"Tusk" is a song by Fleetwood Mac from the 1979 double LP of the same name. The song peaked at number eight in the United States for three weeks, reached number six in the United Kingdom (where it was certified Silver for sales of over 250,000 copies), number five in Canada and number three in Australia. It was one of the first songs to be released using a digital mixdown from an original analog source.
|Single by Fleetwood Mac|
|from the album Tusk|
|B-side||"Never Make Me Cry"|
|Released||September 19, 1979|
|Producer(s)||Fleetwood Mac, Richard Dashut, Ken Caillat|
|Fleetwood Mac singles chronology|
Short sample of Tusk to demonstrate the percussion-driven production and integration of USC Marching band within the song.
The single was released with two different picture sleeves in many territories: The first featured the black and white picture of producer/engineer Ken Caillat's dog Scooter snapping at a trouser leg, the same as that used for the album cover, whilst the second featured a plain cover with the same font as the album cover but without the dog picture. A limited promotional 12-inch version, featuring mono and stereo versions, was also released to US radio stations.
A slightly different mix of the track appeared on the retrospective four-disc compilation 25 Years – The Chain in 1992.
Looking for a title track for the as yet unnamed album, Mick Fleetwood suggested that they take the rehearsal riff that Lindsey Buckingham used for sound-checks. Producers Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat hence created a drum-driven production. In addition to normal drums, Fleetwood Mac also experimented with different found sounds on the song. Fleetwood and Buckingham played lamb chops and a Kleenex box on the track respectively.
I'm playing floor toms, and I overdubbed a lot of American Indian wood tribal drums. It's a whole hodgepodge of Kleenex boxes, drums, weird stuff, slapping of lamb chops and things. I got a big leg of lamb in there somewhere – I'm hitting it with a spatula.— Mick Fleetwood
At the request of Mick Fleetwood, the band teamed up with University of Southern California's Trojan Marching Band to play on the single. A mobile studio was installed in Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium to capture the marching band. The recording session took place on June 4, 1979. Some recorded footage of the session made the song's music video. John McVie was in Tahiti during the Dodger Stadium recording, but he is represented in the video by a cardboard cutout carried around by Mick Fleetwood and later positioned in the stands with the other band members.
The Trojan marching band's contributions set a record for the highest number of musicians performing on a single. During a game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood presented the Trojan band on October 4, 1980 a platinum disc for their contributions on "Tusk", this time in front of a huge crowd. The song was also performed live during Fleetwood Mac's concert in 1997 in conjunction with the USC Band.
For the Tusk Tour, the band used an Oberheim four-voice synthesizer played by keyboard tech Jeffery Sova to cover the horn parts. An OB-X with a cassette interface was kept backstage if the Four-Voice broke down. Christine McVie, who expected to handle a percussion part for live renditions of "Tusk", instead opted to play the accordion , an instrument she never intended to learn. "It was just laying around the stage one day. I wasn't sure what I was going to play on `Tusk.' I thought I might wind up playing some kind of percussion, but I just picked it up and started doing the riff."
- Lindsey Buckingham – guitars, Kleenex box, vocals
- Christine McVie – electric piano, backing vocals
- John McVie – bass guitar
- Mick Fleetwood – drums, percussion, lamb chops
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