However, the album was destined to only appear as a bootleg and lay gathering dust for many years. Now the Esoteric label has finally made it available, in re-mastered format, some 35 years after the sessions were recorded.
Mirage opens with “Dragon Lady” a powerful track of drug addiction amongst young soldiers facing the horrors of conflict in Vietnam. The funky “Jim Crow” leads to “Ghetto Child” a track that delves into the continuing struggle for equality inside black America, a struggle that was being carried onto the front line in a seemingly endless war.
The 'down on the street' blues of “Mind Arc” come complete with wailing police sirens. Meanwhile, “River Of Blood” remains a tough, and rough gem amongst the Burdon catalogue.
Perhaps the most fascinating track, and one of great interest to all fans of rock music’s hierarchy, has to be the title track itself. “Mirage” has lyrics reportedly written along with his friend Jimi Hendrix on the night that the legendary guitarist died and because of this its value hardly needs emphasising.
Sadly, what we have here is the rough form of this idea but one that was clearly worth further development had the chance remained.
The overall highlight has to be “Driftin’/Geronimo’s Last Stand”. It leaves you contemplating just what could have been had the film and its soundtrack actually been completed.
The remastered re-release comes with informative album notes by Esoteric’s Mark Powell that include some excellent photographs including a signed one of Burdon alongside Jimi Hendrix.
Despite the extensive passage of time Mirage remains powerful, sometimes abrasive, eccentric, disjointed, unfinished, and yet is still somewhat compulsive listening. The tracks are suitably unpolished in a way highlighting the reality of the heavy and all too relevant subject matter.
As with anything Eric Burdon has done during his remarkable career he met that subject matter head on and in uncompromising and fearless style. This is of interest to rock historians, collectors of unearthed gems, and of course the many admirers of Eric Burdon himself.