Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hump Day Chat: Fleetwood Mac's "Mirage" is the "Teen Wolf" of '80s Rock Albums

Today's chat with Michael Anthony of Cleveland Does Not Rock centers on Fleetwood Mac's massively underrated 1982 album, "Mirage" ... among other things. Unfortunately, the closest The Mac gets to us this year, sans Christie McVie, is the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. on June 19 and the Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, N.Y., on June 22.

G.E. Smith: What about Fleetwood Mac's "Mirage." You got me into that and I really dig it, but after letting it soak in I have some other thoughts too. 

Michael Anthony: I like the lack of bloat, the lack of pretense, the economy of the writing. Although I really f*ckin wish "Holiday Road" was on there. Feel like it was the right move for them, and not typical of a big name release of that era. Side A is amazing. "Book of Love" feels so simple and immediate but if you dig deeper there's a lot there.

G.E. Smith: I'm amazed by the lack of good McVie tunes on there. I think she's their best writer, and even though she did the slammer "Hold Me" with Buck those other tracks are shit. You think she was lost in Mick's beard around this time? Does that explain "Mirage"?

Michael Anthony: Oh weird I usually kind of hate her tunes, and "Hold Me" alone - which I love - makes this her best effort in my book.

G.E. Smith: "Love in Store" is decent I guess but she sounds like Nicolas Cage in "Vampire's Kiss" in the other ones. What strikes me about the album is the fact that it doesn't really sound dated.

Michael Anthony: Yea not that any of their stuff does, but you'd assume that this would. Especially surprising is that its kind of been forgotten as a key Fleetwood Mac album. You'd think a rawer rock sound with big power pop singles would have generated it more love over time. I don't think "Don't Stop" is dated, just bad. "Go Your Own Way" sounds a little bit like an early '80s feminine product commercial, so I guess in that respect it's more cutting edge than dated. Since it came out, when... '76? Four years ahead of the feminine product commercial jingle curve.

Hey Tweedy: "Mirage" is a great to play, not to rip off.
G.E. Smith: I hear some pretty distinct things that influenced current artists on there, especially, oddly enough, "Empire State." Doug Gillard  copies the outro solo almost note for note on the relatively obscure Guided By Voices track "Of Mites and Men." I feel like shitty recent Wilco apes a lot on that too, especially the bass line.

Michael Anthony: Yeah man I'd put it right up there with Duran Duran's "Rio," Misfits' "Walk Among Us" and The Descendents' "Milo Goes To College" as far as 1982 albums that influenced me. But is it bad that indie rockers turn to soft rock influences? I mean, yes, this is good songwriting and all that, but you gotta think that drawing from elite soft rock will ultimately result in even more watered down stuff, right?

G.E. Smith: I do, and it did. You into that cornball Nicks tune "Straight Back"? Sounds like it was designed to go over the credits of some '80s flick. Like a bad sports movie. Now THAT sounds dated.

Michael Anthony: Can't argue with that. What flick though? "Teen Wolf"? "Wildcats"? 

G.E. Smith: Probably more "Wildcats" ... that had a more serious angle to it, relatively speaking. I mean the main character didn't morph into a wolf at will. By the way what do you think Teen Wolf's rod looked like? Do you think it got bigger when he morphed?

Wolf: Better on court or in sack?
Michael Anthony: Nah smaller actually but really hairy, which added girth / texture.

G.E. Smith: The ladies always seemed pleased.

Michael Anthony: Yeah chicks were big into bestiality in the '80s.

G.E. Smith: Either that or body hair. Explains Tom Jones, Paul Stanley etc.

Michael Anthony: Hey speaking of hairy pricks, back to Fleetwood Mac ... 

G.E. Smith: I imagine Buckingham shaved his chest hair into a likeness of himself, but, yeah, fly this thing home. 

Michael Anthony: Overrated or underrated?

G.E. Smith: I dunno. Underrated because they're overrated? But then there are some hipsters who pretend to like Mac, which makes them overrated because they were overrated and then underrated.

Buck's appearance on "SNL" showed he was kinda cool.
Michael Anthony: You think Buckingham is happy with his place in rock? He seems like he might be an egomaniac but the fact that he never took Fleetwood Mack to elite Dino rock levels shows some restraint.

G.E. Smith: He is definitely very pleased with himself and that stupid ass guitar he plays. But yeah, he's aight, and he doesn't try and pimp new material. He knows no one wants to hear some crock of shit.

Michael Anthony: I feel like it was a conscious decision on their part not to be turds about their legacy. Which makes them underrated, even though they're a little overrated.

G.E. Smith: They're overrated as an important band, but underrated as songwriters and musicians 
just like Teen Wolf was underrated for his sexing ability but overrated as a basketball player. 

Nothing should surprise when Michael Anthony's in the house.
Michael Anthony: Yeah how did he not score 200 points? 

G.E. Smith: Not really a great all around player. Plus look at his competition, a bunch of honkies.

Michael Anthony: Lot of goal tending.

G.E. Smith: Mac is basically the Teen Wolf of rock bands. Airy and fun without much substance on the surface but boasting some nice thick meat under the fur.

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