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Music / Tusk (1979)
aka: 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 recorded by British-American Rock & Roll band Fleetwood Mac. It was released through Warner Bros. Records on 12 October 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, 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 Rumours— 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.

The album was supported by four singles: the title track, "Sara", "Sisters of the Moon", and "Think About Me".

Not to be confused with the horror film of the same name, although it does use the Title Track as its ending theme.


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)

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

Principal Members:

  • Lindsey Buckingham - lead vocals on tracks 2-4, 6, 8-9, 12, 15, and 18-19, guitar, piano, bass, harmonica, drums, percussion
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion
  • Christine McVie - lead vocals on tracks 1, 3, 13-14, 16, and 19-20, keyboard, piano, accordion
  • John McVie - bass
  • Stevie Nicks - lead vocals on tracks 5, 7, 10-11 and 17, 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 removes most of the inner artwork. The booklet did include lyrics and liner notes about the history of the band, elements that weren't part of the original LP release, in an apparent attempt to compensate. The 2004 reissue would rectify the matter.
  • 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.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: For the title track, in addition to the standard drum kit, the band also experimented with different found sounds on the song. Fleetwood and Buckingham respectively played lamb chops and a Kleenex box. Seriously.
  • 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:
  • 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".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Sara", writen by Stevie Nicks, has very deep history behind it. She says it was inspired by friend Sara Recor, who would later marry bandmate Mick Fleetwood.
  • "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:

Alternative Title(s): Tusk