Daily Record 1/19/11: Mirage-Fleetwood Mac (1982)

In 1980s, 1982, Fleetwood Mac, pop, record collecting, records, Rich's House of Vinyl, rock on January 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Mirage is the sound of Fleetwood Mac phoning it in. Don’t get me wrong, Mirage, released in 1982, isn’t a bad album. It’s just not an album with any great sense of urgency to defend its own existence or historic significance, even close to 30 years since its release.

On a personal note I can tell you that, as a 17-year-old who loved the weirdness of the Mac’s previous album, Tusk, the release of Mirage had absolutely no effect on me.

In 1981, Mac members Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks had each released solo albums; one of them, Nicks’ Bella Donna, had been a massive success and had pointed Nicks toward the possibility of ongoing big success outside the confines of Fleetwood Mac.

(As for the Buckingham and Fleetwood solo records, well, they got pretty good reviews. And you may remember Buckingham’s “Trouble,” with its distinctive “ah1, ah2, ah3, ah4” intro. But neither Buckingham’s Law and Order nor Fleetwood’s The Visitor moved Bella Donna-like units.)

So it’s probably no surprise that, after the emotional wreckage of the last several years, the millions of records sold and the cathartic and creative releases provided by solo work, that Mirage sounds like a triumph of craft over inspiration. The album did not need to be much more than that for the band or the fans.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I don’t think I’m hearing a bad song on Mirage, and there is one classic single–Christine McVie’s “Hold Me”–to be found. But it is also worth noting that I believe this is the first time that I’ve ever listened to Mirage beginning-to-end.

[And a note on “Hold Me”: for years I thought this was a Buckingham, not a C. McVie, song. I think I had that notion because Buckingham’s voice seems more prominent in the mix than is usual for one MacPerson on another MacPerson’s song; and also because he’s got all kind of guitar going on throughout the song. But of course, the song is a Christine McVie gem.]

Mirage simply doesn’t sound as fresh as 1975’s Fleetwood Mac; as drama-drenched as 1977’s Rumours; or as eccentric as 1979’s Tusk. It’s not bad though: it has “Hold Me” and Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy,” as well as the reliable McVie/Fleetwood rhythm section and Buckingham’s characteristically wacky production work and guitar playing.

Such was the fate of really-not-so-bad Mirage: Get  some “product” out there, do a quickie tour and then back to the solo albums, mates. As product goes, Fleetwood Mac could have done much, much worse.


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