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Paul Carrack

As a vocalist and keyboardist who enjoyed considerable success over the course of a lengthy career while in the service of bands ranging from Ace to Squeeze to Mike + the Mechanics, Paul Carrack's finest work often came at the expense of his own identity as a performer. Indeed, of the many big hits on which the singer was prominently featured, only one, 1987's "Don't Shed a Tear," bore his own name. Despite this, he maintained an active solo career and starting in the mid-'90s, released a steady stream of albums that put the spotlight on his soulful vocal style and expert keyboard work, whether performing his own R&B-influenced pop material or rock and pop classics penned by others. 2003's It Ain't Over gave him plenty of room to show off his skills as a singer, composer, and instrumentalist, 2010's A Different Hat was an ambitious project with the vocalist accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and 2023's Don't Wait Too Long, recorded with the SWR Big Band, saw him celebrating 50 years in music with a program of classic songs of the past. Paul Carrack was born April 22, 1951, in Sheffield, England, and was still a teenager when he made his professional recording debut with the jazz-rock band Warm Dust. Warm Dust would release three albums before splitting in 1972; after they broke up, Carrack and Warm Dust bassist Terry "Tex" Comer helped to form the pub rock group Ace the same year. Carrack wrote and sang their debut single, "How Long." After reaching the Top 20 in the group's native Britain, the record hit the number three position in the U.S.; however, after subsequent material failed to match the success of "How Long," Ace disbanded in 1977, and Carrack signed on with Frankie Miller's band. He soon resurfaced in Roxy Music, appearing on the LPs Manifesto and Flesh and Blood before releasing his solo debut, Nightbird, in 1980. Carrack next joined Squeeze, replacing keyboardist Jools Holland; in addition to contributing to the group's 1981 creative pinnacle East Side Story, he also assumed lead vocal duties on the single "Tempted," their best-known hit. However, Carrack's tenure in Squeeze was brief, and after working with Nick Lowe, he again attempted to forge a solo career with the 1982 LP Suburban Voodoo, cracking the U.S. Top 40 with the single "I Need You." A tenure as a sideman with Eric Clapton followed, and in 1985 he joined Genesis' Mike Rutherford in his side project Mike + the Mechanics. Their hits include "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)" and "All I Need Is a Miracle." While remaining a rather anonymous figure at home, Carrack achieved a higher level of visibility in America as a result of Mike + the Mechanics' success; subsequently, his third solo album, One Good Reason, proved to be by far his most popular effort to date, with the single "Don't Shed a Tear" reaching the Top Ten. Another tenure with the Mechanics followed, and with the title track of 1988's The Living Years, the group scored their first number one hit. After the 1989 Carrack solo LP Groove Approved, Mike + the Mechanics issued 1991's Word of Mouth, which failed to repeat the chart performance of its predecessors; by 1993, Carrack was again a member of Squeeze, appearing on the album Some Fantastic Place and also resuming lead chores for a re-recording of "Tempted." However, he was once again back in the Mechanics' fold for 1995's Beggar on a Beach of Gold; the solo Blue Views was issued the next year, followed in 1997 by Beautiful World. Satisfy My Soul was issued in 2000, his first album for Compass Records. Carrack spent the first half the 2000s touring, both as a solo act and as the frontman in Mike + the Mechanics, releasing Groovin' in 2001 and It Ain't Over in 2003. A holiday album appeared in 2005, followed in 2007 by Old, New, Borrowed and Blue. After 2008's knowingly titled I Know That Name, Carrack took a detour on 2010's A Different Hat, an album cut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Two years later, he returned with the soulful 2012 album Good Feeling. Ever the prolific musician, Carrack went on to release Rain or Shine a year later in 2013, working with producer Peter Van Hooke. Carrack played with Eric Clapton on the guitarist's 50th anniversary tour in 2013, also appearing at two 70th Birthday celebrations of Clapton's in 2015. By that point, Carrack had reunited with Van Hooke for 2016's Soul Shadows. The pair also worked together on 2018's These Days. In 2019, Carrack released the first of two albums with Germany's SWR Big Band and Strings; Christmas with Paul Carrack, The SWR Big Band and Strings was a program of holiday favorites, and in 2020 the ensemble joined him for Another Side of Paul Carrack, in which he interpreted a baker's dozen of pop standards. 2020 also saw the release of Love Songs, a two-disc collection of romantic tunes he'd recorded over the years, and Live 2000-2020: The Independent Years, a sampling of tracks from his concert recordings. During the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Carrack headed into his home studio, where he wrote a batch of new songs and recorded them, handling all the instrumental work himself. Ten songs from these solo sessions were released on his 2021 LP One on One. Carrack celebrated 50 years in the music business with his 2023 album Don't Wait Too Long, another set recorded with the SWR Big Band. For this release, Carrack selected classic songs of the past from the '50s onward, encompassing jazz, blues, gospel, country, and more.
© Jason Ankeny & Mark Deming /TiVo


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