Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PAUL CARRACK: Ten Reasons



Ten (Good) Reasons Why You Should Love:

PAUL CARRACK

     Pop, Rock and Soul vocalists are a dime a dozen these days thanks to televised talent contests, assembly line production, marketing dollars and Auto-Tune. Talent is no longer needed to scale the charts – you just need to hire Max Martin and kids will be streaming your hits in no time! It wasn’t always like that, you know.  Back in the day, luck may have been the key to chart success but you needed the talent to back it up.  And for over 40 years, British vocalist and musician Paul Carrack has revealed himself to be one of the most talented and hardest working artists in the business. You may not recognize his name but you have most definitely heard him sing. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, that is…


     Here’s a Carrack briefing to catch you up to speed. Although not his first band, Paul Carrack achieved his first hit as a member of Ace, writing and singing their hugely successful hit “How Long” in 1975. Ace split and he recorded his first solo album NIGHTBIRD in 1980. When Jools Holland quit the band Squeeze, they brought Carrack in as his replacement. Paul sang lead on Squeeze’s first big U.S. hit, “Tempted” as featured on their 1981 album EAST SIDE STORY. He left Squeeze after touring for the album and joined Nick Lowe’s band (often referred to as Noise To Go or Cowboy Outfit). He then recorded a few duets with Nick’s then-wife Carlene Carter. With Lowe’s band, Paul recorded his second solo album SUBURBAN VOODOO (1982) which featured the hit “I Need You.”  He continued to play with Nick’s band for the next few years before simultaneously going solo AND joining Genesis offshoot Mike & The Mechanics. Carrack sang lead on the Mechanics’ 1985 hit “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground).” He then achieved more solo success with “Don’t Shed A Tear” in 1988. That same year he saw even greater success as the vocalist on Mike & The Mechanics’ “The Living Years.”

     Are you still following along? OK, good.

     In 1993, while still making solo albums and recording with Mike & The Mechanics, he managed to sneak in another band onto his resume: Spin 1ne 2wo (a super group of sorts featuring Carrack, Rupert Hine, Tony Levin, Steve Ferrone and Phil Palmer). He also returned to Squeeze for another album – SOME FANTASTIC PLACE – and a tour. Finally, after 20 years of being part of someone else’s project while also working on a solo career, Carrack chose to focus all of his attention on his own music and he has continued to do so for over 20 years.

     Whew!  Now, THAT is a career!  And I never even mentioned his session and live work with The Smiths, Roxy Music, The Undertones, Madness, The Pretenders, Roger Waters, B.B. King, Simply Red, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Frankie Miller, The Eagles, John Hiatt, and Eric Clapton! And I must have forgotten to mention that he wrote or co-wrote two of the Eagles’ finest later period hits: “Love Will Keep Us Alive” and “I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore.”

     Many Rock and Pop fans are most familiar with the records he made with Squeeze, Mike & The Mechanics and Ace. While those projects certainly helped raise his commercial profile, Carrack’s solo recordings have often been overlooked by those that are only familiar with the hits. Because his preferred musical style is Soul music, Carrack’s casual Rock and Pop audience has found it easy to shrug and ignore his solo material (apart from the Pop/Rock sound of his SUBURBAN VOODOO album). They want him to stick to music that sounds like Squeeze, Nick Lowe or Mike & The Mechanics. What they fail to understand is that those bands don’t even sound like their 1980s selves anymore!  You've got to respect Carrack for sticking to his guns and doing whatever the hell he wants. He certainly has the talent and pedigree to do so.  And there's no denying that he has a dedicated, passionate following that understands where he's coming from. However, I'm just referring to those that may have lost interest as he pursued the soulful side of things...

     With nearly 20 solo albums in his back pocket plus a variety of compilations, Paul Carrack continues to record music that is heavily drenched in the sweat of ‘60s soul. Echoes of the Stax and Motown labels reverberate through every album. Tired of the rules and restrictions of the major label music business, Paul set up his own Carrack UK label and has released nearly an album or collection every year on the label since 2000. Playing nearly every instrument himself, each and every one of these albums has been a revelation. This is a man that can create his own Blue-Eyed Soul universe and still sound fresh with each release. And his voice? He’s never sounded better!

     Immersing yourself in his catalog can be quite daunting but the Carrack UK label has made it a little easier with the release of THE SINGLES COLLECTION: ALL THE CARRACK UK SINGLES FROM 2000-2017, a two CD set that spans his work on the label since its inception seventeen years ago. Jam-packed with great tracks, the album features mostly self-penned material but there are some great covers to enjoy as well.


   In order to ease you into his solo career, I thought I’d present 10 of his finest songs for you to listen to: five that you will be familiar with and five that are featured on THE SINGLES COLLECTION. If you like what you hear, I encourage you to investigate further. Paul Carrack is a musical treasure and the joy in his music will be your reward once you (re) discover him!



1. ACE/"How Long" (1975)
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2. PAUL CARRACK/"Satisfy My Soul" (2000)



3. MIKE & THE MECHANICS/"Silent Running" (1985)



4. PAUL CARRACK/"I Don't Want To Hear..." (2008)



5. PAUL CARRACK/"I Need You" (1982)



6 PAUL CARRACK/"Sweet Soul Legacy" (2016)



7. SQUEEZE/"Tempted" (1981)



8. PAUL CARRACK/"Any Day Now" (2002)



9. MIKE & THE MECHANICS/"Living Years" (1988)



10. PAUL CARRACK/"Time To Move On" (2008)




Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

4 comments:

Valerie Sneath said...

Paul (or "Mr.C as he is known to his dedicated fans) is a superb musician/ singer/songwriter His contribution to music has stood the test of time.His concerts are an unbelievable experience...backed by his long standing handpicked band the performance is pure magic and give 100% every time.Yet Mr.C. remains a down to earth truly humble human being who just loves what he does and only aims to please his 1,000's of fans.It is regretable that some people say "who's Paul Carrack" when we sing his praises hopefully this informative summary will answer their question....roll on 2018 tour WE LOVE MR.C.

Stephen SPAZ Schnee said...

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Valerie! Very much appreciated.

If everyone shares this post, we can at least TRY to spread the word!

Karen Pickersgill said...

This man is a complete legend!! I am so lucky to be able to see him tour year after year at numerous shows (once is never enough!) and have been incredibly honoured to have met him too. An amazing man with a truly amazing voice, and a total heart of gold. His name needs shouting from the rooftops as he is so deserving of the recognition! Looking forward to his 2018 tour and also to his new album and DVD! Have shared this article to spread the word of this truly awesome man, and would like to say to anyone who has not seen him live yet, please do go and see him as soon as you can and trust me, you will become as addicted as I have! Paul Carrack is THE man, and no one else comes close! ❤️ Karen Pickersgill from Leeds xx

Stephen SPAZ Schnee said...

Thank you Karen! He hasn't toured solo in the U.S. in ages...

I saw him in '81 with Squeeze, '82 with Nick Lowe and '94 with Squeeze... and that is it!