It had been almost three years since Fleetwood Mac released their last studio album and a year since its last tour ended. In the interim Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had begun to taste the solo waters.
The group traveled to Chateau d’Herouville, Herouville, France, to record their new album. Mirage was released during June of 1982. It would return the band to the top of the American charts for a five-week stay.
Mirage was a return to the slick California pop sound of Rumours rather than the overall experimental nature of Tusk. While it may not have reached the rarefied atmosphere of Rumours, it did have some very strong points. Songs such as “Gypsy” and “Love In Store” had a pop sheen to them and became hit singles. The harmonies were in place and the album had an overall wide appeal to it.
It is Stevie Nicks who really shines on the album. “Gypsy” is classic Nicks and has a beauty to it. The song is a sophisticated and well crafted pop classic. Also of note was the elaborate video that was produced for it.
“That’s Alright” was written back in 1974 during her Buckingham-Nicks days. It has close to a country feel, with background vocals by Buckingham that blend well with Nicks' lead singing. “Straight Back” was written in 1981 by Nicks and was a song about a relationship ending.
Christine McVie’s contributions are only a step behind. “Love In Store” is the album's first track and established its style, as it was a catchy pop tune. “Hold Me” was another catchy outing, as she combines vocally with Buckingham.
“Wish You Were Here” closes the album on a positive note. McVie's only miss was “Only Over You,” which was one of the most average songs of her career.
Lindsey Buckingham struggles here and there, plus takes some chances which veer a little from the group's modern day pop sound. “Book Of Love” and “Oh Diane” have an experimental nature to them which don’t make them bad but do make them different.
“Can’t Go Back” is Buckingham's best track, as the sound just washes over you. On the other hand, “Eyes Of The World” is average and “Empire State” less so.
Mirage may not be Fleetwood Mac's best album, but there are still a number of high points. While Tusk has grown on me over the years and Rumours has increased in brilliance, Mirage has remained the same. It is not an essential Fleetwood Mac release but it is pleasant, which probably defines its legacy.