ALBUM REVIEWS

MIKE & THE MECHANICS
(Click on the Album Art To Order The CD)

 

ALBUM RATING SYSTEM

*****

An excellent album. Strong effort from beginning to end! A must own!

****

A very good album. A few low points but, overall, a decent effort. Recommended. 

***

A good album. Several weak points detract from the album, but it's still worth owning.

**

A mediocre album. Unless you're a real fan, you might not like this album very much.

*

A poor album. Stay away from this one unless you are a hardcore fan!

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Mike & The Mechanics (1985)

WOG RATING: ****

While, at this point, The Mechanics were essentially a name behind which Mike Rutherford released his own solo projects, the debut self-titled release is a nearly flawless piece of pop perfection. The album climbed the charts with hits like "All I Need Is A Miracle", "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)" and "Taken In," but they represented only a sampling of the great music on this album. Other standouts include "Par Avion", "Hanging By A Thread", "I Get The Feeling" and "Call To Arms." To be perfectly honest, I don't think there's a bad one in the lot! Unlike later projects, vocal chores on this set are not limited to Paul Young and Paul Carrack (as they would be on later albums). The album rocks a little more than later Mechanics' endeavors with super-charged songs like "Hanging By A Thread" and "Take The Reins," which actually balances off the ballads on this project extremely well. This disc is one of my favorite albums of the '80s and definitely comes highly recommended. A consistently good debut from a great pop band!  

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Living Years (1988)

WOG RATING: ***

Although Living Years is heralded by many as the band's landmark album fueled by the massive worldwide success of the title track, it is clearly the weakest of all of the Mechanics' albums to date. Its the only album that sounds extremely "dated" in stereotypical '80s type pop when listened to years later, much in the way that I suspect the group's Rewired album (which suffers from the same trappings of adapting to current musical trends) will sound in the coming decade when revisited. Unexplainably, Living Years just seems to lack the timeless quality represented on the bulk of the Mechanics' catalog.
The album does have some excellent material like the incredibly powerful ballad "Nobody Knows", the upbeat tongue and cheek "Seeing Is Believing", "Poor Boy Down" which is the closest thing to a straight-up rocker you're going to get from the Mechanics, the legendary title cut, and "Nobody's Perfect" which is an outstanding tune that suffers greatly from a nails on chalkboard like opening. Sadly, the five tracks that make up the other half of the album just aren't that memorable. In retrospect, the better tracks do carry the album enough to make it a worth while purchase, but if I was going to listen to a Mechanics album, it would probably be the last one I would choose.
 

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Word of Mouth (1991)

WOG RATING: ****

1991's Word of Mouth wins the award for being the most under-rated Mechanics album. The project was just pushed in under the radar before Mike Rutherford returned to Genesis for the We Can't Dance album, and may have suffered in the process. While Mouth was not really a commercially successful release, it remains one of my top two favorite Mechanics' albums. This album is incredibly strong from beginning to end. Some might say Word of Mouth is a little ballad heavy, but I think the project is fairly seamless and flows nicely. From upbeat inspiring pop tunes like "Get Up" and "Everybody Gets A Second Chance" to delicate ballads like "Time and Place", "Stop Baby" and "Before (The Next Heartache Falls)" to the pop-seasoned rock of the title cut, this release runs the gambit... and does it well. 
Released at the height of the Grunge and Alternative rock movement in the early '90s, the changing music scene left this album in the dust, which is a true shame. This is one of those rare albums that you listen to and think "had this been released a year or two earlier, it probably would have been a massive hit." I strongly recommend it. If you like Mike & The Mechanics, you simply can't go wrong with Word of Mouth
 

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Beggar On A Beach of Gold (1995)

WOG RATING: ***

Released in February 1995, Beggar On A Beach of Gold attempted to recapture the commercial interest established with the group's first two albums, but it never quite succeeded. The project contains several strong Mechanics' tunes like the title cut, "Another Cup of Coffee", their great cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe", "Mea Culpa" and "Over My Shoulder." Unfortunately, there are a few less palatable tracks like their cover of Smokey Robinson's "You Really Got A Hold On Me" and "Someone Always Hates Someone" which detracted from the album as a whole. Collectively, this was not the Mechanics' best album, but some of the material on this project remains among my favorites from their repertoire. There is definitely enough quality material to make Beggar worth exploring, but whether it is because Word of Mouth was such an excellent album and hard to follow-up or because the tracks just aren't as cohesive as other projects, the release does not stand out as a truly great album.

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Hits (1996)

WOG RATING: *****

Hits was Mike and The Mechanics' first compilation. The 13-track anthology spanned the first 11 years of the group's history starting with their 1985 debut through 1995's Beggar On a Beach of Gold. The collection also featured one new track, "All I Need Is A Miracle '96" which is a remake of one of their biggest singles. All four albums from the era covered on Hits are represented with a fairly thoughtful mix of material from each disc. While ideal track listings on "best of" sets are always debatable, I found the songs selected to be extremely representative of the body of the group's work from that period.  Honestly, its a shame that this album was never released in North America, because prior to Hits the band did have a North American recording contract for all of the titles featured on this collection. While I ultimately prefer Mike and The Mechanics' Favourites CD if I was to pick one collection on the band, Hits makes a great introduction to the music of the Mechanics and is certainly a worth while purchase. This collection is highly recommended.

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Mike & The Mechanics (a.k.a. M6) (1999)

WOG RATING: *****

Mike and The Mechanics have been one of the most consistent side projects within the Genesis mythos. Every album recorded by the band to date has been been fairly solid with several excellent tracks, and M6 is certainly no exception. In fact, I regard the M6 project as being not only the best Mechanics album, but also one of my all-time favorite CDs - period. From infectious cutting-edge pop tunes like "Now That You've Gone", "Ordinary Girl" and "Whenever I Stop" to beautiful songs like "Look Across At Dreamland", "My Little Island" and "All The Light I Need" this album covers all of the bases. Sadly, some of Paul Young's most memorable work is featured on this release, which would turn out to be his last with the band. Much like Beggar On A Beach of Gold, this album was one of the first glimpses of balance within the band, with Carrack and Young's voice in the songwriting process appearing stronger than ever before. This perfect union between the songwriting prowess of Mike Rutherford, BA Robertson, Paul Carrack, and Paul Young makes M6 virtually flawless from beginning to end. A classic in every sense of the word! A must own!

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Favourites (2001)

WOG RATING: *****

This 17-track Swedish compilation offers the best of the group's first 14 years together starting with hits from their self-titled 1985 debut album through their amazing 1999 opus, M6. Almost every hit single including early tunes like "All I Need Is A Miracle", "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)", and "The Living Years" to modern classics like "Now That You've Gone", "Word of Mouth", and "Over My Shoulder" are all featured in this great set! Plus, as if that wasn't enough, it includes the previously rare b-side "You Never Change." In fact, the only song it seems to be missing is "Taken In" which was a hit single in the USA (but since this is a Swedish CD, I guess we can forgive that!). Fans should also note that the album is dedicated to the memory of former lead vocalist Paul Young who passed away in 2000. If you are a fan of Mike & The Mechanics, if you've always been curious to try one of their albums, or if you're just a passive listener, this collection is sure to please. I strongly encourage you to give this selection of pop treasures a listen. You won't regret it! If you are planning on buying one Mike and The Mechanics CD - This one is it!

 

Mike & The Mechanics - Rewired (2004)

WOG RATING: ***

I have always found that the Mechanics albums followed a fairly consistent yet predictable formula with hints of catchy pop meshed around a number of well-honed, memorable compositions. This may have made the band boring to some; but I’ve always found their albums extremely enjoyable year after year. In fact, all the Mechanics albums, with the possible exception of Living Years which does not stand the test of time (due to its dated '80s sound), have gotten better with each release from their debut through 1999’s M6.
That brings us to the summer of 2004 and the release of Rewired, the band’s first album since the death of co-lead vocalist Paul Young. This time out, The Mechanics features mainstays Mike Rutherford, BA Robertson, and Paul Carrack along with the return of original drummer Peter Van Hooke and a number of new guest musicians. Listening to the album, you get the distinct impression that the band are trying to modernize their consistent, beguiling, pop-laced stylishness with a sound that is hip and current with today’s music scene. Unfortunately, this works against the album at times with occasional mid-tempo, techno-like arrangements that detract from otherwise excellent Mechanics tunes.

There are several strong tracks on the album including “I Don’t Want It All”, “If I Were You”, “How Can I” and “Somewhere Along the Line” which Carrack sings to perfection. There are also a couple of songs that fall a little short, including “Perfect Child” which sounds similar at times to “The Living Years” when it gets to the chorus, and two instrumental tracks that do not hold up against the rest of the album. In the blatant attempt to ‘rewire’ and update the group’s sound, The Mechanics deviated somewhat from the tried and true formula that makes their sound so memorable. As a whole, Rewired is a decent offering, but I would love to hear stripped down versions of some of these songs without all of the techno-tomfoolery.


To return to the Album Review Index Click
Here.



World of Genesis.com is a fan site and has no affiliations with Genesis or any artist associated with the band. Website design, content and pictures copyright © 2000-2014 David Negrin. All Rights Reserved. All content on this website is either the property of David Negrin, or the original owners, and may not be duplicated, copied, transmitted, or altered without permission. This site is best viewed in 1280x768
(widescreen), using IE 10.0 or better. Genesis band shot used in "Reviews" icon used by permission from P. Kamin.