Mike + The Mechanics may have started out as Genesis founder Mike Rutherford’s “other” band, but by the time they released their fourth album, Beggar On A Beach Of Gold, they’d enjoyed a decade’s worth of solid mainstream success on their own terms.
Rutherford hadn’t specifically intended to form another group. He’d initially envisaged what became Mike + The Mechanics as a studio project to record the songs he’d composed outside of Genesis with Scottish singer BA Robertson. However, after producer Christopher Neil, ex-Sad Café vocalist Paul Young and former Squeeze vocalist/keyboardist Paul Carrack were all recruited to contribute to 1985’s Mike + The Mechanics, a bona fide rock supergroup was born.
This self-titled debut for WEA/Atlantic went gold in North America and spawned a pair of Billboard 200 Top 10 hits in ‘Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)’ and ‘All I Need Is A Miracle’. Elevated by a heart-melting vocal from Carrack, however, it was 1988’s poignant ‘The Living Years’ which afforded the band a global platform when it shot to the top spot in the US and No.2 in the UK.
The single’s parent album, The Living Years, consolidated on this triumph, going gold on both sides of the Atlantic, while ’91’s Word Of Mouth went silver in the UK in the wake of the Top 20 success of its rousing titular track. With Rutherford committed to promoting Genesis’ multi-milling-selling We Can’t Dance album, M+TM’s fourth LP was held back until March 1995, but when the much-anticipated Beggar On a Beach Of Gold finally arrived it soon established itself as a firm favourite.
Greeted by a brace of positive critical notices, the album was trailed by the enduringly infectious Top 20 hit ‘Over My Shoulder’, and further skirmishes with the charts followed. The towering, anthemic title track also cracked the UK Top 40, while ‘Another Cup Of Coffee’’s acutely observed tale of domestic disharmony proved popular in mainland Europe.
To the band’s credit, the LP creaked under the weight of potential hits. In conjunction with either Neil and/or Robertson, Rutherford crafted a clutch of his most beguiling tunes, while both the band’s vocalists excelled behind the mic. Young led the charge on the earthy, Free-esque rocker ‘Plain & Simple’, while Carrack soared on the power ballad ‘The Ghost Of Sex & You’, and the two pooled their talents on a neat beats- and ambience-enhanced cover of Smokey Robinson’s ‘You’ve Really Got A Hold Of Me’.
Peaking at No.9 on the British Top 40, Beggar On A Beach Of Gold deservedly added another gold disc to The Mechanics’ awards cabinet. Its success also presaged a further notable coup for the band when 1996’s career-spanning Hits anthology shrugged off the Britpop challengers and racked up double-platinum sales.
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