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Mike + The Mechanics Word Of Mouth

Mike + The Mechanics - Word Of Mouth

More liberty for Carrack

1991 was a tough year for solo projects. It has already been announced at the end of 1990 that Genesis will be going back to the studio. At the same time two solo projects came into being – Tony Banks released his album Still (with illustrous guest musicians like Pino Palladino, Fish, Nik Kershaw or Andy Taylor) and Mike finished his third Mechanics record. Word Of Mouth was in the unrewarding position to equal the success of its predecessor without repeating it. That was The Living Years, three years prior, which major single hit even entered #1 in the USA.  Furthermore, Word Of Mouth was produced during the period of changing production techniques from analogue to digital, which led to additional problems of a more logistic nature.

Dale Newman told about that in it-magazine #21: "In course of time it was hard for me to keep the pace. When Mike worked on Word Of Mouth it had come to the situation that I was able to prepare everything and to plug in his guitars, but I had no clue about how all those devices worked that I set up. When the album was finished, I brought the whole equipment back to Mike's studio. He asked me, if I brought the removable disk. I was totally baffled and asked, how that thing looks like. He gave a description and I remembered that I left it in some case in the studio. Mike couldn't believe his ears. The whole record was on this disk!"

Back in 1991 the band members were Mike Rutherford (Guitar / Bass), Paul Carrack (Vocals / Keyboards), Paul Young (Vocals), Peter van Hooke (Drums) and Adrian Lee (Keyboards). Additionally there were Tim Renwick (Guitars), Steve Piggot (Keyboards), Phil Todd (Saxophone), Martin Ditcham (Percussions), Pino Palladino (Bass) and Ian Wherry (Keyboards). Mike Rutherford and Christopher Neil once again were responsible for the production – supported by Russ Titleman for some songs.
The album consists of ten songs:

Get Up*


Word Of Mouth°


A Time And Place*


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow°


The Way You Look At Me*


Everybody Gets a Second Chance*


Stop Baby°


My Crime Of Passion*


Let's Pretend It Didn't Happen°


Before (The Next Heartache Falls)*


* vocals: Paul Carrack
° vocals: Paul Young

Mike + The Mechanics 1991In terms of sound, Word Of Mouth was an advancement. Although many things still sound somehow artificial, the band cast off the chilly and flat sound of the 80s and produces a lot more energy. Nevertheless, the keyboard foundations were still indispensable. Get Up is a vigorous song, but maybe not the perfect opening track. The track is sung by Paul Carrack and has been part of almost every live set ever since. It was also planned to be a single, but has never "really" been released. There were some digipacks produced which were dealt at incredibly high prices among fans. That were the 90s and it was hard to get hold of rarities such as this. The title song is a bit of a surprise, as it appears to be a live track. In fact, the audience and the rhytmic clapping were only blended in. Interestingly, there's a reverb on Paul Young's voice, underlining the live feeling. The title track is considered to be a big Mechanics hit, although it hardly reached the commercial success of All I Need Is A Miracle or The Living Years. Nevertheless, Word Of Mouth is a most powerful live song, either as last song before the encore, or as the final chucker-out – and both, Paul Young, and Tim Howar, knew exactly how to make a real corker out of it. Even Mike dares a rare, if unspectacular, guitar solo, after Paul Young whooped him: "Come on, Mike". Geniality and a simple pop rock tune – why not?

Two genuine tearjerkers (where the sound goes a bit over the top) are on the record: A Time & Place and Stop Baby. Since the time for songs like these was up, it's no surprise that first of all A Time & Place was no great commercial success. On the other hand, Everybody Gets A Second Chance proved to be a massive radio hit for the Mechanics. Here the band show their talent: to congenially stage a simple song as this.

Mike + The Mechanics Word Of MouthLouder, noisier, more rocking: That's Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. This could be the successor of Hanging By A Thread to some extend, but the sound is way better. And, like most of the more powerful songs, it is sung by Paul Young.

The last three songs somehow fail to keep the level. My Crime Of Passion sounds like a prototype (and somehow dull) version of Everybody Gets A Second Chance and fails to stick in the mind. Let's Pretend It Didn't Happen is a better song, but you get the feeling that the songs acts way below his best. Finally there's Before (The Next Heartache Falls) with a somehow strange dramaturgy. Yes, the song grows towards the end and becomes more and more intense, but since there's no real hookline, it fails to create atmosphere and excitement. At the end it simply get faded out, instead of really finishing the album.
Word Of Mouth is an in-between album, from where we stand. It is remarkable that Paul Carrack for the first time had co-written some of the songs. There's a slight development in terms of sound, but it was not until the Beggar On A Beach Of Gold album that all the 80s sound fustiness could be cast off. Furthermore, Word Of Mouth suffered from the long shadow cast by the new Genesis record in 1991. Anyway, some songs still remain fixed elements of the live shows and are loved to be heard.

Author: Christian Gerhardts | October 2014
translated by Martin Breit

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