Saturday, November 06, 2010

Mirage (1982)

A sentimental favorite, perhaps, if only because my first assignment as a music journalist (a career more or less abandoned 15 years ago) was a review of the Twin Cities concert in 1982 in support of this album. It's clearly all a bit pro forma, harking back to the vein of the big mega-success albums of the '70s and reined in considerably from their experiments with Tusk, often characterized, fairly and otherwise, as bloated. There's a formula and they appear to be comfortable with it by this point: three songwriters, three styles, solid rhythm section. And say what you will that formula worked again, producing a double platinum album that spawned three hits, one of them (Christine McVie's "Hold Me") a #4. In spite of my misgivings about Stevie Nicks her song "Gypsy" is my favorite here (yes, title notwithstanding), even as it inscrutably name-checks the Velvet Underground (albeit lowercase, so I don't know what's going on actually, but I'll just chalk that up here and now to the typically gauzy Nicks). Lindsey Buckingham, arguably the person most responsible for Tusk, appears to be dominating still, with five of the 12 songs and his uniquely squirrelly, affecting guitar all over the place. Christine McVie comes next with four songs, and finally Nicks with three—two of the worst and the one best, which should not surprise anyone paying attention to the band and her antics. What can I say? I don't know that it was their last good album, because I had stopped paying attention by the time the next one came out five years later, but I know it's a good one. Worthy. That is, setting aside any bias I may have in favor of it. I do remember groaning when I got the assignment, followed by the pleasant surprise when I started playing this, followed by a certain defensiveness about it that I have clung to ever since. I also learned a valuable lesson about getting into a show, as my clearance was bollixed up (not unusual in these circles, believe me) and basically had to stand on a table and shout to get in, in the process missing the opener, Men at Work. The show was by the numbers, as I recall, but this album? Fine. Just fine.


  1. The velvet underground is not a reference to the band, but a vintage clothing store, when Stevie lived in San Francisco before moving to LA and joining Fleetwood Mac. The next lines about the floor that she loves and some lace and paper flowers, is a reference to that same time period as well, living in a tiny room with nothing but a mattress on the floor.

  2. Interesting! Thanks for your comment.