel to it that seems canned and, like so many other things around Tusk, overwrought. Like the original version, it is fascinating both when it struts with confidence and when it trips over its own self-aggrandizing ambitions.

The singles and outtakes drive home the defensive nature of Tusk, as well as the obsessive tinkering that happened as a result. Single versions of several songs skew any discoveries back to the middle. “Think About Me” is mixed to be all vocals and drums. “Sara” gets cut to a truncated, claustrophobic four-ish minutes. Even “Not That Funny”, a bad single candidate, sounds tame when those bleating guitars get sanded down. There are some interesting versions here, especially early takes on “Storms” and “Never Make Me Cry”, but while the evolution inherent in six versions of “I Know I’m Not Wrong” seems compelling on paper, in practice none of the takes stand out.

The two discs of live performances from the Tusk tour are—surprise, surprise—both fulfilling and frustrating. For one, they put songs from Tusk alongside songs from the band’s catalog, and the fit once again suggests the fleeting nature of the ambition of this double record. But the performances themselves are often ragged, sometimes exhausted. Nicks labors through a version of “Landslide” as if she’d prefer never to sing it again. Meanwhile, for a band not interested in repeating early success, they really stretch out a bombastic performance of “Go Your Own Way.” Between exhaustion and wanking, the band does sometimes nail it, though, especially a version of “Sara” here, a solid take on “Tusk”, and a charged, scuffed-up take on “Dreams”.

Tusk is an album that is excellent—and these uneven extras add interest to it—because it seems to come from such a flawed perspective. Buckingham and company spent over a million bucks on an album supposedly influenced by punk. The band was railing against a system that paid for that record. And, in the end, those pretenses of rebellion give way to simple artistic uncertainty. Even now, this set seems unsure of which way to present the album. We get a remastered version, an alternate version, a surround-sound DVD version, and a new pressing of the record on two LPs. This edition is an expansive, if expensive, gift to fans, and worthwhile in that regard, but its presentation also reminds us that Tusk isn’t the product of a burst of creativity or a major shift in artistic vision. Rather, it’s the sound of a band that didn’t know where to go, so it went everywhere at once. If that sounds dismissive, it’s not. Beneath all the conceits and mythologies that surround this record, it’s the basic fact that it’s always reaching that makes it the strange, great record it is.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars
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Old 02-13-2016, 01:05 AM
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UndoingTheLaces UndoingTheLaces is offline
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The thing that the writer of this article seems to be missing is that while the music the was "influenced" by punk never actually becomes punk, it was still different than anything else at the time. It's almost like he's comparing it to today's music rather than music that was around in 1979.
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Old 02-13-2016, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by UndoingTheLaces View Post
The thing that the writer of this article seems to be missing is that while the music the was "influenced" by punk never actually becomes punk, it was still different than anything else at the time. It's almost like he's comparing it to today's music rather than music that was around in 1979.
Exactly. The tone of the article irritates me. Not the critical approach, don't get me wrong, I love that. But when you read it, you can't imagine he ranks it 9/10.

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Old 02-13-2016, 04:06 PM
sanders8323 sanders8323 is offline
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I love how he says, "Like many double albums, Tusk is too long." Umm, yeah, it's a double album. You didn't expect it to be short did you? It wouldn't be a double album if it wasn't long.
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Old 02-13-2016, 10:45 PM
michelej1 michelej1 is offline
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Like 1979 original, Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' reissue is bold, brash and excessive

By Ken Paulsen |

on February 13, 2016 at 8:33 AM, updated February 13, 2016 at 8:37 AM

Fleetwood Mac's deluxe reissue of "Tusk" is as brash and elaborate as the 1979 original, offering extended insights into the development of 20 eclectic songs.

In its original form, "Tusk" was a 2-LP set that followed the mega-success of "Rumours," which had delivered enduring pop classics "Don't Stop," "Dreams," "You Make Loving Fun" and "Go Your Own Way."

Flush with fame and cash, and fueled by cocaine use, according to band co-founder Mick Fleetwood, the band was intent on not making "Rumours II." Instead, they released a 20-song set that mostly (not entirely) eschewed the sunny California harmony pop sound of "Rumours." Songs haltingly methodical and slow crash into breakneck-paced punk-rock romps. On the first listen, it can be unsettling. After that, it works wonderfully.

A few hits emerged from between the heart-racing highs and the faint-pulse lows, including the title track, featuring the USC marching band, and the ethereal top-5 smash "Sara." Most of the rest was not radio-friendly. "Tusk" was a critical smash but a commercial flop when stacked up against "Rumours"-sized expectations.

The passage of time has solidified the legacy of "Tusk" as a masterpiece. The anniversary set captures the album's essence with an in-depth exploration of how it unfolded. Here's why fans will wallow in its abundance of material:

It's excessive, just like the original. The deluxe version delivers 84 tracks, spread across five CDs (the digital version is organized along the same lines.) Those tracks include inside-out looks at the evolution of the album, including the aforementioned title track (eight versions, including one live performance) and "I Know I'm Not Wrong" (eight versions.) Both have aged well. To be sure, half as many versions of each would be plenty, while leaving room for more outtakes and alternate takes.

The hidden gems shine. Stevie Nicks' "Sisters of the Moon" starts softly and builds for five minutes, her distinctive raspy vocals taking center stage. An alternate take of "Storms" haunts with the backing of Lindsey Buckingham on acoustic guitar. Buckingham's "The Ledge," "That's Enough For Me" and "I Know I'm Not Wrong" fuse rockabilly and punk; they sound like they could have been written on the same wild night, and that's a good thing. On each of these three tracks (average length about 2:20), by the time you ask yourself, "Wait, this is Fleetwood Mac?" the tune is already over -- and it's time to jam on the brakes for a track like Christine McVie's "Brown Eyes" or "Never Make Me Cry." Those tracks may not rank among McVie's career's best, but they showcase a moody, silky voice that keeps you from skipping ahead. The alternate takes of these songs give a sense of what it was like in the recording studio, one that was famously, and very expensively, custom built for the band.

22 vintage live tracks. We don't get a single concert, but rather selected tracks from the band's 1979-80 tour in support of "Tusk." Many were taken during a June 1980 run at Wembley Stadium. The tracks present a time capsule of a band still riding the crest of its popularity yet testing the waters with the new material. "Sara" is gorgeous in its simple arrangement and Nicks' passionate vocals during a 1980 Tuscon, Ariz. show. Buckingham practically barks at a St. Louis crowd during a November 1979 performance of "Not That Funny." He gets the point across. During that same show, McVie plaintively belts out "Over and Over," the mournful leadoff track on "Tusk." Tracks from the band's 1975 eponymous album and "Rumours" round out the live offerings.

The band's cohesiveness is on constant display. Watching and hearing Fleetwood Mac's disparate units combine talents is the real pleasure in following the band. "The magic of a band, any band, is in the combination," Fieetwood once said. Although they don't write songs, Fleetwood and fellow original band member John McVie provide the band's backbone, something that's evident during the live performances of "Not That Funny" and "Tusk." Ultimately, Buckingham's orchestration of these songs works so well because it's those guys who form the orchestra. Each of main album's tracks takes on the distinctive personality of the songwriter -- Buckingham (nine tracks), McVie (six) or Nicks (five).

The set, issued by Rhino Records, is available in multiple physical and digital configurations. Among them is a gift set that contains 5 CDs, a DVD, 2 LPs and a booklet, and retails for about $100. All the music can be purchased digitally for $39.99 on music services. The biggest fans will enjoy this encyclopedic approach to an album that holds up to an in-depth re-inspection. The set minus the 22 live tracks sells for $10 less. You can save another $10 by dropping all the outtakes and alternative tracks, but that's where the real fun stuff lives.
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:05 PM
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Default What about Mirage

Although Tusk is my favorite FM album, I do, however, think that Mirage should be giving the same kind of special attention. Especially since a deluxe version of Tusk was released back in 2004.
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:38 AM
Wdm6789 Wdm6789 is offline
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Originally Posted by ~*BellaDonna*~ View Post
Although Tusk is my favorite FM album, I do, however, think that Mirage should be giving the same kind of special attention. Especially since a deluxe version of Tusk was released back in 2004.

Was there anything good on that one that wasn't on the 2015 one? Like another live version of Sara, by any chance? The only Tusk that is available on iTunes is multiple versions of the 2015 reissue.

Last edited by Wdm6789 : 04-07-2016 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Wdm6789 View Post
Was there anything good on that one that wasn't on the 2015 one? Like another live version of Sara, by any chance? The only Tusk that is available on iTunes is multiple versions of the 2015 reissue.
The detailed tracklist is on here. The entire 2nd disc was previously unreleased and is different from the material released in 2015.
I particularly like the demo of Sisters of the moon and Storms from that reissue.

Last edited by SisterNightroad : 04-07-2016 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by PenguinHead View Post
The price of the Deluxe Tusk reissue is a bit hard to swallow, but being rabid fan, I can not settle for the lesser format versions, sans the live tracks.
I initially was resolved to suck it up and pay full price. I pre-ordered it from my local record store, but there are no obligations for me to purchase it. It was priced at $125.

Looking for better options, I was able to purchase it for $80 with free shipping at Target (with my Target Red Card). By no means am I motivated to endorse any merchandiser, but I just want to share my experience with people who might be daunted by the prospect of shelling out so much cash. 80 bucks is still a lot of money but it's the best deal I've seen so far.
Even though I can afford it, I still cannot see myself giving anyone that kind of money for a live disc, which is what I basically wanted out of this. Just yesterday I duped myself out of my own stupidity and bought the 3 disc package at Barnes and Noble for 23.00 thinking it contained the live tracks. I just quickly glanced at the songs on disc three and saw some dates and assumed it was the live stuff.I was so proud of myself for waiting until April to buy this, knowing the price would be reduced by now and NOW realize I'm gonna have to shell out MORE money for the live stuff to be included. This may sound crazy but even though several Ledgies spelled it out for us, the different versions available for this format, I had to read them and reread them over and over and was still readily confused.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:51 AM
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Hi All! I'm so sorry that I'm late to this party!

First of all I just need to say that I have literally been waiting for this for over 20 years when I first discovered Fleetwood Mac (yes, I'm aging myself a little...). Tusk is my all time favorite album for a number of reasons.

The Tusk Tour is still my favorite Fleetwood Mac Tour. IMO, there has never been an edgier, gritty, powerful version of the band. The leaders of the group were clearly trying to assert dominance on the stage each night and it came through in their performances. Stevie's vocals and stage presence can be downright haunting, and Lindsey's guitar tone sounds like a demon and madman (probably not too far from the truth...). To me, Lindsey has never played better than he did during the middle stages of the Tusk Tour!

This release was so welcome for me and especially for the live disc of unreleased tracks. Here is where I am most critical of the release though...

While I am very happy that we have some new shows that I don't believe have ever been circulated as bootlegs (i.e., London), I don't hear the band at their peak. Lindsey sounds coked out on some of the songs (I think from the first night, 06/20) and some of the singing from Stevie is sloppy; probably also suffering from the affects of nose candy. I wish they would have included some of the shows from May of 1980, which to me, were the pinnacle of that tour. Chicago, Cleveland (also on Live Album), some of those bootlegs are wonderful. Regardless, it's great to hear some of this new material even if it isn't quite their best.

The live version of Sara is phenomenal. I like it better than the Live Album version simply because it's more raw. I also love that they included songs like That's Enough For Me that I don't think I've ever heard even from bootlegs! And the 5.1 DVD audio? Please don't get me going on that... it's my own little version of heaven. I was so disappointed in 2003/2004 when we heard that Ken had mixed it but never received a release due to the death of DVDA and SACD . The wait was worth it!

All in all, I just wanted to share my impressions and geek out on this release. THANK YOU BAND AND WARNER BROS for putting this material out for us to consume! I've bought it all, including the standalone In Concert and Alternate Tusk vinyl release and will continue to buy any material you release from the Tusk era! (wink wink)

I hope you all have been enjoying this release as much as I have!
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