“All I Need Is a Miracle” is not a Phil Collins song. But had he not become a solo star in the Eighties, giving his Genesis bandmate Mike Rutherford the time and incentive to launch the side project Mike and the Mechanics, the song would not exist. It was the second single off their 1985 self-titled debut and it became a big hit all over the world.
Collins was very fond of the tune and often sang a snippet of it when introducing Rutherford to the audience at Genesis concerts in the late Eighties and early Nineties. He sang a larger segment at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in 1988 as part of a medley of Genesis songs and solo cuts. But it wasn’t until the Picnic on the Lake concert, held in Surrey, England, on July 1st, 1989, that he tackled the whole thing.
This was a charity concert by Eric Clapton and his touring band with special guests Steve Winwood, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Gary Brooker. That meant the set list veered from Clapton standards like “Cocaine” and “Lay Down Sally” to Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Genesis’ “Throwing It All Away,” and the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’.” They broke out “All I Need Is a Miracle” midway through with both Rutherford and Clapton on guitar. There’s no video, but you can hear very clean audio of the performance right here.
This is the same year that “The Living Years” became an even bigger hit for Mike and the Mechanics. It hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for four Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. “We were on rock radio before that,” Rutherford told Rolling Stone in 2014. “That song moved us away from that and sort of dwarfed everything else we did. It’s sort of like what happened to Foreigner after ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’”
Mike and the Mechanics would go on to have hits in Europe with “Word of Mouth” and “Over My Shoulder,” but those songs went nowhere in America. Rutherford’s troubles increased in 1996 when Collins quit Genesis, grew worse in 1997 when the Collins-free Genesis album Calling All Stations stiffed, and reached a sad crescendo in 2000 when Mike and the Mechanics singer Paul Young died of a sudden heart attack. Paul Carrack, the other singer in Mike and the Mechanics, quit the group four years later to resume his solo career.
Rutherford had made incredible music with four singers whose names start with the letter P (Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Paul Young, and Paul Carrack) and now three of them had quit his bands and the fourth was dead. Fortunately, Collins came back to Genesis for the 2007 Turn It On Again reunion tour, and Rutherford recruited two new Mechanics, Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar, and began touring and recording with them in 2010.
A new Genesis reunion tour with Phil Collins is supposed to launch in the U.K. in September, presuming the pandemic doesn’t force yet another postponement. The set list has been a tightly guarded secret, but don’t expect to see Collins sing “All I Need Is a Miracle” again. That was a one-shot deal.
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