Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lesson: Lesson In Love

Paul Carrack: Lesson In Love 


Of course, the musically knowledgeable readers of Star Maker Machine know who Paul Carrack is. But, on the off chance that you’ve stumbled across this blog and don’t think you know who Paul Carrack is, I bet that you do. 

That great song by Ace, “How Long”? Sung by Carrack. “Tempted,” one of Squeeze’s most well-known songs? Carrack on lead vocals. Remember Mike + the Mechanics? Their songs “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)” and “The Living Years,” among others? Paul Carrack is the singer. Did you like Roger Waters’ albums Radio Kaos and The Wall—Live in Berlin? Carrack sang lead on some of the tracks. And he’s released a bunch of solo albums. 

In 2013, Record Collector magazine stated that “if vocal talent equalled financial success, Paul Carrack would be a bigger name than legends such as Phil Collins or Elton John.” Clearly, it doesn’t, and he isn’t. 

Oh, Carrack also plays keyboards well enough to have been briefly in Squeeze, mostly to play, not sing, and also in Roxy Music (which was a surprise to me), and has backed Nick Lowe. He’s been a studio or touring musician for acts as diverse as Elton John, The Smiths and B.B. King, and has had songs recorded by artists as different as Diana Ross, The Eagles and Jools Holland. Check out his Wikipedia page for more details. 

In 1981, after his stint in Squeeze, Carrack joined up with Nick Lowe, former (and future) Rumour guitarist Martin Belmont, bassist James Eller and drummer Bobby Irwin, to form Noise to Go, which, like how Rockpile backed both Lowe and Dave Edmunds, was created to back Carrack and Lowe on solo albums. The band also played on one album by Carlene Carter, Lowe’s then-wife (and June Carter’s daughter and Johnny Cash’s stepdaughter). 

Carrack’s 1982 solo album, Suburban Voodoo, featured this group of musicians, and was produced by Lowe.  It is a very good album, was a modest chart success and got fairly good reviews at the time. Most reviews of the album fail to mention “Lesson In Love,” which is a song that I’ve enjoyed since I first heard it back in the day (and it did hit the Billboard Rock Chart). It’s got a bouncy feel, great organ playing by Carrack, and features his clearly underrated blue-eyed soul vocals. “I Need You,” a soulful ballad from the album, was a minor hit, but I like our featured song better. 

Noise to Go backed Lowe on 1982’s Nick The Knife, and after Eller departed, were renamed “Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit,” releasing two albums (and also backing John Hiatt on part of Riding With The King). After that, Carrack joined up with Roger Waters, then Mike + Mechanics, worked as a session musician and as part of a number of different collaborations (not all of which led to recorded music), with musicians from many genres, including King Crimson's Tony Levin, Timothy B. Schmidt and Don Felder of the Eagles, Ringo Starr, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Eric Clapton. And he even jumped back into Squeeze briefly. 

Carrack periodically released solo albums, with occasional, limited, chart success, and the fact that in 2012 he was the subject of a BBC Four documentary called Paul Carrack: The Man with the Golden Voice, indicates that despite his relative anonymity to the general public, Carrack is respected by critics and his fellow musicians, across a wide spectrum of styles. 

So, if you knew who Paul Carrack was, maybe you learned more about him. And if you didn’t think you knew who he was, did I win my bet that you actually did?