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Tusk [Remastered & Expanded]

Tusk [Remastered & Expanded]

by Fleetwood Mac


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More than any other Fleetwood Mac album, Tusk is born of a particular time and place -- it could only have been created in the aftermath of Rumours, which shattered sales records, and in turn gave the group a blank check for their next album. But if they were falling apart during the making of Rumours, they were officially broken and shattered during the making of Tusk, and that disconnect between bandmembers resulted in a sprawling, incoherent, and utterly brilliant 20-track double album. At the time of its release, it was a flop, never reaching the top of the charts and never spawning a true hit single, despite two well-received Top Ten hits. Coming after the monumental Rumours, this was a huge disappointment, but the truth of the matter is that Fleetwood Mac couldn't top that success no matter how hard they tried, so it was better for them to indulge themselves and come up with something as unique as Tusk. Lindsey Buckingham directed both Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, but he dominates here, composing nearly half the album, and giving Christine McVie's and Stevie Nicks' songs an ethereal, floating quality that turns them into welcome respites from the seriously twisted immersions into Buckingham's id. This is the ultimate cocaine album -- it's mellow for long stretches and then bursts wide open in manic, frantic explosions, such as the mounting tension on "The Ledge" or the rampaging "That's Enough for Me," or the marching band-driven paranoia of the title track, all of which are relieved by smooth, reflective work from all three songwriters. While McVie and Nicks contribute some excellent songs, Buckingham owns this record with his nervous energy and obsessive production, winding up with a fussily detailed yet wildly messy album unlike any other. This is mainstream madness, crazier than Buckingham's idol Brian Wilson and weirder than any number of cult classics. Of course, that's why it bombed upon its original release, but Tusk is a bracing, weirdly affecting work that may not be as universal or immediate as Rumours, but is every bit as classic. As a piece of pop art, it's peerless. [Tusk previously saw an expanded reissue in 2004, when the double album was given a second disc containing 21 demos, alternate takes, and outtakes. Eleven years later, long after the fad of box sets for single albums had turned into tradition, Tusk was given a super expansion: the double album has become a five-disc set with the addition of two discs of studio outtakes and two discs from the album's supporting tour. Not everything from the 2004 edition has been carried over -- notably, a cover of the Beach Boys' "Famer's Daughter" has been left behind -- but there's an abundance of unheard material: five discs amounting to the original album, two bonus discs of studio material, and two discs of live cuts. While these highlights from the Tusk Tour are surprisingly vigorous -- it's a bit of a marvel to hear Lindsey Buckingham tear into "That's Enough for Me" on-stage and to hear this latter-day lineup power through "Oh Well" -- the real attraction here is naturally the outtakes from this feverish studio creation. The first of these studio discs contains various familiar remixes and single versions, then it gets to the good stuff: a dreamy early version of "Save Me a Place," a working demo of "That's Enough for Me" called "Out on the Road" (all wordless vocals and bathroom percussion), then a series of takes on "I Know I'm Not Wrong" and "Tusk" that show how the songs grew. Finally, there's an entire alternate version of Tusk, cobbled together from early takes, alternates, and different mixes. Some of the differences are slight but each cut contains some notable change, and while that doesn't amount to a version of Tusk that's better than the finished record, it's certainly worthwhile for any fan dedicated enough to invest in a set as hefty as this.]

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