|Origin||New Haven, Connecticut, USA|
The original lineup consisted of singer/guitarist Mark Mulcahy, lead guitarist Ray Neal, drummer Jeff Wiederschall, and bassist Joel Potocsky. In their early stages they received frequent comparisons to R.E.M., more for their presence and overall sound than for their lyrical content. Other than a few similar-sounding songs, the respective bands' sounds were largely dissimilar lyrically and musically, and as time passed, the comparisons became less valid. Their first EP, The Backyard, was financed by Brad Morrison and released on the Bridgeport, Connecticut co-op label 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full-length album, Surprise Surprise Surprise, was released in 1987 on Rough Trade Records, by which time Potocsky had been replaced by bassist Steven West. In 1988, Glad came out, consisting of new songs and live tracks (which included a guest appearance by Pere Ubu). The same year, Miracle Legion's rhythm section departed, leaving only Mulcahy and Neal in the band.
With the departure of drummer Wiederschall and bassist West in 1988, Mulcahy and Neal continued Miracle Legion as a duo, touring as the opening act for The Sugarcubes. Their 1989 release of Me and Mr. Ray, recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studios, reflected the band's new direction with its stripped-down instrumentation. The album yielded a single, "You're the Ōne-Lee", the video for which received modest rotation on MTV's "120 Minutes" alternative music show. That year, the band found a new rhythm section, drummer Scott Boutier and bassist Dave McCaffrey, and signed with the now-defunct label Morgan Creek Records, which funded their 1992 album Drenched produced by John Porter (of Roxy Music and The Smiths fame). The band had a national if limited tour that year in support of the new album, mostly playing clubs and other small venues.
After Drenched, legal problems with the label left the band and its name in limbo. Interest continued, however, most notably in the form of a Nickelodeon offer for the band to write music for the television show The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which was created by Miracle Legion fans Will McRobb and Chris Viscardi. Neal, disillusioned with the label experience, declined the offer; but Mulcahy accepted. He decided to do the project with Boutier and McCaffery under the name Polaris, a project which lasted three years. Their track "Hey Sandy" became the show's theme song, and the band themselves appeared in at least one episode (Season 1, "Hard Day's Pete"). In 1996, after the legal issues associated with their run with Morgan Creek were resolved, the band put out their final release to date Portrait of a Damaged Family on Mulcahy's own Mezzotint Records label.
Since the final Miracle Legion album, Mulcahy has released three solo LPs and engaged in various other projects including film soundtrack work and a musical. Neal recently[when?] began playing shows again in the Northeast, both solo and with Jellyshirts. Boutier and McCaffrey have been staple members of Frank Black and the Catholics. Wiederschall has maintained an active music career, playing for The Streams, Peacock Flounders, and Baby Huey, as well as contributing to Mulcahy's 2001 solo album, SmileSunset.
In recent years[when?], Miracle Legion has continued to maintain a small following. In 2009, "Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy" was released as a tribute to Mulcahy's deceased wife and featured various artists covering Miracle Legion songs, as well as songs from Polaris and Mulcahy's solo career.
- A Simple Thing (1983) demo
- The Backyard (1984) 12"/Cassette EP on Rough Trade Records
- Little Drummer Boy (1985) 7" Single on Incas Records
- Surprise Surprise Surprise (1987) LP/Cassette/CD(Japan Only) on Rough Trade Records
- Glad (1988) 12"/Cassette EP with Pere Ubu on Rough Trade Records
- You're The One Lee (1989) 12" featuring Sugarcubes
- Me and Mr. Ray (1989) CD/LP/CS on Rough Trade Records
- Drenched (1992) CD/CS on Morgan Creek Records,LP on Polydor Records
- Out to Play (1992) CD/12" EP on Morgan Creek Records (promo)
- We Are All Lost (1992) CD-EP on Morgan Creek Records (promo)
- Portrait of a Damaged Family (1996) CD on The Mezzotint Label