Mr. Mister

byKeith Roman Pull

Mr. Mister? (OK, chime in with your stupid comment about the 80s now.) The truth is, I really liked Mr. Mister. I’ll even admit I saw them in concert in Indy back in 1987. Yeah, “Broken Wing” and “Kyrie” were played to death on the radio, but I still liked them. It was pop, but c’mon, it was good pop. Someone else must have liked them, too. Their second album, Welcome to the Real World sold in the millions.

In my recent review of the Dave Matthews Band’s Lillywhite Sessions, I railed against those ‘anachronistic dinosaurs” called the major record labels. In Mr. Mister’s story is more fodder for my little rant. Mr. Mister followed Real World with an album that is definitely on my list of 10 favorite albums of all time, a collection of tunes called Go On. The squared Misters combined superior musicianship with superior production and intelligent, musing lyrics about politics, human nature, love and spirituality. The record label apparently did the deer-in-the-headlights thing when their chart-topping popsters suddenly turned serious, and they did little to promote the band or their album. In an interview, drummer Pat Mastelloto said that he didn’t know what happened. The record company just ignored them. I see Go On all the time in the cheapie bin, and I’ve bought all the copies I’ll ever buy for my friends. Do yourself a favor and go buy it.

Now, the fourth album, Pull. No, you won’t see this CD in the stores — cheapie bin or otherwise. The double Misters recorded it, but it was never released. It now floats in cyberspace in mp3 format, waiting for you to catch it. There is no real disc jacket that I’ve seen. (The cover above is just a picture of Tiger, my cat.) Being recorded in 1990, it definitely sounds dated. While Go On sounded like a single, cohesive piece, Pull reflected the band’s return to searching for those elusive singles, much like on their first release, I Wear The Face. While all of these songs await pressing as singles, and alas, will wait forever, this armchair single-picker would choose the track “Quietly, Silently” as the easy contender on Cussin’ Casey’s Top 40. Production on Pull is top rate, with each song sounding bigger than it really is. Richard Paige’s vox is as strong and melodic as ever. Mastelloto’s drumming is tasteful and understated. The keyboards definitely smacks of 80s keyboard presets. Missing is the awesome guitar work of Steve Ferris, who left before this was recorded.

If the big labels would embrace mp3s instead of fighting them, the quality and diversity of music would go up, as would volume of sales, while prices would go down. (ahhh, beautiful capitalism) Under current conditions in the music industry, a CD has to sell nearly a million copies to be considered a success, or sometimes even to turn a profit. And, doggone it, music has always been too expensive because of promotion and distribution costs. If Pull had been available in the stores, the going rate of $11-$16 would have been too much. As it is now, Pull is available as a pleasant collection of songs, at the right price, sure to satisfy one’s curiosity of “What ever happened to ... ” Yes, labels, that sound you hear is an mp3 of the rotund female crooning.

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