Miracle Legion was a Connecticut-based jangle pop band begun in 1984, consisting of singer Mark Mulcahy, guitarist Mr. Ray Neal, drummer Jeff Wiederschall, and bassist Steven West. Constant comparisons to R.E.M. were largely inaccurate due to the fact that, other than a few similarly sounding songs, the respective bands' sounds were largely dissimilar lyrically and musically. Their first released EP, The Backyard, was released by Incas Records in 1984 and became a college radio hit. Their first full-length album, Surprise Surprise Surprise, was released in 1987 on Rough Trade Records. Released in 1988 was Glad, a mixture of new songs and live tracks (which included a guest appearance by Pere Ubu).
With the departure of their rhythm section in 1988, Mulcahy and Neal changed the direction of the band, becoming a duo and touring as the opening act for The Sugarcubes. Their 1989 release of Me and Mr. Ray (recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studios) led to the band finding a new rhythm section (drummer Scott Boutier and bassist Dave McCaffrey) and signing with the now defunct Morgan Creek label, who funded their 1992 album Drenched with producer John Porter (of Roxy Music and The Smiths note).
After Drenched, legal problems with the label left the band and its name in limbo. But interest continued, notably with a Nickelodeon offer for the band to write music for a television show (The Adventures of Pete & Pete). Neal, disillusioned with the label experience, declined the offer; but Mulcahy accepted, and he and the band's rhythm section did the project under the name Polaris, which lasted three years and included at least one episode (Season 1, "Hard Day's Pete") in which Neal appears with the rest of the band.
In 1996, the band's legal issues resolved, Miracle Legion released Portrait Of A Damaged Family on the Mezzotint label. Since then, Mulcahy has released three solo lps, and Mr. Ray has recently begun to play shows again in the Northeast, both solo and with Jellyshirts. Their Drenched-era rhythm section Scott Boutier and Dave McCaffrey have been staples as the rhythm section for Frank Black and the Catholics.
In recent years, reruns of Pete & Pete on the Noggin channel has unexpectedly renewed interest (and led a new generation) to the music of Miracle Legion.
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