PAUL CARRACK
... A Brief History


Paul Carrack was born
April 22, 1951 in Sheffield, England. Carrack took to music at an early age and, by the time he as a teenager, became heavily influenced by the Mersey Beat craze of the period. Paul went on to play with a number of small, local acts before traveling to Hamburg, Germany, learning his chops playing the night club circuit.

In 1970, Paul co-founded the Sheffield-based progressive/psychedelic rock influenced band, Warm Dust. Even with a strong influence in rock music, it was clear even in the band’s early days that Carrack’s soulful voice added another dimension to the group. Warm Dust recorded three commercially unsuccessful albums and disbanded in 1972. 

Paul left the confines of Warm Dust to form the pub rock band Ace with members two other local bands, Might Baby and The Action. Over the next five years, Ace would release three albums including the Carrack penned hit single “How Long” which went to #20 in the
U.K.
and #3 on the U.S.
charts. 

The success of the single “How Long” also took the debut album, Five-A-Side, to #11 on the
U.S. charts. However, the follow-up release, Time For Another, lost momentum at #153 on the charts and failed to produce a hit single. By July 1977, after the release and modest commercial impact of the group’s third effort, No Strings, Ace had disintegrated. Having failed to repeat the success of “How Long” the band went there separate ways.

By 1977, the music scene began to be dominated by punk rock and new wave and, as a result, Paul Carrack found himself turning to session work. Among his early session projects were two albums recorded with Frankie Miller, Double Trouble and Perfect Fit.
 
  In 1993, Paul returned to the studio to work on a classic rock covers collaboration, Spin 1ne 2wo, with fellow session players Tony Levin, Steve Ferrone, and Rupert Hine. That year also saw Paul’s brief return to Squeeze for one album, Some Fantastic Place, and an appearance on Beth Neilsen Chapman’s album, You Hold The Key

Paul spent 1994 on tour with Squeeze playing to crowds in Europe, Japan, and the United States. That year also saw the release of 21 Good Reasons, an impressive 21-track anthology spanning Paul Carrack's career from his days with Ace to present.

Following the Squeeze tour and an ill-fated and unreleased project with Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmidt (from The Eagles), Paul Carrack returned to Mike & The Mechanics to record their fourth effort, Beggar On A Beach of Gold. Interestingly, Schmidt and Felder used one of the Carrack co-written tunes, “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” for The Eagles Hell Freezes Over album, which won an award for being the most played single in America that year. 

Unfortunately, Beggar On A Beach of Gold did not share the same success. The release once again lacked commercial recognition in North America; however, one single co-written by Carrack, “Over My Shoulder,” did achieve modest success in Europe.  

After a European tour in support of the Beggar album, The Mechanics returned with Hits, a collection spanning their first four studio efforts and one new track, a remake of their hit “All I Need Is A Miracle” sung by fellow Mechanic Paul Young. Atlantic Records, the band’s U.S. record company, opted not to release the

In the fall of 1978, Paul went into the studio with Roxy Music and eventually recorded two sessions with the group, which resulted in 1979’s Manifesto and 1980’s Flesh & Blood albums. Roxy Music also enlisted Paul tour with them in support of the albums, which took him on the road for the next two years. Paul was also eventually featured later on Roxy Music’s critically acclaimed swan song, Avalon, in 1982.   



WARM DUST in 1970 with PAUL (far right)

  compilation due to the weak album sales of Word of Mouth and Beggar On A Beach of Gold and consequently dropped the band from the label (Hits eventually saw a North American release in 2005 on the Rhino label).  

In 1995, Paul released his fifth solo album, Blue Views, in Europe which spawned the hit single “Eyes of Blue.” In 1996, the album went Gold in Spain, and Carrack toured Europe with Sting in support of the project. Blue Views was finally released in North America in 1997. The album garnered

In 1980, Paul Carrack released his first solo album, Nightbird. The album was not a commercial success, and failed to establish Paul as a solo artist. After the paltry impact of Nightbird, Carrack was offered to replace keyboardist Jools Holland in the rock band Squeeze. 

Carrack recorded one album with Squeeze, 1981’s East Side Story. The album, which was produced by Elvis Costello and is considered by many to be their best album, included the smash hit "Tempted" featuring lead vocals by Carrack. Although the song was not written by Carrack, "Tempted" remains one of his many signature songs to this day.

Paul toured
North America and Europe in support of East Side Story before quitting Squeeze less than a year after joining the band to pursue other projects and resume his own solo career. Unbeknownst to Carrack at the time, it would not be the last time he would cross musical paths with Squeeze.
 
 

critical acclaim, and the single “For Once In Our Lives” reached #3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart in the U.S.  

Having firmly established himself as a gifted songwriter and musician, Paul Carrack went on to do session work with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Elton John, Van Morrison, and others. Carrack even managed to squeeze in some session work with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett
for his Genesis Revisited album, remaking the Genesis classic, "Your Own Special Way." 

Among the many popular recordings Paul Carrack graced was “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” which was the b-side to “Candle In The Wind ‘97” – one of the best selling singles ever released. The single sold in excess of 31.8 million copies worldwide according to the Guinness Book of Records (including more than 9 million in the U.S.).

After working with Carlene Carter on her Blue Nun album in late 1981, Carrack formed a partnership with her then husband and producer, Nick Lowe. For the next three years, Lowe and Carrack would jointly lead Martin Belmont, James Eller and Bobby Irwin under the names The Chaps, Noise To Go, and   By the time Paul Carrack released his sixth solo album, 1997’s Beautiful World, his European record label went through some management changes, which Carrack blamed for the lack of success the album achieved. While the album did no better in North America, Paul decided to release future albums independently to avoid the politics of the major labels. 

Shortly after becoming an independent artist, Paul founded his own record label, Carrack-UK, and his own official website, www.carrack-uk.com.  With the barriers of the music industry executives and major labels behind him, Carrack began work on his next solo album. 
The Cowboy Outfit and record four albums by 1985. During this period, Paul Carrack recorded his second solo effort, Suburban Voodoo, which was released in 1982 and was named by Rolling Stone Magazine as being one of the top twenty albums of that year. Voodoo also featured the hit single “I Need You” which peaked at #37 the Billboard pop singles chart, #22 on the mainstream rock chart, and #20 on the adult contemporary chart in the U.S. 

Another single, "Lesson In Love," also garnered some success landing at #33 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart that same year. The success of the singles and the critical acclaim for the project helped push Suburban Voodoo to #78 on the Billboard pop album chart in 1982.

In between Carrack’s many projects with Nick Lowe and the release of his second solo album, Paul continued his session work, playing with new wave rock acts like The Undertones, The Pretenders, and The Smiths among others.
  The first result of this independence came in 2000 with the release of his seventh solo album, Satisfy My Soul.  The album was a slight departure from previous efforts, with Carrack drawing more heavily than ever from 1960s and 1970s soul influences meshed with a strong pop feel. The album also featured three collaborations with ex-Squeeze band mate Chris Difford.

Initially only available in Europe, Satisfy My Soul earned a great deal of critical acclaim and eventually found North American distribution for the album later that year.

On
July 15, 2000, Paul Carrack received some tragic news. Fellow Mike & The Mechanics band mate Paul Young died of a heart attack in his home in England. Carrack had just finished up a Mechanics tour with Young in 1999 for the M6 album. 


In 1985, Paul Carrack was invited to participate in the recording of a new project with Genesis bassist and guitarist Mike Rutherford. Rutherford sought guest musicians for the yet unnamed project, tentatively known as Not Now Bernard, which featured compositions written by himself and B.A.Robertson.                                                 
 


SQUEEZE with PAUL (center) circa 1981

 

  As a result of Young's tragic passing, Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack reunited shortly thereafter for a Paul Young tribute concert along with former members of Paul Young’s other noted band, Sad Café, in Young's home town of Manchester, England. 

The impact of Young’s death initially led surviving Mechanics members Carrack and Rutherford to state that while the band would continue, they will not tour in support of future efforts. This decision would be one that the band would struggle with over the next few years. Eventually, Carrack and Rutherford decided that Young would have wanted them to carry on without him.
Eventually named Mike & The Mechanics, the band featured Paul Carrack on several tracks including “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)” which was a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic reaching #6 on the Billboard singles chart in the U.SAs a result of the success of the self-titled album, Mike Rutherford asked vocalists Paul Carrack and ex-Sad Café front man Paul Young to tour in support of the project.  

By the end of 1986, the Mechanics had toured both the
United States and Europe extensively, had two additional hit singles, and the album had sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning a Gold status from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and peaking at #26 on the Billboard album chart.
 
 
The European tour in support of the Satisfy My Soul later hit the road and climaxed on May 4, 2001, when, just after Paul’s 50th birthday, he sold out the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London, England for the first time as a solo artist.
The event featured several guest musicians from Paul’s past, including: Nick Lowe, Mike Rutherford and B.A. Robertson from Mike & The Mechanics, Rod Argent, and the reuniting of Squeeze songsmiths Chris Difford and Glen Tillbrook.

While still touring in support of Satisfy My Soul, Carrack began the early stages of his next album, 2001’s Groovin’. The project, which was not released in North America, was a cover album that paid homage to an array of artists that influenced Carrack.
Before returning to Mike & the Mechanics for a follow-up album, Paul Carrack found time to work on Roger Waters’ Radio K.A.O.S. album, Waters’ world tour, and a third solo album, 1987’s One Good Reason. The solo album remained in the Billboard Hot 100 for nearly half a year, peaking at #67 on the Billboard album chart, and resulted in a North American tour.

The One Good Reason album spawned two hit singles in the U.S. including the title track and "Don’t Shed A Tear," which went to #34 on the Billboard singles chart and #6 on the mainstream rock chart in the U.S. As a result of the song's popularity (and undoubtedly fueling it to become a top 40 hit), "Don't Shed A Tear" also received heavy rotation on MTV.  

PAUL CARRACK circa 1982
 

In the fall of 2001, Paul Carrack also found time to return to the studio with Mike Rutherford to start work on a new Mike & The Mechanics album, Rewired. This project would be worked on sporadically over the next few years in between Carrack's solo activities and demanding tour schedule. 

In 2002, Carrack toured Europe extensively for the Groovin’ album, with upwards of 50 dates. During this period, the Groovin’ album was repacked with bonus tracks, a slight album cover art variation, and an extra DVD-single under the name Still Groovin’.
2002 also saw Paul receive the accolade of being invited, alongside the likes of Mariah Carey and Phil Collins, to serve as a special guest tutor on Operacion Triunfo, the Spanish version of Fame Academy, filmed at Barcelona's Acadamia. The phenomenally successful show, which goes out live 24-hours per day on its own special Operacion Triunfo channel, has achieved the biggest viewing figures for any show of its kind worldwide - a whopping 70 percent audience share.

 
Paul Carrack returned to the Mechanics to record their second album, 1988’s Living Years. The title track, sung by Carrack, peaked at #1 in the U.S. and became a massive hit worldwide.

Although no other songs from that album shared its success, on the strength of the title track, the Living Years album skyrocketed to #13 on the Billboard album chart.

1988 also saw the release of The Carrack Collection, an anthology of some of Paul Carrack’s most popular solo material, including highlights of his work with Ace, Squeeze and Mike & The Mechanics.

By the end of 1989,
The Mechanics completed another world tour, received a Grammy Award nomination, and earned a second Gold Certified album in the U.S. 1989 also saw the release of the Rude Awakening soundtrack, which featured Mike & the Mechanics cover version of The Beatles "Revolution."


MIKE & THE MECHANICS in 1985

  In 2003, Paul Carrack released It Ain’t Over, his eighth solo effort. A slightly more upbeat  album that 2000’s Satisfy My Soul, It Ain't Over featured soulful tracks along side a few straight forward pop tunes like the Chris Difford co-written tune, “She Lived Down The Street.”

Like Satisfy My Soul, the album was almost entirely performed by Carrack including drums, vocals, guitars, keyboards, and bass guitar. Paul even produced the album. Like previous efforts, It Ain't Over was critically well receive
d on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003, Paul Carrack returned to the singles charts in the United States with the single “Happy To See You Again” cracking the top 40 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.




S
QUEEZE with PAUL CARRACK in 1993 (2nd from left)

In 1989, Paul returned to the studio to record his fourth solo album, Groove Approved. The album featured the modest U.S. hit “I Live By The Groove” and the Nick Lowe/Paul Carrack tune “Battlefield” which was later covered by Motown legend Diana Ross among others. The album was less commercially successful than other recent Carrack projects peaking at #120 on the Billboard album chart.


In July 1990, Paul Carrack rejoined ex-Pink Floyd member Roger Waters for the live reenactment of his classic Floyd penned epic, The Wall.

Carrack joined Waters in performing The Wall live in
Berlin, Germany in front of an estimated 250,000 fans at the site of the Berlin Wall along with notable musicians such as Bryan Adams, Cyndi Lauper, and The Scorpions among others. The concert was later released as an album and video release.



MIKE & THE MECHANICS in 1994

  During this period, Paul Carrack was contacted by former Beatle Ringo Starr. Ringo was pulling together a new touring band for a summer 2003 North American tour in support of his latest release Ringorama, and asked if Carrack would be interested. Having been asked once before and being unable to commit due to other professional obligations, Carrack signed on this time around and joined John Waite, Colin Hay, Sheila E., and Mark Rivera on tour across the United States and Canada

At the completion of the Ringo Starr tour, Paul Carrack returned to
Europe to embark on another leg of solo touring in support of his own It Ain’t Over album through spring 2004.
In June 2004, the final Mike and The Mechanics album, Rewired, was released in Europe and Asia (it was eventually released in North America in September 2005). Despite the previous decision not to tour without the late Paul Young, Rutherford and Carrack decided to tour Europe briefly in support of the Rewired album, including a few European dates opening for Phil Collins in his First Final Farewell Tour. 2004 also saw the release of the 2003 Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band summer tour on compact disc and DVD as well as Paul Carrack's first live album, Live At The Opera House, a double disc set and DVD recorded in Buxton, England in January 2004. 

In 1990, Carrack also teamed up again with Nick Lowe, resulting in Lowe’s critically acclaimed Party Of One album. After the concert in Berlin and the project with Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack returned to Mike & The Mechanics to record 1991’s Word of Mouth. During the making of the album, Mike Rutherford began to relinquish some control over the songwriting process, allowing band members more creative input than on previous Mechanics projects. 

Word of Mouth reached #107 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S., failing to achieve the success of previous Mechanics albums. The band attributed
this dip in sales to the changing music scene and the popularity of grunge and alternative rock music.   

NICK LOWE & THE COWBOY OUTFIT
 

  In March 2005, Carrack released a follow-up double live album and DVD, Live In Liverpool, recorded live in England in October 2004 as well as the first Mike & The Mechanics DVD, Live From Shepherds Bush London, recorded on their 2004 Rewired tour of Europe.

In December 2005, Carrack released Winter Wonderland, a Christmas album backed by the legendary SWR Big Band. The album, which was also released under the name A Soulful Christmas in Germany (with added tracks and a slightly different album cover), featured a number of holiday standards plus a cover of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" and a new big band version of the Carrack song "Beautiful World." In support of this album, Paul Carrack resumed his rigorous touring schedule of Europe.

October 2006 saw of the release of The Story So Far, a new one disc, 20-track anthology spanning Carrack's solo career and various group projects including his work with Ace, Squeeze, and Mike & The Mechanics. Among the old favorites were new versions of "Living Years" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive."
Between the album's disappointing sales, a few commercially failed singles, and Mike Rutherford's commitment to return to the studio with his other band, Genesis, (for what would be the We Can't Dance album), the Mechanics decided not to tour in support of Word of Mouth.

As a result of the decision not to tour, keyboardist Adrian Lee quit the Mechanics while other members were disappointed with Mike Rutherford's seeming
lack of support for the Mechanics project. Drummer Peter Van Hook quit soon after making the Mechanics a trio with only Paul Carrack, Paul Young and Rutherford (along with co-songwriter B.A. Robertson) still attached to the band. Suddenly, the future of the Mechanics went from being incredibly promising with a couple of hit albums under their belts to having a very uncertain future.



 
 
 
The compilation served as a close to the next chapter in the Carrack story, because it was during this period that Paul revealed that he had officially left Mike & The Mechanics ending a impressive 20-year on again off again
partnership with Mike Rutherford. In late 2007, Paul Carrack is set to release his next solo effort featuring a mixture of original songs and cover tunes.

Almost 40 years after co-founding Warm Dust, Carrack continues to record and tour vigorously. His soulful pop stylings continue to shine brightly as one of modern music’s finest crooners, and the artists he has done session work for read like a who’s who of rock and roll.  The All Music Guide refers to Carrack as “pop music’s ultimate journeyman,” which sums up his career nicely. One can only hope that the journey and legacy of his music will endure for a long time to come. The story continues...

Dave Negrin,
September 2007



 


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