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Old 06-15-2022, 09:38 PM
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Default Mirage at 40

https://albumism.com/features/fleetw...-retrospective

Albumism

Mark Chappelle June 15, 2022

Happy 40th Anniversary to Fleetwood Mac’s thirteenth studio album Mirage, originally released June 18, 1982.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Once the watershed Rumours (1977) sold 40 million units worldwide and did everything but cure cancer, the grading curve for Fleetwood Mac albums was wrecked. As a result, the return-to-form Mirage(1982) got punished for being merely outstanding, rather than larger than life like its predecessor.

It wasn’t the first time comparison swallowed music whole. Creative reins were handed to guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for the experimental Tusk (1979). He became a pariah when it underperformed. Both the public and the band panned it despite double platinum sales. The ensuing world tour became a cheap way to create Live (1980), another double disc that managed gold sales, but was considered a relative failure.

Fleetwood Mac’s energy started to pull away from its core entity thereafter. Frankly, they were sick of each other. Thus began a mass exodus of solo spinoffs. Drummer Mick Fleetwood recorded The Visitor (1981). Buckingham bowed with Law and Order (1981). Mystical vocalist Stevie Nicks stepped out for the first time with the quadruple platinum Bella Donna (1981).

No one was particularly bullish on getting the band back together except Warner Bros. Records, still hungry for a repeat of Rumours. However half-hearted, Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham, and coworker-divorcees bassist John McVie and singer Christine McVie joined with producers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut in the spring of 1981. They rented Château d'Hérouville near Paris, France and would record there until the summer. With peaks stronger than its valleys, the resultant Mirage returned Fleetwood Mac to rock preeminence.

Its lead single was the delightsome, layered “Hold Me,” written by Christine McVie and Robbie Patton. She and Buckingham stripe their colors together for tandem lead vocals, but harmony fell apart at their Mojave Desert video shoot. Everyone was overheated, off schedule, and on edge. John McVie even took a drunken swing at the video producer. Trouble aside, the single reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 Mainstream Rock. Despite its success, the band rarely performs the song live.

Though “Hold Me” charted higher, the most enduring single was the wistful “Gypsy.” This Nicks composition intended for Bella Donna began as a sparse demo, recalling her simpler life as a young woman. It grew into an emotional tribute after the death of childhood best friend Robin Snyder Anderson (“She is dancing away from me now / She was just a wish / And a memory is all that is left for you now”). Easily the finest offering from Mirage, “Gypsy” rocks and sways, boasting pentatonic melodies, diaphanous support vocals, and a mind-blowing Buckingham solo.

In the US, the Motown-styled “Love In Store” was released as a third single. On this, the album’s opener, as well as its closer “Wish You Were Here,” Christine McVie’s confident lead has a transitional, almost androgynous versatility that meshes seamlessly in chorus with Buckingham and Nicks.

The third radio volley for UK territories was “Oh Diane.” The surprise hit achieved a #15 chart notch with its yesteryear sound. One final single gave it a go in the UK. Despite modest chart performance, “Can’t Go Back” provides an energetic boost in the LP sequence. Grouped with “Book of Love” and “Eyes of the World” though, these Buckingham tunes evinced an obsession with ‘50s rock-and-roll that often proved the weak link on Mirage. Where he was fixated on a single sound, Nicks’ muse was notably more itinerate.

“I started this whirlwind thing of being able to flit between two worlds,” Nicks explained to Mojo Magazine in 2013. ”Fleetwood Mac made Tusk and I made Bella Donna. Fleetwood Mac made Mirage and I made The Wild Heart, and on it went. I loved it because I get bored easily. I change hotel suites twice in the same week.”

And flit she did, starting with the boot-clacking “That’s Alright.” Her crushed velvet voice has a bit of strum, without a full twang. Its easy fit here begs the question of whether “Gypsy” is more country at its core than it seems. The progressive and synth-supported “Straight Back,” however, is different than them both. Reportedly written about Nicks’ failing relationship with producer Jimmy Iovine, she wasn’t the only one drawing on heartbreak.

“Only Over You,” like “Hold Me,” was authored in the wake of Christine McVie’s relationship with Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys. “Chris had loved him with all her heart, but she couldn’t keep up with him and couldn’t make it work,” Fleetwood shared in his autobiography Play On. “She had to part from him, because it would have been the end of her if she hadn’t.” Wilson’s death in 1983 added a mournful tint to her emotional trilling (“Angel please don’t go / I miss you when you’re gone / They say I’m a silly girl / But I’m not a fool / I’m out of my mind / And it’s only over you”).

“Mirage was an attempt to get back into the flow that Rumours had,” Christine McVie ceded to Uncut in 2003. “But we missed a vital ingredient. That was the passion.” That’s putting it lightly. Buckingham’s then-girlfriend Carol Ann Harris gets more candid in her memoir Storms. “There were the very real, sinister fights that echoed from the recording studio into our rooms every night,” she writes. “The screams and curses of the band members fighting with one another sounded demonic within the walls of the dormitory.”

Underlying all this tension were knotted entanglements between them. Buckingham hadn’t resolved tension with Nicks after their breakup. Nicks had a brief involvement with Fleetwood after his wife had an affair with the band’s lighting director. And of course, drug use complicates everything. Their interlocked cover pose with disconnected glances is emblematic of this. Where their connections and severances fueled creativity during the Rumours era, it offered little help to Mirage.

However, the end justified the means. Mirage spent five weeks at #1 in the US and earned two more platinum plaques, though it fell from the charts quickly as the band lost interest in promotion. And who could blame them? Buckingham and Nicks were both eager to refocus on their own endeavors. And even the sparsely recording Christine McVie had sessions booked for a solo album. It would take five years and several acts of God to corral them back together for Tango in the Night (1987).

For what it’s worth, Mirage did what it needed to, getting Fleetwood Mac back on the radio. With MTV debuting in 1981, it arrived at the perfect time for “Hold Me” to stay in heavy rotation. And “Gypsy,” the first ever MTV World Premiere Video, was the most expensive video ever filmed at the time.

Whatever Mirage lacks in cohesion, it makes up in musicianship. It might be hell to agree on which songs get done how, but regardless of the process, the product is a cut above others. After decades in the shadows, Mirage finally got a moment in the sun with a 2016 triple-disc deluxe reissue featuring outtakes, rarities, and live versions.

The biggest mistake would be to set Rumours as the standard for judging any album of that time. If we did, perhaps only Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life (1976), AC/DC's Back in Black (1980), or Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979) could make the grade. Ironically, requiring everything to be big, bigger, biggest is the most ‘80s thing one could do. With the era of bloat and artifice now behind us, it should be easier to appreciate Mirage for everything it is—rather than anything it is not.
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2022, 11:10 PM
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I think it's a very cohesive album. I absolutely ADORE Can't Go Back, and Book of Love! They are the sweetest aural candy that makes Mirage so dear to me.
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Old 06-16-2022, 04:31 AM
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This was a great article. Thanks for sharing. Mirage is very special to me because it was the start of my cult worship of the band. When I first joined this board, Mirage was trashed as much as Say You Will is today. I am glad to see many warm up to this album. This was the end of an era for the band. Yes the band did regroup 5 years later for Tango but we know it was not the same and pretty much a Lindsey solo album. Mirage is the last true studio album of the classic 5 line up. Stevie was in her prime vocal ability 1981-1982. My only frustration is that the angry Smile At You was left on the cutting room floor. Mirage is so poppy and upbeat friendly maybe they thought Smile At You did not fit with the mood. But I say that is the reason it needed to go on the album. The band was not getting along, drug abuse was rampant, solo careers scheduled. Things would NEVER be the same. No back up vocalists, no additional players on stage, etc. They could have milked Mirage for much more with an extended tour, a video for Love In Store, etc. It was the early 80s before BIG HAIR, drum machines, etc. It hit that sweet spot. The album was too light pop for rock stations so the album did not change things since Tusk songs were not being played on rock stations either. But the music is good and that is all that matters. There is a bit of irony how Lindsey took control of Tusk to not let the band be a commercial brand for the record company. Yet the backlash made the next 2 albums (Mirage and Tango) exactly that. Radio friendly pop songs.
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Old 06-16-2022, 04:19 PM
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Mirage is a great album! I love this article. Times were changing from rock to rock/pop. I don't think I would appreciate this album as much if not for the explosive tour, in terms of intensity and rawness. I actually like Mirage live cuts better than Tusk. They peaked in intensity at this juncture, in my opinion.

I can vividly remember the radio of Hold Me, Jack and Diane, Gypsy, Rosanna, Only The Lonely.... etc

I would actually get mad if MTV didn't play one of FM's 2 Mirage videos for too long of time. In 1983 when Stevie had Stand Back, I would throw in a blank VHS in the hopes of getting one of those videos recorded.
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Old 06-16-2022, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jbrownsjr View Post
Mirage is a great album! I love this article. Times were changing from rock to rock/pop. I don't think I would appreciate this album as much if not for the explosive tour, in terms of intensity and rawness. I actually like Mirage live cuts better than Tusk. They peaked in intensity at this juncture, in my opinion.

I can vividly remember the radio of Hold Me, Jack and Diane, Gypsy, Rosanna, Only The Lonely.... etc

I would actually get mad if MTV didn't play one of FM's 2 Mirage videos for too long of time. In 1983 when Stevie had Stand Back, I would throw in a blank VHS in the hopes of getting one of those videos recorded.
Ha ha. We were twins separated at birth. We lived in the sticks so we did not get MTV till 1987. I did the same thing with the VHS tape but it was for the Talk To Me video. Since we did not have MTV, I would watch Night Tracks on TBS. Remember TBS would air Night Tracks on Friday and Saturday night. It sort of was like MTV without the VeeJays. I would pop in a VHS tape and go to bed hoping through the night the video would come on. We had a primitive VCR and the remote control had a long wire connected to the VCR. In the morning I would sit on the couch with the long wire to the VCR and forward the tape along hoping I captured some Fleetwood Mac or Stevie Nicks video

But nothing out did my waking up at 2 am to record the Mirage concert on HBO from with tape recorder. I held the tape recorder up to the TV speaker for the entire concert and still went to school the next day! This HBO feature presentation video gives me chills to this day. It still races my heart. I can actually hear the Chain starting after it plays

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1NKoMNy5bY

Long live the 80s
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Old 06-16-2022, 07:29 PM
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The beauty of the arrangement on Gypsy, which is the reason it was so successful, was thanks to LB and the playing of the rest of the band.
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Old 06-16-2022, 08:42 PM
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The beauty of the arrangement on Gypsy, which is the reason it was so successful, was thanks to LB and the playing of the rest of the band.
Yes, I feel like BuckVie adds a certain magic to Gypsy. In the video (LOL Lindsey's hair when he and Christine are sitting as Stevie goes prancing by).

And the guitar, keys and background vocals are lush and very Mirage like.
I can't take Gypsy live because the album is so specific and tight.
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Old 06-17-2022, 08:56 AM
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And the guitar, keys and background vocals are lush and very Mirage like.
I can't take Gypsy live because the album is so specific and tight.
But you've gotta love that benefit concert acoustic version. Having two acoustic guitars front and center restores some of that Miragey lushness of the original.

How good would this have been: a live acoustic Gypsy with Stevie, Lindsey, and Christine, all three singing and Christine playing second acoustic guitar.


To me Mirage is the band's east coast "New York" album.
Yes it was recorded in France and Gypsy is a Californian tale.
But the font on the cover is in the art deco style, the track Empire State is a love song to NYC (maybe with some cynicism? I don't know), and music video and lyrics of Gypsy always make me think of the song as set in NYC even though I know different.
But as the reviewer notes the album often has a very country vibe to it, in That's Alright and Gypsy, not to mention Lindsey's cowboy get-up on stage.
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Old 06-17-2022, 03:24 PM
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Hi! I read the full article and all your comments with a big emotion.
I discovered this gem a few months before its 30th birthday, and quickly became my favourite one...The 12 songs on it made me fall in love, as I started to repeat and repeat the to know them better.

It's always sad to know that Rumours is the limit for every FM album, and even Live was compared in sales with that one. If you see, Mirage had an amazing performance on the charts, but not only on the US, the rest of the world counts, and they loved the album too!! But as the sales were minor that the Rumours' ones, "it was not a full success". And that sucks, really.

Mirage has an special kind of soul that gave me a beautiful moment in my life listening to it. Love In Store became a fav, as Can't Go Back, Book Of Love, Only Over You, Oh Diane and Wish You Were Here. The live versions were so hard to listen, as they had even more energy, and were not even similar to the original ones. Only The Dance version of Gypsy made me believe again haha

Then, when I discovered all the demos, I confirmed that the album was my favourite one. All the songs had a demo even better -sometimes- that the final one, like the longer version of Wish You Were Here, the instrumentals of Oh Diane and Book Of Love or the longer version of Straight Back. The latest release of the album gave me something I've been looking for during ten years, the demo versions of Empire State and Only Over You.

I only have words to say thanks to this album, as it made me play the guitar again, try to make my own music, and gave me the chance to fall in a very amazing world of sounds and dreams listening to it.

Happy Birthday, Mirage!

Last edited by moon; 06-17-2022 at 03:29 PM..
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Old 06-17-2022, 05:36 PM
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This is part of what Mick's first book tells about Mirage

Mirage was released in mid-1982, an artistic and financial success. Both "Hold Me" and "Gypsy" were hit singles in the United States, and "Oh Diane" was a British chart hit as well. I think we sold about five million albums. It didn't hurt that Rolling Stone had crowned Stevie "The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll," and that a new cable television channel called MTV was broadcasting our new videos ("Hold Me" set in desert dunes, "Gypsy" in a Stevie fantasy world) to the American suburbs twenty-four hours a day. Mirage went to number one, and it felt great to be back on top for a while.

Mirage also marked the first time that Fleetwood Mac didn't automatically tour to support a new album. Stevie's solo career was now in full swing, and she obviously didn't want to do a long Fleetwood Mac road binge in the midst of becoming one of the biggest stars in the business. We did do an eighteen-show stint during the summer of 1982 that was booked around two big outdoor festivals in Florida and the immense U.S. Festival in California (for which Fleetwood Mac received $80O,000 for one show). We worked for about a month, made some money, and Irving Azoff's company, Frontline Management, got 15 percent of the tour for organising it.

I felt sick when we stopped touring. Mirage was number one and sales were strong in cities where we'd played. I wanted to be on the move, touring until the cows came home, but the others were less enthusiastic. Christine had sessions for her own solo album scheduled, and we'd been lucky to get Stevie at all. As soon as we left the road, Mirage died after five weeks at number one. The Australian band Men at Work, who had opened for us on the road, saw their album go to number one shortly thereafter.
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Old 06-23-2022, 08:05 PM
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Mirage died after five weeks at number one. The Australian band Men at Work, who had opened for us on the road, saw their album go to number one shortly thereafter.
So...Men At Work did it, and they became a success shortly after that...

It's rare maybe, but it's always rare to know that some of the 70s bands were living at the same time than "newer" bands, which were experimenting with new sounds!
I don't know if I'm explaining it well, but it's a very big difference of sounds between the works of bands like FM and Men At Work. You listen to Down Under and you know it's from 1983. But if you hear Love In Store you think you're still in 1979-80 maybe!

So, Mirage had a very short life, unfortunately...It was a very amazing album, you know I'll always think that, but what became later was not what we lived with the Tusk days. In fact, Christine, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey were SO busy with their own projects...What could have happen if Mirage was released in 1984-85 and not in 1982?? Would be possible a mix of songs from the solo albums?? Could it be a success?? Could it have the same songs than the original release??
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Old 06-23-2022, 09:25 PM
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Christopher Cross was the opener for Tusk(at least at my show- Indianapolis). I'd say he was a LOT closer to the classic FM sound. Even more so than FM, given that Tusk has just come out.
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Old 06-24-2022, 06:25 AM
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What a hell of a concert that must have been. Cross was relatively unknown when the tour started since his debut album was released in December 1979 a month after the Tusk tour started. Cross's debut album was HUGE and earned him 4 Grammy awards. The singles did not chart until early 1980. I assume he got off the Tusk tour at some point because he could get paid more doing solo gigs. Funny because Men at Work was on a similar path. They never finished the shot Mirage tour and Glen Frey and someone else opened later on. Men at Work hit it huge.

The funniest story is in 1987 Bon Jovi was opening for .38 Special. Slippery When Wet suddenly became huge and more people were coming to see Bon Jovi than .38 Special. And .38 Special was perplexed at all these young teenage girls packing the arena. When Slippery When Wet hit #1, Bon Jovi's manager was able to get them off that tour as the opener.
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Old 06-24-2022, 12:05 PM
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Ride Like The Wind was huge at the time, and I had gone to the concession stand when he played it!
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Old 06-24-2022, 02:37 PM
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Mirage — and particularly “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” — was my gateway to Fleetwood Mac. We had Rumours in the house and I remember watching the “Tusk” video (with appropriate confusion and awe) on television in 1979. But with the two videos and main singles from Mirage, I quickly called the band my own. I loved 1/2 the record. A lot. (Gypsy made me a huge Stevie covert.)

Within the year, I had all of their albums up to that point. By 1983, I was the biggest Christine fan in my neck of the woods. The turning point (from Stevie to Christine) was hearing “Say You Love Me”.
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