Tusk (Remastered)

Tusk (Remastered)

The myth of Tusk as a gloriously self-destructive failure on which the band’s excess got the better of them is at best partly true. Yes, Lindsey Buckingham felt challenged by the energy and innovation of punk rock. Yes, he recorded vocal takes in a push-up position on the tiled floor because he thought it’d make them sound more aggressive. And if you were one of the 10 million people who bought into the smoothness of Rumours, the geometric abrasions of ”The Ledge,” “What Makes You Think You’re the One,” and “Tusk” might make your skin crawl. As Stevie Nicks puts it, Buckingham is the kind of person who would die on his cross to make a point. So when the band’s record company encouraged them to stay their extremely lucrative course, Buckingham not only declined, he went off-road. But to write off an album that had three Top 20 singles (“Tusk,” “Sara,” “Think About Me”) and sold several million copies says more about the band’s success than any perception of their failure. Buckingham’s contributions are amazing—a bridge between punk, art-rock, and the highly constructed pop of early Brian Eno. But what makes Tusk remarkable as an album is hearing the band’s songwriters—Buckingham, Nicks, and Christine McVie—push further into their differences without losing a shared center. Where Fleetwood Mac and Rumours made them sound uniform and balanced, Tusk works like a prism, splitting their sound into its constituent parts: The mellow romanticism of McVie (“Over & Over,” “Brown Eyes,” “Honey Hi”), the ethereality of Nicks (“Sara,” “Sisters of the Moon,” “Beautiful Child”), the itchiness of Buckingham. If you’re coming from the underground, you could wonder whether Tusk holds its own with Talking Heads, The Clash, Wire, or even Neil Young, whose Rust Never Sleeps incorporated punk in an even more direct way. But most people are listening to Tusk because it’s an album by Fleetwood Mac, and will leave with their expectations duly screwed up.

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