Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Paul Carrack: Soul Is Where The Heart Is

Paul Carrack
Paul Carrack Paul Carrack Paul Carrack Paul Carrack

Multi-million-selling British blue-eyed soul singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Paul Carrack returns this month with his eagerly-anticipated seventeenth solo studio album “These Days”. Which, produced by Carrack alongside percussionist Peter Van Hooke and released through Paul’s own Carrack-UK label, boasts input from such seasoned and esteemed musicians as drummer Steve Gadd (Steely Dan: James Taylor); guitarist Robbie McIntosh (Paul McCartney; Norah Jones); and regular bassist Jeremy Meek, while also finding American saxophone ace Pee Wee Ellis (famed for being an integral part of James Brown’s shows and records of the vintage “Cold Sweat” era) handpicking and overseeing the record’s four-man horn section. Meanwhile, with all l2 songs being written by Carrack himself, five of them additionally also feature lyrics by his former Squeeze bandmate and consummate wordsmith Chris Difford.

Indeed, with the album’s striking cover image emanating from a box of his late father’s family photographs and depicting one of Paul’s childhood seaside holidays, musical moods on “These Days” range from the celebratory, Southern soul-style opener “Amazing” and the brassy stomp of “In The Cold Light Of Day” to the hauntingly lilting “Where Does The Time Go” and pensive charm of the chugging title-track.

Born Paul Melvyn Carrack in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, on 22 April 1951, Paul initially rose to prominence in the mid-Seventies as frontman and principal songwriter with the London-based five-piece band Ace, whose 1974-released “How Long” became one of the first internationally successful British-blue-eyed-soul smashes, impressively reaching Top Five status on the US Hot 100 along the way. Since which time - in addition to his tenures as a member of Roxy Music, Squeeze (with whom he sang lead on the 1981 single “Tempted”) and Roger Waters’ The Bleeding Heart Band - Carrack, as well as launching his still-very-much-ongoing solo career in 1980 with the album “Nightbird”, would go on to sing lead on Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford’s pop-rock side-project Mike + The Mechanics’ three biggest singles - 1986’s US Number Six “Silent Running”; 1989’s US Number One/UK Number Two “The Living Years; and 1995’s pan-European hit “Over My Shoulder” (which Carrack also co-wrote with Rutherford).

Meanwhile, with Paul having also served over the decades as a session and/or touring musician for the likes of Elton John, B.B. King and most recently Eric Clapton, his compositions have impressively been recorded by such superstars as Diana Ross (“Battlefield”, a co-write with Nick Lowe) and The Eagles, whose 1994 cover of another Carrack co-write “Love Will Keep Us Alive” in turn won a hugely-prestigious ASCAP Award as Song Of The Year.

…Cue a forthcoming and welcoming Mr. Carrack - dubbed by the BBC “The Man With The Golden Voice” - meeting up for the first time in his state-of-the-art Hertfordshire home studio with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis to discuss his aforementioned new album while simultaneously looking back over his trailblazing and prolific career to date.

How his new album came together

“Well, I never set out with a brief. It’s more just a case of ‘Let’s see what happens’. You know, I start pretty much with a blank sheet of paper with no overriding concept other than to write some songs. But while previously I’ve started that way and then finished up playing everything on the record, this time around - after I’d got about half-way working in that kinda mode and developing different songs - we basically just thought ‘You know what? We need to get some more flavours in here, we need to have some real people playing with me, responding, bringing something different to it, and just generally make the whole thing more performance-oriented.’. I mean, with me having also worked in Eric Clapton’s band for the last five years it does mean that I have got to play with some fantastic musicians during that time, one of them being the drummer Steve Gadd. So when I mentioned to him that I’d be doing some recording and he expressed an interest in being involved, because following his tour of Europe with (iconic US jazz keyboardist) Chick Corea he’d arranged to head back to The States via London we got him to change his flight and stop over! Which basically meant we had him for three days! You know, we thought getting one of the all-time great drummers on board was just too good an opportunity to miss. Then from there we got Robbie McIntosh - who I knew from back in the day with The Pretenders and who’s since played with the likes of Paul McCartney, Norah Jones and John Mayer - to come and play guitar, plus I also decided to use the bass-player from my normal touring band, Jeremy Meek... So yeah, the four of us actually recorded the 12 tracks together, then from there we brought the tracks up here, did some overdubs, added some guitar - and, aside of the brass and percussion, from that you have the finished album!”

Bringing the legendary Pee Wee Ellis on board to head up the horn section

“Yeah, my connection there is my co-producer, manager and all-round mate Peter Van Hooke. Who, with him also being a drummer, played drums with Van Morrison for about ten years at the same time Pee Wee was doing the horns. And with Pee Wee having also played and done the horn arrangements on my last album “Soul Shadows”, we basically just decided to use him again. Because to me he’s just the real deal! You know, he’s authentic, I love the charts he comes up with, and he’s just got that great sound to what he does.”

You can read more from our exclusive interview with UK blue-eyed-soul star Paul Carrack, including his recollection of his early career growing up in Sheffield, the start of his love affair with soul music, his early success as a member of the band, Ace . We also get Carrack's candid views on his route as a solo artist and all the pitfalls which have accompanied that journey. All in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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