Fleetwood Mac: Tusk
Format: Originally on Vinyl
Purchased: Off my Uncle Greg circa 1996
Key Tracks: Top to Bottom, Left to Right, Inside out Awesome pretty much straight thru
Here’s an idea. The best way to follow up one of the most accomplished pop albums (not to mention one of the biggest selling) ever recorded: Record an overblown, coke fueled, exploded sonic pallet that stretches out over the space of two vinyl records.
As a fan of gems that sparkle in just such a peculiar way Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk is and has been central to my very existence. I first heard this album in 1996, in my basement. I’ve always been a fan of a lonely singular listening experience that can feel like mine, mine all mine. The intimacy of such musical moments is such a treasurable part of being alive for me. No album that I can think of has reached this intimacy in such a feminine way as Tusk.
Fleetwood Mac, a band that strangely enough started as an exceptionally tight blues act, slowly evolved into an explosion of that sound. Spiked thru with gentle femininity, the band exploded the emotion inside of the heart of the blues, stripping away the trimmings and keeping only the heartbeat. Quite literally so, as the basic rhythmic foundation of the band, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie excel at evoking the thrum of a gently beating heart.
Into this core, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (one of rock’s great eccentrically spun geniuses) write songs that kick around existential crises like it was some sort of floral soccer ball. These people love and are loved but for whatever reason, struggle deeply with the intimate timely demands of long lasting adoration. Whether it is the longing adoring of loved ones whose times are inherently soon to be up (“Sara”), the recognition of the futility of love in the wandering spirit (“Over and Over”), or the heart that is kicked around for its ambitions (“That’s All For Everyone”), these three songwriters seemed determined to examine in detail what it is to hurt, what it is to love; why it’s so important and indeed why it can oftentimes be so futile an endeavor.
What is truly magnificent about this album, however, is the sound painting that Lindsey Buckingham has created. Every song is filtered thru his creative need to spin the songs into an atmosphere of pathos tinged effervescent mist. The man’s musical filter is truly awe inspiring… as tho he takes the lyrical content of the songs and arranges them after such a fashion that the music speaks as loudly and uniformly as the lyrics. You don’t necessarily have to catch each word to catch the meaning. From barking dogs sounds to kleenex box drums to entire marching bands and quietly mocking laughter barely caught (and that only after the thousandth listen), “The Buck” just explodes with ambition.
Everything’s here: gentle plods (“Over and Over”), chiming jigs (“Not That Funny”), sunny smiles (“Honey Hi”), nervous hiccups (“Tusk”) and whispering ballads (“Brown Eyes”). And it’s all done so damn well and so quirkily. This is one of my all time favorite recordings. Check it out!