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Most bands usually wait two or three albums before the "big statement," but this is the Mission. Sure, their debut was well received (at least by fans and record buyers) and was full of big, dramatic moments and over the top production, but nothing would equal the band's reach on its follow-up, Children. Kicking off with one of the longest fade-ins in rock history, Children is a sprawling (hell, to not call any album that starts out with a seven-plus-minute "intro" song sprawling is just wrong), larger-than-the-sum-of-its-parts affair, with multi-layered arrangements, numerous strings, vocals, guitars, and other instruments on every track, and a indescribable feel that just makes the album seem much longer than it really is. The rough edges are smoothed out, and Wayne Hussey's 12-string sounds cleaner and more shimmery than before. As for the songs themselves, the singles "Tower of Strength" and "Kingdom Come" obviously stand out, but "Fabienne," "Heat," "Child's Play," and "Wing and a Prayer" still rock (albeit in a rather buried-in-production kind of way) and "Black Mountain Mist" has an unmistakable Led Zeppelin feel. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, it's really no wonder that this time the Mission let their once subdued love of the rock legends runneth over — John Paul Jones was brought in to produce. The man who gave shape to Jimmy Page's more sprawling (there's that word again) epics as bassist and main arranger for Led Zep, Jones not only gives the Mission credibility in the act of bald-faced homage, but gives them a more mature, polished sound, ironing out their changes and shifts, resulting in a sound that is considerably more advanced than that of their previous work. The album is not without flaws, however. "Breathe," an interlude, feels a bit tacked on, and the cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On" is a questionable choice, to say the least. Some versions of the LP didn't have this track, and it's arguable that this one should have been left on the B-side pile. But the biggest flaw of the record is not in the substance as much as in the interpretation of the music itself. On Children, the Mission are big, dramatic, and grandiose: the very things that critics made their names giving the band a hard time for. But, so what? The Mission were a big, dramatic, grandiose band whose members weren't afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. Children is the proof of that, for sure.

Children, The Mission
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