Tusk (1979)


 
1. Over and Over 2. The Ledge 3. Think About Me 4. Save Me a Place 5. Sara 6. What Makes You Think You're the One 7. Storms 8. That's All For Everyone 9. Not That Funny 10.Sisters of the Moon 11.Angel 12.That's Enough For Me 13.Brown Eyes 14.Never Make MeCry 15.I Know I'm Not Wrong 16.Honey Hi 17.Beautiful Child 18.Walk a Thin Line 19.Tusk 20.Never Forget

 

How do you follow up the most successful album of the decade that sold something like 25 million copies?? The smart answer is, you don't. Give Mac credit for not trying to replicate the massive success of Rumours. They smartly push their music in an more experimental, somewhat unsafe territory that was not necessarily welcomed by all. In hindsight, however, it is now seen as the right move and there are many that would argue that this one has actually become somewhat of a masterpiece. Consider that, about ten years later, the indie rock band Camper Van Beethoven did a cover version of this entire album. Now that's flattery. (To be honest, that album wasn't one of that band's best).

Lindsey Buckingham, whenever he was an active member of this band, was usually the one directing the creativity and steering them in a particular direction. So in many ways you could say that this album was his "idea". Clearly, it's his compositions that are the most "off the wall". For the most part, he ditches the radio friendly tunes, and the majority of his songs sound like an angry, cocaine fueled rant that are filled with energy yet lacking, some would argue, in melodic content. Many of his songs, such as Not That Funny, What Makes You Think You're the One and That's Enough For Me sound an awful lot like one and other, and fortunately it's his genius as a singer/songwriter that keeps these songs from becoming an embarrassment. Probably the other members were a bit worried, though, when they were listening to the playbacks in the studio during the recording process. He really does "nail" this direction on the title song of the album that became the first single from the album. It's one of those songs that is curiously addictive and incredibly entertaining, yet at the same time you wonder just what it is about the strangeness that's so captivating. With its savage like six drum beat rhythm throughout, weird background noise that sounds like a muffled stadium p.a., Buckingham's angry chanting, and oh yeah - a college marching band, definitely win points for creativity. Considering that half of this double album features Buckingham's tunes and that none of them are quite "normal" gives you a feel of just how different the direction was for this band.

McVie and Nicks don't quite follow in the same path. Their songs sound mostly the same as they always had before, and in many ways, that's a bit of a relief. So if some of Lindsey Buckingham's songs are too different for your tastes, you at least had good ol' Christine and Stevie to keep you rooted in that classic California sound. Christine McVie would always be the anchor of this band. She could always be counted on to come up with a few wonderful songs that seemed to be easily recognizable, very radio friendly, and very near to the fan's hearts. She was probably the least visible of the lead players, but her presence would definitely be missed had she not been there (this would be the case in later albums, but more on that in other reviews). She had one minor hit on this record with Think About Me, but really shines on some of the deeper cuts such as Never Make Me Cry and Never Forget.

Then we come to Stevie Nicks. Ahhhhh....Stevie Nicks. Stevie was definitely the most "popular" of the band and had the most unique presence amongst the members. There are those that would argue that in her later years, her frequent drug use would catch up to her and influence her work negatively, but if that is the case, it fortunately didn't affect her here. As a matter of fact, this album is where she is at her peak. Maybe this was the counter balance to Buckingham's creative barnstorming? Everyone knows Sara and what a beautiful song it is. It's my personal favorite Fleetwood Mac song ever. To some extent, many people also know Sisters of the Moon, which could almost be "Rhiannon Part 2" with it's structure and milky mystic feel. Actually, every one of her songs on this album are incredible. Of course, there are only five Stevie Nicks songs total here, but those five, it could be argued, carry the whole album - or at least take it up a few notches.

The "classic" lineup of this band was always as good as it was with its three front members balancing their strengths and styles off each other. With this album, they seemed to be pulling themselves in radically different directions, yet they always manage to stay cohesive enough to create beautiful music together. This was as good of a follow up to a 25 million seller as there ever could be.

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