Vinyl fans celebrate Record Store Day, Alternate Tusk

Saturday was Record Store Day and vinyl enthusiasts hit their favorite record stores in droves. To celebrate the ninth annual event, Metallica gave a special performance from the indie store Rasputin Music in Berkeley, California. Elsewhere, Mumford and Sons performed at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis, while Kacey Musgraves set up at Lunchbox Records in Charlotte, N.C.

Warner Bros. issued a limited edition run of The Alternate Tusk on 180 gram black vinyl. Fleetwood Mac fans took to Twitter to share their excitement for the new release.

http://stevie-nicks.info/2016/03/alternate-tusk-to-be-issued-on-180g-black-vinyl/

Alternate Tusk to be issued on 180g black vinyl

Alternate TuskRecord Store Day offers the alternative version of Tusk from Fleetwood Mac’s deluxe box set as two LP set on 180 gram black vinyl. Limited to 5,000. The set will be released on April 16.

Side 1
1. Over and Over
2. The Ledge
3. Think About Me
4. Save Me a Place
5. Sara
Side 2
1. What Makes You Think You’re the One
2. Storms
3. That’s All for Everyone
4. Not That Funny
5. Sisters of the Moon
Side 3
1. Angel
2. That’s Enough For Me
3. Brown Eyes
4. Never Make Me Cry
5. I Know I’m Not Wrong
Side 4
1. Honey Hi
2. Beautiful Child
3. Walk a Thin Line
4. Tusk
5. Never Forget

DETAILS

Date: 4/16/2016
Format: 2 x LP
Label: Rhino
Release type: RSD Exclusive Release

Bold, brash, excessive

Like 1979 original, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk reissue is bold, brash and excessive

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,” Fleetwood 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.

Ken Paulsen / silive.com / Friday, February 12, 2016

Tusk (Deluxe Edition)

Despite popular narratives, Tusk isn’t all druggy, unabashed excess. Instead, this new sets shows the record as a deeply self-conscious document, the sound of a band that didn’t rebel against success so much as it misunderstood the privilege it brings.

Tusk, 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 “fuck 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.

Matthew Fiander / Pop Matters / Friday, February 12, 2016

Tusk expands

New box set expands, reveals Fleetwood Mac’s enigmatic opus

When the five members of Fleetwood Mac reconvened in the studio in 1978 to record the follow-up to their massively successful/decade-defining/inescapable disc Rumours, it would have been painfully easy to simply spit out Rumours II.

Instead, they took 13 months and spent a then-unprecedented $1 million-plus to birth Tusk, a double album of 20 songs spanning 72 minutes. The effort defied expectations, confounded some fans, sold “only” 4 million units, and produced only two singles resembling hits: the tribal-sounding title track (recorded with the 112-piece University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band), and Stevie Nicks’ ethereal “Sara.”

However, a funny thing happened with Tusk in the ensuing 35 years. Its standing among both Mac fans and musicians has skyrocketed, as has respect for the wildly diverse songs and experimentation. Now, Rhino/Warner Brothers has released Tusk: The Deluxe Edition. The 5-CD/2-LP/1-DVD set includes the original album remastered, a bevy of outtakes and alternate takes, and plenty of live material from the ensuing tour.

In the booklet of liner notes and rare photos, Jim Irvin celebrates the potpourri grab bag of music, spearheaded by Lindsey Buckingham’s newfound infatuation with the sounds of punk and New Wave music, and a desire to not repeat the same old formula. He would even adopt an entirely new look for the photos shoots and tour of closely cropped hair, suits, and…uh…heavy makeup.

“Listening to Tusk is like walking around a ridiculously eclectic art gallery curated by someone who’s keeping their aesthetic a secret,” Irvin offers. “And old master next to an abstract, a kinetic sculpture next to a watercolour. It makes no sense at first.”

Though, contrary to the established Rock History Narrative of him fighting for the change alone, both Nicks and Mick Fleetwood and not just Buckingham were also eager to shake things up, according to their own comments today.

And what of the effect as a whole? Buckingham certainly brings an un-Mac-like tension, nervous energy, and biting sarcasm to efforts like the deranged square-dance sound of “The Ledge,” the punkish “What Makes You Think You’re the One,” the biting “Not That Funny,” and the “rockabilly on acid” of “That’s Enough For Me.”

Stevie Nicks, always given something of a short shrift in terms of songwriting since she doesn’t play an instrument (not counting the tambourine), offers some of her finest work in the longing “Storms,” an upbeat “Angel,” elegiac “Beautiful Child,” and mysterious “Sisters of the Moon,” which surprisingly resurfaced on the set list for the Mac’s recent reunion tours.

Only Christine McVie’s contributions seem slight and listless — both lyrically and musically — save for some soft-and-gentle work on her usual romantic balladry in “Over and Over” and “Brown Eyes.”

Tusk‘s recording period saw Christine’s involvement with both Grant Curry (the band’s lighting director) and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, while Buckingham fell into an intense involvement with record-company exec/former model Carol Ann Harris (who later wrote a not-that-flattering book about the relationship, Storms).

The shocker, fans later found out, was the news of Nicks and Fleetwood’s brief-but-intense involvement. It led to Fleetwood’s divorce from Jenny Boyd…who had previously had an affair with previous lineup guitarist Bob Weston…and was the sister of Rock’s Greatest Muse, Pattie Boyd, who sent both George Harrison and Eric Clapton into romantic bliss and yearning, poured out on vinyl.

And when Nicks and Fleetwood’s involvement ended, Nicks’ best friend, Sara Recor (partial inspiration for the song), took up with Fleetwood without either bothering to tell Nicks about it, which crushed her (are you following all of this?).

Thus, Nicks admits today that a number of her songs are about Fleetwood, and it’s not hard to interpret many of hers and Buckingham’s lyrics as continued musical snipes and judgments on their relationship.

Of the demos and alternate versions, there’s some very interesting development chronicled in the songs “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and “Tusk” as Buckingham — like he did with much of the material — tinkered with them in his own studio extensively before bringing them to the band. It was a way of songwriting that gave him more control, but which the band agreed to abandon after Tusk.

And on the live discs, listeners will find a band surprisingly willing to take risks with tempos and delivery onstage with material recorded in studio. And that includes tunes from their previous two records, Fleetwood Mac and Rumours.

So, while the hefty Deluxe Edition of Tusk may be for Mac Addicts only (and those with record players), less expensive options included a 3-CD Expanded Edition and a 1-CD Remastered effort.

In either case, for what attention and sometimes derision it received on release, Tusk is the one effort in the band’s discography whose standing has improved with time. Oh, and the meaning the title? It was Fleetwood’s slang term for a penis. You’re welcome for that.

Bob Ruggiero / Houston Press / Monday, December 28, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Tusk, Deluxe & Expanded editions

Fleetwood Mac reissues Tusk with unreleased alternate takes and live renditions.

(Editor’s note: The article was edited for grammar. The original published article can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.)

Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 opus was a daring experiment, one that defied commercial possibilities while expanding the band’s musical parameters into areas that were otherwise unimaginable. It was especially daring considering the fact that the band had just come off two LPs that had broken them wide open in the States, Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, albums that would go one to become among the best-selling albums in all of music history.

Helmed by the most successful line-up in their lengthy history — that being the front line axis of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie — the band continued to venture even further from their blues based roots, having been hailed as the champions of soft-rock radio in all its endearing essence. In truth, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, the band’s namesakes and longtime standard bearers, had become token players in their own outfit, having ceded control to the trio responsible for their hits. Nevertheless, Fleetwood Mac was more potent and impressive commercially than at any time in their storied history, flush with widespread acclaim and ready to take on the world.

While the album was successful by most standards — it reached the Top 5 in the U.S., spent over five months in the Top 40, and was certified double platinum by virtue of selling two million copies — it didn’t come close to matching the levels achieved by its two immediate predecessors. Warner Bros. blamed RKO radio for playing the album in its entirety prior to release, encouraging volumes of home taping. The album cost over $1 million to make, the most expensive record in pop music history up until that time, and with consumers forced to shell out an extra $2 to cover the price of the resulting double album, economics discouraged those on a budget from making a ready purchase. It did produce a pair of hits in “Sara” and the title track, but given the fact it bore 20 tracks in all, expectations were never fully realized.

Tusk can now be seen as the bold effort it is, and it’s possible to appreciate all it has to offer.

Nevertheless, in retrospect, it is a fascinating album, a brilliant combination of excess, eccentricity, and studio savvy. Consequently, any reason for reexamination is well worth the time and effort. To be sure, this 2015 version isn’t its first reissue; an extensive re-release was launched a decade ago, but it pales in comparison to the expansive treatment the album is accorded this time around. Offered now as a six-disc set in its most elaborate configuration, it features an entire side of outtakes, rarities, works in progress and demos, as well as two discs culled from live recordings extracted from the Tusk tour, an alternate version of the album as it was first intended, and a DVD containing a surround sound mix of the original recordings.

Tusk deluxe is housed in an elaborate box that also boasts heretofore unseen photos and an extensive essay by journalist Jim Irvin, who, in turn, offers insights about the circumstances surrounding the album’s recording while reflecting on the general bewilderment it cast on an unsuspecting record label, music critics and the public in general, most of whom were either too confused or too overwhelmed to give it the time and attention the album deserved. As Irvin points out, many second generation copies were obtained from used record stores, discarded by the original owners simply because they had no patience for digesting it all.

More than 35 years later, Tusk can now be seen as the bold effort it is, and in listening to the various rehearsals and formative versions of its staple songs, it’s possible to appreciate all it has to offer. (Buckingham’s multiple takes on “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and his slow construction of “Tusk” offer fascinating insights into the way the genesis of the record was fashioned, one layer at a time.) No, it’s hardly a perfect record, but in terms of sheer brashness and bravado, it sets an exceptionally high bar.

Lee Zimmerman / Glide / Wednesday, December 23, 2015

REVIEW: Tusk (Deluxe Edition)

Tusk (Deluxe Edition) Fleetwood Mac Rhino

**** 1/2 (four-and-a-1/2 stars out of five)

The Mac’s wild, punk-y follow-up to Rumours hits just as hard 36 years later, especially on this extras-packed reissue.

While the music scenes of England, New York City and scattered bohemian enclaves the world over embraced punk’s do-it-yourself radicalization in the late Seventies, nearly every superstar of sunny southern California kept on making smooth and glossy soft rock as if Joey Ramone and Johnny Rotten had never happened. This didn’t comfort Lindsey Buckingham. The pressure to follow Fleetwood Mac’s astronomically successful 1977 LP, Rumours, with a follow-up just like it drove the singer-guitarist to turn to Talking Heads, Elvis Costello and other upstarts for inspiration and liberation.

And so he began what became 1979’s famously experimental and eclectic double-disc, Tusk, at home with the deliberate goal of shaking things up. While Buckingham crafted his unconventional solo recordings, the Mac had Studio D at L.A.’s Village Recorder built to their specifications, where they added to his songs and recorded their own with results that veered from demo-quality rockabilly to exacting balladry. Both capitalized on the freedom that came with their success: Because drummer Mick Fleetwood himself managed the band, absolutely no one but the musicians and their near-exclusive producer-engineers Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat had any input. Tusk may have been the first album to cost a million dollars, but much of it was in spirit and practice nearly as DIY as the era’s New Wave.

Sequenced for maximum disruptive effect, Tusk alternately reassures and startles: Christine McVie’s placid lullaby “One More Time (Over & Over)” opens the album with a soothing dose of musical morphine, but gets followed by the wake-up call of Buckingham’s anxious “The Ledge,” the album’s most punk-influenced track. As confirmed in the interviews that accompany this deluxe five-CD/two-LP/one-DVD box set edition, much of Tusk – like its predecessor – is a Rashomon-esque account of life within the band as seen through the sharply contrasting viewpoints of their three songwriters. One of Stevie Nicks’s most delicate and downhearted songs, “Storms,” wallows in the guilt over her affair with then-married Fleetwood, and the subsequent karmic payback she endured when her best friend secretly moved into his house. Buckingham’s confrontational “Not That Funny” addresses Nicks, by then his ex, whom he saw as getting caught up in celebrity culture. It’s this candid quality that makes Tusk so contemporary even decades later.

Tusk’s one-of-a-kind combo of punky verisimilitude and surreal opulence drives one point home harder than ever: No other band could’ve recorded this album.

That forthrightness gets magnified exponentially by the deluxe edition’s supplemental discs. One of them, “The Alternate Tusk,” presents the entire album via divergent versions of every song, including an early, piano-led rendition of Nicks’s “Sara” that lingers for nearly nine minutes; and Buckingham’s languid “That’s All for Everyone,” here featuring entirely different lyrics. Another disc, “Singles, Outtakes, Sessions,” demonstrates through multiple editions of some tracks like Buckingham’s “I Know I’m Not Wrong” – the first song recorded for the album, but the last one to be definitively completed – how the album evolved during Tusk’s year-long creation. The version of “Save Me a Place” on this disc lacks the weeping bluegrass harmonies that define the released take, but Buckingham’s vocal here is even more pained. Two discs of “Tusk Tour Live” serve as a considerably longer and looser alternate edition of the band’s 1980 live album, which chronicled that same world trek. And the set’s audio DVD provides a new 5.1 surround sound mix by Caillat that maximizes the album’s one-of-a-kind combo of punky verisimilitude and surreal opulence, and drives one point home harder than ever: No other band could’ve recorded Tusk.

Barry Walters / Rolling Stone / Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CD REVIEW: Fleetwood Mac Tusk

Fleetwood Mac Tusk (1979)With the ‘Mac hangover still hanging thick in the southern air, it’s time for the lush reissue of 1979 epic Tusk.

Once the most expensive album ever made, this was their indulgent response to Rumours, the album which cemented the quintet’s status as titans of melodic West Coast rock.

While selling only fractionally as well, and marked by Lindsay Buckingham’s obsessive and sometimes inspired attention to sonic detail, this two-disc deluxe edition features five versions of the immaculate title track, tracking the evolution of one of their most intriguing pieces.

Fleetwood Mac. Tusk: Deluxe Edition. Warner Music.

Three and a half stars (out of five)

Single download: Tusk (April 6, 1979 USC Version)
For those who like: ’70s excess

John Hayden / Otago Times / Monday, December 21, 2015

The Return of Tusk

Fleetwood Mac’s exotic classic expands

When Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk finally was unveiled to the masses back in 1979, it critically dropped like a white elephant. After releasing two of the best, almost flawless pop albums of the seventies — Rumours and Fleetwood Mac — folks expected the band’s formula of non-stop, potential singles to remain intact. Instead, Tusk had spread its sonic experimentation across two albums, its creative overlord, Lindsey Buckingham, having utilized virtually every studio toy at his disposal. Add to that USC’s marching band drumline-ing across the focus single/title track with servings of un-Mac-like musical performances and song lengths, and you get Buckingham’s musical vision/version of what a late-seventies album was supposed to be. Fleetwood Mad had arrived and considering the relationship breakdowns and band’s highly-publicized drug culture, it’s a miracle this previously-considered overthought, overwrought product made it to vinyl at all.

Fleetwood Mac’s shifting business and leadership dynamics and partner trade-ups shouldn’t have been surprising considering the musical institution’s member roster evolved following every few albums (remember Peter Green and Bob Welch?) and the inevitable shake-up cyclicly was due. All of this very public Mac stress delighted journalists who gleefully spread the word. Regardless, devoted fans still were hooked on the band that strutted siren Stevie Nicks and the sophisticated Christine McVie, and they would spend their last dollar for this sweet fix. So the album sold well though it did shock Macsters, and the returns (when stores want a refund for unsold product) were large since product shipments allegedly were as bloated as Tusk‘s track count and excesses. Then again, at the time, returns were a given and built into the business plan for virtually every album release.

Tusk is Fleetwood Mac’s middle child that demanded more attention and, until now, was very misunderstood.

As a single, the title track “Tusk” wasn’t a flop but it also wasn’t embraced like the usual, undeniable Mac release, possibly due to its cryptic poetry (“Why don’t you ask him what’s going on? Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?”). The reality was that no matter how ambitious and applaudable the 45 was, it didn’t change music as we knew it; luckily Stevie Nicks’ “Sara” became the album Tusk‘s biggest hit and its saving grace. Unfortunately, “Think About Me” and “Sisters Of The Moon, the followup singles,” came off like second stringers, like Rumour‘s lightweight “I Don’t Want To Know.” Add to that Lindsey Buckingham’s creepy-ish “Not That Funny” and “The Ledge” and it was like the Fleetwood Mac we knew and loved had been euthanized.

With the release of the super-deluxe Tusk and its abundant, additional content — including a vinyl pressing — this head-scratcher of an album both gets its due and a thorough examination. Naturally, the remastered album sounds fuller than its original CD release and closer to the vinyl sonics, and the 5.1 surround mixes utilize instruments, vocals, and arrangement groupings previously denied this project. The crazy amount of work that went into Tusk‘s undertaking is uncovered further with a rarity disc that contains demos, outtakes, and remixes. There are also two live discs that put the emotionally and physically exhausted Fleetwood Mac’s fatigue front and center. What’s presented here may not be fantastic but it’s engaging, with performances of newbie compositions like “Sara” and older hits like the always dazzling “Landslide.” And the alternate Tusk disc comprised of alternate takes, is interesting, but Mac and the gang’s first go-round is definitive, even though this “what if?” is smartly assembled.

After this deluxe, historical analysis of Tusk and with so many decades following its initial release, it can be rationalized that it possibly was a commercial misstep but it also served a bigger purpose. Lindsey Buckingham’s genius has been outed through the years, project after project, and Tusk, obviously, was this mad scientist’s first true laboratory, so he should get a break for an experiment or two that went haywire. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie’s lead vocals delighted on practically all of their songs, no problem there. Even former Mac-er Peter Green paid a visit to “Brown Eyes,” and to this day, everyone loves those USC marching band rascals, though not necessarily on a pop record heard every ten minutes on the radio. A big nod goes to the sound, expertly constructed by the project’s talented co-producers Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat (father of Colbie).

Not much more can be said about Tusk except that its opening song “Over And Over” got it right. Its message of sanity prevailing through adversity applied to this incarnation of the group…at least until they changed doctors a few years later (Doctor Who reference…anyone?). This version of the band–Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood — survived long enough to record the Mirage and Tango In The Night albums, whose creative heights may not have been achievable without Tusk. Put in another context, Tusk could be considered Fleetwood Mac’s middle child that demanded more attention and pretty much was, possibly until now, very misunderstood.

Mike Ragogna / Huffington Post / Friday, December 18, 2015

Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk gets a deluxe reissue

In its most popular incarnation — from the mid-1970s through the 1980s when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were in the group — Fleetwood Mac released five studio albums. The middle title from that sequence, the 1979 double album Tusk, was the least popular, and still gets the least amount of airplay.

After the blockbuster success of 1977’s Rumours, one of the biggest-selling albums in history, Buckingham decided the band’s next record could afford to take more chances. Tusk includes unusual song structures, jagged rhythms, and on the lead single and title track — which prominently features the USC Trojan marching band — the group is practically unrecognizable.

While not as commercially accessible as the pairs that came before and after it, Tusk is nonetheless one of the most rewarding items in Fleetwood Mac’s catalog. Fans who have come to appreciate it should be intrigued by the new deluxe edition of the album released this month. The set contains five CDs with the original remastered album, dozens of demos and alternate takes that show how its twenty songs developed, and live performances from the band’s 1979-80 tour.

Completing the package is the album in two additional formats, vinyl and a 5.1 mix DVD. A less expensive alternative is the 3-CD version, which includes only the remastered Tusk and related studio outtakes.

Joshua Palmes / Stamford Music Examiner / Saturday, December 26, 2015

Fleetwood Mac Tusk (Deluxe Edition)

Tusk Deluxe EditionAfter all of the mythologising — the most expensive rock album ever produced; a staggering commercial failure; a Lindsey Buckingham vanity project with the Fleetwood Mac name attached; what happens when too much money meets too much blow — Tusk remains a singular oddity in Fleetwood Mac’s oeuvre. By the time its recording commenced in June 1978, the band were in the stratosphere of commercial success: their previous album, Rumours, had shipped millions of copies and was on its way to becoming one of the best selling albums of all time. Yet the music that had inspired Buckingham during his respite from the gruelling Rumours tour was the opposite of commercial: the debut albums from The Clash and Talking Heads, both recorded on the cheap. As Rob Trucks recounts in his 33â…“ entry on the album, Tusk began its life as an ultimatum from Buckingham to band leader Mick Fleetwood: Buckingham had new songs he was going to record. In response, Fleetwood shot back another ultimatum: Buckingham was either in the band or out of it. The stage was set for a collision: between the moneyed, high-gloss world the band inhabited and the scrappy upstarts who were shaking that world’s foundations; between Buckingham’s musical ambitions and Fleetwood’s determination that Fleetwood Mac stick together as a band.

Tusk, therefore, is riven through with contradictions. It contains some of the band’s glossiest work, of the sort that would have made the executives at Warner hopeful that Tusk could function as Rumours Redux: the gorgeous “Sara,” Stevie Nicks’s aching paean of love and loss; Christine McVie’s rock burner “Think About Me,” complete with acid lyrics that would fuel further speculation about the band’s private lives; the lapidary “Storms,” featuring Nicks at her most pitilessly introspective. Yet these songs find themselves nestled between Buckingham’s off-kilter, deliberately lo-fi ditties: deliberately truncated songs (none longer than 3:32) with unusual, unresolved melodies, in which Buckingham affects a falsetto and Fleetwood sounds as though he were drumming with a set of cardboard boxes. You’d be hard-pressed to call these numbers “punk” per se — they thrum through with Buckingham’s interest in folk and blues traditions, and they were after all recorded at phenomenal expense — but they preserve punk rock’s affinity for simplicity and concision. In many ways they sound like exactly what they are: punk rock reflected back through the funhouse mirror of a platinum-selling band with a well-documented cocaine problem, a limitless recording budget, and a background in blues.

It’s no secret that Tusk performed poorly on its release, shipping a mere two million copies in its first few months of existence compared to the over ten million copies that Rumours shifted. Just who the fault can be pinned on remains the subject of some debate. Did Tusk‘s commerical failure, as Warner’s executives insisted, derive from Buckingham’s outrĂ© songwriting? Was it, as Mick Fleetwood argued, because the album was prematurely leaked to the RKO radio network, who proceeded to play it in order, much to the delight of home tapers? In the long view, such considerations are immaterial: given the album’s strange afterlives — including a start-to-finish cover version by Camper Van Beethoven and becoming a formative influence on Carl Newman’s work with The New Pornographers — it seems that Tusk has ultimately vindicated itself.

The latest remaster and reissue of the album — the third such intervention to have happened since the 1980s — is about as comprehensive as anyone could hope for. In addition to the original album, which has been given a crisp buff and polish (albeit one that could have preserved a little more of the original release’s dynamic range), and a second disc of single versions and demos (many of which originally appeared on the 2004 remaster/reissue), it also includes a start-to-finish version of Tusk in hitherto unreleased alternate takes and two discs of live material from the band’s 1979-1980 Tusk tour. Mac anoraks will find that the second disc’s collection of successive demos — which map out the progression of both “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and the title track from their early incarnations through to near-finished versions — illuminates the band’s creative processes.

Perhaps more interesting is the third disc, sequenced from unreleased alternate versions: while many songs sound essentially like rough-hewn versions of what would appear on the final release, it’s worth listening to just for the lengthy version of “Sara,” in which Nicks elaborates on the song’s themes in an extended outro. The live material on discs four and five is perhaps less essential: much of it is actually from prior albums rather than Tusk, and perhaps inadvertently demonstrates the cold shoulder with which the public received the album. (When Christine McVie introduces “Over & Over” to a crowd at St. Louis by informing them that it’s from the new album, the reception is rather more muted than the ecstatic cheers that greet the version of “Dreams” recorded at Wembley on the same tour.) Perhaps most interesting about these discs is the valiant attempt by the band to fit Buckingham’s Tusk songs into the stadium-rock mode: “Not That Funny” shifts into bombast, with Fleetwood hammering the kit and Buckingham belting out his lines, and Buckingham shreds out a solo that wouldn’t have been out of place on Rumours at the conclusion of “What Makes You Think You’re The One.”

These efforts to make Tusk‘s material appeal to the band’s demographic demonstrate just how much it began its life as an album out of time, an artifact that could not have been produced at any other juncture in history but one that, equally, sounded completely ill-at-ease in the cultural moment that produced it. Perhaps fittingly, time has been kind to Tusk, and the album doesn’t require the ultra-deluxe treatment to make a compelling case for its relevance — those two LP’s worth of creative tension, that juxtaposition of the rough and the smooth, are worth returning to with or without the context provided by this reissue.

(Editor’s note: This article was edited for spelling and grammar. You can read the original article here.)

Chad Parkhill / The Quietus / Wednesday, December 16, 2015