“THE STORY OF…. M6” - Mike and The Mechanics’ sixth album revisited. Your navigator this time round, Alan Hewitt. Photographs by Jon Guntrip and Jill Walker. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
Difficult to believe that ten years have elapsed since M6 was released. Time for another trip down Memory Lane, methinks….
The Mechanics must have been delighted with the success not only of their latest album; A Beggar On A Beach of Gold, but also the incredible success of the “Hits” compilation released in 1996 which sold over a million copies! The band undertook lengthy tours in the UK with a smattering of European shows as well and by the end of 1996 they were riding high on a crest of popularity.
With the departure of Phil Collins finally becoming public knowledge in March 1996, fans were left wondering what (if anything) lay in store for both Genesis and The Mechanics. The former reconvened in 1997 and recorded what was to be the last studio album by the band; Calling All Stations for which they toured throughout the UK and Europe in the spring of 1998. Touring and promotional duties for that album and the first Genesis Archive boxed set completed, Mike was able to restart the Mechanics in the autumn of 1998 for what would be their fifth studio album.
|Once again, the nucleus of the band was Mike alongside Paul Carrack and Paul Young although this time, Mike also drafted in Brian Rawling as producer who had been responsible for Cher’s massive hit; “Believe”. Song writing was shared by Mike with Paul Carrack and B A Robertson as usual. The first evidence of the new album appeared in the shape of the first single from the album; Now That You’ve Gone, which despite the announcement on the press release wasn’t released until 24th May right in the middle of the first leg of the tour. This was another stylish effort from the band which sadly failed to emulate the success of the band’s previous efforts. The album itself was put together in quite a short period by Mechanics’ standards, as Mike explained in an interview he gave to TWR at the time…|
"After the Hits tour in 1996 we had to have a period away from the Mechanics because of the new Genesis project and so we managed to get it done quite quickly over a three month period between December 1998 and March of this year. During the final couple of weeks I was working on it up to twenty hours a day to get it finished!”
The album, confusingly titled; M6 (it was in fact, the band’s fifth studio album excluding the Hits compilation), was finally released on 31st May. The new collaborations gave the album an even more polished feel to it but the key elements of the Mechanics’ “sound” were still there and the additional people involved in the project brought their expertise to bear on the finished result as Mike explains…
“Brian Rawling who produced Cher’s latest single; Believe, produced Now That You’ve Gone and Nick Davis produced a few because he is always at the studio and he does such a good job, and I produced a few with Nick. Nick’s a pleasure to work with because he’s good on guitars and drums, you know. Paul Carrack has written a great deal on this album and Paul Young has done some writing as well as B A Robertson, and Chris Neil and it does feel very much like a band…”
|Once again, the band started touring duties before the album had been released although this served the useful purpose of gauging the reaction of the fans to the new material. A warm-up show at London’s Hanover Grand club premiered the new album in fine style and a sizeable contingent of TWR members were in attendance and gave the band a suitably enthusiastic reception and the show was recorded for a BBC transmission which has since been widely bootlegged.|
|The tour proper commenced a few days later at York’s Barbican Theatre before continuing throughout the bulk of the remainder of May and into June with shows in most of the major towns and cities in England with outings to Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well taking the Mechanics’ brand to all corners of the country. The show itself represented the usual mix of new and established Mechanics material and the band played to packed houses everywhere. The band fitted in a handful of shows in Europe as well although things were slightly more difficult for the band there as Mike explained…|
“Well we normally do the festivals but this year the festivals have gone a bit younger; they’ve gone for the young bill of The Manic Street Preachers, Placebo, that sort of band and we are a bit cold. It’s always hard coming back to the Mechanics. It’s always a bit cold until they hear some music and trying to pre-sell the Mechanics is impossible until they hear some music and then they go ’oh yeah’ and attitudes change…”
(Interview extracts are taken from “Taking The M6 To Manchester”
interview with Mike which was originally published in #39 of TWR)