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Music / Tusk

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"It's not that funny, is it?/No one to turn you on/All your hope is gone/It's not that funny, is it?"

"Fleetwood Mac is subverting the music from the inside out, very much like one of John le Carré’s moles - who, planted in the heart of the establishment, does not begin his secret campaign of sabotage and betrayal until everyone has gotten used to him, and takes him for granted."
—From Greil Marcus' favourable review of the album

Tusk is the twelfth studio album by Fleetwood Mac, released in 1979. 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, 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 Punk Rock and New Wave Music—similar to The Beatles' transition from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to The White Album.

Despite the anticipation, the album was seen as a commercial failure. First, the album was the most expensive ever made to date, having cost $1 million to makenote . Second, double albums were sold at higher prices than single albums because of the higher content of music. Finally and most crucially, the RKO radio network broadcasting the entire album ahead of time, allowing for extensive home taping. Despite all of this, the album 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.


The album was ranked at #445 on NME's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It is currently ranked at #1833 on Acclaimed Music's compendium of various critics' greatest albums lists.


LP One

Side One
  1. "Over And Over" (4:35)
  2. "The Ledge" (2:02)
  3. "Think About Me" (2:44)
  4. "Save Me A Place" (2:40)
  5. "Sara" (6:26)note 

Side Two

  1. "What Makes You Think You're The One" (3:28)
  2. "Storms" (5:28)
  3. "That's All For Everyone" (3:04)
  4. "Not That Funny" (3:19)*
  5. "Sisters Of The Moon" (4:36)

LP Two

Side Three
  1. "Angel" (4:53)
  2. "That's Enough For Me" (1:48)
  3. "Brown Eyes" (4:27)
  4. "Never Make Me Cry" (2:14)
  5. "I Know I'm Not Wrong" (2:59)*

Side Four

  1. "Honey Hi" (2:43)
  2. "Beautiful Child" (5:19)
  3. "Walk A Thin Line" (3:44)
  4. "Tusk" (3:36)
  5. "Never Forget" (3:40)

Note: CD releases are across a single disc*CD releases use a different mix from the LP version


Principal Members:

  • 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. Warner (Bros.) Records revoked it after the album's relative failure. Mirage was a self-consciously commercial 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.
  • 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 Funny Afro he had on Rumours.
  • 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:
  • 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 2015 remaster substitutes a completely different version of "I Know I'm Not Wrong".
  • 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
  • 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:
  • Spiritual Successor: The album has been compared favorably to The White Album for its stylistic variation.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • The pre-Rumours wounds hadn't healed yet, which made an album that sounded more like it was tearing apart at the seams.
    • "Tusk"
    Why don't you tell me what's going on?
    Why don't you tell me who's on the phone?
    • "Never Make Me Cry"
    Go and do what you want
    I know that you have the need
    You know that I'll wait, as long as it takes


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