And this is the famous album that Fleetwood Mac released after their mega-selling Rumours. I have been interested in getting this record for a very long time, ever since reading a piece by Simon Reynolds on it in that Unknown Pleasures book the Melody Maker gave away. That book saw people writing about records that, at the time, had somehow dropped outside the canon of albums that nostalgia magazines covered in every second issue. Back then Fleetwood Mac were lacking in cool and it was a bit of a surprise to see some hipster like Reynolds talking about what was casually dismissed as the band's bloated follow-up to the their all-conquering soft-rock triumph. I think that piece may have played a big part in the rehabilitation of Fleetwood Mac, but it still took me nearly 20 years to actually pick up a copy of the album.
So, what is it like? Well, what it is not like is Rumours. It feels a bit messier than that soft-rock classic (not that I am knocking Rumours, another of my favourite records). But it does not feel bloated and out of control either, unlike (say) the second Stone Roses album. It does have some totally killer tunes. One that stands out for me is 'Sisters of the Moon', a Stevie Nicks sung stormer, on which she does her best mystic lady thing. The other total classic is of course the title track, sung by Lindsay Buckingham and with the band joined by the marching band of the University of Southern California. Buckingham's vocals, almost whispered, sound disturbing and semi-psychotic, the mumbling of someone on the edge, with the raucous sounds of the marching band seeming to echo his fractured psyche, for all that he is down and they are up. But you probably know this already, if you have heard any song from Tusk it is almost certainly 'Tusk'.
None of the other songs on the album are as deranged as the title track, but the record's overall sound still is a bit edgy, managing to be both strung out while still sounding broadly reminiscent of smooth rock. It deserves its reputation as a classic. I am only sorry that the CD version has a cut-down version of the Stevie Nicks track 'Sara', on which Simon Reynolds based almost his entire article.
That piece by Simon Reynolds
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