A welcome re-invention from the Mechanics
Greg Masora | London | 11/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit at first i did not like this album the first time i heard it, this was partly due to the fact that i'd sort of gotten comfortable with the Mike & The Mechanics "Sound" on show on the album "Begger On A Beach Of Gold" & to a lesser extent on "M6" & the fact that i've never been all that partial to computer generated sounds & coming from bands i considered "Real" i.e played their own guitars, bass, drums etc. As a big fan of Mike & The Mechanics i decided to give this album another chance, because if there's one thing i've learnt from following competent musicians over the years is that it's very rarely a good band makes a truely terrible album, more often than not it's the audience who fails to connect with the vision the artist has in mind (this in my opinion is not a credible critisism that can be leveled at any sucessful artist). This i think is the main problem "Rewired" has had (judging from some of the reviews).
This is not a bad outing at all, if you come at it from a completely fresh perspective. The songs on this album are indeed very "Electric" by a lot of people's standards but that doesn't make them bad, I think they have done a good job of updating their sound without going overboard. The songs are still very catchy & well structured, "One left Standing" springs to mind, with a chorus you can sing forever. There is no shortage of songs reminiscent of the "Beggar On The Beach..." "If I were You" & "I don't Want It All" being just two examples.
On the whole i think the mixture of acoustic & computer generated sounds just about hits the right balance on this album, Paul Carrack's in fine form & Mike Rutherford does well to play his guitar for the songs, nothing more nothing less.
This is a good album with a good variation of songs, i cannot fault it in any way in terms of it doin' what it says on the can, from the album design you know that it's not your usual guitar, bass & Drums affair. It however doesn't get the 5 Stars as i think that an album needs to transcend it's time to be granted this priveledged status. I would recomend this record to anyone wanting a break from the usual, if though one wants to get a flavour of what this talented band is all about i think the place to start would probably be "Living Years" & "Beggar On A Beach Of Gold""
While Mike + The Mechanics reinvent their sound, ultimately
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 06/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It is hard to believe that it was some two decades ago when Mike + The Mechanics were formed. The group was considered a supergroup as it was formed as a side project by Genesis Guitar and Bass player Mike Rutherford and featured vocalists Paul Carrack (formerly of Squeeze) and Paul Young (formerly of Sad Cafe). This side project would lead to commercial and critical success in the 1980s, but in the 1990s, their commercial sales would decline. By the time their fifth studio album "Mike + The Mechanics - M6" was released, it would only be available as an import and not distributed on a U.S. label. The 1990s also saw Mike + The Mechanics go through lineup changes, but the nucleus of Rutherford, Carrack, and Young would continue to be maintained. At the same time, the band continued to produce high quality albums. When 2001 came along, the nucleus of Mike + The Mechanics would be disrupted when Paul Young would pass away unexpectedly. For the first time, the band would be without one of their co-lead vocalists. To the credit, Rutherford and Carrack would carry on and release another album in 2004 - "Rewired". Since Rutherford and Carrack would be the only members of the nucleus left, the album would be released under the banner of "Mike + The Mechanics + Paul Carrack". The title of the album is very appropriate. Not only did the band need to "rewire" themselves following Young's death, but they also rewired their sound. I give the band a lot of credit a lot of credit for getting back together and reinventing their sound. I wish I could say that the end product was up to the high standards that were previously delivered by the band - unfortunately I cannot.
The loss of Young was an enormous blow to the band. Much of the unique appeal of Mike + The Mechanics is the two headed vocal approach that Carrack and Young bring to the table. I always felt that Carrack focused on delivering the intense vocals while Young focused on the passionate vocals. Now without Young, the band made the decision to carry on with just Carrack. To some extent I question the move of not bringing in another vocalist, but I can understand that it would be very difficult to replace Young.
The big change is that Mike + The Mechanics introduce a Synthesizer-laden keyboard and mix it with a lot of Adult-Contemporary-styled songs. Today, much of the new music is falling into a cookie-cutter style guitar-laden sound (just ask Bryan Adams, even his "Room Service" album falls into this category). In fact, I give Mike + The Mechanics a lot of credit for doing this because they weren't afraid to move away from the norm and do something different. However the end product just wasn't all that interesting. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that you don't have those passionate Paul Young vocals that became a Mike + The Mechanics staple. But on top of that, even Paul Carrack's vocals lack the three-dimensional intensity that existed on previous works. The move toward this Techno sound should not be a complete surprise. There were hints of this on the "M6" album (just listen to the sound "Now That You've Gone").
From a personnel standpoint, it is worth noting that longtime Mechanics drummer Peter Van Hooke is back (after an absence from the "M6" album). Van Hooke also helped co-produce the album with Rutherford. Rutherford and Carrack contribute songwriting on all nine tracks. Longtime Mechanics songwriter B.A. Robertson contributes to the songwriting on three tracks. Despite this strong "Original Mechanics" nucleus, things still don't pan out. I think the big problem is that the album, while not a bad album just didn't have enough to hold my interest.
It is also worth noting that the band brings in a synthesizer programmer in Will Bates. Bates contributes to songwriting on two instrumental tracks "Rewired" (limited vocals) and "Underscore". Instrumental tracks are not exactly a staple of this band, but perhaps without Young's presence, it made sense to go in this direction. These are probably the most "Techno" sounding songs on the collection. The song "Rewired" does have some limited vocals. "Underscore" is the better of the two tracks - it has the passion and intensity that is lacked in the vocals. The techo sound isn't limited to these tracks, but tracks like "One Left Standing", Falling", and "I Don't Want It All" will also have this influence. Even the track "How Can I?" which starts out with a more classic sound will have the techno influence.
The other place where things change are the higher dependence of background vocals. Songs such as "One Left Standing", "If I Were You", and "Perfect Child" demonstrate this use of the background vocals.
Perhaps the best strong from a lyrical standpoint is "Perfect Child". This song has a lot of the emotional feel that "The Living Years" had. It has an adult-contemporary sound to it. The song deals with the emotions one has in wanting to bring a child into this world. "I want a perfect child; to live a perfect life in this world...They say when we have children; It changes how we live". This is a great song with Carrack showing his best stuff. Where was this song on the adult-contemporary radio playlists? This is really good stuff and deserved to be heard by the general public.
The liner notes include all of the lyrics and songwriting credits. It also lists the musicians. I personally would have liked to have seen something as a tribute to Paul Young. Overall, I think I have to give "Rewired" an "A" for effort, but more like a B- for overall music. The band should be applauded for carrying on and making a change in direction, but ultimately they need to be judged by how strong the end product is.