Tusk (album)

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Fleetwood Mac - Tusk.png
Studio album by Fleetwood Mac
Released October 12, 1979[1]
Recorded 1978–79
Studio The Village Recorder, Los Angeles, California, Lindsey Buckingham's home
Length 74:25
Language English
Label Warner Bros.
Fleetwood Mac chronology
Singles from Tusk
  1. "Tusk"
    Released: September 1979
  2. "Sara"
    Released: December 1979
  3. "Not That Funny"
    Released: February 1980 (UK)
  4. "Think About Me"
    Released: March 1980
  5. "Sisters of the Moon"
    Released: June 1980 (USA)
  6. "Angel"
    Released: July 1980 (NL)

Tusk is the twelfth album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Released as a double album in 1979, it is considered experimental, primarily due to Lindsey Buckingham's sparser songwriting arrangements and the influence of punk rock and new wave on his production techniques. Widely noted in the 1979 press for costing over $1 million to record (equivalent to $3,370,000 in 2017), it was the most expensive rock album made up to that point.[2] Compared to 1977's Rumours which sold 10 million copies by February 1978, Tusk sold four million copies. Because of this, the album was regarded as a commercial failure by the label.

The band embarked on a 9-month tour to promote Tusk. They travelled extensively across the world, including the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. In Germany they shared the bill with reggae superstar Bob Marley. It was on this world tour that the band recorded music for the Fleetwood Mac Live album, which was released in 1980.[not verified in body]

Although Tusk polarized critics and the public alike upon its initial release, it has since been reevaluated over time and praised for its experimentation. The album's unique sound and production have been highly influential on a number of artists and genres.[3][4][5] In 2013, NME ranked Tusk at number 445 in their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[6]


" I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Warner Bros. put that on in their boardroom and listened to it for the first time."[7]
Lindsey Buckingham

Going into Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham was adamant about creating an album that sounded nothing like Rumours, despite encouragement from their label, Warner Bros. Records, who wanted the band to follow up with a commercial record. "For me, being sort of the culprit behind that particular album, it was done in a way to undermine just sort of following the formula of doing Rumours 2 and Rumours 3, which is kind of the business model Warner Bros. would have liked us to follow."[8]

Mick Fleetwood decided early on that Tusk was going to be a double album. After their label turned down Fleetwood's offer of buying a new studio to make the record, Fleetwood Mac used some of their royalties to construct their own studio, Studio D.[9]

After the studio was built, Buckingham asked Fleetwood if he could record a couple tracks at his home studio. Fleetwood acquiesced, but told Buckingham that the other members needed to be integrated at some point. For example, Buckingham would play a snare drum track on a Kleenex box in his studio while Fleetwood would overdub his drums later on.[10] Despite this, three tracks were recorded solely by Buckingham: "The Ledge", "Save Me a Place", and "That's Enough For Me".[11]

Producer Ken Caillat noticed Buckingham's obsessive nature in the studio. "He was a maniac. The first day, I set the studio up as usual. Then he said, ‘Turn every knob 180 degrees from where it is now and see what happens.’ He’d tape microphones to the studio floor and get into a sort of push-up position to sing. Early on, he came in and he’d freaked out in the shower and cut off all his hair with nail scissors. He was stressed."[12]

Buckingham had become infatuated with bands such as Talking Heads, and with Tusk, he "was desperate to make Mac relevant to a post-punk world."[13] Music journalist Bob Stanley commented that compared to Rumours, Tusk "was unleavened weirdness, as close to its predecessor as the Beach Boys' lo-fi Smiley Smile had been to Pet Sounds," and commented that "much of it sounded clattery, half-formed, with strange rhythmic leaps and offbeat tics."[13] Bassist John McVie has commented that the album sounds like "the work of three solo artists", whilst Fleetwood later proclaimed that it is his favourite and the best Fleetwood Mac studio album created by the group.[citation needed]

An alternate version of Tusk was released on Record Store Day 2016.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[15]
Blender 3/5 stars[16]
Pitchfork 9.2/10[17]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[19]
Uncut 5/5 stars[20]
The Village Voice B+[21]

Many contemporary reviews of the album, like that of Rolling Stone, emphasized the experimental nature of the album, with comparisons to the Beatles' White Album not uncommon. "Like The White Album, Tusk is less a collection of finished songs than a mosaic of pop-rock fragments by individual performers."[22] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice was more ambivalent, lauding Buckingham's production and experimentation, while dismissing Christine McVie's and Stevie Nicks's contributions.[21]

Retrospective reviews have seen the album in a more positive light. AllMusic found the album to be in its own ballpark, calling it "a peerless piece of pop art".[15] Pitchfork found the album to be "self indulgent" and "terrifically strange".[17] Buckingham's "The Ledge" and "Save Me a Place" were seen as the album's most memorable tracks, with the latter particularly praised for its pensive lyrics and lyrical resemblance to "Go Your Own Way".

The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[23]

Commercial performance[edit]

Tusk peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the U.S., but spent less than nine months on the chart. It was certified double platinum for shipping two million copies.[24] It peaked at No. 1 in the UK and achieved a Platinum award for shipments in excess of 300,000 copies[25]. The album gave the group two U.S. top-ten hit singles, with the Buckingham-penned title track (US #8/UK #6), and the Stevie Nicks composition "Sara" (U.S. #7/UK #37). Further releases from the album, "Not That Funny" (UK only single release), "Think About Me" and "Sisters of the Moon" were slightly remixed for radio, and were less successful. The latter two appear in their 'single versions' on the 2002 compilation The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac, while "Sara", which was cut to 4½ minutes for both the single and the first CD release of the album, appear on the 1988 Greatest Hits compilation and the 2004 reissue of Tusk as well as Fleetwood Mac's 2002 release of The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac in its unedited form.

Though the album sold 4 million copies worldwide, and earned a Grammy nomination in 1981 for its art designers in the category "Best Album Package", and considering the comparatively huge sales of Rumours and the album's unprecedented recording expense, the band's record label deemed the project a failure, laying the blame squarely with Buckingham.[26] Fleetwood, however, blames the album's relative failure on the RKO radio chain playing the album in its entirety prior to release, thus allowing mass home recording.[27] In addition, Tusk was a double album, with a high list price of $15.98, $2.00 more than other double albums.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Over & Over" Christine McVie C. McVie 4:34
2. "The Ledge" Lindsey Buckingham Buckingham 2:08
3. "Think About Me" C. McVie C. McVie and Buckingham 2:44
4. "Save Me a Place" Buckingham Buckingham 2:42
5. "Sara" (Edited to 4:39 on earlier CD pressings) Stevie Nicks Nicks 6:22
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "What Makes You Think You're the One" Buckingham Buckingham 3:32
2. "Storms" Nicks Nicks 5:31
3. "That's All for Everyone" Buckingham Buckingham 3:03
4. "Not That Funny" (Mix differs from original LP version) Buckingham Buckingham 3:11
5. "Sisters of the Moon" Nicks Nicks 4:42
Side three
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Angel" Nicks Nicks 4:54
2. "That's Enough for Me" Buckingham Buckingham 1:50
3. "Brown Eyes" C. McVie C. McVie 4:27
4. "Never Make Me Cry" C. McVie C. McVie 2:18
5. "I Know I'm Not Wrong" (Mix differs from original LP version) Buckingham Buckingham 3:05
Side four
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Honey Hi" C. McVie C. McVie 2:41
2. "Beautiful Child" Nicks Nicks 5:21
3. "Walk a Thin Line" Buckingham Buckingham 3:46
4. "Tusk" Buckingham Buckingham 3:37
5. "Never Forget" C. McVie C. McVie 3:34

A 2-disc remastered version of the album was released in 2004, featuring the entire, unedited version of the original album on the first disc and various demos, outtakes and alternate versions on the second disc.

A 5-CD deluxe edition featuring many unreleased demos, live tracks and an Alternate Tusk was released on December 4, 2015.[28]

  • Tusk remastered
  • An alternate version of the complete album consisting of session outtakes, most of which have never been released
  • A selection of singles, demos and remixes
  • Unreleased performances from the band’s 1979–1980 Tusk tour with selections from concerts in London, Tucson, St. Louis, and one song in Omaha.
  • A DVD with both a 24 bit/96 kHz stereo mix and a 5.1 surround mix of the original album

Tusk was also issued as a 180-gram 2-LP set.

In addition to the above outtakes, several other Nicks songs were demoed for Tusk: "Love You Enough" (unreleased), "Beauty And The Beast" (The Wild Heart), "Smile At You" (Say You Will), "Secret Love" (In Your Dreams), "The Dealer" and "Watch Devil" (24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault).

(* = Previously unreleased; All live tracks are previously unreleased.)


Fleetwood Mac[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production and design[edit]

  • Fleetwood Mac – producers
  • Richard Dashut – producer, engineer
  • Ken Caillat – producer, engineer, remastering
  • Rich Feldman – assistant engineer
  • Hernan Rojas – assistant engineer
  • Ken Perry – mastering
  • Peter Beard – photography
  • Jayme Odgers – photography
  • Norman Seeff – photography
  • Vigon Nahas Vigon – art direction, design



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[50] 2× Platinum 140,000^
France (SNEP)[51] Gold 167,600[52]
Germany (BVMI)[53] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1981, Mick Fleetwood covered "Walk a Thin Line" on his solo album The Visitor.
  • In 1991, R.E.M. covered the song "Tusk", introducing it by noting that, earlier in their career, they were able to take advantage of Fleetwood Mac's unused recording studio time.[citation needed]
  • In 2002, Camper Van Beethoven released a full cover of the original Tusk album in its entirety. The cover art and track listings are almost identical.
  • In 2004, The Twilight Singers covered "What Makes You Think You're The One" on their covers album She Loves You.
  • In 2007, Mossyrock covered "I Know I'm Not Wrong" for their debut EP which was also called I Know I'm Not Wrong; it was later rereleased on the compilation album The Three EPs.
  • In 2012, The Flowers of Hell included a cover of "Over & Over" featuring Neil Wilkinson and Abi Fry of British Sea Power on their Odes album.[55]
  • In 2012, Tame Impala covered "That's All for Everyone" for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation Just Tell Me That You Want Me.
  • In 2012, Craig Wedren and St. Vincent covered "Sisters of the Moon" for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation Just Tell Me That You Want Me.
  • In 2012, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Matt Sweeney covered "Storms" for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation Just Tell Me That You Want Me.
  • In 2012, Marianne Faithfull covered "Angel" for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation Just Tell Me That You Want Me.
  • In 2012, Best Coast covered "Storms" for the B-side of a promo-only 7" featuring the title track of their second album The Only Place. It was released as a bonus track on the Australian edition of the album and the cover was also performed live around this time, including on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.


  1. ^ "...group's new Tusk album scheduled to be released today..." (October 12, 1979). "A Star for Fleetwood Mac". Los Angeles Times: E44. 
  2. ^ Cormier, Roger. "15 Albums That Cost a Fortune to Make". Mental Floss. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  3. ^ http://ultimateclassicrock.com/fleetwood-mac-tusk/
  4. ^ http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/album-ae-fleetwood-mac-tusk-768441
  5. ^ https://ww2.kqed.org/pop/2013/09/18/fleetwood-macs-tusk-is-everything-thats-missing-from-music-today/
  6. ^ Rocklist.net NME: The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time : October 2013
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  8. ^ Graff, Gary. "Lindsey Buckingham on Fleetwood Mac's Risk-Taking Classic Album 'Tusk': Exclusive Premiere". Billboard. Retrieved April 2, 2016. 
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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Reggatta de Blanc by The Police
UK Albums Chart number one album
4–10 November 1979
Succeeded by
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 by ABBA
Preceded by
The Wall by Pink Floyd
New Zealand Chart number-one album
6 April 1980
Succeeded by
Music by Candlelight by Gheorghe Zamfir & Harry Van Hoof