77. Tusk (Fleetwood Mac) - Rob Trucks [Continuum]
Rob Trucks starts out with a warning that a character by the same name appears in the book, acknowledging that this generally doesn’t go down well, but that it sort of came about because interviewing Lindsey Buckingham turned into getting the run-around and not interviewing Lindsey Buckingham as much about Tusk as intended.
I like the format, though. There are long, solid quotes from Buckingham, bits of biography and the narrative of Fleetwood Mac, the narrative of Fleetwood Mac from the success of Rumours to the epic, massively expensive obsessive production, commercially disappointing Tusk, and Buckingham’s trajectory in music. Lindsey Buckingham is one of two main characters, and the other is Rob, and there’s a funny, striking bit where Rob rings in to a radio show interviewing Buckingham and gets a great answer to a smart question, but the question’s from “Rob from New York”, not the writer he’d been interviewed by multiple times by then. (The day after I finished the book for the second time, I was in a taxi with a friend and talking about the album, and he said that it was amazing, but Lindsey Buckingham is clearly an utter cock. In a way, the approach through a frame of autobiography allows that to be left unspoken and separated from the work, because Tusk is Tusk and the rest of life goes on around that.)
Also, Rob Trucks sneaks in the standard components of appraising an album. There’s that biographical and album narrative running through and Buckingham’s own statements and the reception it got at the time, but also interstitial chapters from interviews with musicians about their relationship with the album and band. On the surface, I’d struggle to give a fuck about the prospect of, say, Avey Tare describing an album, but it’s interesting and it’s probably appropriate that people within music talk about something that was notable for its recording and production, too.
The cumulative effect of the interviews is most visible in the bit at the end where Trucks presents their favourites in a few varying categories, and one person’s least favourite is singled out as significant by someone else. This is actually of value - given that the album makes for much less easy, smooth listening than Rumours and that the fractious relationships within the band were at the forefront, there’s a whole bunch of different single albums hidden in there if you filter it by songwriter, and seeing who’s drawn to what starts to reveal all the different ways in. Meanwhile, the grand-scale interpersonal drama is mentioned in passing and noted as a marketing tool the band used, here mostly brought in when describing who was in studio and for how long, and no time is really given to stupid, shock-value cocaine trivia, but instead there’s a story of the album and how it fit into his life.
Most of all, Trucks is a strong writer who makes it look effortless to bring these disparate components into one narrative. It’s not seamless, but in the sense of the pieces being identifiably separate. Zero rockism, lots of reasons to spend more time listening to a strange album that manages to be both meticulous and revelatory.
In the spirit of the interview chapters…
Favourite songs off Tusk: ‘The Ledge’ and ‘What Makes You Think You’re The One’, both very fervently tied
Least favourite song off Tusk: ‘Beautiful Child’
Favourite Fleetwood Mac album: Tusk.
To anyone else similarly smitten with Continuum’s 33 1/3 series, this new project of Lisa’s looks like fun. It’s off to a good start with Tusk, an album I love and a 33 1/3 companion that I haven’t read yet.