Ipswich: Paul Carrack has good feeling about Regent Theatre gig

Singer-songwriter Paul Carrack is relishing the fact he’s now recognized as a solo act.

“It’s taken a while for me to establish myself as a solo artist, about ten years in fact and it’s great,” he says just before embarking on a mammoth tour of the UK.

“I’ve got a great band who have mostly been with me for ten years and a great crew.”

Yorkshireman Paul first came to our attention in the mid-70s as a member of Ace, whose evergreen hit How Long was written by him. From Ace, he moved into the keyboard slot vacated by Jools Holland in Squeeze, for whom he wrote – and sang lead on – the hit Tempted.

After a stint in Roxy Music and as a member of Mike + The Mechanics, he breathed life into songs such as Silent Running and The Living Years. He also he co-wrote I Don’t Want To Hear Any More for Eagles, among many others.

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He has always had a soft spot for How Long though.

“It’s endured in a big way,” he says, “and I still enjoy performing it. However, I think I’ve written better songs, such as I Don’t Want To Hear Any More.”

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That track, performed by himself with Eagle stalwarts Timothy B Schmitt and Don Henley, was recorded by him for one of his albums, I Know That Name, which also includes Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City and his classic Eyes Of Blue.

“Actually, it’s been out a few years now,” he confides. “It did brilliantly well, not so much in sales, but in airplay and getting bums on seats at the live shows.”

Paul followed that with the album A Different Hat, released in 2010, and was a departure for being an orchestral album.

“I’d been wanting to do that ever since Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.”

The album had him singing with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the numbers including Moon River, Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying and Eyes Of Blue.

But not How Long, Paul’s best known number.

“It was considered, but I’ve recorded it lots of times and decided against it,” he says. “Maybe next time.”

Entitled Good Feeling, his new album was released on his own label in September and is very different from his last disc.

The title track has been gaining lots of radio airplay and other tracks include Marmalade Moon, which was written with his old Squeeze band-mate Chris Difford.

There’s also a cover of Jimmy Justice’s When My Little Girl is Smiling and Bruce Springsteen’s If I Should Fall Behind.

“When My Little Girl is Smiling is a funny little ditty that I’ve always loved, but Springsteen is new territory for me. He’s an amazing performer.”

And one of the songs - the album’s closing track, A Child is Born, is quite personal.

“I became a grandfather earlier this year and it’s for my little grandson. Actually, his parents played the song to him a couple of nights ago and he approved,” Paul laughs, but with a strong element of pride in his voice.

“After the last, more mellow album, I wanted to go back to my normal way of working and I recorded this album in my own studio with just my son Jack on drums and Steve Beighton, who’s been with me about ten years, on sax. They take a long time to record as when I write the songs, I keep adding bits.”

The finished product is satisfying as the Sheffield-born musician explains.

“I think it’s closer to my ‘definitive’ sound than I’ve ever been before,” he admits. “I’m not a perfectionist, but I’m never fully satisfied. I’m very pleased with the finished album and there is an earthiness about the production that I like.”

“It’s very soul-like, but then I’m a ‘souly rooty’ kinda guy – I grew up listening to soul music.”

He’s no slouch on the live stage either.

“I really enjoy performing out there with the band; there’s the satisfaction of doing a good gig and seeing all the smiling faces of the audience. I want to keep on producing new things, however you don’t get the instant gratification that a live audience gives you. It is quite hard work, but we do have days off and we get to go home most nights.”

The show itself will be made up of numbers cherry-picked from Paul’s career.

“We try to retain a balance; there’s a few songs that people have the right to expect, like How Long, Living Years and Over My Shoulder, but we have to keep the show fresh for all those who come to many of the shows and for us.

“Bearing that in mind, there will probably be four or five off the new album played.”

There will be seven on stage for the show, including his son Jack, who is a second drummer.

“No,” emphasizes Paul, “It’s not nepotism gone mad; Jack is there on merit and there’s bass, guitar, keyboards and sax as well as myself and a total of two drummers. In fact, it was a Motown trick to have two drummers.”

Being a man of many talents, he doesn’t see himself as just a performer or songwriter.

“You gotta do both as they are different beasts. To be honest, recording is a bit easier ‘cos if it isn’t going well you can pack it up and go home. But if people have paid to see you, you have to be good, and at the end of the night, if people have enjoyed it, it’s been worthwhile.”

To relax, Paul goes back to his Yorkshire roots.

“I’m a big football fan,” He says.“But being a Sheffield Wednesday fan at the moment is far from relaxing.”

Paul Carrack and his band are at Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on Tuesday, October 30. Look out for a BBC4 documentary about him around the time of the tour.

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