Tuesday, September 20, 2016

REVIEW Fleetwood Mac Mirage (Expanded Reissue)

Fleetwood Mac - Mirage (Expanded Reissue)
(Warner Brothers/Rhino)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
American Songwriter
Written By Hal Horowitz

Often considered the belated follow-up to 1977’s mega platinum Rumours, 1982’s Mirage was a clear retreat from the somewhat abrasive, occasionally commercial avant-pop of the controversial Tusk. While that album has, over the decades, come to be respected as Lindsey Buckingham’s creative zenith, it appears Warner Brothers was less enthusiastic about their star act’s detour into the artsy abyss. Perhaps Mac were tired of it themselves, because the slick, glossily produced Mirage seems a capitulation to an audience who might have found the dense, inconsistent, but bold Tusk a musical and drug-fueled bridge too far.

While Mirage was no Rumours, its dozen sophisticated pop songs include such near-classics as “Love in Store,” “Gypsy,” and “Hold Me,” the latter two appearing on most subsequent Mac hits packages. But there are other, often unappreciated gems here too. Selections such as Buckingham’s folksy “Can’t Go Back,” Stevie Nicks’ surprisingly effective foray into country “That’s Alright,” the frisky pop/rock and sumptuous harmonies of “The Eyes of the World” and the closing “Wish You Were Here,” one of the always dependable Christine McVie’s more affecting and least appreciated pieces, are well worth reexamining.

It’s not a great album but it’s a good one, especially for Mac’s avid pop fans, and ripe for rediscovery on this newly remastered and expanded edition. A second disc with 20 previously unreleased rarities includes early, stripped down demos, alternate arrangements and outtakes of nearly every tune, plus some that didn’t make the final cut, and is well worth the price of admission. The no-frills versions are a welcome contrast to the finished product’s often over-produced slickness, and such oddities as a four minute in-studio jam on drummer Sandy Nelson’s 1959 instrumental “Teen Beat” with Buckingham at his most frazzled and unhinged is a major find.

But the real excitement is relegated to the pricey “deluxe” package that includes not only a 5.1 surround audio-only DVD of the album and a remastered vinyl reproduction, but a live show from the ‘82 Mirage tour. This 74-minute concert catches the band on a particularly inspired and improvisation filled night in LA as Mirage was ensconced atop the Billboard charts. It kicks off with a propulsive seven-minute “The Chain” that smokes the studio take into oblivion and features extended performances of two Tusk tracks with a nearly 10-minute “Not That Funny” along with another 8 minutes of “Sisters of the Moon,” closing with an unplugged emotional “Songbird” all in front of a clearly engaged audience.

Whether that’s worth dropping nearly $90 is up to you, but this is an invigorating presentation. It captures these five musicians (before they added an unnecessary backline to bolster the live sound) bouncing energy off each other and feeding from the crowd with exhilarating results.

Fleetwood Mac – Mirage
The weakest album produced by the Rumours line-up? Or an essential chapter in the Fleetwood Mac story...
Sam Richards

The deluxe edition of Mirage is out on September 23rd on Warner Brothers
Mirage (Deluxe) (3CD/1LP/1DVD-Audio)


Propella22 said...

...No mention of Straight Back?? ..THE BEST SONG on the album after Gypsy!!!

Alan said...

Have the VHS of the L.A. gig . Brilliant !

THG said...

the 8-minute Sisters of the Moon - does anybody know whether it is the "cut" version from the Mirage Video (before "so we make our choices..." there is IMHO definitely a break) or the real uncut version from the concert ???

Anonymous said...

I agree,Straight Back is one of my all time favorites. Too bad there's no demo of it though.

Tom Bosway said...

Does anyone else realize or believe me that on the original L.P. there were two different versions of Straight Back? There was no way of knowing, no demarcation whatsoever, but some albums had one version and some had the other! I Swear! I have both of them! And they truly are different. So far, I have never met anyone else who has been aware of this. Is there anybody out there?

Anonymous said...

I also agree that Straight Back is one of the best songs on the album. Why is no one talking about it?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree too.. that Straight Back is the second best song after Gypsy. Do not understand why the band does not recognise that or is that because they don’t like Stevie’s songs?? Who is making the decisions about what got put on the expanded reissue, is it the band or the record company? Way too many versions of Lindsey’s songs that we don’t need to hear over and over again!!

Brian said...

this could be some of the reason why Stevie is not on board with a new album and contributing to it, sick of that kind of stuff that goes on.

anonymous said...

Yes! I also had the 2 versions of Straight Back! I believe the first wave of records released lacked the guitar solo attributed to Ray Lindsay - the only time I'm aware of on an FM record when a session musician (also Lindsey's right arm) got a solo!

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