Review: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ Tour Live Gets An Expanded ‘Super Deluxe’ Reissue

Fleetwood Mac | Live: Super Deluxe Edition | (Rhino)
Music: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Package: 2 out of 5 stars

In the not so distant past, used CD shoppers could dependably find once enormously popular discs in the bargain priced used bins. R.E.M.’s Monster is a prime example but the double Fleetwood Mac Live set, originally released in 1980, was another ubiquitous item buyers generally tended to ignore after its early luster waned. That hasn’t stopped Rhino from expanding and re-releasing it as part of an ongoing line of similarly reissued Fleetwood Mac titles now being touted under the “super deluxe” banner… with a price to match.

Thankfully this music holds up.

The original 18 tracks ran over 90 minutes but was only a sampler of the band’s post-Tusk dates. Three of those, one each from the group (a cover of a seldom heard Brian Wilson song “Farmer’s Daughter”), Stevie Nicks (the lovely “Fireflies”) and Christine McVie (“One More Night”), were new songs captured in front of “crew and friends” but sounding like studio creations. Two others (“Don’t Stop” and “Dreams”) are credited to an audience-free sound check. So there was lots of actual concert material missing.

That has been rectified with a newly added third platter. It contains 14 previously unreleased selections running almost 75 minutes, most but not all from the same tour. There are gems like McVie’s “Hold Me” which wouldn’t appear on an album for another few years. Also Buckingham dips back into Peter Green’s catalog to charge through “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)” with as much, and arguably more, exuberant energy than he applied to Green’s “Oh Well” on the initial issue. Sizzling renditions of “The Chain” (at nearly seven minutes) and Nicks’ Tusk deep track “Sisters of the Moon” alone make this worth hearing even, perhaps especially, for those who already own FM Live.

Regardless of the eventual consumer indifference, these are exciting, often raw performances (well, raw for Mac), that pushed the somewhat staid studio versions into the red. That’s certainly true for a fiery “Don’t Let Me Down Again,” a rare Buckingham/Nicks song few in their audience likely recognized then or now. The acoustic numbers that close the first CD, “Never Going Back Again” and “Landslide,” feel more organic and emotional than their glossier and more sterile recordings.

This was the first of three live releases from the Buckingham/Nicks lineup (The Dance from 1997 and 2003’s Live in Boston [without McVie] were the others). It was also the best since it focused on the five piece with minimal extra players; subsequent ones were loaded, some might say bloated, with multiple additional musicians and backing singers.

Unfortunately, those looking for the freshly remastered and extra material need to pony up for a “super deluxe” package, including the double vinyl album. That will set you back with a wallet bruising list price of almost $100. It veers into rip-off territory and is a far cry from those “previously enjoyed” discs, once collecting dust, for about five bucks.

It’s a frustrating conundrum for Fleetwood Mac followers. Things may eventually be rectified if the CDs are sold searate from the rest of the baggage (vinyl, 12” x 12” book with rare photos, a 7” 45 of two demos) that puts this into collector’s edition status and price point. It also ignores newcomers looking to check out Mac’s finest concert recordings from this lineup.

Everyone deserves better.      


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