Mike & The Mechanics are currently promoting their recently released eighth studio album, Let Me Fly. This seems like a prime opportunity to reflect on and rank the band’s eight studio albums. I have been a big Mechanics fan since the release of the band’s first single Silent Running, back in 1985. It have been a long and interesting journey since then and I am still on board. The following list is my ranking from favorite to least favorite.
Mike + The Mechanics (1985)
The album that started it all for The Mechanics. From start to finish the album is stacked with one excellent song after another. This is a near perfect album. It contains outstanding songwriting, production, vocals and musical performances. The Mechanics sound was firmly established with this album. The band mixed mainstream rock, pop, R&B, and occasional light touches of progressive rock. Mike Rutherford’s songwriting partnership with B.A. Robertson and Christopher Neil proved to be an extremely fruitful one. I can not say enough about the vocal duo of Paul Carrack and Paul Young. Special mention must be made for John Kirby who provided two beautiful vocal performances as well.
Stand out songs include Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground), Par Avion, Hanging By A Thread and You Are The One.
Beggar On A Beach Of Gold (1995)
The band’s fourth album, is nearly as good as their debut. After two very inconsistent albums everything came together on Beggar On A Beach Of Gold. Lyrically this is my favorite Mechanics album. It is also the band’s most diverse album musically. From a songwriting standpoint it is by far one of the band’s most consistent albums. One could argue that this album contains the band’s best vocal performances. Much like their debut album, this one is near perfect.
Standout songs include A House Of Many Rooms, Plain And Simple, Mea Culpa and Something To Believe In.
The Living Years (1988)
This was a strong follow-up to the band’s stellar debut album. There was no sophomore slump for The Mechanics, The Living Years is a great album. The only real issue with the band’s second album is some inconsistent songwriting. Half of the songs are incredible while the other half are good songs that border on being great. The album’s title track was not a favorite of mine when it was first released, at the end of 1988. But life being what it is, as I grew older I began to appreciate the song more and more. When I lost my father a few years ago the song really hit home. It is nearly impossible to listen to the song now without getting teary eyed.
Standout songs include Nobody’s Perfect, The Living Years, Nobody Knows, Beautiful Day and Why Me?
Let Me Fly (2017)
The band’s eighth studio album, but the second album by Mike’s retooled Mechanics. As of this writing Let Me Fly has only been out for one month. This album is a big leap forward from The Road, their first album together. The first thing that I noticed was the quality of the music. Much of the classic Mechanics sound is present on this album. The second thing that I noticed was the larger, more upfront influence of R&B music. R&B has always been an aspect of Mechanics music, but it feels much more so here. That being said, The Mechanics are still first and foremost a rock and roll band. The third are the exceptional vocals by the band’s two singers Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. Let Me Fly is a high energy album that is a fine addition to The Mechanics catalog.
Standout songs include Let Me Fly, Don’t Know What Came Over Me, The Letter and Are You Ready?
The Road (2011)
A good start for the retooled Mechanics. Once again Mike Rutherford has chosen two exceptional vocalists to lead the band. From start to finish The Road is a solid album. However the music feels a bit subdued. Those typically catchy and unique Rutherford guitar riffs are not as present on this album. Overall the vocals shine and the music takes a back seat. Special mention must be made for Arno Carstens who provided quality vocals on three songs.
Stand out songs include The Road, Try To Save Me and Background Noise.
Mike & The Mechanics (M6) (1999)
The band’s fifth album was a solid, but uneven Mechanics album. Overall the songwriting is not on par with the band’s earlier releases. The album contains great vocals, great production, solid performances. There are a few great songs to be found among several average ones. Unfortunately some of the songs are not that memorable.
Standout songs include When I Get Over You, Open Up and Asking (For The Last Time).
Word Of Mouth (1991)
For many years Word Of Mouth was the only Mechanics album that I did not care for. It was initially going to be dead last on this list. Thankfully I revisited the album for this post and discovered that it is not a bad album. There are some decent songs to be found on the album. But from a songwriting standpoint it is far from the band’s best material.
Standout songs include Get Up and Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.
An attempt to keep The Mechanics rolling along after the untimely death of Paul Young. Overall the album is good. Paul Carrack delivers his usual passionate vocals. But the old Mechanics magic is lacking on Rewired. There are a lot of electric elements added to the band’s sound for this album. These musical elements do work, but the songs just are not as distinctive as earlier Mechanics albums. Some of the songs are quite good, however at times they do not feel like Mechanics songs. Paul Young is greatly missed on this one.
Stand out songs include If I Were You, Falling and I Don’t Want It All.
Overall Mike & The Mechanics have produced a solid body of work. I wish that I could state that all of the albums are exceptional, but that is not the case. All of the albums do have one thing in common and that is exceptional vocal performances. All of the vocalists in the band’s history have consistently delivered passionate and skilled vocals. If only the songwriting was as consistent as the singing, The quality of the songwriting has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. However there is worthwhile music to be found on all of the Mike & The Mechanics albums.
The current line up is producing some fine music. Right now the future looks quite bright for The Mechanics. I am hopeful that this roster is together for many more years. Let Me Fly is barely one month old and I am already looking forward to the next Mechanics album.