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Continuum's Acclaimed 33 1/3 Series of Rock books is scheduled to publish its long awaited volume on Tusk in November 2010.

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Fleetwood Mac's Tusk

by Rob Trucks

A prismatic look at one of the most unusual albums ever released by a major rock band, with fresh input from Lindsey Buckingham.


After Rumours became the best-selling single album of all-time, Fleetwood Mac asked Warner Brothers Records to buy them a studio (the label refused, costing both Warner Brothers and the band significant cash in the long run) and then handed the reins to their guitarist and resident perfectionist Lindsey Buckingham, a fusion of factors that led Tusk to become the first record in history to cross the million dollar threshold in production costs.   
Blame (or credit) Buckingham’s public perception as a punctilious performer and producer on this, the Mac’s critically acclaimed, commercially disappointing 1979 double album (it’s said that Warner Brothers executives could see their Christmas bonuses flying out the window upon finally hearing Tusk’s first rough cuts). But the 1975 addition of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks undeniably transformed Fleetwood Mac from a barely viable blues-based group into a radio powerhouse.  Rumours, the second LP by the Mac reconfiguration of Buckingham, one-time paramour Nicks, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and his wife and keyboardist Christine, sold more than 20 million copies.  But during its creation, relationships within the band broke down — Buckingham split from Nicks, McVie from McVie — leaving the follow-up Tusk as a bizarre and fractious assemblage held together only by Buckingham’s much-documented, Brian Wilson–like obsession.  
What remains is Fleetwood Mac’s Apocalypse Now, their White Album, the epic beginning of their ongoing end, a shotgun blast of musical spray.  And, without question, the ballsiest venture in rock history. 
“You know,” Buckingham told me when we met last October, “we had this ridiculous success with Rumours. And at some point, at least in my perception, the success of that detached from the music, and it was more about the phenomenon.
“We were poised to do another album, and I guess because the axiom ‘If it works, run it into the ground’ was prevalent then, we were probably poised to do Rumours II. I don’t know how you do that, but somehow my light bulb that went off was, ‘Let’s just not do that. Let’s very pointedly not do that.’ ”
This, then, was Buckingham’s crossroads: to follow his heart (a.k.a. the sounds in his head) or his wallet, knowing that he would bring rock’s most commercially viable act along with him. His decision to take the road less traveled, a path he still walks, is the most telling moment in his long career. Tusk,” he says, “is the most important thing, on some level, that I ever was involved with — for the music, but also because it was a line I drew in the sand.”

Table of Contents


Intro: The Warning Shot

Chapter One

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven

Chapter Three

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Walter Egan

Chapter Five

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Kaki King

Chapter Seven

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers

Chapter Nine

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Gretchen Heffler of the USC Spirit of Troy marching band

Chapter Eleven

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Dan Boeckner and Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade

Chapter Thirteen

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Dave Portner, a/k/a Avey Tare, of Animal Collective

Chapter Fifteen

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tusk Michael G of Tusk, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band