Let’s Put a Name to That Voice

Paul Carrack has a new album out, which makes me very happy. The record is called “One on One” and at 70, Paul will be touring from January 2022 into April – but so far, not in the USA.  Back home in England, Paul is known and loved for his soulful sound. The BBC even made a 2012 documentary about him called “The Man with the Golden Voice.” That he’s not well-known in America is even stranger when you realize you’ve heard Paul Carrack’s voice on American radio for decades. You just never suspected all those songs from different bands had the same guy on lead vocal. Let’s start with Carrack’s hit with the band Ace. In 1975, “How Long” went to #3 in America.

I’ve written before about my side gig as a weekend Smooth Jazz DJ. We played “How Long” all the time. No way is it jazz, but you can’t deny it’s smooth. After Ace, Carrack joined Squeeze for what is probably his best-known vocal. “Tempted” was written by Squeeze’s core duo, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, but mostly sung by the band’s new keyboardist. This isn’t the version of the video that was on MTV, but it’s the one that’s on YouTube, so here we go…

Producer Elvis Costello is the one who “suggested” Carrack should sing lead on “Tempted.” I never knew until recently that Costello sneaked onto the track too. That low voice at 1:26 and 1:33 is Elvis, even though it’s drummer Gilson Lavis moving his lips in the video.

In 2010, Squeeze re-recorded a bunch of their hits. It’s that thing where the band doesn’t own the original recording anymore, so if they make a new version that sounds like the old version, they can sell it to commercials or movies and keep more of the cash. Carrack hadn’t been in the band for years, but came back for the new “Tempted”  – even if Elvis didn’t.

In 1986, Carrack joined Mike + The Mechanics as one of two lead singers. Paul Young was the other, though not the same Paul Young who hit #1 with “Every Time You Go Away.” (Lord, who decided this was OK to release as a publicity photo?)

Carrack sang lead on “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground).” The lyrics were inspired by the 1972 sci-fi movie “Silent Running,” but then the song was included on the soundtrack of the 1986 movie “Choke Canyon,” which was released in the US as “On Dangerous Ground.” That all explains the mouthful of a song title and why clips of “On Dangerous Ground” are in the video.

Bandleader (and Genesis co-founder) Mike Rutherford wrote “Silent Running” with Scottish composer BA Robertson. The two also put together the song that went to #1 four years later, again with Carrack on lead vocal, “The Living Years.”

That’s three Top 10 hits in America and a college cult classic (“Tempted”). I mean … Edwin McCain had one Top Ten hit and he tours. Plain White T’s had a single #1 and they tour. Nothing against either of them but Paul Carrack only gigs in America when he’s playing keyboards for Eric Clapton. I think this post is going to be a two-parter. Next time, I’ll touch on the crazily-catchy Top 10 hit Paul had under his own name and a little bit more about the new record.