Mike + The Mechanics - Track by Track by Alan Hewitt.
This album was certainly one of the most played in what was later to become TWR HQ during the autumn of 1985 and deservedly so! Once you got used to the idea that it was still Mike Rutherford and that the other individuals appearing on the album were equally as talented in their own right, the album was a delightful break from the classic Genesis ethos.
Opening though with Silent Running, the initial impression might be that this was Genesis writ large. Not so! Once the menacing keyboard intro passes and the song gets into its stride, there is a hard rockin’ track dying to get out. I admit, I have never seen the film for which this song became the theme but that doesn’t really matter. Once Paul Carrack’s’ tonsils let rip, you are soon drawn in to this epic - a great opener!
All I Need Is A Miracle is still a staple on certain American AOR radio stations and no wonder. This is another bona fide classic. Infectiously catchy and delivered in fine rabble- rousing style by Mr Young - always a concert favourite.
Par Avion is next, slowing the tempo right down here with a slick well produced love song which is not sung by either of the two Paul’s but that is no matter. Sounding slightly dated now thanks to the use throughout of a drum machine it is nonetheless another nice example of Mike’s song writing.
Hanging By a Thread picks things up a gear or two. An out and out rocker this one and one which was an instant live favourite on both the 1986 and subsequent Living Years tour in 1989. Paul Young belts the song out as only he can really and this is a great rock track pure and simple (there’s a song title in there somewhere, isn’t there…?)
I Get The Feeling has an almost tangible Motown feel to it. Definitely a song which suits Paul Carrack’s bluesier style of vocal delivery. A snazzy little number and one which always got an audience on its feet and moshing in the aisles!
Take The Reins is another rocker an anthem for disaffected youth everywhere and one in which the band are really having a good time by the sound of it. Paul Young certainly is - he is obviously relishing his rabble -rousing image but all done with tongues firmly planted in cheeks methinks!
You Are The One shows the softer more romantic side of Mike’s writing a side not often in evidence as Genesis’ attempts at ballads seem to have been taken over predominantly by Phil. Once again, the vocalist is neither Carrack or Young but the result is another delightful effort. Kudos here too for Adrian Lee who lays down some superb keyboard accompaniment.
A Call To Arms, as I have already outlined in the preceding feature, is one of those famous left over “bits” from previous recording sessions. Thank goodness Mike decided to persevere with this one though, because it is a CLASSIC! I suppose this one is the “Living Years” of this album and another one destined to be a great live favourite. Mike’s heavy bass lines and the anguished vocals deliver a marvellous story ably augmented by Messrs Lee and Van Hooke.
The album is rounded off in suitably mellow style with a bitter sweet look at love gone wrong. A track that encapsulates all of the traits which were to characterise the subsequent Mechanics offerings. Lush production, great melodies, superb vocals and an emphasis on mood and atmosphere all too rare in music these days.
Mike + The Mechanics’ success was slow in coming here in the UK although other territories most notably the USA, took the album to their hearts straight away. As a first effort for a new band, the album deserved that success and it has remained a firm favourite of mine ever since I first heard it - twenty three years ago!