Our Top 10 Mike + The Mechanics Songs list takes a look at some of the most popular songs the band has released during its 20-plus-year career. Long known for his work in Genesis Mike Rutherford formed his own solo band Mike + The Mechanics in the 1980s as many of his Genesis bandmates were also celebrating solo projects and solo careers.
Top 10 Mike + The Mechanics Songs
# 10 – Silent Running
We open up our Mike + The Mechanics songs list with the sensational song “Silent Running.” The song was released on the band’s debut album entitled Mike + The Mechanics. The album was released in 1985. Mike Rutherford, co-wrote this song with his longtime musical collaborator, Scottish artist B.A. Robertson. Rutherford explained that the song was ultimately about traveling across time. The grandfather in this tale is able to peer into the future and warn his family that things in England aren’t looking well. He is trying to contact his loved ones to let them know to prepare for the looming calamity. That’s why there’s a phrase that goes “Can you hear me; can you hear me calling you?”
Lyrically, the phrase “Silent Running” does not appear; rather, it is a reference to the narrative structure in which the father continually asks the boy if he can hear him running. The song’s subtitle, “On Dangerous Ground,” was added to promote the film of the same name. Most of that effort was wasted, however, because the film was distributed in the United States under the name Choke Canyon (On Dangerous Ground was the UK title). Unfortunately, the film’s box office performance was not mirrored by the success of the song. There was no explanation given for the subtitling for American listeners.
# 9 – All The Light I Need
Continuing with our Mike + The Mechanics songs list we present the grand song “All The Light I Need.” The song was released on the album M6. The album was released in 1999. It was the third single released from the albums and the only one not to break onto the music charts. Paul Carrack sings lead vocals on the song.
# 8 – Save My Soul
The main vocalists for this version of Mike + The Mechanics recording were Andrew Roachford (“Cuddly Toy (Feel for Me)”) and Tim Howar. In “Save My Soul,” Roachford sings lead, he is seeking a higher power or a cause to dedicate his life. Many biblical allusions and a redemptive message are woven into this song. The song begins, “Traveled south to wash my sins away.”
The song was co-written by Roachford, Chief Mechanic Mike Rutherford, and Rutherford’s longtime friend and music producer Fraser T. Smith, who has also worked with Rick Wakeman, Craig David, Britney Spears, Lily Allen, and a plethora of other artists.
# 7 – Always Listen To Your Heart
In the number seven spot on our top 10 Mike + The Mechanics songs list is the very beautiful song “Always Listen To Your Heart.’ The song was released in 1999. In the beginning, multiple electric guitars are distorted, and the song slowly progresses with ordinary drumming. Listen to your heart, be honest, and demonstrate strength in every life; these pieces of advice may seem obvious, but Paul Young plays the part of a wise elder who has made mistakes and learned from them in order to bestow wisdom on the younger generation. Paul Young’s voice is layered over and over again to accompany the chorus.
# 6 – Let Me Fly
While many of Mike Rutherford’s compositions have an ominous tone, his song “Let Me Fly” is upbeat and optimistic. The message, he claims, is “In other words, don’t feel bad about anything. Try it out if you’re curious.” Mike + The Mechanics’ eighth studio album, and second with the Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar combination, is titled Self-Titled. Roachford, whose single “Cuddly Toy (Feel For Me)” was a smash in the UK, provided the lead vocals here.
This song was co-written by Johnny Hates Jazz lead singer Clark Datchler and Rutherford and Roachford. “Shattered Dreams” was a huge hit for them, and he wrote it. Just as on Mike + The Mechanics’ massive hit “The Living Years,” this one also incorporates a choir. Their lineup includes Cherrice Kirton, Godfrey Gayle, Joy Malcolm, Priscilla Jones, Subrina McCalla, and Xavier Barnett.
# 5 – Open Up
As Paul Carrack’s voice comes in, the song transforms from quiet synth beats and gritty guitar sounds into a melodic pop tune. Don’t be afraid to let your partner know how you feel;Paul Carrack begs for another opportunity in their relationship as well. Perhaps a breakup hasn’t happened quite yet, but by keeping quiet and not sharing sentiments, one is continually misunderstood and viewed as unreliable.
# 4 – Nobody Knows
Mike Rutherford, the band’s frontman and lyricist, and Christopher Neil, the album’s co-producer, wrote this heartfelt song. In the song, the protagonist dissects his love after it has ended. What’s killing him is how much time and effort they’ve both put into their marriage. A verse at the end of the song, “It kills merely knowing your children won’t be mine,” is particularly poignant. Paul Carrack, one-half of the singing duo Paul Carrack and Paul Young, was the primary vocalist here. The album’s title track was sung by Carrack as well.
# 3 – Over My Shoulder
One of Mike + The Mechanics’ biggest UK hits is “Over My Shoulder,” which was written by the band’s leader, Mike Rutherford, and the song’s singer, Paul Carrack. The protagonist of the song is reflecting on his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.
# 2 – All I Need Is a Miracle
Mike Rutherford, who is most known for his work with Genesis, is the “Mike” of Mike + the Mechanics. In addition to Genesis, each member pursued other endeavors; Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins’ solo careers received the greatest attention, while Mike Rutherford’s Mike + the Mechanics had great success, with their 1988 single “The Living Years” becoming a top ten smash.
Mike Rutherford once claimed, “If you write a great song, you want a fantastic voice, and that voice isn’t me.” This was his justification for not contributing vocals to the band. This and three other songs on the CD feature Paul Young, formerly of the Sad Cafe (not to be confused with the Paul Young who performed “Every Time You Go Away”). Paul Carrack, of Squeeze and solo fame, contributed vocals to three additional tracks.
Young passed away in the year 2000, at the age of 53. Mike Rutherford (guitar, bass) and Christopher Neil (record producer) wrote this song for the debut album by Mike + the Mechanics. The protagonist of the song has mistreated his girlfriend and now desperately wants her back. The upbeat rhythm defies the song’s sad subject matter, creating an instance of linguistic dissonance.
# 1 – The Living Years
We close out our top 10 Mike + The Mechanics songs list with the bands heartbreaking son “The Living Years.” The song was composed by Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson. As Robertson and Rutherford had experienced the loss of their fathers, the song is deeply personal to them both. Several drafts of the song were created. Before his father passed away in 1986, B.A. Robertson penned the first verse. Rutherford’s father also passed away that year. With this verse as inspiration, the two worked together to write the music, and then sometime later Robertson wrote the second stanza. He didn’t finish writing the song’s final verse until just before it was recorded.
Top 10 Mike + The Mechanics Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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