UK outfit Ace were formed in December 1972. Previously known as "Ace Flash and the Dynamos", the band was made up of members of two UK progressive outfits, Warm Dust ( Paul Carrack on keyboards and Tex Comer on b ass) and Mighy Baby (Alan "Bam" King on vocals and guitar, also previously with Action), together with guitarist/vocalist Phil Harris and drummer Steve Witherington. They started playing the club circuit and Witherington was soon replaced by Chico Greenwood (ex-Jasper). They signed to Anchor Records in the late summer of 1974, at which point Greenwood left (to form Moonrider). Ex-Bees Make Honey drummer Fran Byrne joined, and it was this line-up of Carrack, Byrne, King, Comer and Harris that featured on this debut album. ''How Long" reached the UK Top 20 and went to the top of the US Top 100 by the end of 1974. They ended up emigrating to the US in 1976, by which time their second album, "Time for Another", had been released to a luke-warm response. Jon Woodhead replaced Phil Harris and he appeared on the band's final album, "No Strings", which emerged in 1977. Ace split in the summer of 1977, with Carrack, Comer and Byrne all going on to play for Frankie Miller. Carrack, the best known member of the band, went on to feature with Eric Clapton, Squeeze and Mike & the Mechanics.   

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Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ace were one of the few pub rock groups to enjoy success on the pop charts, largely due to the warm, soulful vocals of Paul Carrack. While Carrack's voice certainly had crossover appeal — as he would later prove with his own records, as well as his work with Squeeze and Roxy Music — the band was also less devoted to the three-chord boogie and country-rock that marked most pub rock bands, favoring soulful R&B. And while they did have hits, their time in the spotlight was brief, and they fell apart shortly after Carrack left for a solo career.

Phil Harris (guitar) and Alan "Bam" King (guitar, vocal) formed Ace in 1972, recruiting Paul Carrack (keyboards, vocals), Terry "Tex" Comer (bass), and Steve Witherington (drums) over the course of the next year. Before the group began recording, they went through several drummers — Witherington was replaced by Chico Greenwood, who was later replaced by Fran Byrne in 1974. After developing a small but dedicated following on the pub rock circuit, Ace signed with Anchor Records and recorded Five-a-Side. "How Long" — a song about Comer leaving the band briefly to play with the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, and his subsequent return — was released as the first single. Most listeners interpreted the song as an ode to a crumbling love affair, and it became a fluke hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. Ace released Time for Another in 1975, but it was generally ignored, especially since the popularity of pub rock was declining rapidly.

Harris left the band in early 1976 and was replaced by John Woodhead. Later that year, Ace opened unsuccessfully for Yes, and then moved to Los Angeles, hoping that the U.S. would prove more receptive to their music. It wasn't. Ace released a final album, No Strings, in 1977 and then disbanded. Comer, Carrack, and Byrne all joined Frankie Miller, but by 1979, Carrack had left to sing with Roxy Music. Following his time with Roxy, he launched a solo career, which he balanced with playing with artists like Squeeze, Nick Lowe, and Mike + the Mechanics.

 

PAUL CARRACK At The Opera House Absolute PCARDVD2(2004) Carrack offers the prospect of a happy retirement... Like the recent Boz Scaggs DVD, you can't really knock this. However, unlike Scaggs, Paul Carrack has been working solidly since the early seventies, finding almost instant success with the hit 'How Long' and subsequently contributing to Squeeze and, latterly, Mike And The Mechanics. He's also had a steady career as a solo artist. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this DVD, a short interview with the man himself, tells us that Carrack doesn't listen much if at all to modern music and that his tunes are simple and in a 'traditional' format. That just about sums up this concert, filmed in January 2004 at Buxton Opera House. Again, like Scaggs, Carrack knows his audience and judging from those interviewed for the 'before and after' gig sequence, they are almost exclusively forty-somethings who probably wooed, cuddled, and shagged to the Carrack Canon and - like sex - can't give it up that easily. But in all of this, modern idiom seems to be ignored. Classic songwriting, balladry and emotion, yes, but a distinct lack of the cutting edge. This DVD should be snapped up by the faithful because it is a well-filmed and performed souvenir of Carrack's stage act featuring songs from current album, a few standards, and of course his best-known tunes with the Mechanics. Carrack reveals in the interview that he was influenced by The Beatles and Northern Soul; it is the latter style that is displayed here. From the smooth opener, 'Never Too Late' through to 'Where Did I Go Wrong' he is master of the soulful delivery and backed by a crack band it all sounds convincing if a little deja vu. You can't help admire, though, Carrack's honesty. He gets out and about in the regions, directs his own record label and career, and family values are the priority. These are attributes with which an ageing audience can identify. If Carrack could also offer financial advice and foreign travel, he'd clean up. *** Review by David Randall



The Mojo Review Satisfy My Soul - Carrack-UK

Seventh Solo album from the man of a Thousand guest appearances and part- Time bands. Essentially a family man amazed to Have found himself, decades on from The initial rush of Merseybeat, a survivor Of the cruel ebbs and flows of musical Fashion, this is Carrack saying, "No More rock star pretences- this is who I Am and what I have to say. "What he Has to say will, in fact, strike chords with Thousands of everyday people whose Monochrome lives take constant solace In sunlit dreams. Classic soul and pop Values deliver here a sound more Organic and less bombastic than Carrack's work with Mike & The Mechanics. Three tracks are co-written With Chris Difford, but the most Powerful is self-penned Running Out Of Time-an exquisitely British take On Bryan Adams Summer Of 69 vibe: "Beating time on cardboard boxes/In an attic cold as ice/We were Freddie And The Dreamers/With stars before our eyes." This Album is the sound of the small man coming through and doing the do with class and dignity. Colin Harper



Blue Views (Ark 21) by Jiji Johnson

Happily, no matter how seemingly lackluster or trite love songs *can* become, Paul Carrack's subtly soulful vocals - in _Blue Views_ and elsewhere - reveal unfailing honesty, warmth, and a fullness that transcend any less than appealing generic concerns. Paul Carrack may as well be appointed Professor Emeritus for SONGWRITING 101 workshops nationwide. Carrack has written for and worked with Pop notables like The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Madness, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music, Diana Ross (!), ad infinitum. His steady stream of hits in which *his* spotlight shines began with his stint in the band Ace ("How Long" [...Has This Been Going On]), and hit a running stride in his often overlooked fourth solo record _One Good Reason_(Chrysalis), which gained him Top 10 billing. Brilliant popsters Squeeze showcased Carrack's stellar vocals in yet another hit, "Tempted," and Mike & the Mechanics ("The Living Years") added more good stuff to an already monumental body of work. Carrack, back on the beat solo style, keeps the sometimes muddy tempo of _Blue Views_ afloat with clever melodies, his by now renowned brandy liqueur vocals, and an always haunting extended "blue note" tonality and way of weaving progressions that metamorphose nicely into definite "mood music." His revamping of "How Long" only reveals its modernity in slight production value shifts, and it carries with it all the emotionality as it did the first time around. "Love Will Keep Us Alive," his heartbreakingly sweet tome first penned for the Eagles, is written and stuctured so well, it leaves you unaware the band might actually have sung it a mite sweeter. These two more familiar tunes above provide a strong base for the niche Carrack's working on, groove, by groove, to get us into his own original *hits.* On that front, Carrack has a way to go yet, as they give us only all we expect comfortably, but don't seem to *dance* as well as the former two. _Blue Views_ is the lover you've had in your life for as far back as you can remember: the grooves fit, their very presence calms the soul, and you're glad, at least, that you can sit and rest a while...that they'll be here to stay. The rest comes later.
-- This review first appeared in Consumable Online, the oldest continuous collaborative music reviews publication on the Internet. Each issue consists of reviews, interviews, tour dates and more music information


The Q Review (Beautiful World)

It says much for Paul Carrack that after so many years in continuous employment, his voice still tends to be better known than his face. With Ace, Squeeze and Mike & The Mechanics, as well as in his own understated solo career, he's had little truck with fashion. Yet when it comes to comfortable, classy, suburban pop in the lightly soulful mode he is Mr Reliable. As befits such an optimistic title, chocolate-box romance of an improbably devotional kind is just about the only thing on the agenda while musically there's a touch of Motown, the odd gospel inflection and nods in the direction of Willie Mitchell and Marvin Gaye; nothing too strenuous. The one defining moment, though, comes with Perfect Love, one of those gushing piano ballads that Whitney, Mariah or Celine would crawl across a roomful of broken glass just to be acquainted with and which, against the odds, he makes sound almost credible. That takes a special kind of talent. (3 out of 5 stars)

Peter Kane
 

 

Paul Carrack
Fran Byrne
Terry "Tex" Comer
Chico Greenwood
John Woodhead
Alan "Bam" King
Steve Witherington
Phil Harris
 

 

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If you havy any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

Paul Carrack - Into the Mystic

Ace - How Long

 

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Hold your mouse over the album to see the title, year of release and rating out of 5.

Ace - Five a Side - 1974 - 5/5

Ace - Time for Another - 1975 - 2/5

Ace - No Strings - 1977 - 2/5

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