For fans craving something fresh on the concert stage, Stevie Nicks’ new 24 Karat Gold Tour is truly golden.
She rehearsed 30 songs with her band to come up with the 20 that made the cut for the tour, which comes to Sunrise’s BB&T Center on Nov. 4 with opening act The Pretenders. Her goal was to include tunes she has never (or rarely) done live in a career that dates to the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album with then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham.
Rarities like “Bella Donna” and “Wild Heart,” the title tracks of her first two solo albums that are also being reissued in expanded versions Friday, are in the set. So is “Crying in the Night” from Buckingham Nicks that predates the couple joining Fleetwood Mac.
Fans will also appreciate the live debuts for a couple of tracks from her most recent solo album, 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault — “The sex, drugs, rock and roll glory songs between 1969 and 1987,” Nicks said of demos she polished and recorded anew in Nashville in 2014.
“I can never write those songs again. Those were songs I am very proud of. I pulled them off Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac records. The reasons were I didn’t like the production or I didn’t like the way they were recorded. I considered those to be my best songs so what I am going to do is go out with those songs and songs off In Your Dreams [her 2011 solo album] I didn’t do live, and it will be really fun.”
Such familiar hits as “Stand Back,” “Edge of Seventeen” and “Rhiannon” still figure in the set. The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde steps in to sing Tom Petty’s part on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” The show even opens with a rocking outtake from 1981’s “Bella Donna” — “Gold and Braid” — which Nicks hasn’t performed live since 2000.
After more than a year on the road with Fleetwood Mac on a worldwide reunion tour that grossed almost $200 million in the U.S., Nicks has been promising a radical departure from the same old for this tour and a late 2017 return with the Mac.
“Maybe when Fleetwood Mac does our last tour, maybe if I have anything to say about it, we’ll definitely go through the catalog and do a very different set. People have heard the set we’ve had to do all these years. Now they deserve to hear all the great stuff through all of these records,” she said. “I will put my foot down. I’m not going back on the road to do the same things we did on those 220 shows.”
The September release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album, Mirage, as an expanded boxed set and the Bella Donna and Wild Heart reissues have put Nicks in a reflective mood. (The group’s 1987 album, Tango in the Night is also forthcoming in deluxe fashion.)
The outtakes discs from Mirage and Bella Donna include versions of “If You Were My Love,” a song re-recorded for “24 Karat Gold” that she’s premiering live on the tour.
Meantime, the other members of Fleetwood Mac have recorded new songs and want to release a studio album, but Nicks is reluctant to participate. Listening to such classic tracks as “Gypsy” from the Mirage sessions hasn’t quite convinced her to go back into the studio with the others.
“When you listen to that song you wish Fleetwood Mac could make those kinds of records now, but it’s just not possible,” Nicks said. “It was such a different world then, and everything was done so differently and everyone was more on the same page. As the years went by, not really everybody, but mostly Lindsey and I, just went such different ways. It’s really hard to come back together.”
Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders perform at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise. Tickets: $45.25-$320. Ticketmaster.
The singer on the band’s half-finished album, the visitation she had when writing Songbird, and growing up with a psychic mum
Hi, Christine. What was it like growing up with the surname Perfect (1)?
It was difficult. Teachers would say: “I hope you live up to your name, Christine.” So, yes, it was tough. I used to joke that I was perfect until I married John.
Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage is being reissued as a box set for £50 (2). Does that seem like a fair price?
It’s a really nice item! It’s quality, isn’t it? It’s good value for money – you’ve got a lot of outtakes, a lot of previously unheard demo versions of songs, you’ve got the vinyl … a CD, I believe, is in there? I mean it’s a nice package! I haven’t had a good look at it, but the label has given me one to take home. I get a free one!
Have you listened to the demos and outtakes?
No. I’m not a big fan of those things. I know people are interested but for my own personal enjoyment I prefer not to listen to them. My songwriting, when I’m writing, is nothing like it is in its finished form – but you have to start somewhere.
Is the new album finished?
No, it’s half-finished. It’s just seven tracks that we’ve got, and they’re only with guide vocals.
I’m sure I saw a news story about two years ago saying it was half-finished?
Well … Yeah.
Is it the same half?
It is the same half. We’ve been doing a world tour! I’m going back in October to try and finish it. If it’s not finished by Christmas then I’ll go back after and finish it then. We do things in a weird way, I guess.
What’s your favourite of those new songs?
I don’t think we’ve given titles yet.
Would you like to now?
Er, no. I don’t think we’re supposed to. But I like them all, and that’s not a lie. We have a fantastic variety of songs and I’m very, very pleased with what’s happened so far.
Can we talk about Songbird? (3)
Yes, of course.
JESUS CHRIST, WHAT A SONG.
That was a strange little baby, that one. I woke up in the middle of the night and the song just came into my head. I got out of bed, played it on the little piano I have in my room, and sang it with no tape recorder. I sang it from beginning to end: everything. I can’t tell you quite how I felt; it was as if I’d been visited – it was a very spiritual thing. I was frightened to play it again in case I’d forgotten it. I called a producer first thing the next day and said, “I’ve got to put this song down right now.” I played it nervously, but I remembered it. Everyone just sat there and stared at me. I think they were all smoking opium or something in the control room (4). I’ve never had that happen to me since. Just the one visitation. It’s weird.
Have you inherited any of your mother’s psychic abilities?
Well, I believe they were real. She was a healer. I just wanted her to be an ordinary mum, so the less I knew of that side the better, but here’s a story I can tell you. There was an old friend of my dad’s, in Newcastle – this rich old lady who lived in a run-down castle. She had terminal cancer. She sent a pair of her kid gloves to my mother, who wore one during the night, and a couple of weeks later there was a phone call: the doctors were amazed that all the cancer was completely gone.
Did you psychically predict that I would ask you a couple of questions about your reissue before attempting to get information about the new album?
Aha! I did notice you sneaking those in. I was thinking, What’s he talking about? We’re supposed to be talking about – what’s it called? – Mirage.
It’s exciting when a band gets back together, though. Especially when elsewhere in pop you’ve got Abba, whose refusal to get on with it is bordering on trolling.
Why wouldn’t they get back together? I suppose they made all the money in the world – I mean, we’re not doing it for the money either – but I don’t know. Maybe the need for each other is not there. You see, I still think there’s a certain need for each other in our band. In a strange way. We’re umbilically tied together, somehow. Without one of us, we’re incomplete.
What’s your No 1 piece of house renovation advice? (5)
Well, I didn’t do it personally, but I oversaw it. It was a very old house; the beams had to be stripped. It’s subjective. Keep the wood beautiful, I suppose, but there’s so much I could say. That’s the worst question you could possibly ask.
Well, let’s see, shall we? Have you ever been missold PPI?
I just press delete on those texts.
You could have £20,000 sitting around!
I don’t believe any of those things. Anyone I don’t know, in my emails or texts, I just delete. If it’s someone legitimate they’ll send it again.
What are your favourite apps?
[Whips out iPhone in garishly decorated protective case] WhatsApp I adore. I use it all the time with my friends. I’ve got thousands of apps, and most of them I never use. Look at this! [Flicks though terrifying number of apps]
That’s quite an iPhone case, Christine. Did you stick those jewels on yourself?
It’s Dolce & Gabbana, dear!
It’s slightly alarming that you haven’t put any of your apps in folders.
Oh, I don’t do that. You’re talking to a complete phone moron. As long as I can make a phone call and do a WhatsApp, I’m fine. Oh, and I use it to learn a bit of Italian.
Would you like to conclude this interview in Italian?
Ciao, arrivederci. A presto!
(1) When still called Christine Perfect, Christine released an album called Christine Perfect. In 1984, as Christine McVie, she released an album called Christine McVie.
(2) Mirage was Fleetwood Mac’s 13th album. Released in 1982, it was seen as a return to poppier territory after the slightly-all-over-the-place Tusk. The remastered version – in expanded and deluxe editions – is out now on Rhino.
(3) Songbird was originally released as the B-side to Dreams, in 1977. Eva Cassidy had a bash at it a couple of decades later.
(4) Famous opium fans include word enthusiast Samuel Johnson, Piano Concerto No 2 In F Minor hitmaker Frederic Chopin, and US bigwig Thomas Jefferson, who used it to control diarrhoea.
(5) During her 16 years away from Fleetwood Mac, Christine renovated a massive, subsequently flogged Kent property. She now lives in London.
Peter Robinson / The Guardian (UK) / Thursday, October 6, 2016
Christine McVie on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘peculiar’ Mirage Sessions, new LP — as the singer-songwriter looks back on heady days at Château d’Hérouville, discusses band’s future plans
Christine McVie has a confession to make. The 73-year-old singer, songwriter and keyboardist is on the phone with Rolling Stone to discuss the new deluxe reissue of Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 effort, Mirage; but, she admits, she hasn’t actually listened to it yet. “I just now got my copy of the remastered edition in my hands,” McVie says, calling from her home in the U.K. “But I just moved to a flat where I don’t have my DVD or CD player yet. So I’m unable to play it. And there’s all these outtakes and demos and things in there that I certainly haven’t heard since we made them. So I’m most curious to listen.”
Indeed, the new package is a treasure trove for Mac completists (and, apparently, band members). In addition to presenting the original 12-track album – which spent five weeks at Number One and spawned two of the group’s biggest and enduring hits in McVie’s “Hold Me” and Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy” – in remastered form, the three-CD and DVD set offers up a disc of B sides, titled “Outtakes and Sessions,” as well as a live collection culled from two nights at the L.A. Forum in October 1982 on the Mirage tour. The whole thing is rounded out by a vinyl copy of the album and a DVD in 5.1 surround sound, as well as a booklet with extensive liner notes and photos from the era.
An impressive package, to be sure, and one that is perhaps necessary for an album that, for all its multi-platinum success, never quite gets its due, having been overshadowed in the band’s canon by the career-defining trio of records that preceded it – 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, 1977’s mega-smash Rumours and 1979’s sonically adventurous double album Tusk. In an earlier interview with Rolling Stone, drummer Mick Fleetwood acknowledged that, in such imposing company, Mirage often gets overlooked – a notion that McVie seems to agree with. “It does, and I don’t know why,” she says. But, she adds, “As it stands today, a lot of people know every track on it. Which is quite unbelievable. So I just take it for what it is.”
McVie spent some time reminiscing about the album with RS, from the “unusual” experience of recording at the Château d’Hérouville outside of Paris, to the “nightmare” of filming the video for her song “Hold Me” in the Mojave Desert outside of Palm Springs. But she wasn’t only looking backward. McVie also discussed Fleetwood Mac’s plans for the future, which may include a new album and another world tour. “We’re just gonna keep on doing what we do best,” she said, then laughed. “Which, I’m not really sure what that is!”
What was the state of Fleetwood Mac going into the making of Mirage?
I suppose we all felt in a way that what we were doing was kind of an homage to Rumours, in the sense that, obviously, after Rumours we went completely the opposite way and made a double album of an entirely different nature with Tusk. And for Tusk we had done this hugely long tour. Two world tours, I believe. Then we all disappeared for a few years. But we have a habit of doing that, Fleetwood Mac. Just kind of taking quite long hiatuses. And as we got together again, I think it was Mick who had this idea that perhaps we should enter another bubble-like situation, which was similar to what we had done for the Rumours album, when we recorded in Sausalito. Just taking us away from familiar things, like our families. There was the idea that maybe something would emerge from there that was completely different. Maybe it would make us more creative. And I think it worked, to an extent. It was definitely an unusual experience.
Rather than Sausalito, for Mirage you went to France. Do you recall anything particular about recording at the Château d’Hérouville?
Well, I don’t think any of us remember a huge amount about it! But I don’t remember there being anything bad about it, how about that [laughs]?
That’s a good thing.
Yes. But, I mean, my recollections in general are of thinking, What a peculiar, odd place to be going. …
It was extremely odd in the sense that it wasn’t really a studio. It really was a rather beaten-up old castle. We were living in it, and then there was another area that was made to be a studio. And there were wine cellars underneath, which I believe we used as echo chambers. So it was unusual, but it also provided a “come-together” sort of moment. Because we really had no options to do anything else. In Sausalito, at least you were close to restaurants, clubs, whatever. But at the chateau, you were just there. We had the table tennis out, we had some radio-controlled helicopters, we had food cooked for us every night on the premises. … I don’t know, it was like some weird, manic kind of resort or something. But I think we got on really well during the making of the record. The actual recording part of it, there were no particular spats I can think of. And some of the tracks are really good.
One of your tracks, “Hold Me,” became the lead single off Mirage, and it was also a big hit. What do you recall about writing it?
I’d co-written it with a friend of mine, Robbie Patton. And when we first recorded it, it was only semi-finished, really. But everybody liked it so we thought, Well, we’ll lay something down on tape and get the bones of it. What we put down was very basic – there were huge chunks that had nothing in them. And then we just built it up in sections.
In the demo version of the song that appears on the second disc of the Mirage deluxe package, you perform the vocal alone. But the final version of “Hold Me” is more of a duet between you and Lindsey [Buckingham]. How did that change come about?
I think some of these things just happen organically. I don’t think it was a plan. But I do know that when I wrote the song with Robbie, he was also a singer, and he was always singing a lower part. And so at some point it became obvious to me that Lindsey would eventually do it.
Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Yes, well, I think “Gypsy” stands out clearly as the best track on the album. Without a doubt.
Why do you feel that way?
I just think the whole song came together in a very cohesive way. It’s very musical. Very melodic. All the parts are right. It’s just a very beautiful record. And, of course, that video – I know the record company spent a lot of money on it.
Reportedly it had the biggest budget of any music video produced up to that point.
Yeah. And it’s one of my favorite videos of all time. And I don’t mean just of Fleetwood Mac’s.
What do you recall of shooting the video for “Hold Me”?
“Hold Me” was a nightmare! It was the middle of the desert in Palm Springs, in the height of summer. I don’t know what possessed us to do that. But we sometimes do crazy things [laughs].
Did it feel unnatural that you were doing it at all? MTV, and the idea of music video being a promotional tool, was a very new concept at the time.
I’m sure we were a bit uneasy with doing it. To some extent, I’ve always felt that the music should be the thing that creates the emotion in you, rather than a video. There are so many songs that have become massive hits merely because the video is great, while the song is pretty rubbish. From that point of view I think I’ve always preferred to listen to a song rather than look at it. So it was a bit difficult.
The directors of both the “Gypsy” and “Hold Me” videos have stated that they encountered some difficulties trying to navigate the thorny romantic relationships between band members at the time. Do you recall as much?
[Laughs] Well, of course! I’m sure it oozes out over the screen when you watch some of the scenes. Yeah, for sure. And I’d be the first one to admit that none of us were stone-cold sober. There was a fair degree of alcohol and drugs going on. But everyone was doing it, so it was kind of the norm.
“I’d be the first one to admit that none of us were stone-cold sober. There was a fair degree of alcohol and drugs going on.”
In contrast to the long tour behind Tusk, the Mirage tour was relatively brief – just two months in the fall of 1982. Was there a reason for such an abbreviated run?
I don’t know why that was. Maybe Stevie was going off to do a tour. I can’t remember if Lindsey had a tour. But it was short, and then we did another vanishing act for another couple years before we came back and did Tango in the Night.
More recently, you took some time away from Fleetwood Mac, before returning in 2014 for a world tour. What is the future of the band at this point?
Well, we cut seven songs in the studio already for the start of a brand-new studio album. Which we did probably nearer two years ago. We shelved that temporarily and then went on the road and did the tour. And now, actually, I think we’re going back in in October to try to finish it off. Stevie hasn’t participated yet, but hope springs eternal. She’s going on a solo tour at the moment. But Lindsey and I, we have plenty of songs. There are tons more in the bag that we have yet to record. And they’re fantastic. So we’re going to carry on and try to finish the record. And then maybe if Stevie doesn’t want to be part of that then we can go out and just do some smaller concerts.
You would consider doing some shows with just you, Lindsey, Mick and John [McVie]?
As a four-piece, yeah. With a view of doing a huge world tour after that, with Stevie.
And would you expect that we’ll see this new album in 2017?
One would hope so, yeah. That’s the plan. And I can’t wait for it to be finished. It’ll be great. And then we’ll hopefully do this world tour with Stevie. And after that, who knows? But we’re all still alive, how about that? So that’s a start.
If ever there was a case of the media building up and then knocking down a band, it was the one involving Fleetwood Mac in the late-’70s and early-’80s. The critics cheered when the group—newly energized by the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks—delivered its chart-topping eponymous album in 1975 and the even better Rumours a year later.
But many of those same critics spoke less kindly of the follow-up to Rumours, 1979’s Tusk. According to them, it eschewed commercialism in favor of self-indulgent experimentation, though major experimentation was in fact largely limited to the excellent title cut. Then, when the group reverted to fully accessible form on its next studio album, 1982’s Mirage, reviewers griped that the band was going backwards; never mind that this radio-friendly LP delivered exactly what the critics claimed was missing in its predecessor.
Well, as I noted last year, Tusk ranks among the most underrated albums of the rock era. But Mirage—which Fleetwood Mac’s members recorded in France after pursuing solo projects—is arguably even more underrated. …
Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild reflects on Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage and gets the band members to share memories of the classic 1982 recording at a ‘haunted’ French chateau
Listen closely now to Mirage — the lovely album Fleetwood Mac first released in the summer of 1982 — and you can still hear the gorgeous sound of one of the greatest bands in all of rock history making the group decision to move forward by willfully and artfully retracing its own steps.
For some, Mirage may have looked like a step in the wrong direction — a big yet graceful move backwards. For others, the album seemed more like Fleetwood Mac’s beautiful return to Rumours form. In truth, Mirage appears to have been the conscious and, in many ways, successful effort of the band to look back to the future after taking the brilliant and brave left turn that was the group’s previous studio effort — 1979’s then-controversial, but now acclaimed Tusk.
Yet by any fair standard the group’s collective decision to change course back in the early Eighties was an understandable and, perhaps, commercially advisable move. And taken on its own slightly more conservative terms Mirage remains an impressive and often stunning piece of work reflecting many of the strengths that we have come to know and love from Fleetwood Mac. Take another listen and look back at Mirage today and you will find that, despite its hazy title, this album was not some grand illusion that eventually disappeared into thin air. Instead, Mirage is a well crafted and, at times, truly-inspired song cycle that only appears to grow more vivid all these years later.
As the great scientist, mathematician and very early rock critic Sir Isaac Newton once famously explained; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And in the ongoing successful musical experiment known as Fleetwood Mac, the action of creating the more experimental and expansive 1979 album Tusk ultimately led to the equal and opposition reaction of this next studio album, Mirage. On the double album Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham had rather daringly led Fleetwood Mac in a series of intriguing and fresh new directions with some of the album’s twists and turns reflecting the many changes that were then afoot in music work back in the wake of the Punk and New Wave movements. Though now widely considered an influential rock masterpiece, Tusk was in many ways ahead of its time, especially for a much-anticipated album by a group of mainstream Seventies rock superstars. Perhaps as a result, Tusk was — if only in relative terms compared to the historic runaway success of Rumours — considered a significant commercial disappointment.
Mirage remains an impressive and often stunning piece of work reflecting many of the strengths that we have come to know and love from Fleetwood Mac.
And so it came to pass that after the band’s worldwide tour in support of Tusk concluded on September 1, 1980 at the Hollywood Bowl and some of the group members took some time off to start their solo careers, Fleetwood Mac ultimately reconvened outside Paris to record its next studio effort at Chateau d’Heroville, an estate and recording facility perhaps made most famous by Elton John, who famously dubbed the 1972 album he recorded there Honky Chateau. By the time the band began to gather at the Chateau in late 1981, the prime directive had become clear. In an effort to recapture a little of the magic of Rumours, founding member Mick Fleetwood in his managerial capacity strongly suggested the band get away from all distractions in Los Angeles — something the group had done back when they had recorded Rumours in Sausalito in an effort to create more of a group effort that played to some of the group’s more obvious strengths.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group’s resident studio genius Lindsey Buckingham felt considerable ambivalence about being asked to take a step in what felt like the wrong — or at least more predictable — direction. Revealingly, Buckingham’s first composition on the album — and the second track following Christine’s McVie’s lovely and buoyant “Love in Store” — would be a haunting little gem entitled “Can’t Go Back,” in which Buckingham seems to express some of his decidedly mixed emotions.
“Standin’ in the shadows,” Buckingham sings at the beginning of the song. “The man I used to be. I want to go back” before being answered by a multi-tracked chorus of male and females voices declaring, “Can’t go back.”
Yet in a way going back to the formula that had made Fleetwood Mac such a tremendous success story was the mission statement for Mirage — which perhaps helps explain the many references to both going and looking back spread throughout the album, including in Stevie Nicks’ song called “Straight Back” as well as her characteristically poetic references to going “back to the Velvet Underground” and “back to the Gypsy” in the towering Fleetwood Mac song on Mirage, “Gypsy.”
Even Christine McVie’s big first hit single from the album “Hold Me” includes the memorable lines, “there’s no one in the future / So why don’t you let me hand you my love?” It was as if by looking back and holding on close to each other in close quarters might be the only way for Fleetwood Mac to keep their famous chain together as they continued to figure out their place in the “Eyes of the World,” to borrow another phrase from the Buckingham song that closed the album. (Editor’s note: “Wish You Were Here” actually closes the album.)
Looking back today Lindsey Buckingham recalls, “It was hard to know where to go at that moment when you had just gone somewhere in one direction that felt right — then to have to sort of reel it back in a more forced way felt difficult. But I understood that I was the only one member of the group so what was I going to do? And back then Mick used to have these broad-strokes ideas and I think that going to France was an attempt to recreate an environment that was exotic and away from home as we had with Rumours in Sausalito. I think Mick’s idea was to get us out of our particular ruts we might have been in to create something people might like. The attempt to create that kind of spontaneity, to me, spoke of the fact that he was trying to create a moment in time that had come and gone, but I tried to do what I could.”
Looking back now, Mick Fleetwood says that he understands more deeply Buckingham’s concerns. ” I think Mirage was more preconceived as a kind of band record organically representing where we left off with Rumours,” Fleetwood explains. “So in retrospect, it wasn’t as daring an album as Tusk which understandably would leave Lindsey with some trepidation. Tusk has become a much more iconic album as the years trickle by and that is a testament to where Lindsey led us. But Tusk also became a sort of cross to bear. It sort of confused some listeners which in a way was exactly what Lindsey was intending to do.”
“But Mirage has its own merits artistically. And in truth, part of the notion of doing Mirage in France came from the band helping me out by being there. I sort of managed to convince everyone, and in my mind, it was about the fact that when we made Rumours the sessions had the feeling of the band getting together away from home. I am sure I was trying to get that same sort of drama and sense of theater that had worked for us before. To me, it was a way to get the band away from the distractions of Los Angeles and have us make music with some sense of community because — whether we liked it or not — we were all in the same place again. That was how we made Rumours in Sausalito and I figured that had worked out pretty well.”
For Stevie Nicks, her memories of recording Mirage in France are mostly pleasant and picturesque ones. “When I think of Mirage now I think of living in a castle and visiting Paris,” Nicks says. “I think of white fishnet stockings, red high heels, and going to get my hair done and having five different hair dressers working on me. It’s like, who does that? Well, the French do thankfully. I also remember living in the Chateau, which was romantic, though I remember for some reason there was no ice. And they thought it might be haunted because there were strange sounds in there. So to me, the Mirage sessions were beautiful and insane. The place felt like the setting for an old-movie murder mystery and I do seem to remember there was one day when Jimmy Iovine — who I had been dating and came to visit me — did want to kill Lindsey, but somehow we all survived and the music lives on very nicely.”
Mick Fleetwood too arrived at the Chateau from work far, far away. “I came back from having made my first solo album The Visitor in Ghana, Africa, then spending some time working with the London Philharmonic to complete it. So me and our co-producer, Richard Dashut, turned up the night before recording Mirage high on that whole adventure. I remember the first thing I did was play Lindsey our version of “Walk a Thin Line” — which he had written and recorded for Tusk that I loved and re-recorded in Africa. Lindsey had made his own solo album Law and Order then and I remember sitting Lindsey down and playing him that song and that he was really moved hearing our crazy band from Africa doing one of his tracks.”
Fleetwood confesses that for him at least the craziness was not over. “I’m a nutcase so I love the drama, the theater, the sense of being in a place of such beauty and history. There was supposedly a ghost and I was of course a sucker for the company. And because I was a supernut in those days, I had my own automobile shipped out there and I would drive into Paris on the weekends and disappear and rave on so that no one had to witness my misbehavior.”
Thankfully, there were some stabilizing influences at the Chateau including the calming presence of Christine McVie. Nicks notes, “When Christine is around, the atmosphere is much better. Lindsey likes her a lot and recognizes her talent and doesn’t have any baggage with her. She’s sort of the Earth Mother who can speak truth to anybody. That’s always been her role. She’s not just a great voice — she’s the great voice of reason. She is able to make everyone come to their senses and get back to work. And she’s the kind of person who will say, ‘We’re not getting anywhere, I’m going to go home and cook.’ She doesn’t put up with much — and never has. She’s no nonsense — and we always have a lot of nonsense going on. But looking back it’s a beautiful piece of work with some songs I love. I do notice Lindsey has five songs, Christine has four and I have three. For me, “Gypsy” was my standout. Chris’s songs are always so great — she’s always been our true hitmaker as “Hold Me” proved again. I remember “Oh Diane” was a huge hit in Europe too — though we never do it [in concert]. On the other hand, “Eyes of the World” is a really choice song, and it’s one we have done onstage, like, every other tour.”
Buckingham agrees that “Gypsy” is a high water mark for his longstanding, if sometimes tense, collaboration with Stevie Nicks. “In spite of any reservations I might have about that time in our recording, “Gypsy” is and always has been one of my favorite things ever from Stevie. And for me, it is also the best thing I ever did for Stevie all in all in terms of helping her create the right musical landscape to frame a song. That song really speaks to her strengths — and to my strengths in terms of showcasing her strengths. And to me, like a lot of the best work of the band, the result is something greater than the sum of our parts.”
Exactly how much of the work on Mirage was ultimately done in France — and how much was recorded once the band returned to Los Angeles — remains a bit of a mystery to me, even after taking with the band at some length. “I don’t remember the lionshare of the work going on in France, but I’m not quite sure. So there’s the funny irony there. As a manager, Mick was worried about the economics of the business, yet he was willing to be extravagant. The man has style. But the truth is I’m not sure how much was impacted by us being there at the Chateau particularly. But the mood was cordial enough. You have to remember, so much other stuff had gone down within the band by then. I mean, the Fleetwood Mac album and Rumours were both done under a certain amount of duress just because of what was going on personally within the band, especially the two couples who were, shall we say, in transit. At least all of that had been resolved by the time of Mirage. For me, the only frustration was the sense that in some way feeling like I had been slightly put in the artistic penalty box.”
As Mick Fleetwood sees it now, “It’s fair to say that the push from me was getting more of a representation of the whole band — and perhaps more of what people who loved the band wanted. And I think we got that with Mirage and the album’s success suggests that too. But that said, Tusk is a my favorite Fleetwood Mac album along with Then Play On. Coming off Tusk, Mirage was a somewhat more conscious effort to return to that place we left after making Rumours. And in the end, however, we got there and wherever we did it, we got to a very good place with Mirage.”
Finally, Stevie Nicks wonders, “Did Lindsey remember how much we did when we left France and went back to L.A. because I sure don’t. My memory is that in L.A. we were in every single studio trying to get Mirage done. I can just tell you about our time in that castle and I was even a little late getting there. But I will never forget walking amid all the ghosts of all the famous people who had been there before us, and I remember there were no ice cubes — because it was hot and I needed ice. Other than that, it’s all a bit of a blur — a big beautiful blur.
In other words, a Mirage, one that has never really gone away.
The peacemaker of Fleetwood Mac on Mirage, Maui, and missing the buzz
theartsdesk meets Christine McVie on a sunny Friday afternoon in September; the Warner Brothers boardroom (with generous hospitality spread) is suitably palatial. We’re the first media interview of the day, so she’s bright and attentive. McVie was always the member of Fleetwood Mac who you’d want to adopt: the most approachably human member of a band constantly at war with itself. Readily admitting that she’s the “peacekeeper” in the band, the singer/songwriter behind such Mac classics as “Everywhere” and “You Make Loving Fun” is as sweet and serene as you’d hope she would be.
She’s here to promote the new deluxe remaster of 1982 album Mirage – the follow-up three years on to the somewhat deranged Tusk, which was recorded and released as Christine and John McVie, the band’s bassist, were divorcing. She quit the band in 1998 after the hugely successful live album The Dance, after which she started a fairly solitary life of her own in the English countryside for the best part of 16 years. The first four of those, she says, were simply spent working on the house. It was only therapy and the canny, persuasive hand of Mick Fleetwood that coaxed her into returning after a trip to Maui, Hawaii, where Mick lives close to John McVie, his lifelong partner-in-crime.
The former Christine Perfect had a severe fear of flying that she’s now completely beaten, and as we speak, it’s clear that she’s fairly perplexed about having left the fray for so long in the first place. So what was she doing in all that time exactly? “A lot of people ask me that question!” With a brand new album (their first since 2001’s Say You Will) and a new world tour in the planning stages, it’s clear that the Fleetwood Mac story still has several enthralling chapters ahead. Somewhere near Fleetwood’s on Front Street – Mick’s fancy restaurant in Maui – the drummer must be feeling pretty smug that the ragged band of brothers and sisters he founded are finally back together.
RALPH MOORE: What was the mood of the band post-Tusk?
CHRISTINE McVIE: I remember we did two huge world tours after Tusk. We drove ourselves into the ground physically, and obviously there was a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs, and that just about killed us all, so we took a lot of time off. There was a long time between Tusk and Mirage. Mick went to Ghana to make an album called The Visitor and Stevie [Nicks] made Bella Donna, which was a huge hit for her.
But I think maybe we were under contract so had to make a record at that time, so Mick tried to recreate a similar bubble to Rumours where we were away from our homes, and that’s how that started. The mood? I was quite looking forward to it. We recorded at Honky Château [the infamous Chateau d’Herouville, located 20 miles north of Paris in the Val d’Oise]. There was a big piano there that Elton John had left there, so that was great. I seem to remember we did a lot of mucking around, playing table tennis. The guys from the French Open came down to visit us and John McEnroe also came down – I think I actually beat him at table tennis one night! It was a funny time. I don’t remember any particular animosity. I’m sure we were under contract to do another record so that was the basis of it. And from that, from little acorns the oak tree grew and it turned into a much nicer experience with some really good songs on it.
You returned to the band in 2014: had the dynamic changed?
Well, I just couldn’t believe that 16 years had actually passed. I mean, quite literally, from the moment I stepped on stage in Dublin to rehearse “Don’t Stop” I knew: the eye contact with all the band members, it was like going home. Truthfully. And they felt the same about me. The circle was complete. Had anything changed? Only technically. Vibe wise, I had Mick looking at me through his cymbals, but there was always that gap there on the stage when I left – they hadn’t filled it up with anyone else. That gap when they were touring without me was there every night. It was such a great feeling.
Is it fair to say that you’re the peacekeeper in the band?
I know Stevie always calls me Mother Earth, so possibly! How do I put this…. I have always been the most sane one of the lot, more down to earth, but I think John’s probably even more down to earth now. Peacekeeper? Yeah, I like that title. I do tend to meander around in the cracks! And do I have to be a peacekeeper now? Only occasionally. You always get moments with Stevie and Lindsey [Buckingham], that’s part of their make-up – they are each other’s muses and they have not been together for years, but they have this love/hate thing that they’ll always have and someone has to gently insinuate in the middle.
But Stevie and I are really good friends, in fact I think we’re better friends now than we were 16 years ago. And it’s a fact, when it’s the Buckingham/Nicks show backed by John and Mick, that’s going to cause a lot of tension and stress. But with me in there, it gave Stevie the chance to get her breath back and not have this constant thing going on with Lindsey: her sister was back.
Is it fair to say that Fleetwood Mac is a democracy, but driven for the most part by Mick?
Yes, but you’ve got to have a degree of flexibility. We’re very democratic. If one person is outvoted, you go with it. Mick always says, I’m a drummer, I can’t just sit in a room and play drums, I need a band. So in Maui, he has his own little band and when Fleetwood Mac’s not touring, he plays with them. It keeps him busy.
In the 16 years interim, what were you doing and did you see the band much?
I didn’t see them very much. First of all, I never flew anywhere. I saw them at Earl’s Court a few years back and sat at the sound board and that was a weird feeling. But I had no sense at that time of wanting to rejoin and at that time it was a relief – but I didn’t realise what pleasure I was missing until more recent days when I made the phone call to Mick and asked, “What would be it be like if I came back?” Fortunately Stevie was dying for me to come back, as were the rest of the band. Lindsey didn’t believe it would ever happen, but when I walked back onstage he did and they were delirious.
But when I first left, I was married at that point and spent four years restoring the house, a big rambling place with gardens – it was quite a project. But I didn’t write very much and the marriage didn’t work out, and I started to find I was twiddling my thumbs in this huge place, bouncing off the walls. So I thought that I’d do a little solo project. I got together with my nephew who’s a good musician and quite handy with ProTools and I thought, I’ll do a little record because I can’t fly, and I don’t want to tour, so we did that in my garage. And that took a couple of years, because we didn’t have a pressing need to finish it.
And then I sunk into isolation and got in a bit of trouble and sought help, and that was when I called Mick. It was healing and cathartic going back into the band. I missed all that buzz. I was also deluded about some idea of being the country lady with dogs, a Range Rover and Hunter boots, going for long walks, all that. Baking cakes in my Aga. It was not what I wanted in the end.
How did you overcome the fear of flying?
I was starting to realise that I was trapped in England unless I went by train or boat – and that I will never be able to see the world. So I went to a therapist and said, “I have to be able to get on a plane.” And he said, “Where would you most like to go?” And I said, “Maui!” And he said, “Buy a first-class ticket. Don’t get on – you have the ticket, that’s the starting point.” And as serendipity would have it Mick said, “I am coming to London” and I said, “I have a ticket to Maui!” So he said “Stay there! And we’ll go back together.”
So I went back with Mick to Maui and didn’t even feel the plane taking off, that’s how unafraid I was. I had some pretty good therapy, and I love flying now! And I did some songs with his little band there, and that was the start of it all. It’s the best thing we could have ever done. In many ways, I think we sound better and the audience reaction is better than even it was before. It’s unprecedented in rock ‘n’ roll that someone should leave and rejoin 16 years on and all five of us are still alive and healthy – touch wood and whistle.
Let’s talk about the new album.
I love every single track we’ve done, bar none. This’s something to me that is really special. Stevie hasn’t come in on it yet because she’s been busy doing something else. Last year, I was in there with Mick and Lindsey and John – John’s healing very nicely now – and nearly completed seven tracks and they’re magic. Seriously, no padding! I’m going to go over again in October to work on it. Stevie’s on tour but we’ve got until next year to finish it because we’re planning a world tour again, for the summer of ’17. I don’t know if I’m privy to give song titles yet, but Lindsey and I have practically co-written everything. Getting the band all together is like herding sheep: to get all five of us in a room is nigh-on impossible. And then somebody will wander out. But it does happen.
Mirage is still a pretty eccentric record when you listen to it. And what’s great is Fleetwood Mac is now a genuine, cross-generational experience.
The generation gap is phenomenal! Kids are going, “We’d better see them before one of them dies!” The songs endure. I have lots of friends with growing children, even 12- and 11-year-olds and some of them are avid listeners, they carry Rumours on their iPods! Tango is a favourite and Tusk is a favourite of some the weird 14-year-old boys. The demographic is remarkable.
And you still have the potential to play Glastonbury again.
Yes. I think we have been asked but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened, I don’t know for what reason. Would I love to do it? Love’s a strong word! I wouldn’t mind – so long as we could helicopter in and helicopter out!
Let’s end by returning to Mirage – where does it sit in the Mac canon for you?
If I have to be really truthful, it’s not catalogued as my favourite but on it are some great songs and some really good memories and it harkens in a vague sense not to the soul of Rumours but to more commercial roots after Tusk, which was the antithesis of commercial. On Mirage we made an effort to have a few more catchy songs. But it’s still a pretty eccentric record when you listen to it. It’s nuts!
The deluxe edition of Mirage is out on September 23rd on Warner Brothers.
Ralph Moore / theartsdesk (UK) / Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Mick Fleetwood talks to Rolling Stone about the band’s ‘overlooked’ smash Mirage
Ahead of new reissue, drummer Mick Fleetwood talks “wild and romantic” France sessions, opulent video shoots, and more
“I don’t think it would be wrong to say it sort of got overlooked,” says Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, reminiscing about his band’s 1982 album, Mirage, which will be reissued in a deluxe package via Warner Bros. on September 23rd. It’s something of an odd statement to make about a record that charted at Number One on the Billboard 200, spawned multiple hit singles and went on to sell more than three million copies. Of course, when you’re in Fleetwood Mac, the definition of what constitutes success is relative.
The album, the band’s 13th studio effort overall and fourth to feature singer Stevie Nicks and singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham alongside longtime members Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, came on the heels of one of the more impressive runs in rock: the lineup’s smash 1975 “debut,” Fleetwood Mac; the now-more-than-40-million-selling follow-up, Rumours; and the sprawling and sonically adventurous Buckingham-helmed double–LP Tusk (a commercial “failure” that still managed to move several million copies). By the time the band reconvened for Mirage in May 1981, they had been off the road for close to a year, during which time three members had recorded – but not yet released – solo albums (Buckingham’s Law and Order, Fleetwood’s The Visitor and Nicks’ eventual chart-topping, multi-platinum Bella Donna). That time apart, combined with the tensions that had been brought on by the experimental nature of the Tusk album, left them ready to recapture a bit of the old Rumours magic, so to speak.
“There’s no doubt that having come off Tusk there was a conscious effort to make Mirage into more of a band album,” Fleetwood says. “Because Tusk had been very much Lindsey’s vision. And it was a great one – along with [1969’s] Then Play On, it’s probably my favorite Fleetwood Mac album. So it was a highly successful creative moment. But at the time we took some blows for it, and Lindsey in particular, because the album wasn’t as successful as Rumours. How could it be, anyhow? But that being beside the point, I think Lindsey sort of handed back the mantle on Mirage. It was, ‘Let’s just do this as a band.’ That was the vibe going into it.”
The result was an album that, if judged by its two hit singles – Christine McVie’s buoyant “Hold Me” and Stevie Nicks’ somewhat autobiographical “Gypsy” – seemed to represent something of a step back to the concise, sharp-focus pop-rock that had characterized Rumours and Fleetwood Mac. Indeed, says Fleetwood, “If you were a sort of super-intellectual critic, which is maybe not a great place to come from, it would be fair game to say the album kind of went backwards.” But, he adds, “Having said that, the amazing thing is that, looking back on it now, in the present day, so many of those songs are at a very high level in the continuing story of Fleetwood Mac.”
All the more reason, then, to revisit Mirage now. The new three-CD-plus-DVD deluxe package presents the original 12-track album in remastered form, along with one disc of B sides, outtakes and rarities, and another that collects 13 songs from two nights at the Forum in Los Angeles during the band’s 1982 Mirage U.S. tour. Also included is a vinyl copy of the album and a DVD of the original collection in 5.1 surround sound (additionally, there are two-CD, single-disc and digital download versions available). “The fact that we’re talking about it again is actually really cool,” Fleetwood says of Mirage. “Because we ended up making a far better album than we gave ourselves credit for for many years.”
They also made an album that is more varied and quirky than it gets credit for. In addition to the two hit singles, there’s plenty more of the sort of expertly crafted soft rock the band had become known for by that point, such as Christine McVie–penned tracks like “Only Over You” and the propulsive opener (and minor hit) “Love in Store.” But there’s also the brittle electro-pop of Buckingham’s “Empire State” and lilting country-folk of Nicks’ “That’s Alright,” the latter a holdover from the Buckingham Nicks days a decade earlier. Furthermore, unlike the lineup’s three previous efforts, which were recorded mostly in and around California, Fleetwood Mac, along with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut (who co-produced with Buckingham and the band), tracked Mirage largely in France, at the famed Château d’Hérouville, outside of Paris. Explains Fleetwood of the change of scenery, “My recollect was I asked the band if I could record overseas to help me out with some tax issues. And very kindly they did that. But in truth, knowing me, I think the main purpose of it was to get them the hell out of L.A. so that we could make an album without imploding.”
“I personally had probably too much fun. I used to go into Paris every weekend and misbehave.”
The band’s new environs offered up a different sort of vibe than the Southern California studios they were used to calling home. “We were at the Château, which was an historic place,” Fleetwood recalls. “If you look it up, you’ll see that some incredible shit was done there – [Elton John’s] Honky Chateau and all that. A whole load of people had recorded there. So it was an amazing place. It was wild and romantic. It’s a mansion in the French countryside, with cooks and food and wine, you know?” He laughs. “I personally had probably too much fun. I used to go into Paris every weekend and misbehave and come back for work on Monday morning. But it accomplished what we needed, and, all joking aside, the fact that we were in France and we were in the middle of nowhere, truly I think it had great value.”
The band’s choice of location for recording their music wasn’t the only aspect of Mirage that showed Fleetwood Mac breaking with their past. They also explored new avenues in terms of how they offered up that music for public consumption. Mirage was released in June of 1982, less than a year after the launch of MTV. As a legacy band that had often proved surprisingly adaptable to current trends, Fleetwood Mac embraced the music-video age to great success. So much so, that, rather than merely mimic playing their songs in the clips, as most artists did in the network’s earliest days, Fleetwood Mac opted to take on acting roles. The first single from Mirage, “Hold Me,” came complete with a storyline that showed the band frolicking in the Mojave Desert, with Fleetwood and John McVie playing archeologists who excitedly stumble upon a cache of buried guitars and other musical instruments. The elaborate clip for “Gypsy,” meanwhile, had the distinction of being the most expensive music video ever produced at the time. “I’m really glad we made it,” Fleetwood says, “even though it cost a fortune for us.”
As for the shoots themselves, the directors of the videos for both “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” have since discussed the fact that the band’s well-publicized and mythologized romantic entanglements led to some uncomfortable moments on the sets. Fleetwood, however, says he doesn’t recall as much. “I don’t have huge memory of any gossipy things happening,” he says. “But the amount of pain we were used to going through, maybe it was noticeable. Although we had an uncanny ability to suck it up. But ‘Gypsy’ especially, it’s interesting because they’re featuring Lindsey and Stevie dancing in it and you’re going, ‘This is quite profound. …’ It was like, ‘Wow, that’s a scene!'”
He continues: “In general, though, we were really professional, and I believe from memory we were all hugely cooperative and into [doing the videos], really. There was no ‘I don’t wanna fucking do that,’ one-shot-and-we’re-out-of-there type stuff. And the directors, they were young filmmakers with big budgets, and they seemed quite conversant with handling lunacy. So they were fun days.” Fleetwood laughs. “I mean, to me everything was fun because I was having a party 24/7. So it didn’t really fucking matter! But I think we were good candidates for that sort of thing.”
It would seem that Fleetwood Mac were in fact very good candidates for that sort of thing, as both “Hold Me” and “Gypsy” became staples on MTV, helping the band to achieve two of the biggest hits of their career. In fact, Fleetwood now acknowledges that “those songs became more memorable than the album as a whole. And that’s sort of an unusual slant.
“Mirage is part of our history,” he continues, “and as the band heads no doubt to a wind-down of some description in the next few years ahead, I think these types of cataloging events are important. Because it’s certainly not an album to be discarded. And now this little project is representing it, and giving it measured and investigated amounts of kudos. That’s a good thing.”
Fleetwood Mac Mirage (Expanded Reissue) (Warner Brothers/Rhino) Rating: 4 out of 5 stars241
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 has released a new preview video for Mirage Deluxe. The 40-second clip shows the 4 CDs, vinyl album, liner notes, and photographs included in the expanded set. Mirage will be reissued on Friday, September 23.