Mike And The Mechanics' new album. Review by Matthew Isaacs.

Having heard most of the songs performed live first, I could not wait to get my hands on this CD. After repeated listenings, this ranks alongside "The Living Years" as my favourite Mechanics album. From the opening track; "Whenever I Stop" it's clear that this collection is mainly based on acoustic guitar driven R'n'B influenced songs. This decision is probably inspired by the big success of "Over My Shoulder" from the last album. "Whenever I Stop" is cut from the same cloth, and deserves to be just as big a hit.

The album's initial talking point was the debut single; "Now That You've Gone" produced by the Metro team who were also responsible for Cher's best selling single; "Believe". Although this hasn't even made the top thirty let alone number one the combination works well and proves that this band can experiment with modern styles of recording successfully. Another key track is "Ordinary Girl" which is an affectionate pastiche of The Beatles' "Paperback Writer".

"What Will You Do" highlights Carracks' distinctive hearty voice, together with an infectious Tamla Mowtown-esque backing. He gives an equally impressive vocal on the Don Henley-ish "Open Up". The high point of the whole album is undoubtedly "All The Light I Need". The melody is pure McCartney/Elton John/Bacharach all rolled into one with a large pinch of Crowded House squeezed in, in the right areas! This has to be Rutherford's best song he has written - certainly with The Mechanics!

Paul Young has plenty of his moments, most notably on the high energy track "When I Get Over You" and the delicate ballad "My Little Island" not forgetting the album's closing track "Look Across at Dreamland" which provides the same lyrical food for thought that made "Beggar On a Beach of Gold" such a powerful title track.

The album is the most intricate; melodic; honest and sensitive collection of songs The Mechanics have ever done. The main key to this, of course, is Mike Rutherford's song writing helped out by Paul Carrack and Paul Young and the usual cohorts - co-producer Chris Neil, and the ever-present B. A. Robertson. The dynamic and emotional qualities that made "The Living Years" so enjoyable and durable has fully risen again but in a more modern and subtle musical environment. This fifth studio album is all the better for it.