This review of Miracle Legion‘s ‘Annulment’ is the third and final review of the Mark Mulcahy themed weekend. Preceding this article, came a review of Mulcahy’s new album: ‘The Possum in the Driveway’, and Miracle Legion’s final studio album before their split in the late 90’s: ‘Portrait of a Damaged Family’. If you wish to read these articles, which provide insight into Mulcahy and Miracle Legion respectively, then click the hyperlinks attached to the album titles.
Once again, I am late to the party on this album. Released just over a month ago, on the 7th of April, ‘Annulment’ is the first live album from the band from New Haven. Compiled from performances from last years tour, which followed the announcement of their reformation, the album contains a massive 25 tracks, and lasts an hour and 45 minutes. Despite being a lengthy release, it contains very few fillers, and incorporates all of their most popular tracks, plus introducing a few lesser known songs into the mix with good effect.
One question raised by the release of a live Miracle Legion album, however, is: ‘how can a rock band like Miracle Legion increase the energy of their tracks in their live performances?’ The answer is: they mostly can’t. Those familiar with Miracle Legion‘s studio albums will note that their work is characteristically energetic by nature. This makes them hard to top. Mulcahy does, however, find a few ways to inject new energy into the show. Tracks where the harmonica is used – such as ‘Old and New’ and ‘Mr. Mingo’ – show a notable shift in energy, and are better for it. Other techniques, such as harmonizing, and call and effect work well at times.
There is definitely a case to be made for a DVD in any subsequent live release. Watching Miracle Legion perform at Green Man last year, Mulcahy’s dancing was strange, but it added a lot to the performance. Foot stomping and small leaps introduced an energy into the music which is lost on ‘Annulment’. Those who haven’t yet seen Mulcahy in action, see below for a video, though, for authenticity you will have to imagine him with a Robert Wyatt style beard.
Still, the album is a great listen. Lead guitarist Neal, and Mulcahy demonstrate the strength of their partnership, with the two working together well. The same can be said for all of the band members, however. Though only recent additions to Miracle Legion, the drummer and bassist play solid and well rehearsed sets, which make them almost indistinguishable from the original members. Certain tracks seemed to have benefited from the band’s reshuffle. A few tracks, though most notably ‘Snacks and Candy’ and ‘Ladies from Town’ differ from and outdo their studio counterparts.
‘Ladies from Town’ is far and away the best track on the album. Played at a high tempo, and allowing the bass drum more of a role than in other tracks, there is a much rawer feel to the performance. Whilst the whole album is worth a listen, this song is more than worth the four minutes – you won’t regret it.
Other tracks worthy of a mention are ‘Homer’, ‘Screamin’, ‘Old and New’, ‘All for the Best’, and ‘Gigantic Transatlantic Trunk Call’ (an unexpected addition to the album which is different in style to most tracks on the album, though just as good).
Artist: Miracle Legion
Release date: April 7, 2017
Play time: 105 mins
Standout track: Ladies from Town (Live)