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Paul Carrack is groovin'

Things are quiet in the ranks of the members of Genesis, at least as far as new material is concerned. The next new material we will see are new records by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins next year. Paul Carrack has just released an album that contains nothing new, either. It is a collection of good hits that some would call a collection of oldies.
There are many albums with cover songs. Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel have covered the odd classic in their time, but never a complete album. Paul Carrack has dared take that step, though he must have been aware that such a project could easily go awry (for an example, see the most recent release by Simple Minds, Neon Lights). But this, of course, is Paul Carrack, a man who is still full of new ideas and not a band long past its expiry date.

Carrack has selected 13 songs. You’ve heard all the tunes before, but you could not say who sung the original. That may be because Carrack’s voice is so familiar on all the songs. He has a perfect voice for singing. The album surprisingly permits a reference to a certain drummer who used to be the singer for a very big band. More on that later.

Paul does without computer-generated effects, which gives his album a well-grounded natural feeling. This flair makes the album also quite old at times. Groovin’ nevertheless is pumping with energy and a youthful relaxed openness. It’s a summer album, but it’s winter, isn’t it? Well, Paul himself explains in the booklet that he had the idea for this record in June when he was merrily singing at the window. So there.     
The CD begins with a kind of spring hit. Harvest For The World is an unspectactular but catchy number. The instrumentation reminds one of Did You See Me Coming from the latest Mechanics album. Paul links all the songs on the record by the selection of instruments. Except for the odd brass group here and there the basic instruments remain the same. Sunny – this song has been made a live classic by jazz-meister and comedian Helge Schneider. Paul’s version is, of course, very different, no jazz but solid pop-rock. But Paul sure knows how to play the jazz. Take, for example, Anyday Now, a song that really brings out the best in Carrack’s voice. It is quite possible that avid Collins fans will be reminded of a certain melody: Too Busy Thinkin’ Bout My Baby -

Sounds familiar? Phil covered it in 80’s style with a band called Manhattan Transfer. Paul’s version goes back beyond that and still sounds modern, perhaps a bit like Travis or Starsailor. This may be because many new bands abjure the clinical sound of the 80’s and avoid electronic escapades of the 90’s. The songs are becoming more musical again – which will certainly please Paul Carrack! In the middle of the album the music slows down a bit (e.g. on Cover Me and What Does It Take) which enhances the jazz feeling. For the finale, the record goes back to full power. Ain’t No Sunshine is a major gem on this album, and Groovin is a real summer morning hit. The last song offers a positive message that is probably more suited for winter: You’ve Got A Friend.

PaulWhen you listen to the album you get the impression that Paul Carrack simply cannot release a bad record. Just like Satisfy My Soul, however, it lacks a smash hit. But then the album is a unity and Paul himself may see it as something relaxing between his other musical works. There are more difficult things to come, e.g. the new Mechanics release without Paul Young. Many songs will keep to hide their original performer – listing the composer does not do much in that way. It should also be mentioned that Paul Carrack recorded and produced the whole album himself. A tour through Germany would be the right thing to do. But we all know that Paul hardly leaves the isle so that there’s just one thing left to do: Groovin!

There are two versions of the CD currently available. A Special Edition features five Bonus Tracks and a special DVD with 4 live tracks from the In Concert DVD as well as two videos.

Special Edition track listing: Harvest For The World / Sunny / Too Busy Thinkin' Bout My Baby / Crazy Love / Baby I Need Your Lovin' / Walk On By / What Does It Take / Anyday Now / Cover Me / With You In My Mind / Ain't No Sunshine / Groovin' / You've Got A Friend.

Bonus Tracks: Into The Mystic / People Get Ready / Warm And Tender Love / It's Growing / I Wish It Would Rain.

Bonus DVD: Better Than Nothing (live) / The Living Years (live) / Eyes Of Blue (live) / Tempted (live) / Satisfy My Soul (video) / My Kind (video).

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

Paul Carrack

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