Unlike 1985's MIKE AND THE MECHANICS, which gave radio three inescapable songs in 1986, 1989's THE LIVING YEARS only produced one hit single. But that one hit, the churchy title track, was so omnipresent in the winter and spring of 1989 that it has become the band's defining song. Written about the death of Mike Rutherford's father, "The Living Years" is less cloying than a lot of similar tunes. It's the clear highlight of the album, but the other nine songs are more consistently solid than later Mike and the Mechanics albums would be.
As always, lead vocals are split between Paul Carrack and ex-Sad CafT leader Paul Young (not the guy who sang "Everytime You Go Away"). The surprisingly soulful arrangements are based around Rutherford's typically excellent guitar and Carrack's R&B-style keyboards. THE LIVING YEARS is quality MOR pop rock, for those who believe such a thing exists.
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