Music review, Mr. Mister ‘Pull’: Mended wings

 

I love ’80s music, and have only realized how much in retrospect. That means I’m cool with this week’s debut of Pull, the fourth album by Mr. Mister, which was shelved after the band recorded it for a label which wound up rejecting it for not being commercial enough.

I suspect the label was right, but that doesn’t mean Pull isn’t worth hearing. Now, finally, the band is selling it on CD via its own website. Though that doesn’t beat a major label, it does beat oblivion. And speaking of majors, RCA/Legacy, a division of Sony Music, is issuing the album  in digital form.

Mr. Mister, in short, is back.

Is Pull worth the 20-year wait since its recording? In a sense, no. It’s not as tuneful and hook-heavy as the band’s earlier efforts, and it has a tough act to follow in Go On, the band’s third disc, which failed to spark big hits but was nonetheless its most fully realized and meaningful music.

But beyond the progressive rock, jazz fusion and reggae lilts of this synth-laced and vocal-driven ’80s music (recorded in 1990, but close enough), some of the 11 songs may grow on you, including the haunting yet urgent We Belong to No One and by far the album’s best track, the passionate and powerful No Words to Say.

In No Words to Say, singer/composer Richard Page rails against the segregation of Montgomery, AL, where he grew up in the late ’50s. No words? Actually, Page, Steve George and Pat Mastelotto had plenty to say, as the band’s underrated lyrics often attest. (Pull does not feature departed guitarist Steve Farris.)

No, there’s no Broken Wings or Kyrie, but there is solid, professional music from these former L.A. session players, though some tracks do tend to blur. And for Mr. Mister completists, the group’s earlier incarnation as Pages is yielding digital reissues of its two Epic albums from the late ’70s, Pages and Future Street.

Also, the out-of-print Mr. Mister albums Go On and debut disc I Wear the Face are being released digitally this week. Already available digitally is the band’s second album, Welcome to the Real World, with the #1 hits Kyrie and Broken Wings.

As for Pull, “it best represents what our band was all about,” says Page, “stretching the boundaries of pop music, not conforming to the conventional wisdom that you have to write within accepted perimeters, allowing ourselves the freedom to express the musicianship and writing skills we encouraged in each other.”

It’s certainly a worthy addition to Mr. Mister’s brief but impressive catalog. And as they say, better late than never. I’ll take it.

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10 Responses to “Music review, Mr. Mister ‘Pull’: Mended wings”

  1. John Lang Says:

    “No words? Actually, Page, Steve George and Pat Mastelotto had plenty to say, as the band’s underrated lyrics often attest.”

    ouch. for someone who professes to know ( a little) about the recording history of mrmr, your review gives the lie to that conceit, in that you fail to make mention of or give any credit to the lyricist who wrote most of the lyrics (except for “no words to say”) to most of the songs of both pages and mrmr, including broken wings and kyrie. since you don’t know that the band had a lyricist (words), allow me to introduce myself. my name is john lang (see both album and songwriting credits on all records).

  2. Sir James Says:

    I like your review but i disagree with you on one thing, PULL is Mr Mr’s best work and most intense album and still sounds fresh in 2010. I recommend this album for any serious music lover, if you like nonsensical music then stay away from this and buy a Lady Gaga album or something.

  3. Bruce Westbrook (Farsider) Says:

    Oops is right. Sorry about that, John. I was aware of your behind-the-scenes contributions to the bands of your cousin and fellow Arizonan, Richard Page, who’d mentioned it to me himself when I interviewed him for the Houston Chronicle back in the day. I was simply focusing in my review of “Pull” on that lineup of Mr. Mister. But thanks for the well-deserved reminder.

  4. Anthony Carter Says:

    This “new” Mr.Mr. album is their best. The songwriting is phenomenal–you can’t go wrong with the team who writes hits for Josh Grobin, Al Jarreau, Kenny Loggins, Madonna, and…well…Mr. Mister.
    But there’s much more to “Pull” than an assortment of potential Top Tens: the musicianship is sublime–check out Trevor Rabin’s Yes-like, layered guitar playing on about half the songs; and bask in the almost choir-like harmonies which, a usual, float above the sometimes jagged/sometimes angelic rhythm section.
    As always, the lyrics as a pleasure. These gentlemen consistently communicate a theme without being heavy-handed or regressing into the deadly realm of The Concept Album. “Pull” seems to suggest a tension between conflicting worldviews, but as with any great art (Did I just admit that this album is a work of art?) there is enough ambiguity
    to make a thinking person ponder some of life’s mysteries.
    I just hope there is enough support fo this incomparable album that Mr. Page, Mr. Mastelleto, Mr. George, and Mr. Lang can create several follow-ups–maybe even get Pat’s present bandmate Mr. Belew to contribute a bit!

  5. Di MacLennan Says:

    As far as ‘PULL’ goes, it was absolutely worth the wait. When I heard ‘Burning Bridge’ I couldn’t breathe. The harmonic blend of Richard’s voice is better than anything out today. I have everything from ‘Pages’ to ‘Peculiar Life’ and Richard has never sold out or disappointed. Saying ‘PULL’ wasn’t worth the wait would be like saying Tim Lincecum is kinda an ok pitcher.

  6. Danijel Says:

    I’m just a “listener” and I really love ‘Pull’. For me it doesn’t matter if this album was released in the 90’s or in 2010.
    ‘Pull’ is beautiful artwork which is worth to get enjoyed live…

  7. Sam Says:

    I actually heard “Pull” a couple of years ago. There was a place where you could download it. Anyway, I found it to be entirely forgettable. That’s nice that they’ve finally released it, but unfortunately it didn’t do a thing for me.

  8. Jim Jackson Says:

    As a keyboard player and an avid Mr Mister fan, I was eagerly awaiting this release ever since I had heard of it’s potential release. I was not diappointed nor surprised. These guys know how to write a piece of music that speaks and doesn’t just exist in a cookie-cutter fashion as do so many “musical attempts” of today. I would hold this album up against anything out there today. When I listen to the craftsmanship woven into this album, I get the sense that I am listening to an artform that is slowly fading away on the scape of music today. My senses await a 2011 release from these guys….it might be a long wait.

  9. Alex Says:

    I agree that Pull was definitely worth the wait (even though I never admitted so in the mean-time), and I wrote my own thoughts on it here ; http://shelterit.blogspot.com/2011/01/mr-mister-pull.html

  10. Mark Says:

    Have the Album, however the absence of Steve Farris is resounding to say the least. Perhaps Three tracks on the album I like!

    The last Track Awaya is probably the closest in terms of reminiscence to the Mr Mister Sound everyone was used to! I find the Album Sombre, and almost laborious listening, the songs never seem tio get going and there’s nothing up tempo or funky on it.

    Perhaps herein lies eveidence of the alledged musical differences between Farris and Page, dont get me wrong I think Richsrd page is a Killer but this one just missed the point for me.

    Conclusion: Definitely not worth the wait! – Just my Opi.

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