Thoughts on "Tusk" (Fleetwood Mac)

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Our halftime appearances were more along the lines of Spike Jones...or Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. :laugh:
BTW, around the 3:05 mark of the song "Tusk" you can hear John McVie shout out "Tusk" a beat early and someone (Nicks?) shouts out "John!!!" for his miscue.
Mike, I totally agree that that entire first side of Mystery to Me is a real knockout. And, you're right, "The Way I Feel" is definitely one of Christine's best.

Rudy, that's an excellent point you make about how little it sense it makes for Warner Bros. to overlook an entire era of the band at the exact same time that they're putting out a new product with two discs full of outtakes. Outtakes admittedly can be quite fascinating to listen to once, but like you say, how many people go back and ever listen to them again? I find that I rarely ever revisit the Beatles Anthology CDs for that reason - I've still got them all, but it's very seldom I ever get one of them out, and when I do, it's only to listen to one of the few fully-completed unavailable-elsewhere songs like "Real Love" or "Free As a Bird" or one of the previously-unreleased cuts like "That Means a Lot." The alternate takes on those sets were awfully fascinating (I remember getting a special kick out of the alternate take of "And Your Bird Can Sing" with Paul and John laughing uncontrollably during half the track), but I've never really felt compelled to go back and listen to any of them.
I suppose the appeal of these sorts of sets is that they will be attractive to the hardcore fans and collectors who want all of an artist's work, but you would think that the Fleetwood Mac fans/collectors out there who would want a package like this new Tusk deluxe reissue would be just as likely to buy a compilation from that earlier era of the group's work on Reprise/Warner if you included a couple rarities or previously-unreleased cuts as part of the package. (One rarity that exists that I don't believe has ever seen an official release is the song "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait," which was listed on the packaging of very early copies of Mystery to Me though the song was actually replaced at the very last minute with the remake of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love.")
It may be kind of late in the game now, but I think Warners left a lot of money on the table with the early '70s Fleetwood Mac albums. When the band got huge, they should have reissued and re-promoted those albums, starting with Bare Trees, because each one of them has several tunes that are just as good as anything on the Buckingham-Nicks LPs. They could have put together a best-of from those albums that would have been a killer set (which is what I did, and it's one of my favorite disks to listen to).

Here's a list of what's on my disk:

Child of Mine (from Bare Trees)
Sentimental Lady (from Bare Trees)
Prove Your Love (from Heroes Are Hard to Find)
Just Crazy Love (from Mystery to Me)
Sunny Side of Heaven (from Bare Trees)
Show Me A Smile (from Future Games)
Remember Me (from Penguin)
Dissatisfied (from Penguin)
Heroes Are Hard To Find (from Heroes Are Hard to Find)
Bermuda Triangle (from Heroes Are Hard to Find)
Dust (from Bare Trees)
Hypnotized (from Mystery to Me)
Emerald Eyes (from Mystery to Me)
Forever (from Mystery to Me)
Spare Me A Little Of Your Love (from Bare Trees)
Coming Home (from Heroes Are Hard to Find)
The Way I Feel (from Mystery to Me)

I have this disk on my iPod -- I didn't transfer the complete albums for fear of running out of space -- but I need to add a few more "bonus tracks" and make a playlist out of it, because there are at least eight or ten other great tunes in that group of albums.
Outtakes admittedly can be quite fascinating to listen to once, but like you say, how many people go back and ever listen to them again? I find that I rarely ever revisit the Beatles Anthology CDs for that reason - I've still got them all, but it's very seldom I ever get one of them out, and when I do, it's only to listen to one of the few fully-completed unavailable-elsewhere songs like "Real Love" or "Free As a Bird" or one of the previously-unreleased cuts like "That Means a Lot."

That sums it up for me also. I might listen to a Beatles album maybe once or twice a year, so I'm not all that involved as a listener. And for whatever reason, I ended up buying all three of those sets, and I think I've only actually played maybe a half dozen tracks more than once. I think it was part of the "completist" bug that bit me back then. Actually, these days, outtakes and alternate takes are a pet peeve of mine. On a separate disc they are fine, but to tack outtakes on at the end of the original album is rather boring, alternate takes redundant, and they upset the flow of the album. (It even bothers me on Kind of Blue to have that alternate "Flamenco Sketches" tacked on.) A non-album b-side I can handle, as it's a completed work. But we know a lot of times they'll use those added tracks to get us to repurchase music we already have.

They could have put together a best-of from those albums that would have been a killer set (which is what I did, and it's one of my favorite disks to listen to).

Sounds like a plan! I'm going to see what I have, and cobble that list together myself. :D Might be worth checking the complete albums out next year when I have some free time. :thumbsup:

It is kind of sad that Warner gave a pass on those earlier records. I can think of a few other artists that similarly get shortchanged.
Really nice tracklist, Mike! You really hit on all the top highlights from that time period. ("Miles Away," "Bright Fire," "Come a Little Bit Closer," "Did You Ever Love Me," and "Silver Heels" would also have to be on my list of my personal favorites from that time period, but they're not quite as quintessential to the group's catalog as the ones you singled out.) That would make a superb best-of. Looking at that tracklist, it's really stunning to think that the group didn't score an American chart hit during that era. [They did release six official singles in the U.S. during that time period - a heavily edited "Sands of Time," "Sentimental Lady," "Remember Me," "Did You Ever Love Me," "For Your Love" (with "Hypnotized" as the B-side) and "Heroes Are Hard to Find" - yet none charted.] McVie and Welch were both writing some awfully impressive pop songs during that time, and the production certainly seemed radio-friendly enough in most cases. (Every time I listen to that title cut on Heroes Are Hard to Find, I always marvel that that one missed. I've always loved the arrangement and production on that one.) They've never officially issued any live material from that time period, either - not even on the boxed set - but there are plenty of great performances from that era to be found just by going on YouTube. One of my favorites is a fantastic post-Peter Green rendition of "The Green Manalishi" with Welch taking lead vocal; you can find it at the last couple minutes of this clip: . (There's also a full performance from "Midnight Special" circa '73 included earlier in the same video; they perform "Believe Me" and "Miles Away.")
Tusk was just a fair lp. Lots of filler on that album. I have to say that Rumours is the second most overrated lp in the history of rock. The absolute finest Fleetwood Mac lp was the one before Rumours entitled "Fleetwood Mac". I think there are 3 very underrated Fleetwood Mac lps. These would be... "Bare Trees" "Future Games" and "Mystery To Me". Also, I think Mike's cd compilation above is excellent. In case anyone is curious, the only rock lp I rate MORE overrated than Rumours is the VERY overrated "Sgt. Peppers". For Beatles fare, I'll choose the "White Album" as their tops.
I will agree with you that there is lots of filler on Tusk, but I think you're underestimating Rumours. While I agree that the previous album is a sterling piece of work, I think the work of the songwriters is better and more consistent on Rumours. And they were gelling better as a band on Rumours too.

I think the biggest problem that's happened with Rumours is, it's been overplayed to death on the radio. Especially "Go Your Own Way." I love the song, but come ON, play "Blue Letter" or "I'm So Afraid" or something.

To me Rumours is the last time Fleetwood Mac was really a band -- ever since then they've been overshadowed by Lindsey Buckingham. Tusk was his experimental set, but then eventually he went too far the other direction on subsequent albums, tweaking and polishing and "producing" things too much. Especially on Tango in the Night, that album is so polished it hurts to listen to it. It's too perfect.

I agree about Sgt. Pepper. It's a good album but I never saw it as the game changer it was. Of course I was only about 11 at the time it came out so maybe you had to be there.
I think if radio hadn't slaughtered (and still, to this day, continues to slaughter) Rumours, I would be a lot more fond of it. Thing is, when I bought it, at the time I really hadn't heard them that much and only owned the Fleetwood Mac album (the original Mobile Fidelity pressing). I was not listening to rock radio at the time (we were more about jazz, fusion, R&B, soul and funk here), so Rumours was always a treat to listen to.

But then, after I was in a few office settings where they'd keep the classic rock station playing ten hours a day, that is all you heard. The same several dozen songs played ad nauseum...even to this day, the same playlist, the same tired songs day in and day out. I can't even stomach one note of an Eagles song anymore, and Rumours and many others I am so burned out on from hearing, that it would be no great loss if I never heard them for another ten or twenty years. Which is sad, really. We are supposed to be enjoying music. Maybe the "average American listener" out there likes things hammered in repeatedly, but I don't. I don't care for music I like to be turned into a cliche, or audible wallpaper..

I do like Sgt. Pepper but I'm in the same boat--I appreciate what it is (the pinnacle of studio recording at the time) and it did have good songs, but I'm not wetting my pants out of adoration each time I play it like some others do. It's a nice little album, but not some holy grail in my world. I'll take Revolver or Rubber Soul any day of the week, or even Magical Mystery Tour which IMHO is more musically attractive. (I still think "Penny Lane" b/w "Strawberry Fields" is one of the greatest 45RPM singles ever pressed.) I even tend to gravitate towards the earlier works like Hard Day's Night. There was more raw energy and a lot of creativity flowing in those days.
About 90% of the Fleetwood Mac I hear these days is at work on the radio (yep the '70s or '80s channel, usually) but now and then, I get the urge to "really" listen to some of that music so I'll put on Rumours or Fleetwood Mac or Tusk or my 70s collection listed above. It's always fun to listen to the music at high volume as opposed to "background music" at work. I like to listen for all the little production nuances that you don't hear at reduced 'work' volume.

I almost never listen to any of the post-Tusk albums even though there are good songs on all of them....that stuff comes up in my rotation when I'm shuffling my whole catalog.
Mike & Rudy... great points about songs from Rumours being played to death. "Go Your Own Way" was also a favorite of mine until I grew tired of hearing it. That previous "Fleetwood Mac" lp had 10 excellent tracks out of 11. I can't think of many lps where there was only one weak song on it (SRO by the TJB comes to mind as another such album). Interesting to read that you guys have a similar reaction to Sgt. Peppers (I thought I was the only one!). Rudy, I certainly agree with your Beatles choices. And I've always felt "Magical Mystery Tour" was their most underrated lp.
Curious, what song on Fleetwood Mac did you think was weak? (I have a guess and a choice of my own but let's see if they match up.)
There's a lot to be referenced on Mac's past works, based on present efforts or perhaps in its future, or really at a Future Games-level, so to speak...

And as I've stated, Rumours was what made Fleetwood such a supergroup and it's difficult to understand why classic Rock radio seems to hooked on its songs (while Easy Listening/MOR stations, moving onto mainly newer works & artists, have largely gotten off of anything that old) while there was much else the band had done before it that deserves its fair share of attention...

Heck, Mirage and Tango In The Night briefly had stuff offered in the Top-40 Spotlight that went from being often heard to also greatly forgotten...

Tusk, especially given its two-record standpoint could really be deemed as too far out there--and the "Oh, Well" that I tend to hear, I think is most-likely from the Live album, which followed--at least that it is done Live... But, still, there had to be as you've all said, one or a number of tracks that could have equally charted important commercial direction on radio formats, that equally just deserved similar attention...

Back in the good old days of my Classic Rock Radio Station, which I've really gotten back into regular hearing & playing since acquiring my new car-- (a blue '15 Chrysler 200; my "Vicky", a Honda '03, was increasingly gaining more costly to keep & investing in more repairs for as she sadly grew more unreliable no matter how much $$$ I relentlessly invested in her upkeep... Doesn't help I'd been chased after by an airbag recall--I brought her in just for the dealer to need more parts & require me making another appointment...--OK, I know: Another subject!)

--there used to be what was Album Archives Program which ran at 11:00 playing a different album and this was so long ago, that I forgot if it was weekly or nightly--and I remember the 1st record that I'd heard being Bob Welch's French Kiss (which I had but seemed very exciting to hear it played entirely on the radio just to find iut was part of this program) and eventually an early Fleetwood Mac album being featured--and most-likely a Peter Green-era, at that!--and remember at least one song surely Green had sung lead on... So given that I have the radio on and on that station (FM 102.7 WCSX) in those wee-hours, coming home from work, it's disappointing to see that this feature has been long-discontinued...

But it was a great tool that surely in playing rarities that it did (I'm sure I could have gotten into Grateful Dead based on hearing "Box Of Rain" on the Sunday Morning, Over Easy show that's still on, though moving far from the soft rock it used to play to a narrower selection of artists that I would never equate w/ the format it used to have as in Jim Croce, Joni Mitchell, Harry Chapin, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, et. al. as the offerings are a bit jarring, due to the departure from such--maybe we just need a lil CarpenterS worked in!) was a mighty fine introduction to a lot of music we maybe would never have acquired if not for this medium being such a useful tool...

-- Dave
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Curious, what song on Fleetwood Mac did you think was weak? (I have a guess and a choice of my own but let's see if they match up.)

Mike, the weak song on "Fleetwood Mac" I was referring to was "Sugar Daddy". I also referred to SRO as a perfect lp except for one song... In case anyone is interested, IMO the weak song on SRO is "Freight Train Joe". I should point out that I don't feel Sugar Daddy or Freight Train Joe are bad songs, but compared to the excellence of the other selections on these lps, to me they stand out as being somewhat bland and forgettable. I'm sure there is someone who thinks "Sugar Daddy" is the best tune on the Fleetwood Mac lp. I don't think there's anyone who feels this way about Freight Train Joe!
Well we do differ on Fleetwood Mac -- my least favorite song on their self-titled LP is "Crystal," which I think is kind of plodding and doesn't really go anywhere -- in contrast to the big ballad on side 2, "I'm So Afraid," which is just great, I think. I will say that "Sugar Daddy" is the weakest song by Christine McVie on that album, but I do like the song.

My favorites on the album are "Say You Love Me," "Monday Morning," "I'm So Afraid," and "World Turning."

I do agree with you on "Freight Train Joe." In fact I think most people on the Corner would agree that's the weakest song on that album. I don't know what it is about it but it just doesn't percolate. (Interestingly, the reviewer on calls that song out as an album highlight in his review!)
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"Freight Train Joe" is a neat little tune, but it is not one I would choose as a favorite. That reminds me--I have wanted to make a playlist of all the "TJB-family" tracks, composed by Herb and the band members (and including Julius Wechter and Sol Lake, Bud Coleman, etc.).

Funny, I was going to say "Sugar Daddy" was my least favorite FM track. :laugh: Compared to the other tunes, it really seems a little contrite. It's not really so much the words, but I think it's the melody or arrangement that doesn't quite sit well with me.

"Crystal" is actually a holdover from the Buckingham/Nicks album. They do a version on that album as well, but not as polished. (Parts of that album almost sound like a demo, but another like "Crying in the Night" has "hit single" written all over it, and it didn't do anything on the charts IIRC. I don't mind the FM version of the song, but it does take a long while to fade out. It is good as a side-closer. "World Turning"...hmmm...I used to use that as a track to demo speakers with. :laugh: Having played with bands, I have an idea of what a bass drum should sound like, and the right speaker gives that low "ringing" effect to the bass drum, and you can hear that slightly fibrous sound of it being struck.

And Christine's songs, aside from "Sugar Daddy," are favorites of mine. My second least favorite is probably "Rhiannon" due, again, to radio overkill. Overall, it's a really nice album. I really should buy a more modern mastering of it. (Although, probably not the 45RPM version since those can be a pain to play...but they sound absolutely great if the mastering is done right).
I have wanted to make a playlist of all the "TJB-family" tracks, composed by Herb and the band members (and including Julius Wechter and Sol Lake, Bud Coleman, etc.).
I actually made a CD of all the in-house TJB songs. Well, 31 of them -- that's another one I need to update for iPod use. There are around 4 dozen tracks total by Herb's stable of writers (and including Herb himself). I called my compilation Written In Brass.
It's funny how one can know and like a recording and later come to find out that other fans of the artist really don't like it. I'm in that category with "Freight Train Joe". To me, it was always one of the great tracks on SRO and I would have never considered skipping it or that it was a lesser track. I've always like trains, so it's sort of a natural for me. The sound effects of train whistles and motion down the track all done with instruments is really neat, IMHO.

It's interesting to look back over posts on this song (put "Freight Train Joe" in the search box and read some of them). There's always been a lot of back and forth on that particular song with some picking it among favorites and others dismissing it.

As for TUSK, I have no opinion. I've never heard the album.

I just had this offbeat thought...

What if Herb recorded a slow jazz version of Sol Lake's "Twinkle Star," and see how many listeners notice which tune it really is? :wink:
"Sugar Daddy" (you can hear the beep beep sound at the beginning of the song) & the others from Fleetwood Mac "white" album are my favorites. I liked the song "World Turning". Matt Clark Sanford, MI
"World Turning" is a concert highlight. The first time I saw them was in 1976 in Fargo ND and they did that song, with Mick prowling the stage with his African drum. Quite the tour de force and it still is today. He's probably about the most entertaining drummer to watch, as far as I've seen anyway -- a lot of drummers do it with fancy kits or flamboyant solos, but Mick does it with his rubbery facial expressions and the sense that he's just having a blast while playing.
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