Tusk (album)

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Fleetwood Mac - Tusk.png
Studio album by Fleetwood Mac
ReleasedOctober 12, 1979
StudioThe Village Recorder, Los Angeles, California, Lindsey Buckingham's home
GenrePop rock[1], avant-pop[2]
LabelWarner 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 studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, released as a double album on October 12, 1979.[3] It is considered more experimental than their previous albums, partly a consequence of Lindsey Buckingham's sparser songwriting arrangements and the influence of post-punk. The production costs were estimated to be over $1 million (equivalent to $3.37 million in 2017), making it the most expensive rock album recorded to that date.[4]

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 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]

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. It has since been recognized for its influence on various artists and genres.[5][6][7][further explanation needed] In 2013, NME ranked Tusk at number 445 in their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[8] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[9]


Going into Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham was adamant about creating an album that sounded nothing like Rumours: "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."[10] Mick Fleetwood decided early on that Tusk was to be a double album. After their label turned down Fleetwood's offer of buying a new studio to make the record, the band used some of their royalties to construct their own Studio D.[11]

After the studio was built, Buckingham asked Fleetwood if he could record a couple of songs at his home studio. Fleetwood acquiesced, but told Buckingham that the other members needed to be integrated at some point. Fleetwood would overdub his own drums over Buckingham's snare drum track, which he sometimes played on a Kleenex box.[12] Despite this, three tracks were recorded solely by Buckingham: "The Ledge", "Save Me a Place", and "That's Enough For Me".[13] Producer Ken Caillat commented on 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."[14]

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.[15]

Lindsey Buckingham

Buckingham – infatuated with bands such as Talking Heads – was "desperate to make Mac relevant to a post-punk world", according to music journalist Bob Stanley, who 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. Much of it sounded clattery, half-formed, with strange rhythmic leaps and offbeat tics."[16] Journalist Adam Webb described the Tusk recording sessions as a "cocaine blizzard" that Christine McVie's then-boyfriend, Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson, "never really came out [from]."[17] Music historian Domenic Priore claimed that, for research purposes during the album's recording, Buckingham accessed the master tapes for the Beach Boys' unreleased album Smile, and that the tracks "That's All For Everyone" and "Beautiful Child" most strongly exemplify its influence.[18]

Bassist John McVie commented that the album "sounds like the work of three solo artists", whilst Fleetwood proclaimed it is his favourite and the best Fleetwood Mac studio album.[citation needed] "You got that sweetness [from Nicks and McVie] and me as the complete nutcase," Buckingham observed. "That's what makes us Fleetwood Mac."[19]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[20]
Blender3/5 stars[21]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[24]
Uncut5/5 stars[25]

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.[26] It peaked at No. 1 in the UK and achieved a Platinum award for shipments in excess of 300,000 copies[27]. 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).[citation needed]

In his review for Rolling Stone, Stephen Holden emphasized the experimental nature of the album, with comparisons to the Beatles' White Album: "Like The White Album, Tusk is less a collection of finished songs than a mosaic of pop-rock fragments by individual performers."[1] 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.[28] Retrospectively, AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine found the album to be in its own ballpark,[peacock term] calling it "a peerless piece of pop art".[20] Amanda Petrusich of Pitchfork found the album to be "self indulgent" and "terrifically strange".[22]

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.[29] 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.[30] In addition, Tusk was a double album, with a high list price of $15.98, which was $2 more than other double albums.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Over & Over"Christine McVieC. McVie4:34
2."The Ledge"Lindsey BuckinghamBuckingham2:08
3."Think About Me"C. McVieC. McVie and Buckingham2:44
4."Save Me a Place"BuckinghamBuckingham2:42
5."Sara" (Edited to 4:39 on earlier CD pressings)Stevie NicksNicks6:22
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."What Makes You Think You're the One"BuckinghamBuckingham3:32
3."That's All for Everyone"BuckinghamBuckingham3:03
4."Not That Funny" (Mix differs from original LP version)BuckinghamBuckingham3:11
5."Sisters of the Moon"NicksNicks4:42
Side three
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
2."That's Enough for Me"BuckinghamBuckingham1:50
3."Brown Eyes"C. McVieC. McVie4:27
4."Never Make Me Cry"C. McVieC. McVie2:18
5."I Know I'm Not Wrong" (Mix differs from original LP version)BuckinghamBuckingham3:05
Side four
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Honey Hi"C. McVieC. McVie2:41
2."Beautiful Child"NicksNicks5:21
3."Walk a Thin Line"BuckinghamBuckingham3:46
5."Never Forget"C. McVieC. McVie3:34

Expanded and alternate editions[edit]

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.[31]

  • 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.

Another alternate version of Tusk was released on Record Store Day 2016.[32] 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).[citation needed]


  • * = Previously unreleased; all live tracks are previously unreleased.


Fleetwood Mac

Additional musicians

Production and design

  • 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)[54] 2× Platinum 140,000^
France (SNEP)[55] Gold 167,600[56]
Germany (BVMI)[57] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[58] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] 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 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.[60]
  • 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 the title track of their second album The Only Place.


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  2. ^ https://brooklynrail.org/2007/9/music/what-is-avant-pop
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External links[edit]