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Grace Pulling Strings And Shiny Things album cover
3.48 | 17 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Fool (6:22)
2. Mullions (7:15)
3. Lean On Me (6:10)
4. Earth Bites Back (6:18)
5. Hanging Rock (6:15)
6. Architects Of War (7:46)
7. Every Clown (has A Silver Lining) (4:34)
8. Gift (5:28)
9. Mullions (reprise) (3:21)

Total Time: 53:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Harry Davies / flutes, pipes, saxes
- Dave Edge / guitars
- Tony Hall / drums, vocals
- Dave Rushton / bass
- Mac Austin / vocals
- Mark Price / keyboards
- Shaun Low / bits and pieces
- Gillie Nichols / backing vocals

Releases information


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GRACE Pulling Strings And Shiny Things ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GRACE Pulling Strings And Shiny Things reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
3 stars GRACE do not fit necessarily like many acts into the prog label categorization, but in terms of their approach they are 100% progressive. This album is rich in content and carries a very stong prog-folk influence to it. This is another concept album from them and rises in my opinion to the forefront of modern prog releases in many ways. GRACE create a world where the listener is easily transported. I was really surprised by their ability to do so on this recording. This is a very well recorded prog release and is full of quality musicianship as well.
Review by progaeopteryx
3 stars I was rather underwhelmed by Pulling Strings & Shiny Things. Not one of the songs really stood out and I can't imagine anything here will remain in my brain for the next half hour or so, so I better get to finishing this review quickly. The musicianship is adequate, vocalist Mac Austin does a nice job of singing, the lyrics are sound (and sometimes interesting), but the final product just doesn't set off any exclamation points. The music is clearly in the neo prog vein (like Jadis and Galahad), with pop rock influences, and some Celtic and folk touches. The keys have a strong 1980's sound to them and although the flute is featured, I'm not particularly impressed by it. A couple of the songs featured programmed drums which again were not impressive, but at the same time, not annoying. Overall, good, but hardly essential. Three stars, although I'd prefer 2 3/4 stars. If you're into uncomplicated, song-oriented, lightweight neo prog, you might find this interesting, otherwise, never mind.
Review by kenethlevine
4 stars Of the trilogy of studio albums released by the reformed Grace in the 1990s, "Pulling Strings and Shiny Things" is by far the most accomplished, most progressive and least neo progressive. The band's ability to blend Gothic elements with Celtic rock and neo prog is quite unique. Throw in rather deft inclusion of songs within songs and somewhat obtuse lyrics about critters called Mullions and puppets that come out to play and you almost have a soundtrack to a B-grade horror movie, in all the right ways.

"The Fool" starts things off well with an infectious Celtic style melody and vocals handled well by Mac Austin, whose voice suits the style of the band. "Mullions" is one of the strongest tunes, quite a chilling and at the same time silly epic about creatures that live in the lake and come out and eat your bones. The sparse flute and acoustic guitar accompaniment helps build the tension described by the story, and if you don't listen to the words the song may appear boring, but luckily they can be heard easily, even if their intended meaning is obscure. About halfway through the song takes a different turn and become more animated, particularly the flutes and almost honky tonk piano.

"Earth Bites Back" has a clearly ecological slant and is a more uptempo number. It again features great flutes and a fine riff to introduce a catchy chorus. Again, in the midsection it changes tempo effectively, carrying on the trend of mini-suites. "Hanging Rock" and "Architects of War" both carry on this format without becoming boring, unless of course you need some hard rock mixed with your neo. "Gift" is more in the vein of "Mullions", bringing back the Gothic horror theme with haunting atmospherics and lyrics. Note this darkness is a whole lot lighter than you get with either Pink Floyd or Mostly Autumn - it produces the chilling effect without resulting in the subsequent downer.

While a few lapses back into the aimlessness of the previous album do occur in "Lean on me" and "Every Clown", this is the Grace album worth pulling strings to get.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Amazing Grace

Grace is a relatively new discovery for me and a surprisingly pleasant one. Pulling Strings And Shiny Things was the first album I heard from this very appealing, and much overlooked, British band but the history of the band goes as far back as the 70's. When Grace released their debut album in 1979, they had already been around for several years, touring and releasing singles. A live album followed in 1981, but the band never achieved the success they wanted (perhaps due to the, for Prog, unfavourable musical climate of that decade?) and they broke up in the early 80's. Not until the early 90's would they again release another album and the present album from 1994 was their third studio album. Yet another album followed in 1996 and a another live album in 1999. But what happened after that? No one knows.

As I said, I know nothing about the sound of the early incarnation of Grace, but the music found on this album from the band's come-back years is very good. The sound here often brings to mind a classic Barclay James Harvest that has been placed in a Neo-Progressive musical framework. Lean On Me and Architects Of War are the two songs that are most strongly reminiscent of Barclay James Harvest both in sound and structure. These songs have a symphonic sound that builds towards ever more bombastic repetitions of the same melodies in typical Barclay James Harvest-fashion. Perhaps even some qualities in the vocals remind me of that band. But this description tells only part of the story; this is not a Barclay James Harvest-clone and neither is it your typical Neo-Prog band. There is a folky nature to many of the songs and there are some flute parts that seem to be inspired by Jethro Tull's main man. Hanging Rock reminds me of some Cat Stevens song (I don't know if it is a specific song that I don't remember, or if it is just Cat Stevens generally). Yet other parts are slightly more in line with Marillion and their ilk, but not so obvious. You might wish to say that Grace here occupies an area of music where Crossover Prog, Prog Folk and Neo-Prog meet. This creates a novel and quite interesting approach even if it is not really groundbreaking. For me personally, the previous The Poet, The Piper And The Fool was the band's peak. That album had a bit more of the Symphonic/Neo-Prog and Folk and a bit less of the Crossover Prog.

The material on this album is very strong though and there is not one weak song to be found here. Fool and Mullions are the tunes that most easily stick to your head, but they are not necessarily the best songs. Mullions is given a short instrumental reprise at the end of the album in a radically different version but it does not add much to the album as a whole. Some songs have pretty catchy choruses, but not too catchy, if you know what I mean. I find this album highly enjoyable and very pleasant. It lends itself very well to repeated listens.

Highly recommended in addition to The Poet, The Piper And The Fool!

Latest members reviews

3 stars Grace from UK...are in the light prog vein, actually more in the folkprog vein. My first listen gave more hints to Strawbs and Magna Carta (the band)than to say that of Jadis or IQ....and there are traces of Tull (but thats the inevitable comparison when you hear flute in prog) its a nice record. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2954) | Posted by Tonny Larz | Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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