Under The Radar: Fleetwood Mac - Mirage
When it comes to Fleetwood Mac, most fans of the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks era, tend to agree upon that 1975’s Fleetwood Mac & 1977’s Rumours set the “gold standard» for the band. Now, thirty years later, the highly experimental album Tusk and 1987’s reunion album, Tango in the Night, will get some honourable mentions and support from the Fleetwood Mac fan base. However, there is one album from the Buckingham/Nicks’ era that tends to get overlooked, 1982’s Mirage.
Mirage was released on June 18, 1982, and was the 13th studio album from Fleetwood Mac. The album was certified double platinum (2 million) and yielded the hit singles, Hold Me, Love in Stone, Can’t Go Back, Oh Diane and Gypsy.
For some reason, Mirage tends to get overlooked because, in my opinion, most fans saw the album as a step back for the band. Except, over time I have come to the conclusion that Mirage was an album of necessity; which in no way lessens the quality of this release.
After the enormous success of Rumours, Lindsey Buckingham was given “carte blanche” and wisely, Buckingham convinced the band to reach out of their comfort zone and aim for an artistic statement, rather than another hit driven release that could never reach the commercial heights of Rumours. Tusk was this experimental album. It replaced the band’s emotionally driven songs with that of a more punk/new wave influence. It polarized both fans and critics upon its initial release, but since has been re-evaluated and is now praised for its experimentation. Although the album managed to sell four million units, the record company saw it as a commercial failure.
By this time, Fleetwood Mac were at a cross roads; stuck between artistic freedom and accessibility. In my opinion, if the band wanted continue at the global level that they were at, they had no choice but to make Mirage. The band needed to make an album that was accessible and that would re-establish the connection with their fan base.
Mirage is a snapshot in time. It retraces the steps of a band looking for what made them a colossal musical juggernaut in the first place. It may lack the intense emotional core of Rumours, but Mirage is the most accessible album from the Buckingham/Nicks line up. The album raced to the top of the charts, spending five weeks at #1. More importantly however, it brought back what the fans loved and wanted from the band.
This album may not be a masterpiece, but that shouldn’t stop you from searching out this release to fully understand this overlooked gem. Besides, the hit singles, Book Of Love and Straight Back are more than worthy to be added to your Fleetwood Mac playlist. Mirage gets high marks for bringing back Fleetwood Mac most fans have come to know and love.