The World Goes On Around You; The Complete Recordings by The Mirage – Album Review
By Dominic Picksley
Heavily influenced by The Beatles and mates with The Hollies, The Mirage were a consummate psychedelic pop band that, shamefully, all but fell through the cracks of musical history.
The mid-1960s Hertfordshire-based quintet, primarily a studio-based conglomeration, released a few excellent singles that fell on deaf ears, with also many of their superlative, if scratchily produced, recordings failing to see the light of day until years later.
For a group that never had any success, they were given ample studio time at Dick James’ Oxford Street base (James was The Beatles’ publisher) where they became the house band after developing their craft on the road. And they took advantage by churning out a plethora of Beatles-like, psych-infused and harmony-driven tunes, all which can be heard on the ‘final word’ compilation recently compiled by Cherry Red Records.
The World Goes On Around You: The Mirage Anthology gathers together all their singles, unreleased recordings, demos and BBC sessions, while also including their later work as Yellow Pages, Portobello Explosion and Jawbone.
With three Hynes brothers at the core – Dave, Pete and Pat (later replaced by Kirk Duncan) – along with future Elton John bassist Dee Murray and Ray Glynn (The Kinks weren’t the only ones to have a Ray, Dave and Pete among their ranks), the band wrote much of their own material and were even produced by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash of The Hollies on some tracks early on, before taking over those duties themselves.
“Finest 60s psych”
In fact Nash’s distinctive voice can be heard demoing a version of ‘Go Away’, a song The Hollies wrote but didn’t record, one of too many tunes by The Mirage that failed to tempt the record-buying public.
That track, obviously, feels like a Hollies outtake, but much of The Mirage’s arsenal was cut from the same cloth as The Beatles, namely their Rubber Soul and Revolver-era phase.
The opening bars of the mod-psych ‘Hold On’ are pure ‘Taxman’, the alternative take of ‘Lazy Man’ could be a ‘Rain’ rewrite, ‘You Can’t Be Serious’ may well be their version of ‘If I Needed Someone’, ‘Can You Hear Me’ conjures up sounds of ‘Michelle’, while ‘The Wedding Of Ramona Blair’ and ‘Hello Enid’ have more than a nod to ‘Penny Lane’.
‘I Want Love’ and ‘One More Time’ could easily fit onto Rubber Soul, while ‘Mrs Busby’ (with backwards guitar and amusing lyrics) is what you get when you mix The Beatles with The Idle Race. And then of course, is the opening track ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, a decent cover of one of the most complicated songs ever recorded up to that point,
‘Ebaneezer Beaver’, though, is all The Mirage, with its twangy guitar, bizarre word play and dreamy vocal making it one of the finest 60s psych tunes on record. And it contains the killer line: ”Happy alligator can you keep up the pace, your mummy is a bag, a new pair of shoes and an overnight case.”
‘Hold On’ (along with Ramona Blair are included as BBC sessions) should have been a smash hit, as should the infectiously-catchy pure pop of ‘Is Anybody Home’. But why wasn’t anyone listening?
The Mirage disbanded but Pete and Dave Hynes (after a very short-lived stint in SDG), Glynn and Duncan, along with Turquoise (another terrific pop-psych group) lead singer/bassist Jeff Peters recorded a single as Portobello Explosion, before changing names to Jawbone, and releasing a single and an an album.
By this time, though, The Beatles were history and the new inspirational group of choice were The Band, with much of their self-titled long player now replacing psychedelia with Americana, although they did include a reworking of ‘Ebaneezer Beaver’, now called ‘Jeremiah Dreams’, as well as ‘How’s Your Pa’ from their Mirage days.
The Beatles were not totally forgotten, though, as they covered the classic ‘Across The Universe’, while the album kicks off with the bustling ‘Honeysuckle Redwood Cabin’, where you can almost smell the burning of campfires.
But once more they were ignored and then they called it quits, before going off in all directions to work with people like Joe Brown and Steve Marriott.
The World Goes On Around You is another quality showcase by Cherry Red, from a group with huge quality and potential, but who just never got the breaks. The Mirage should at least have had a modicum of success, but this collection will hopefully draw them in some new fans.
‘The World Goes On Around You: The Complete Recordings’ 3CD Set by The Mirage is available now
from Cherry Red Records