Happy 40th: Fleetwood Mac, TUSK
40 years ago this month, Fleetwood Mac released their 12th studio album, an LP that had to follow the most successful album in the band’s catalog.
Many a casual Fleetwood Mac fan will, if asked to cite their favorite album by the band, instantly deliver a one-word answer without thinking: RUMOURS. This answer is not wrong, because…well, everybody's got their own opinion, right? You can, however, find a strong contingent within the band's fanbase that might just as quickly offer up a different one-word response: TUSK.
The odds of TUSK becoming a more successful album than RUMOURS were pretty astronomical, and that was before Fleetwood Mac decided to go experimental with their material. Not that it’s particularly crazy by, say, new wave standards, but there was definitely some outside-the-box thinking going on during the recording process, and for proof, you need look no farther than the album’s title track.
The idea for bringing a marching band onto the song was the brainchild of Mick Fleetwood, who was inspired by a brass band he’d heard outside a hotel room in Barfleur, a fishing village in northern France.
“I was in a room in the town square with a horrific hangover, and I was woken by the sound of the local brass band that relentlessly went round and round the square,” Fleetwood told British GQ in 2015. “As the day went on, they got drunker and drunker. But one thing was apparent. Everyone followed the brass band around the town, and I thought, ‘What a good idea!'”
“The challenge of that was getting the marching band on the existing track, in sync with the other instruments,” recalled Lindsey Buckingham in a Guitar World interview. “Mick had this whole idea where he wanted to film it. We went to Dodger stadium and got the band out on the infield. They had a remote truck there. Needless to say, it took a while.”
Yes, but the time turned out to be a worthwhile investment: it’s one of the most memorable songs in the Fleetwood Mac catalog. The album’s full of those, as you’ll recall when you glance again at the track listing and see titles like “Sara,” “Think About Me,” “Angel,” and “Not That Funny” jumping out at you.
In the end, TUSK only climbed to #4 on the Billboard 200, which is still pretty impressive, but when you’re comparing it to the insane success of RUMOURS... Well, you get it. But just because it wasn’t as big a seller at the time doesn’t mean that it hasn’t gone on to become one of the most loved albums in the Fleetwood Mac catalog. In fact, it’s now viewed by many critics as one of the best albums of the ‘70s, as well it should be.
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