Fleetwood Mac – Original “Tusk” Album Cover Artwork
Two extraordinary pieces of original album cover artwork used for Fleetwood Mac’s highly-acclaimed album Tusk, including “the floating collage,” which author Ryan Reid notes in his book Fleetwood Mac FAQ “remains Tusk’s true visual centerpiece.”
Created by acclaimed artist/photographer/graphic designer Jayme Odgers, these stunning photographic collages are the result of five separate photo sessions, and were used on two of Tusk’s innersleeves (see the full story below.)
The “floating collage” print measures 17″ x 17 1/4″ (image size 16″ x 15 3/4″,) while the indoor collage measures 16″ x 20″ (image size 14 1/4″ x 14 1/4″.) Both are top-of-the-line Chromogenic prints, with extensive hand retouching, and are absolutely breathtaking in person. Each print is mounted to art board; the “floating collage” matted, and the indoor collage with a cover sheet, and production notations. We acquired these directly from Jayme Odgers, who at our request signed each, adding “Original Album Art.”
With Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity, and an original first pressing of Tusk on vinyl, with the innersleeves displaying this artwork signed by Jayme Odgers.
From Fleetwood Mac FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Iconic Rock Survivors by Ryan Reed:
Jayme Odgers met [Tusk art director] Larry Vigon around 1967 while teaching a graphic design class at LA’s Art Center College of Design, which Vigon attended…in 1978, his former pupil came calling and hired him for an exciting new project.
“On the Tusk album, for whatever reason (probably a lavish budget coming off the immense success of [Rumours]), Larry decided on hiring three different types of photographers: a rock and roll photographer, Norman Seeff; a documentary photographer, Peter Beard; and a fine art photographer, which is where I fit in,” Odgers recalls…
Odgers doesn’t recall being given any instructions. “Larry is a good art director, and by this I mean he understands the trick of finding the right person for the job, then allowing them do what they do best,” he says. “It’s much like the great Alexey Brodovich’s (of Harper’s Bazaar fame) dictum, ‘Bring back something that will shock me.’ I tend to thrive on those conditions. I love to graphically ‘shock.’”
It was the perfect combination: a nearly blank check and the freedom to pursue any radical visual idea. But Odgers quickly realized that working with a band of such diva-like temperament was going to be “highly unusual.”…Then the arduous process began. First, Odgers scouted the city for potential shooting locations. Then he waited. For an excruciatingly long time.
“Their representative advised me they would call when the band was in town ready to be photographed,” he says. “I’d get the call, ‘They’re in town, get ready!’ I’d then set about prepping for the shoot, which was considerable scrambling. And then nothing. It would be a no-show: ‘Sorry, they’re out of town.’ This happened three times over the period of a few of years, as I recall. At a point, I began to wonder if I was ever going to photograph Fleetwood Mac at all. I figured, ‘To hell with it.’ Whenever they called, I was simply going to have Fleetwood Mac come to my then home/studio and photograph them there. No more scouting around—I was done with that. At the time, I was living in the Marion Davies suite at the Los Altos, a building built by William Randolph Hearst. I chose the main living room as the location for the shoot. It was large, had interesting architectural details, and seemed intimate unlike a typical photo studio.”
Eventually he conceptualized the album’s vivid “upside-down” shot featured in the inner booklet [in the vinyl version, the inner sleeves,] a collage that shows the band drifting around a surreal living room scene where ceiling and floor are blurred into one. Christine and John McVie are planted on the ground; Fleetwood clings to a chair above his head; Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham float around in an eye-popping display of antigravity camera trickery.
“My photo-graphic work during that period of time involved photo-composing individual elements together into a single image,” Odgers says. “The idea for the Fleetwood Mac shoot was simply to have the various band members floating in a room. I simply thought that would be visually arresting. Gravity-defying objects have always been alluring to me.”
The concept was brilliant for an album like Tusk, which, with its jarring shifts from soft-rock balladry to punk-pop angst, offered a similar sense of displacement. Odgers prepared the space by “visually turning the room upside down.” He stuck plants on the ceiling to hide electric features, covered the floor with a white backdrop to offer the illusion of a ceiling, and placed lighting fixtures on the floor. “It was actually a rather simple conceit rife with potential,” he says.
The band’s part was to simply participate: stand here or lay there, grab this or look at that. But the quintet, seemingly eager to make such creative decisions more of a hassle, didn’t instantly connect with Odgers’s off-the-wall vision.
“Let me say straight away, they hated the idea!” he recalls. “I think they even hated me personally for suggesting such an idea. Perhaps for that reason, they refused to be in the room at the same time. I found this utterly shocking, as I’d never experienced such a thing before, or since. They were exceedingly difficult, even broke things in my house.
They basically were as obstreperous as possible, like intractable mud. Slowly, over a period of time, I had each one come into the photographic area and do something. For example, I had Mick hold a chair against the ceiling: shoot. Later, Lindsey was willing to lie down on a low stool upside down: shoot. All Stevie Nicks would do is lie on the floor: shoot. Each person was a separate photo session!”
The project, and its participants, became so difficult that Odgers eventually felt the band was “trying to scuttle” him. But ironically, by refusing to work together, they played into the photographer’s creative strengths. “Unbeknownst to them, my photo-graphic forte was putting separate images together seamlessly, so I pushed on,” he continues. “Had they all been willing to be photographed together, the image never would have looked like it does. Whatever magic that exists would have not been possible. Their obstinacy is the reason it works. Since I had no idea they wouldn’t appear in the studio together initially, the whole thing turned into an experiment on the fly. The means determined the end.”
Even after finishing the shoot, Fleetwood Mac made Odgers’s job difficult. “Mick Fleetwood confided to me later that when the group took the all the various photographic images to Warner Bros. Records for review, they loved them all—except mine,” he says. “It caused immediate arguments. Mick said two hours later they were still fighting [about] whether or not they should use it at all. He eventually concluded since they were bickering endlessly about this one image, perhaps it should be included for that very reason, that it would incite conversation and discussion. On that they could agree. It was included. I got very lucky, as it almost didn’t happen.”
It’s only fitting that Odgers’s whirlwind story ends with an ironic denouement. In 2016, when Rhino Records released an Alternate Tusk featuring alternate takes and live cuts, the label chose to include a black-and-white version of the “floating” shot as the front cover. Needless to say, the photographer was dumbfounded.
“We never arrived at Rhino’s reason for using it. Clearly it left us questioning,” Odgers says. “Perhaps that’s its secret: The image provides no answers, only questions. It won’t settle down to a comfortable resolution and go away. It keeps one questioning.”
Though the floating collage remains Tusk’s true visual centerpiece, the album’s other artwork is equally compelling. The stark cover photo shows producer-engineer Ken Caillat’s dog, Scooter, tugging playfully at his pant leg. (It’s laughable that the band hated Odgers’s high-concept approach but embraced this.) And the inner images blended Norman Seeff’s casual group shots with Peter Beard’s manic collages, inspired by his photographic diaries of Africa.
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