- Vancouver artist Cat L’Hirondelle introduces a suite of three cool and original artists
- Is Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk their best album? Vancouver novelist Michael Jenner has an opinion (!) and background stories about the making of the million dollar opus – the most expensive album ever of its time
The 4th Annual Readers’ Choice
Kurated readers share their favourite music of the last year in the annual Readers’ Choice series. Anything musical is welcomed whether its new, an old favourite, something self-composed and more. Thanks to all the contributors!
Stay tuned and enjoy,
09 January 2022
A Suite of Three
Colors by Black Pumas – (Official Live Session)
I love this guy’s voice!
About Cat: Still a crazy crip artist
Hear the album: Tusk
Watch a powerful live concert performance of Stevie Nicks’ Sisters of the Moon from the Tusk tour
Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk: Is It Their Best Album?
Stevie Nicks has called Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (1979) a strange album. It has been compared to the Beatles’ White Album. Tusk is both inward focused and idiosyncratic, but also universal, focusing on the timeless theme of interpersonal relationships. The songs aren’t mopey though, despite all the heartbreak in the band. Yes, Fleetwood Mac is angry and disappointed. But they’re ready to say goodbye to the past and move on. The album is also fascinating in its disjointedness. Fleetwood Mac had three songwriters (Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham) yet unlike on Rumours (1977), their songs don’t sound similar. In fact, it’s almost as if the three aren’t in the same band at all.
After Rumours became one of the best-selling albums of all-time, Warner Brothers asked Fleetwood Mac not to get fancy and to utilize the same formula for their follow-up. Lindsey Buckingham was not only insulted by their request but determined to do the opposite. For the Tusk sessions, he became the band’s producer and was given an unlimited budget.
When Fleetwood Mac headed into the studio to record the album, they were emotionally damaged. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s long relationship was irreparable, as was Christine McVie and bassist John McVie’s marriage. Added to the tension was the fact that Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood had had a brief and tumultuous romance during the Rumours tour, much to Buckingham’s fury.
More than on any other Fleetwood Mac album, Lindsey Buckingham takes center stage. Half the songs are his and as the producer he had the most say in how Tusk sounds. At the time Buckingham was listening to punk and new wave, and this influence comes out in many of his songs, including The Ledge, which Buckingham reportedly recorded lying on the floor of the studio and singing up to the microphone; What Makes You Think You’re the One; and Not That Funny. Tusk, the album’s second-best song, is fascinating yet bizarre with brilliant syncopation, an amazing groove, the USC marching band, along with incoherent chanting. Buckingham was obsessed with the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and on the songs, That’s All for Everyone and Walk a Thin Line, he shows a similar emotional vulnerability. And then there’s the frenetic That’s Enough for Me, which sounds like a rockabilly rodeo. All in all, Lindsey Buckingham’s songs are excellent. Christine McVie’s heartfelt songs on Tusk are good but not great, yet she does contribute the rocking Think About Me.
If Christine McVie is the heart of the band, Buckingham the brain, then Stevie Nicks is the soul. Even though only five of the twenty songs on the album are hers, Nicks, just like on Rumours, can’t help but be the star. The best song on Tusk is the ethereal and hypnotizing Sara, which is about both her unborn child and her friend Sara Recor, who would later marry, then divorce, Mick Fleetwood (relationships are always complicated in Fleetwood Mac!). In the late-70s, Nicks briefly dated Don Henley. She became pregnant and even named her unborn child, Sara, but then later terminated the pregnancy. Nicks has called Sara one of her most personal songs. Other classic Stevie Nicks tracks on Tusk include the melancholic Storms, about her relationship with Mick Fleetwood, the heavy and a bit scary Sisters of the Moon, the hard-hitting Angel, and the gorgeous Beautiful Child.
Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk cost over a million dollars to record, making it at the time the most expensive album ever made. As it turns out, hiring the USC marching band and renting out Dodgers’ stadium to record them isn’t cheap. And much to Warner Brothers’ disappointment, the pop art of Tusk was not a smash hit like Rumours. At the end of the day, strange and unique doesn’t equate to success on Casey Kasem’s Top 40. But, while Rumours has many of Fleetwood Mac’s best songs, I would argue that Tusk is the band’s best album.
About Michael: Michael Jenner is a novelist and music fanatic. His pandemic playlist includes Claude Debussy, Fleetwood Mac, and Sam Cooke.