Fleetwood Mac Still Experiments, but album has less emotion
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 10/05/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fleetwood Mac's "Mirage" album was the second album to follow-up their landmark late 1970's release "Rumours". "Rumours" was a huge commercial success that was built on the raw emotion of the band members. . The story of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" is well documented. During this time, Christine and John McVie's marriage was falling apart - as was the long term relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. One common thread I have noticed about the core members is that they tend to wear their hearts on their sleeve. When emotions ran high,Mac was at their best. The emotions that were running through the band were the catalyst for this effort. Following "Rumours", Fleetwood Mac went in a very different direction and released what was much more of an experimental album - "Tusk". "Tusk" did have its moments from an artistic standpoint, but didn't have the commercial sales of "Rumours". On "Mirage", Fleetwood Mac attempts to move back to the mainstream formula that worked in the late 1970s - however the band doesn't abandon all of their experimentation. This album does produce some good music - the only drawback is that this album lacks the raw emotion that "Rumours" had.
One thing why I feel the emotion might be lacking is that Fleetwood Mac brought in outsiders to collaborate with the songs that were written on this album. It's not that Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie are going to abandon all of their songwriting - one of the three members will collaborate on each of the tracks. However, there isn't one track in which there is a joint collaboration among the three. You can make the argument that the band was going through the motions of recording together. However, given the talents of Fleetwood Mac - they are still able to find a way to gel things together. It was during the early 1980s where the members of Fleetwood Mac were beginning to branch out as solo artists - and each was finding some level of success. It almost seems like Fleetwood Mac was already fragmented - and that this album was a bit "forced". It's also worth noting that Fleetwood Mac would not record together another studio album for another 5 years following "Mirage". The influence of the outside artists is not bad - but I think it does take away from the raw emotion. Songs that have the outside influence are: "Love in Store" (Christine McVie with Jim Recor); "Book of Love", "Oh Diane", and "Empire State" (Lindsey Buckingham with Richard Dashut); "Hold Me" (Christine McVie and Robbie Patton), "Wish You Were Here" (Christine McVie with Colin Allen).
As mentioned above, the band does not abandon the idea of experimentation. For starters - if you want to hear Fleetwood Mac with a bit of a country-edge, listen to the track - "That's Alright". Fleetwood Mac is able to pull this off very well - especially with Stevie Nicks on lead vocals. I've never thought that Lindsey was a very strong songwriter, he does have strengths in a lot of other areas. In particular, when it comes to background vocals, I feel Lindsey Buckingham is the best in the business. "That's Alright" is a great example on how Lindsey's background vocals blend in beautifully. It seems that on Stevie Nicks tracks, she finds a way to blend Lindsey's voice in - and does it very well.. There almost is a magic when this duo works vocals together. It's good on "Mirage" that we hear more of this.
Two Lindsey Buckingham and Richard Dashut tracks also show some more experimentation. The songs "Book of Love" and "Oh Diane" are retro-style tracks that aren't like anything heard from Fleetwood Mac before. While "Mirage" has a lot of 80s type tunes (i.e. "Hold Me" and "Gypsy"), it is good that it also has some tunes like these two tracks. Both "Book of Love" and "Oh Diane" sound like late 1950s tracks. In fact, I think Lindsey does a tremendous job on the lead vocals of both of these tracks. "Oh Diane" could easily have been a song played on 1959 radio and nobody would bat an eyelash. While not my favorite track "Empire State" sound like a tune that could have easily been played in early 1980s dance clubs. Finally, the Christine McVie penned track "Only Over You" 'gives inspiration to Dennis Wilson" has almost an R&B influence to it.
This is the album that contains two of Fleetwood Mac's biggest hits. There is "Gypsy" that features Stevie Nicks on lead vocals. Once again, Stevie writes a song and finds a great way to get Lindsey's background vocals in - listen to the end when Lindsey sings "Lightning Strikes - maybe once - maybe twice" - that's real good stuff. The other big hit on this collection was "Hold Me". This is a terrific duet between Christine and Lindsey - I wish there would be more duets like this. Other songs that are very good and worth a listen are "Eyes of the World" - this is a Lindsey penned track and he is in excellent form on his guitar. "Can't Go Back" is another Lindsey penned track and has a very catchy beat. "Love in Store" is the opening track and features Christine on lead vocals, but both Stevie and Lindsey will also contribute some vocals.
The CD liner notes feature all of the lyrics to all of the songs. Each song includes all of the songwriting credits. There are also all of the studio and engineering credits included. I think its also worth noting that Fleetwood Mac produces all of the sounds on this album - although they might have collaborated with outside songwriters, they don't bring in outside musicians. I think the serious Fleetwood Mac fan will like this album, but it will take a few listens before it grows on you. It's still not Rumours - overall I'd give it 3 1/2 stars."
REMASTER THIS CLASSIC -- SOUND IS AWFUL!
Derek Jager | NYC | 11/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This needs some treble in it and the volume is so low that it sounds muddy and never grabs your attention!
Come on Warner Brothers -- shine up this dusty classic!"
Underrated album by a band with impossibly high standards
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since the glorious resurrection of Fleetwood Mac and the success of "The Dance" I have returned to the albums I haven't listened to in a long time. "Mirage" is not considered to be their greatest work, indeed Lindsey Buckingham's own comments tend to be negative. But this is a band which has recorded at least three genuine classic albums (Fleetwood Mac/Rumours/Tango in the Night). So I think it is time to re-evaluate "Mirage" and to appreciate its qualities. It begins wonderfully with Christine McVie as reliable as ever. Whereas "Tusk" sounds like a collection of solo material, they are at once sounding like a band again. "Love in Store" is catchy and full of wonderful Buckingham Nicks harmonies. A couple of strong Lindsey Buckingham songs and Stevie Nicks' memorable and moving "Gypsy" lead into "Only over you". This is not one of the album's highlights. It smacks of an attempt to recreate "Songbird" and doesn't live up to the task. "Empire State" is weak and "Straight Back" sounds lacklustre and overproduced. "Hold Me" however finds Christine and Lindsey bringing things back into focus. 16 years on and it's still a striong song. And then there is "Oh Diane". Apparently Lindsey hates it, but I will always remember fondly it as the first Fleetwood Mac song I ever heard when it was issued as a single here in the UK. A simple, old fashioned love song which is underrated, as indeed is "Mirage". It's still Fleetwood Mac for heaven's sake. There are more good songs on this than on most albums, so let's enjoy it for the many fine moments it contains."
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 04/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the highly experimental Tusk was released in 1979, Fleetwood Mac would not release another studio album until Mirage in 1982. The album marked a return to the Southern California sound that they created on their first two albums together. Tusk is a great album, but was missing was the vocal interplay between the vocalists, especially Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie. They pair up for some great numbers together including the album's biggest hit, the sprightly "Hold Me" which ranks as one of the best songs in their catalog. Ms. McVie provides the bouncy "Love In Store" and "Only Over You" which is about her relationship with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Mr. Buckingham is in fine form on the deep "Book Of Love" and the fun "Oh Diane". Stevie Nicks was the unquestioned star of the band at this time after the release of her hugely successful solo debut, Bella Donna. But she doesn't coast here with the exceptional "Gypsy" particularly standing out. Mirage was a return to the top of the charts, peaking at number one in the fall of '82. It would be the last time they would hit number one until their big comeback with The Dance in 1997."
"Mirage" is no "Rumors"
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 09/17/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Were "Mirage" the first Fleetwood Mac album, it wuld probably not have been a disappointment. Unfortunately, living up to the standars of their massive hit "Rumours" proved to be a tough task indeed. "Hold Me," is an excellent single, and there are plenty of other agreeable, radio-ready songs on this album. But ultimately, it lacks the fierce emotions that fueled the band's best work. Ardent fans will love this album, casual fans will probably find it wanting."