Blues legend John Mayall continues to record albums and play shows, just like he’s done for the past 50 years. His latest project is an opportunity to look back – John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Live in 1967 features never before heard live performances featuring a version of the band that was only together three months. Featuring Peter Green on guitar, John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums – all future members of Fleetwood Mac. These somewhat primitive recordings were recently restored, and show a band brimming with excitement, led by Green’s phenomenal playing. We chat with Mayall about what makes these recordings so special, Fleetwood’s short tenure in his band, and the possibility of a brand new John Mayall album, coming in the fall.
He played a major role in shaping one of the biggest selling albums of all-time, Rumours. Ken Caillat co-produced the classic Fleetwood Mac album with Richard Dashut. We know the stories of how the band members were breaking up, but what about creating the songs? Caillat gathers his recollections of the year spent in the studio in Making Rumours – the Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album from Wiley Publishing. Incidentally, Caillat is still working – recently helping to guide the career of his daughter, Colbie Caillat to several successful albums. He tells us the unbelievable stories behind many of the great songs on Rumours, and the advice he gave his daughter before she entered the music business.
Trying to follow up the biggest-selling album of all time is impossible. If that record, Rumours, was a window into the band’s failing relationships, then Tusk shows us what happened next; how they handled the over-blown success. Where Rumours was a slick, cohesive affair, Tusk is wildly erratic and many of the tracks sound unfinished.
The album opens with the muted, Christine McVie song, “Over and Over,” an odd choice to start the record; no doubt used to signal that this is not “Rumours II.” That’s followed by “The Ledge,” with distorted guitars and cavernous percussion played at double-speed; it sounds like nothing Fleetwood Mac has ever done. And, that’s the point. After the runaway success of the previous record, leader Lindsey Buckingham tried very hard to sabotage the album. His tracks are full of bile and fury. This is not to say that Tusk doesn’t have its moments. Christine McVie turns in the closest thing to a hit single in “Think About Me,” and the transcendent “Brown Eyes,” a song that’s barely there, but stark and beautiful.
Stevie Nicks delivers a couple of her most grandiose statements, in “Sara” and “Sisters of the Moon.” Even Buckingham has his moments, in the sinister “Tusk,” and the ethereal “That’s All For Everyone.” The real problem with Tusk is that it’s just too long (originally released as a 20-track, double LP). Pull off, say eight of the tracks, and you’ve got yourself a much better and focused album. Instead, Tusk lies somewhere between a masterpiece and an all out mess. –Tony Peters