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Melodic Rock Round-up: April 2011

Dave Ling on new releases from Mr Mister, Ten, Robin Beck, M.ill.ion and Bonfire

Mr Mister: Pull

Their hits Broken Wings and Kyrie still playlisted around the world today, Mr Mister mobilised recording technology revolutionary to the 80s to create scintillatingly fresh, pop-infused rock. Synths bristled, guitars soared and their sense of melody was a genuine delight. By 1990, however, guitarist Steve Farriss had quit, and as he last year told Classic Rock Presents: AOR, their singer Richard Page was “starting to feel like he didn’t belong in a band anymore.” Consequently, Pull – the group’s fourth album – was shelved by their label RCA. That the Californian band’s fans have had to wait 20 years to hear it is unforgivable. With a variety of guitarists, including Trevor Rabin, standing in to fill Farriss’ role, the album retains all of Mr Mister’s well-honed hallmarks, but still fails to offer a standout pop hit. RCA’s accusation that Mr Mister had become too artsy would perhaps have been amusing was it not so badly erroneous. Pull might be understated by the band’s standards but its songs still retain the power to hypnotise. (910)

Ten: Stormwarning

Gary Hughes has more than his fare share of internet haters, but the ninth album from Ten represents a return to form. With producer Dennis Ward improving the group’s dubious sonics, Hughes summons up a set of enjoyable, if slightly one-paced hard rock epics. Stormwarning is bound to satisfy those prepared to give it a fair hearing. (710)

Robin Beck: The Great Escape

It’s 23 years since Robin Beck unexpectedly topped the UK singles chart with The First Time. Equally against the odds, The Great Escape is as stylish a release as her debut Trouble Or Nothing. It’s crammed with material co-penned with guitarist Tommy Denander and her hubby James Christian, and includes a duet with Joe Lynn Turner on That All Depends. (810)

M.ill.ion: Sane And Insanity

Album number six from the bumpily monickered Scandinavians, Sane And Insanity is potentially a notch too heavy for meeker palates. But Ulrich Carlsson knows how to carry a tune, and fans of Whitesnake, Dokken and Gotthard are likely to find hummable solace in ditties such as Cry To Heaven, Tomorrow Never Dies and Under Your Wings. (610)

Bonfire: Branded

We know what to expect from Bonfire by now, and at first Branded delivers this in spades. Deadly Contradiction, Just Follow The Rainbow and the scarf-waving idealism of Let It Grow are as euphoric as anything the veteran Germans released back in the 1980s, though sadly a few fillers begin to creep in once the halfway mark has been passed. (710)