Song of the Day: Fleetwood Mac – Walk a Thin Line

Jordan Posner Recalls: Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album Tusk is kind of the musical equivalent of Jim Belushi. Everywhere it goes, it gets unfavorably compared to its much more talented brother (in this case, Rumours), and people constantly lament the fact that one brother is not simply a carbon copy of another. However, Jim Belushi blows, and Tusk is an overlooked classic , so the comparison basically falls apart there. Unlike the compact, concentrated greatness of Rumours, Tusk is an almost comically long double album that quite literally goes all over the place. I like to think that after hearing the finished copy of this album, the record executives finally took all the cocaine away. I imagine that didn’t go over too well with the group, and Mick Fleetwood seems like kind of a scary guy when he’s angry/on drugs.

In any event, the events surrounding Rumours directly led to those surrounding Tusk. When you chronicle the disintegration of at least two couples on vinyl, the result is going to be a bunch of people that have no business being in the same room as one another.

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Surprise! The album they created sounds like the work of three main songwriters who definitely were not in the same room as one another. It truly is their “White Album.” Buckingham branches into new wave and punk (“Not That Funny”), supplying the experimental edge and vital energy to the record, while McVie and Nicks more or less do what you would expect from them. Nicks’s “Sara” and McVie’s “Over and Over” are essential, but the album belongs to Lindsey Buckingham.

To that end, if I were to pick a standout track, in spite of all the genre-hopping, I’d go with the late-in-the-game ballad “Walk a Thin Line.” To me, this song sounds like vintage Mac, and it could easily be a Rumours outtake. Buckingham can still craft a mean hook, despite being in outer space at this point in his career. The song is a nice reminder that the band I love is inside this album somewhere, and however much they may despise each other, they’re still capable of creating magic.

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