Mike & The Mechanics Living Years Deluxe edition. Reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
It is hard to credit that it was twenty five years ago when this iconic album was first unleashed on an unsuspecting public but here we are celebrating that very anniversary!
The impact this album made on the public consciousness upon its release is difficult to credit now but its place as one of the iconic albums of the 1980’s rests squarely with the album’s title track but there was much more to it than that.
Wisely the band opted not to release Living Years as the debut single but instead gave the album’s opener a chance and Nobody’s Perfect gets things off to a marvellous start. An up tempo rocker that really gives the late Paul Young a chance to belt one out and he does not disappoint! Living Years is next and it has not lost any of its emotional resonance and for me personally, this one has much more impact now than it did back in 1988. A bona fide classic which managed to examine a delicate subject without descending into mawkish sentimentality it still has the power to wring every ounce of emotion out of the listener and Paul Carrack’s delivery is a master class in performance.
Seeing Is Believing is, believe it or not a love song but only as Mike & The Mechanics could do it. Once again., Paul Young belts out this one as the subject eventually comes to the decision that he believes in love whilst rejecting such salubrious entities as the Mujahadeen and Daniel Ortega among others!
Nobody Knows is a much more laid back effort before we return to some more serious rabble rousing with Poor Boy Down which was always an incitement for the crowd to join the band in party mode at the gigs. Blame is a rather nondescript affair before we get to Don’t which is an excellent joint effort between Young and Carrack.
Black & Blue is another track which always went down much better in the live context than it does on record and the same can really be said for Beautiful Day and Why Me which bring the album to a close.
One thing I had always maintained that the Mechanics had lacked was a live album and here, at last we get one. It opens with the new edition of Living Years which, to be honest doesn’t really cut it for me - the original is sufficiently impressive as far as I am concerned.
The live tracks effectively give you the highlights of the Living Years tour although to be honest, I would have preferred it if the band had simply released a complete recording from one gig instead of editing tracks from different ones which rather spoils the flow. It was my understanding that all of the live tracks were from the 1989 tour but this cannot be the case, because if you listen closely at one point you can hear Paul Young say “Good evening Scotland” and the band did not perform any Scottish shows in 1989 - the closest they got was Newcastle, a gig your editor was at!
That said, here at last is a fitting testament to the band’s live performances and the mighty vocal combination of both Carrack and Young, a tradition which thankfully, Roachford and Howar are continuing at the moment.
If you bought the original album you will already know the musical excellence which lies within, and the live tracks should bring back many happy memories. For fans coming to the album for the first time, welcome to the world of Mike & The Mechanics!