It was the eagerly anticipated follow-up to the 1977 classic Rumours, the top-selling album of that year and one of the biggest hit albums of the decade, and one of the best-selling of all time. So the band, and especially singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, wanted to take some risks with Tusk. Compared to Rumours which had an upbeat pop/rock sound, Tusk was for the most part a bizarre collection of music influenced by the Post-Punk movement that became a major force in the UK and a cult force in the US since the release of Rumors— similarly to The Beatles' transition from the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to the genre-shifting art rock of The White Album. In particular, Buckingham cited Talking Heads as a major influence on the style of music found throughout Tusk (which incidentally was released just months after Talking Heads' own Fear of Music, and Talking Heads would release their similarly experimental New Sound Album Remain in Light just four days short of Tusk's one-year anniversary).
Despite the anticipation and strong sales (topping the charts in the UK and New Zealand and peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard 200), the album failed to match the gargantuan success of Rumours, and consequently was deemed a commercial failure. First, the album was the most expensive ever made at the time, having cost $1 million to makenote . The record has since been surpassed several times over in the following decades, with the $30 million Invincible by Michael Jackson being the current record-holder, but in 1979 Tusk's recording costs were downright heart attack-inducing. Second, double albums were sold at higher prices than single albums because of both the higher content of music and the fact that labels had to manufacture twice as many discs as they would need to for a single album. The timing of the album's release during the Second Oil Crisis only made the album more expensive thanks to the inflated cost of petroleum needed to manufacture records. Finally and most crucially, the RKO radio network broadcast the entire album ahead of time, allowing for extensive home taping that invalidated the need for most listeners to actually buy the album (in hindsight, this was also a likely factor in the RIAA becoming more draconian about piracy from the 80's onward). Despite all of this, Tusk has sold four million copies during its time out in the open, and since has been remembered as one of their best works, possibly even their single best.
LP OneSide One
- "Over And Over" (4:35)
- "The Ledge" (2:02)
- "Think About Me" (2:44)
- "Save Me A Place" (2:40)
- "Sara" (6:26)note
- "What Makes You Think You're The One" (3:28)
- "Storms" (5:28)
- "That's All For Everyone" (3:04)
- "Not That Funny" (3:19)*
- "Sisters Of The Moon" (4:36)
LP TwoSide Three
- "Angel" (4:53)
- "That's Enough For Me" (1:48)
- "Brown Eyes" (4:27)
- "Never Make Me Cry" (2:14)
- "I Know I'm Not Wrong" (2:59)*
- "Honey Hi" (2:43)
- "Beautiful Child" (5:19)
- "Walk A Thin Line" (3:44)
- "Tusk" (3:36)
- "Never Forget" (3:40)
CD releases are across a single disc
*CD releases use a different mix from the LP version
- Lindsey Buckingham - lead vocals, guitar, piano, bass, harmonica, drums, percussion
- Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion
- Christine McVie - lead vocals, keyboard, piano, accordion
- John McVie - bass
- Stevie Nicks - lead vocals, keyboard
Save me a trope, I'll come runnin':
- Alliterative Title: "Honey Hi", "Over & Over"
- Arc Words: "Don't blame me" appears both in "Not That Funny" and "I Know I'm Not Wrong." This stanza also appears in both songs, with the same melody:Here comes the nighttime
Looking for a little more
Workin' on checkin' out
Somebody outside the door
- Auteur License: The success of Rumours gave the band one, and Warner (Bros.) Records revoked it after the album's relative failure. Consequently, Mirage after it was a self-consciously commercial soft rock effort.
- Boléro Effect: "Tusk" qualifies, since it opens with Fleetwood's repeated drum pattern and builds up from there.
- Cover Album: Camper Van Beethoven did a full-album cover of Tusk in 2003.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The cover is a black and white snapshot of a biting attack dog, off-centre on an off-white background.
- Digital Destruction: The original CD release in 1987 both replaces the album version of "Sara" with the single edit and removes most of the inner artwork. The 2004 issue would rectify both matters; technically it was possible starting in the early 1990s, but the relative underperformance of the album meant that not much attention was given to it at the time.
- Epic Rocking: "Sara", "Storms" and "Beautiful Child" are all over five minutes. Being the longest song on the album, "Sara" was initially trimmed by about two minutes on early CD versions; Due to the technology at the time, the album would otherwise be just a little too long to fit on a single disc.
- Before the album's release, "Sara" was over 14 minutes long. Lindsey Buckingham, who produced the album, cut it by eight minutes to save time.
- Genre Roulette: Due to the diverging interests of the three singer-songwriters. Christine McVie's work became a little jazzier; Stevie Nicks mostly stayed true to folk and country rock; and Lindsey Buckingham's songs were a product of his reverence for Brian Wilson and his newfound interest in Punk Rock and New Wave Music.
- Green-Eyed Monster: "Tusk" is pure, uncut simmering romantic jealousy set to music.
- If I Can't Have You
: "The Ledge" certainly sounds it."Do you ever wonder
Do you ever hate
Six feet under
Someone who can wait
You can love me baby but you can't walk out
Someone oughta tell you
Oughta tell you what it's really all about."
- Important Haircut: Lindsey Buckingham shed the afro he had on Rumours.
- In the Style of...: "Not That Funny" is influenced by Talking Heads. Lindsey Buckingham even indulges in some David Byrne-style vocalizations.
- Irony: In their attempt to invoke the do-it-yourself aesthetic of Punk Rock, Buckingham and company spent a lot of money, booking tons of studio time only to end up recording percussion tracks on a desk chair in a bathroom.
- Large Ham: The whole band gets a moment of this during the Title Track. All the instruments cut out except for a drumbeat and a guitar. Things are mellow for a moment. And then, everyone at once:TUSK!
- Miniscule Rocking: "That's Enough for Me" never hits the two-minute mark, while "The Ledge" and "Never Make Me Cry" just barely cross it.
- Mood Whiplash: The contrast between the tense and brassy "Tusk" and the warm love song "Never Forget" is only slightly less jarring than the "Revolution #9"/"Good Night" split on The White Album.
- The Not-Remix: The 1987 and 2004 CD releases substitute different mixes of "Not That Funny" and "I Know I'm Not Wrong", with the 2015 remaster restoring the original versions.
- One-Word Title: "Sara", "Storms", "Angel" and the Title Track.
- Questioning Title?: "What Makes You Think You're the One".
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "What Makes You Think You're the One".What makes you think I'm the one
Who will love you forever?
Everything you do has been done
And this won't last forever
- Re-Cut: The first CD release in 1987 replaces the album version of "Sara" with the shorter single edit to keep the album from going over the 74-minute limit of a Redbook-compliant disc (the uncut album is just 25 seconds too long). 80-minute CDs would come along a few years later, but were saved for better-selling titles that needed them. The 2004 remaster would restore the full version of "Sara", and it's stuck ever since.
- Repetitive Name: "Over And Over".
- Sequel Song: "Storms" has a one-syllable, plural title like "Dreams", which had the line "Thunder only happens when it's raining".
- Shout-Out: The New Pornographers play a snippet of "I Know I'm Not Wrong" toward the end of their song, "To Wild Homes", as "proof that Tusk has haunted our music." They've also covered "Think About Me".
- Special Guest:
- Overlapping with The Bus Came Back, band founder and original guitarist Peter Green guests on "Brown Eyes".
- The Title Track features the USC Trojan Marching Band, also known as the Spirit of Troy. It became an Ascended Meme, since it's now one of the USC band's signature songs during football games. Other schools' bands have adopted it too, much to USC's consternation.
- Spiritual Successor: The album has been compared favorably to The White Album for its stylistic variation.