For four decades, Paul Carrack has been the voice behind literally dozens of hits for several acts, but his virtual anonymity in those roles has left him with far more accolades from his peers than from the general public, particularly in the US. But despite never achieving the kind of fame his immense talent warrants, he has continued recording and issuing extremely enjoyable music for a loyal international audience.
Carrack first hit the public waves in 1972 as part of the British band Ace. He was the voice behind that act's #1 hit, "How Long," but the failure to come up with a successful follow-up song led to a group break up in the mid-70s. Carrack briefly joined the famed band Roxy Music before settling in for a time with UK superstars Squeeze. While there he voiced that band's most famous hit, "Tempted," a track that still receives substantial play 30 years later.
Carrack finally scored his first solo hit in 1982 with adult contemporary cut, "I Need You." But his solo career soon took a back seat again when he joined Genesis spinoff group, Mike + the Mechanics, taking the lead for that group's biggest hits, "Silent Running" and the chart-topping "The Living Years." His success with Mike + the Mechanics provided him with an international audience, and he took advantage of it with his next solo album, One Good Reason, which featured his biggest solo hit, the upbeat "Don't Shed A Tear."
Through the 90s Carrack moved in and out of Squeeze and Mike + the Mechanics, but began to focus more on his solo career. While his releases stopped charting in the US, he continued playing to loyal UK fans, and his output in the new century included a string of excellent adult contemporary albums (including Groovin', It Ain't Over and his best release, Satisfy My Soul) that gave more than passing nods to classic R&B, On these discs, Carrack not only continued to show off his voice, but also highlighted his underrated songwriting chops.
In 2008, Carrack provided two songs for the Eagles' comeback album, Long Road Out of Eden, and group members Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmidt returned the favor by appearing on Carrack's excellent I Know That Name. Name was reissued in an even better "Ultimate" package in late 2010. He followed it with a hit or miss album of standards with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In September, 2012, Carrack issued, Good Feeling, a disc that both served as a natural follow up to I Know That Name but also provided several songs fashioned in the vein of 60s pop and soul.
Throughout his 40 year career, Paul Carrack has proven to be one of the most versatile singers of his generation, his voice at once unassuming and yet tremendously soulful, with exquisite phrasing. And while never reaching the kind of fame Stateside that his talent warranted, Carrack has shown himself to have the kind of staying power and accumulated success that would be the envy of most artists of any genre. And he continues to be both extremely enjoyable and creatively relevant as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.
By Chris Rizik