Get this crazy baby off my head!



Ace - Five-A-Side - 1974 - Anchor Records - 1974

"Five-A-Side" is a good laid back understated album, from the great English "pub rock" band, and never got the praise it deserved. The "problem", (if it is a problem) with Ace, is that they are remembered mainly for their hugely successful, and classic pop rock song, "How Long", written by Paul Carrack. This is a pity, as Ace was a great English band, with terrific musicians, and the vastly underrated vocalist and songwriter, Paul Carrack. If you can find it, buy Paul Carrack's great ' "Nightbird" album. The guy has a wonderful, smoky bluesy voice. You may have heard Paul singing the classic "Tempted" song with Squeeze. Pure class, and not unlike the great Paul Rodgers. If you can find it, listen to "Time for Another" which was another underrated album from Ace. Read the following extract for a review of one of the all time great classic pop rock songs, - ["The single, "How Long," is welcomed by some desperate souls as a breakthrough for England's pub-rock movement. Bet if John David Souther lived in England he'd play pubs too. Super catchy, but even more banal than than term used as a superlative ordinarily implies, sung and played with a mildness infuriating in musicians of such skill but totally appropriate to lyricists of such underweening triviality. C+ " © Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981. ]


A1 Sniffin' About - (Paul Carrack, Alan King)
A2 Rock & Roll Runaway - (Alan King, Phil Harris, Paul Carrack, Terry Comer)
A3 How Long - (Paul Carrack)
A4 The Real Feeling - (Paul Carrack)
A5 24 Hours - (Paul Carrack)

B1 Why? - (Paul Carrack)
B2 Time Ain't Long - (Paul Carrack, Jes Walker)
B3 Know How It Feels - (Paul Carrack)
B4 Satellite - (Paul Carrack)
B5 So Sorry Baby - (Phil Harris)
N.B: The Japanese 2004 CD issue on the Cool Sound label contains a bonus track, "Tastes Like Fish".


Vocals, Organ, Piano - Paul Carrack
Guitar, Vocals - Alan King (3) , Phil Harris (5)
Bass,vocals - Terry "Tex" Comer
Drums, Percussion - Fran Byrne
Saxophone - Chris Hughes (2) (tracks: B4)
Horns - Buddy Beadle (tracks: A5) , Chris Hughes (2) (tracks: A5) , Mick Eves (tracks: A5)


Paul Carrack (born 22 April 1951, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England; keyboards, vocals).
Alan "Bam" King (born 18 September 1946, Kentish Town, London; guitar, vocals).
Phil Harris (born Philip Harris, 18 July 1948, Muswell Hill, London; guitar, vocals)
Terry "Tex" Comer (born 23 February 1949, Burnley, Lancashire, England; bass)
Steve Witherington (born 26 December 1953, Enfield, Middlesex, England; drums


From the look of its album cover, Ace is a band of five frustrated English football players who, like Rod Stewart, turned to music to compensate for their athletic shortcomings. This quintet with semipro backgrounds proves to be master of the catchy melody and the natty hook. It has a benevolent addiction to lean instrumentation, seemingly well aware that virtuoso excursions would be both unnecessary and unsatisfactory. In its trenchant songwriting and engaging harmony singing, Ace emulates a number of American bands with similar virtues. "Rock & Roll Runaway" mimics the anguished singing of the Band, while "How Long" revives the Philadelphia dynamics of Hall and Oates's "She's Gone." Eventually, Ace may attain the unity of vision possessed by other bands against whom it may be measured, like Steely Dan and the Eagles. Meanwhile, this is an encouraging debut with many pleasant but minor songs, and at least two, "Time Ain't Long" and "How Long" with immediate hit potential. © Wayne Robins, Rolling Stone, 5/8/75.

Five-A-Side, Ace's debut album, is notable for introducing the world to the soulful singing talent of Paul Carrack, especially on the hit "How Long," which went to #1 on some charts in 1975. The band has a low-key style, frequently dominated by Carrack's piano and organ work, that is sometimes suggestive of Traffic and of the Tulsa country-rock sound of J.J. Cale, Delaney & Bonnie, and Leon Russell, although they never work up quite as much of a sweat as the last two. Already road-weary when they made this album, Ace, especially in Carrack's lyrics, comments extensively on the travails of being in a struggling rock & roll band. Even "How Long," which sounds like the lament of a lover betrayed, is really about somebody quitting the group. All of which makes the irony of the song's being their sole hit all the more acute. * * * * © William Ruhlmann , The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
The original Ace albums -- the best being Five-A-Side from 1975 -- are worth searching for for a taste not only of Paul Carrack's early days but also of the roots from which he and a good chunk of what became known as New Wave sprang from. * * * © Eric Deggans, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.


Ace were one of the few pub rock groups to enjoy success on the pop charts, largely due to the warm, soulful vocals of Paul Carrack. While Carrack's voice certainly had crossover appeal -- as he would later prove with his own records, as well as his work with Squeeze and Roxy Music -- the band was also less devoted to the three-chord boogie and country-rock that marked most pub rock bands, favoring soulful R&B. And while they did have hits, their time in the spotlight was brief, and they fell apart shortly after Carrack left for a solo career. Phil Harris (guitar) and Alan "Bam" King (guitar, vocal) formed Ace in 1972, recruiting Paul Carrack (keyboards, vocals), Terry "Tex" Comer (bass), and Steve Witherington (drums) over the course of the next year. Before the group began recording, they went through several drummers -- Witherington was replaced by Chico Greenwood, who was later replaced by Fran Byrne in 1974. After developing a small but dedicated following on the pub rock circuit, Ace signed with Anchor Records and recorded Five-a-Side. "How Long" -- a song about Comer leaving the band briefly to play with the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, and his subsequent return -- was released as the first single. Most listeners interpreted the song as an ode to a crumbling love affair, and it became a fluke hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. Ace released Time for Another in 1975, but it was generally ignored, especially since the popularity of pub rock was declining rapidly. Harris left the band in early 1976 and was replaced by John Woodhead. Later that year, Ace opened unsuccessfully for Yes, and then moved to Los Angeles, hoping that the U.S. would prove more receptive to their music. It wasn't. Ace released a final album, No Strings, in 1977 and then disbanded. Comer, Carrack, and Byrne all joined Frankie Miller, but by 1979, Carrack had left to sing with Roxy Music. Following his time with Roxy, he launched a solo career, which he balanced with playing with artists like Squeeze, Nick Lowe, and Mike + the Mechanics. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


The members were assembled from various other professional bands, and were all competent musicians. Carrack and Comer had previously played with Warm Dust, and King with Mighty Baby, whose antecedents were the highly regarded 1960s band The Action. Ace were popular on the pub rock circuit. Their music was pop with a funk influence.
Before the recording of their debut album, Five-A-Side, ex-Bees Make Honey drummer Fran Byrne (born 17 March 1948, Dublin, Ireland) replaced Witherington. The single "How Long" (a song about one of the members leaving for another group) was taken from this record, and was a significant chart success, achieving a top twenty place in the UK Singles Chart, and reaching number three in the U.S. charts. Its bass introduction was similar to that of "Travelling Song" by Pentangle. Carrack's electric piano was also prominent on the recording. In addition, "How Long" is believed to have been an instrumental influence on Steely Dan as well as shaping the vocal styling of Boz Scaggs. The band eventually moved to America, and replaced Phil Harris with Jon Woodhead in 1976. But it was all in vain as they disbanded in July 1977, when most of the remaining members joined Frankie Miller's band. Carrack has since played in Eric Clapton's band, joined Squeeze in the early 1980s, and later played with [[Mike + The Mechanics]]. He also re-recorded "How Long", as a solo artist, which became a UK Top 40 hit again in 1996. Copyright © 2007 Answers Corporation. All rights reserved


A.O.O.F.C said...


Carlos Blanco said...

Thanks a lot. Great blog!!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks,Carlos!...TTU later...P


Hi Good Friend...

Sorry about my english cause Iam a
brazilian man that´s loves rock and roll and good music too !!!!
Great Blog...Great albuns and Great
direction !!!!!

Congratulations from Brazil...

Goodbye...see you later !!!!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Vado. Thanks. If you want good music, then check back often. Cheers!...P