In this special edition of New Music we salute two epic double albums released over 35 years ago
Fleetwood Mac’s album “Tusk” was released on October 12, 1979 at a cost of over (put pinky to mouth for 20 year old Austin Powers reference) $1 million….hey, someone had to keep the cocaine flowing for these creative minds! It followed the insanely popular Rumors albums which is still in the top ten of all time album sales with northwards of 40 million records. Their audience was so hungry for new Fleetwood Mac music that their first single, the still (in my mind) bizarrely anti-pop song “Tusk” reached #8. I can just imagine the problems DJs had seamlessly seguing “Tusk” into disco and pop songs like “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” or “Escape (The Pina Colada Song). Even more bizarre was the album cover. I mean have you ever really looked at it? A snap shot of a dog about to bite a leg and surrounded by speckled brown patches and no pictures of the band on the front. People paid a list price of $15.98 ($2 then most double albums).
And as Mick Fleetwood wrote in his autobiography:
The title refers to a jocular term of affection for the Male Member: old habits die hard in Fleetwood Mac. (When Stevie heard that we had decided to name the album Tusk, she threatened to quit the band in revulsion. But I chose to ignore her and nothing ever came of it.)
Though the album sold 4 million copies worldwide because of the album’s unprecedented recording expense, the band’s record label deemed the project a failure, laying the blame squarely with Buckingham. Fleetwood, however, blames the album’s relative failure on the RKO radio chain playing the album in its entirety prior to release, thus allowing mass home recording. If only Mick knew what was to become of future mass home recordings.
This is all to let you know that a mammoth re-release of the album comes out today. Now you can see how that $1 million was spent.
Five CDs including the remastered original album, an alternate version of the complete album made up of session outtakes, most of which have never been released, as well as an additional selection of singles, demos and remixes, including an outtake of the Top 20 hit “Think About Me,” an early version of “That’s Enough For Me” called “Out On The Road,” plus several incarnations of “I Know I’m Not Wrong.” Also included are two discs loaded with 22 unreleased performances from the band’s 1979 Tusk tour with selections from concerts in London, Tucson, and St. Louis. It includes live versions of album tracks like “Sara,” “Over And Over” and “Save Me A Place,” as well as favorites like “Landslide,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Rhiannon,” “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way.” Rounding out the Deluxe Edition is a 5.1 surround mix of Tusk on DVD-Audio and vinyl of the original album on 2-LPs. The collection comes housed in an elegant box reminiscent of the acclaimed Rumours Deluxe Edition with a booklet that has extended liner notes that feature new interviews with all the band members.
And then there’s Bruce Springsteen. He finished his follow-up to Darkness On The Edge Of Town and turned it in to the record company. He had a change of heart and asked to take it back. AND THEY AGREED! It was a different time. A year later he came back with a double album called The River and released it on October 17, 1980. Today The Ties That Bind: The River Collection comes out. A mammoth collection that includes 52 tracks on 4 CDs with 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs. It is comprised of the original ‘The River’ double album; the first official release of ‘The River: Single Album;’ a CD of 1979/80 studio outtakes; a two-DVD film of never-released, newly edited multi-camera footage from Springsteen’s famed 1980 show in Tempe, AZ, rare tour rehearsal footage; a brand new documentary “The Ties That Bind” about ‘The River;’ and a coffee table book of 200 rare or previously unseen photos and memorabilia with a new essay by Mikal Gilmore.
The documentary is currently available to view on HBO and it’s worth watching. He admits a mistake of taking “Roulette” off the album and leaving “Crush On You” on. You be the judge.