July 25, 2016
The weakest album produced by the Rumours line-up? Or an essential chapter in the Fleetwood Mac story…
By the end of the Tusk world tour in August 1980, Fleetwood Mac were in meltdown. The separate limos were just one example of the lengths to which they would go to avoid each others’ company. Ironically, it was that very extravagance – and, perhaps, a sense of loyalty to their bearded leader Mick Fleetwood – that forced them back together less than a year later to begin work on a new album that would placate the accountants still counting the cost of giant inflatable penguins and hotel suites furnished with white pianos.
With Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in the process of launching ambitious solo careers, it was inconceivable that they would reserve their best songs for Mirage. Christine McVie recently confessed to Uncut that the album lacked passion, while Buckingham admitted he was “treading water”. And yet the fact that its principals had one eye elsewhere only seems to enhance Mirage’s flimsy, diaphanous charm.
Nicks’ response at being cajoled back into the studio with two of her ex-lovers was to retreat, profitably, into nostalgia. “Gypsy” wistfully invokes her pre-fame existence of second-hand lace and mattresses on the floor, creating a powerful affirmation of the Nicks brand. The melody may be slight but it’s kept airborne by some classic Mac magic: sighed harmonies, a chiming riff and Nicks’ stunning vocals contoured by a decade of arena tours and emotional turmoil. Continue reading