I’m getting a little more chilled about Record Store Day (RSD). The first time I had a go at it a couple of years ago, I was at our local record shop, Les Aldrich in Muswell Hill, at 7am, behind six pre-teen girls with their parents. Two hours later, the sixth girl was going home in tears as she found out that the shop only had five copies of the One Direction picture disc that they were all wanting. To rub salt into the wounds, there were already copies up on Ebay by the time she would have got home.
From talking to a few friends in the music industry, RSD is a double edged sword. Yes – it gets people back into record stores which was unthinkable in the dark days of 2007. The flip side though is that it clogs up pressing plants with big label RSD releases, often at the expense at up and coming artists. Much of what is produced for the day will never make it onto turntables. The bloke this morning in front of me in the queue was buying a Deftones LP that he admitted he would never ever play. Really? Where’s the fun in that?
I dropped Les Aldrich just after it had opened this morning and the queue was distinctly different. Almost exclusively male, almost exclusively over forty and almost exclusively bearded.
I had a limited hitlist. For sentimental reasons I was after a copy of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” on red vinyl. One copy and gone by the time I got to the counter. I therefore limited choices to things that I would actually listen to, a lesson learned from the collective feeding frenzy that builds up in the queue.
So what did I get?
Well firstly a version of one of the great cocaine albums of the seventies, alongside “Station to Station” and “Tonight’s The Night”.
Fleetwood Mac always had a bit of a naff reputation when I was growing up in the scorched earth policy days of the post punk early eighties. It didn’t help that the singles from “Tango In The Night” seemed to be on permanent rotation on the video jukebox (remember those?) in our local pub, The Red Lion in Sedgley.
“Tusk” is really a unique proposition though. Such a huge side step from the omnipresent “Rumours”, it is thought of as a failure as it “only” sold 4 million copies, compared with the 40+ million that its predecessor chalked up.
I’ve a huge soft spot for the album though. In my mind, Lindsey Buckingham is a hugely underrated songwriter, guitarist and producer. And this really is Lindsey’s masterwork. By his own account, he took the lead on the LP and had as much fun as he could. There are nine Buckingham songs on the album compared to five by Stevie and six by Christine. To the un-initiated, Tusk could be presumed to be an overblown behemoth. It really isn’t. Buckingham was listening to a huge amount of new wave and punk. It sits alongside both The Beatles’ “White Album” and Prince’s “Sign Of The Times” as a product of studio genius. Much of the album is lo-fi in extremis, with the Talking Heads/Eno albums obviously a big influence. There is a telling credit on the original album:
Special thanks from the band to Lindsey Buckingham
“Alternate Tusk” is the same songs, same running order but different versions, many previously unreleased. What is immediately apparent is that many of the songs on the original album were more paired back and demo like than the “Alternate” versions. This is odd as most outtake LPs are generally under produced or undercooked versions of their sibling album. The outtake of “What Makes You Think You’re The One” is much richer and less new wave as is “Not That Funny”. Stevie Nicks’s “Sara” has some lovely doowop backing vocals. “That’s Enough For Me” is more rock and roll, more country. Peter Green even gets his credit for his guitar work on “Brown Eyes”.
“Tusk” had a great deal to contend with and constantly is derided as bloated:
- It wasn’t “Rumours Pt 2”. The continuing success of Adele seems to show that the public generally wants high quality material repeatedly produced in a similar vein. As Lindsey put it:
“For me, being sort of the culprit behind that particular album, it was done in a way to undermine just sort of following the formula of doing Rumours 2 and Rumours 3, which is kind of the business model Warner Bros. would have liked us to follow.”
- It didn’t have the personal back story that “Rumours” had that seemed to strike a chord with the public. “Rumours” was bloody and intercine. It was about relationships fracturing, splintering and starting over. Adele seems to be rehashing one break up on an ongoing basis (apologies for the repeated Adele comparison but she is one of the few artists selling records on a similar scale to Fleetwood Mac)
- It was a double album and therefore “harder” work and more expensive for the casual purchaser
Oh and whilst I am about it, has there ever been a more perverse and “F you!” comeback single than the title track?
I love “Tusk” though and the “Alternate” version stands up as something different but of value. Here’s a Spotify link to it if you fancy a listen:
My other half, N, often ribs me about my increasing affection for a band as uncool as Fleetwood Mac. We saw them at Wembley a few years ago. Some of the interband manoeuvres (particularly between Stevie and Lindsey) were a bit of hokum but bloody hell, they were good.
Fleetwood Mac – not a guilty pleasure. Just a pleasure.
The second album I bought is “The Dude” by the great Quincy Jones. This is Quincy at the start of the Michael Jackson hot streak with help from Stevie Wonder amongst others. I haven’t had chance to listen to it yet. It is on yellow vinyl and a thing of beauty.