From The Desk Of The Black Watch’s John Andrew Fredrick: Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”

For almost 25 years, John Andrew Fredrick and a revolving cast of characters have been issuing records as the Black Watch. The California-based indie-rock institution is back with 11th album Led Zeppelin Five (Powertool), and it’s the first LP to feature the rock-solid lineup of Fredrick, guitarist Steven Schayer (ex-Chills), bassist Chris Rackford and drummer Rick Woodard. When Fredrick isn’t busy writing and recording songs, he’s teaching English at the University of California, so we thought he’d a be a natural choice to guest edit the MAGNET website. Fredrick, with some assistance from Schayer, will be doing exactly that all week. Read our brand new Q&A with Fredrick.

Fredrick: By 1980, everyone (well, me) was sick of Fleetwood Mac. The Pistols had fired, killing an Arab, which rock(ed) the Casbah. I remember a Santa Barbara comedian getting a big guffaw out of a crowd merely by wailing, “Stevie Nicks, now—I mean, does she even own a pair of pants?” It was cool to hate the Mac. Where has hate gone, by the way? Why do people hate hate? (I sound, on purpose, like my ire-idol Martin Amis here.) Does anybody know/read anymore William Haslitt’s “On The Pleasures Of Hating”? What’s wrong with being “a hater”? And Lydon said it best in proclaiming “anger is an energy.” Why have the kids o’ today turned that ugly term “hater” into a term of ridicule? It’s great to hate. It’s a nice taste, a familiar flavor. Myself, I hate ignorance and ostentation; the Kardashians (um, redundant?); the Boston Celtics; the denizens of Paris who seemed to queue up to take turns mocking my college French; going to the dentist; several of my neighbors; power pop (and especially the term “power pop”); country music (unless the country is Ireland); the San Antonio Spurs; people who say “like” and “you know” every bloody other word; white trash; this loud, control-freakish tennis bum in my circle of tennis bums called Ivan whom we uncleverly call Ivan The Terrible; a longtime wannabe songwriter friend of Steve’s who thinks that just because you say odd or catty things and make people uncomfortable that that makes you a bona fide artist; Duke University’s sports teams fans or Raiders fans; golf; palpably manicured facial hair; anyone who likes Kerouac or any Beat save (maybe) Allen Ginsberg; Galaxie 500 and especially the fans who try to talk me out of loathing them; and a dead guy called Jim Fucking Morrison.

But enough about that. As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted me, music fans had had enough in the early ’80s of hearing “Rhiannon” on the radio, the internecine scraps between Lindsey and Stevie, and Stevie and Mick, and Christine and John, and Stevie and fuck knows what, the stories of cocained alterna-orifices. You will never break “The Chain” indeed. By a “Landslide,” Fleetwood Mac, who’d made LPs I fucking worshipped (Bare Trees, Future Games, Mystery To Me, Heroes Are Hard To Find, the eponymous one, Rumors, plus Buckingham Nicks) were “Over & Over,” and I’d scream if I ever heard them again. Ruined. Severely, by all accounts, as out of favor as bell bottoms at an Elvis Costello show, Fleetwood Mac went in 1979 and made their most majestic recording yet—and, for me, one of the greatest double-albums ever: Tusk. An engineer told me that covering Fleetwood Mac has of late become all the rage amongst band in their 20s. Everyone, he said, has a version of something on those two white records. They don’t know Danny Kirwin or Peter Green or the great Bob Welch, but they know that they’ll be so coolly not-ironic about being ironic (or not) that their cover of “Dreams” or “Gypsy” might get them a gig at The Echo or Joe’s Pub or funding for some new headbands and vests. I’m not gonna deconstruct Tusk here. I’m not gonna do that to you, to me. I’m gonna go put on the CD (not the vinyl—CDs sound better, man; OK, it’s another flaccid jest) and roll a “number” or make a “honey slide” out of some Orange Clover and some “shake” and fairly glory in how hard Mick Fleetwood hits a drum, how simply tough a guitarist Buckingham is and how C. McVie can make me—a guy who does not cry—cry.

Video after the jump.