Fleetwood Mac: Mirage
It’s hard to fathom 34 years have passed since the release of Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage. The stakes were high in 1982 as the highly efficacious lineup of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie was close to imploding. Relationships were strained after a tumultuous tour, in addition to the band’s double LP Tusk failing to live up to the mega-success of the now legendary Rumours. At the time of its release in 1979, Tusk was considered a commercial disappointment, although over the years it has been reevaluated as a misunderstood masterpiece. But back in the days of multi-platinum smashes and music industry excess, if a record sold 20 million copies, its follow-up was misguidedly expected to equal or surpass its predecessor. However, that feat proved impossible to duplicate as Rumours managed to dominate the Billboard chart for 31 weeks, spawned four hit singles, won Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammy Awards, and eventually sold an astronomical 45 million copies worldwide. In contrast, Tusk only sold moderately well in comparison (a respectable 4 million units), but failed to reach number one (peaking at number 4), and delivered only two top-ten hits. Therefore, to say expectations were high for the superstar team’s fourth effort would be somewhat of an understatement.
After a substantial hiatus, Fleetwood Mac reunited to record the bulk of Mirage at Château d’Hérouville in France, which resulted in an unambiguous divergence from the experimental Tusk. Mirage offered a more radio friendly balance of straight forward pop-rock compositions by Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks, tempered with Buckingham’s idiosyncratic, but infectious concoctions. Not only was Mirage the group’s first release since Nicks and Buckingham launched solo careers to differing degrees of success, but it also served to bridge the gap between the startling Tusk and the more accessible Tango in the Night. Mirage was the group’s conscious attempt to deliver a more focused set, which harkened back to the sounds more akin with the band’s fruitful albums during the mid-1970s. Mirage managed to return the band to Billboard’s top spot for the first time since Rumours, while concurrently serving as the band’s introduction to a new audience via heavy rotation on MTV with a pair of eye-catching music videos; the desert-themed “Hold Me” and the conceptualized storytelling of “Gypsy.” Russell Mulcahy directed the video for the latter, which at the time held the honor as the most expensive music video clip ever made, and was fittingly selected as MTV’s very first “World Premiere Video” in 1982.
While Buckingham continued to eschew the straightforward rock stylings of previous songs like “Go Your Own Way” in favor of continuing draw from his well of inspiration initiated during the Tusk sessions, Mirage currently remains as Fleetwood Mac’s last album to date which sounds like a full-fledged group effort. Although cracks have clearly started to develop within the group’s musical path, all of the band members sound fully present in the mix, as opposed to Tango in the Night, which sounded as if Stevie Nicks’ contributions were edited in as a last minute afterthought.
This newly released deluxe edition provides a much needed sonic upgrade, superbly delivering an enhanced crispness to the previous murkiness and lackluster sound quality heard in its original 1980s release. Mirage has been impeccably remastered, which casts a much needed new light upon the album’s material, especially Christine McVie’s exceptional ballad of longing “Wish You Were Here” and the energetic fizziness of “Love in Store,” as well as Stevie Nicks’ folk-country flavored “That’s Alright” and album-oriented rock gem “Straight Back.”
Other highlights include Nicks’ alternate version of “That’s Alright” and two previously unreleased tracks “If You Were My Love” and “Smile at You,” which recall hints of “Sara” and “Sisters of the Moon.” Also included are remastered versions of the previous B-side “Cool Water” and the outtake “Goodbye Angel,” in addition to the superior subtleties of the original album version of “Straight Back.” The deluxe set also features the original extended music video version of “Gypsy,” work- in- progress demo versions. The super deluxe box set includes a DVD of a newly created 5.1 surround mix, and a vinyl LP of the remastered album.
Mirage is available as a remastered single disc, a two-disc set of the original album plus outtakes and B-sides, and a super deluxe 3 CD/1DVD/Vinyl LP edition which also includes a full disc of live tracks culled from a concert recorded at The Forum in Los Angeles during the band’s excellent but brief 1982 Mirage Tour.