There's been a lot of posts recently about  CFCF's cover of Fleetwood Mac's Big Love. Big Love is from their '87 record Tango in the Night, the last 'Mac album Lindsey Buckingham would be involved with. (Until they all got back together for The Dance.) I went looking in Dad's stacks for Big Love, and instead, I pulled out Tusk. Probably because it's a double-album, which makes it much thicker.

Fleetwood Mac
was one of those bands that was constantly doing it with each other - Lindsey Buckingham was with Stevie Nicks, then they broke up and she started canoodling with drummer Mick Fleetwood, meanwhile John and Christine McVie were filing for divorce, and I'm sure the guy who drove the bus was sleeping with all of them. All this internal turmoil peaked during their massive hit, the aptly titled Rumours, and by the time Tusk rolled around, Buckingham and Nicks were so estranged, the record became like a child in joint custody - they split it down the middle.

Usually, splitting it down the middle can lead to a confusing mess (or a deranged child), and that's exactly what Tusk is. Songs jump from Buckingham's jangly, earthy pop to Nick's beautiful, well, um, Stevie Nicks-like songs.  The Ledge is the second track on the first record, and could easily pass as the hippest Appalachian jug band you've ever heard.

[ mp3 ]: Fleetwood Mac - The Ledge

I could listen to a whole album that sounds like that, (and you probably could put together a full album selecting from the twenty tracks in this sprawler) but then Stevie Nicks chimes in with great songs too, like Sara. This is the original vinyl press, so this version of Sara clocks in at just over six minutes. When Tusk was re-released on CD, they edited Sara down to fit the entire two album set on one CD. Of course, the six minute version is way better. Listen for the build of the backup vocals. Really great stuff.

[ mp3]: Fleetwood Mac - Sara

So many great songs...but you can tell which songs are Buckingham's and which are Nicks'. Compare The Ledge to this:

[ mp3 ]: Fleetwood Mac - That's Enough For Me

Similar beat, both close to two minutes long (and both second cuts on the first side of their respective discs.) But perhaps my favorite track is the titular hit Tusk, which employs the USC Marching Band. First time is saw this trick was years later, and equally awesome.

[ mp3 ]: Fleetwood Mac - Tusk

Overall, Tusk sounds like two, maybe three albums smushed together into one schizophrenic, scattered mess. And yet, every song is charming in it's own way.  Throughout all of Fleetwood Mac's personal and artistic tom-foolery, their dedication to crafting great pop music was never lost.  Somehow, it ended up pure genius.


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