Fleetwood Mac – Tusk Take II (Mainstream MAST-029)

Tusk Take II (Mainstream MAST-029)

(72:18):  Angel (rehearsal version), Beautiful Child (demo), Beauty And The Beast (blues jam demo), The Dealer (rehearsal version), Fireflies (demo), Lady Of The Mountain (demo), Sara (8 minute Lazy Maid version), Sisters Of the Moon (7:45pm edit + extra verb), Storms (demo with Mick Fleetwood), Angel (alternate mix), Sisters Of The Moon (Christine piano demo), Beautiful Child (alternate version), Fireflies (alternate version), Sisters Of the Moon (full version with extra lyrics)

One of the biggest events of 1979 was the release of Fleetwood Mac Tusk.  Over two years since the release of Rumours and with a price tag of over a million dollars, it set the bar high for the band.  Its intimidating length and the bizarre first single of the title track further distinguished this LP as an artistic statement rather than commercial cash in.

Tusk Take II is an early release by Mainstream, coming several years before the 2004 release of the two disc Tusk release on Warner Brothers with bonus outtakes.  Mainstream is still interesting and relevant because there is very little overlap with the official release.  It stands as a nice compliment to the official version of the album.

It is also interesting that all of the songs on the disc are from Stevie Nicks.  Nothing from Lindsay Buckingham or Christine McVie, the other two writers, appears in this collection. 

“Angel” is one of Stevie Nicks’ songs from the album, an upbeat number compared to her other tunes.  There are no alternate tracks for “Angel” on the official release, but Mainstream has two.  The first is a very polished rehearsal take which has the complete lyrics but is played at a slightly quicker tempo and a more interesting Lindsey Buckingham guitar melody by the end.  The second version of “Angel” is the commercial take of the song but with the guitars louder in the mix.

“Beautiful Child” is one of her more sublime creations.  And, like “Angel,” appears twice on the disc.  The first version sounds like either a demo of the song or, what is more likely, from a rehearsal for the upcoming massive Tusk tour.  The second “Beautiful Child” is an alternate mix of the final version.  This take has slightly louder acoustic guitars and lower harmony vocals from Buckingham in the second verse.  Nicks’ double tracked harmony vocals are louder, however.

The next three tracks are unpolished demos of songs that wouldn’t appear on Tusk, but were written during this time.  “Beauty And The Beast” would find its way onto her second solo album Wild Heart released in 1983.  At this early stage it has a heavy blues beat.  “The Dealer (aka The Mistress Of My Fate)” is an uptempo rock song that never go past the demo stage.

“Fireflies” is another song that would be demoed during the Tusksessions but wouldn’t be included on the album.  It made its first appearance on a Fleetwood Mac release on Live released in 1980.  It would be released as a single, backed by the Christine McVie song “Over My Head” in 1981.  The second “Fireflies” later on the disc is an alternate take.

“Lady Of The Mountain” is an unreleased song which has its roots in the old Buckingham/Nicks song “Sorcerer.”  This is a rough piano and guitar demo of the song.  Some speculate it is part of a cycle of songs with “Sorcerer,” “Rhiannon” and “Sisters Of The Moon.”  There are more polished takes of this song, but it is one a true unreleased gem. 

“Sara” is the eight minute “cleaning lady” take which also appears on the official two disc Tusk deluxe edition.  It’s so-called because Nicks jokes she does not want to be a cleaning lady at the beginning of the song.  The Mainstream track runs slower than the Tusk version.  “Storms” is a demo of the song as it appears on Tusk.  The arrangement is similar to the take on the official release, but is a unique run through. 

Finally, three versions of “Sisters Of The Moon” appear on the disc.  The rough demo with Christine McVie on piano is included, as well as different mixes of the final version.  

Mainstream utilize the Tusk artwork theme for the cover, but replacing the Polaroid of the dog with a picture of Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks (a la Fleetwood Mac and Rumours).  The back cover has a publicity shot from the era.  Overall this is an interesting and still relevant release for the collection even though it’s dominated by Nicks’ tunes to the exclusion of others.   

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