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Paul's Beautiful World

The first greatest hits compilation that covers his whole career (so far)

Paul Carrack has lent his voice to many bands, from Ace to Squeeze, from the supergroup Spin 1ne 2wo to, of course, Mike + The Mechanics. He also sang on Steve Hackett’s and Roger Water’s albums. His voice is in everybody’s ears, but the man himself is comparatively unknown.

In recent years Paul has been concentrating on his solo career. He released the albums Satisfy My Soul, It Ain’t Over and Groovin’ on his own label and added a string of concert DVDs to that: In Concert, Live In Liverpool and Live At The Opera House. Now he has released the first greatest hits album that covers his whole career – and a new live DVD with a couple of new things (read more about the Live At Rockpalast DVD).

Greatest Hits – The Story So Far

The title already reveals that this is not meant to be a “that’s it”-greatest hits album, but that it represents what Paul has done “so far”. Last year Paul asked the fans on his website to suggest track lists for a Greatest Hits album, then chose what made sense (and was available) – and the outcome are the 19 tracks on The Story So Far. The songs were put in a chronological order.

Some songs were obviously indispendable: The Ace hit How Long is one of them, since it is the song with which it all began and the one song Paul is guaranteed to play at his shows even today. His time in Squeeze was another success; their hit Tempted is included here. A minor hit and a number of remarkable reviews were the outcome of Paul’s solo breakthrough album Suburban Voodoo. Its single, I Need You, made it into this compilation.

Soon after that Paul joined Mike Rutherford’s new side project, the Mechanics. Initially the Mechanics were a loose convention of various musicians and singers, but the first album became a big success and Silent Running is still one of the biggest Mechanics hits. Mike + The Mechanics did not become a full time project for Paul, and so he kept releasing solo albums, the more so since he did not write any songs for the early Mechanics records. His solo album One Good Reason was a small success and produced a couple of classics: The title song, which is not included in the compilation, and Don’t Shed A Tear and When You Walk In The Room, which are. After this album he began to work on the new Mechanics album Living Years; its title song became a world-wide hit and even went to #1 in the U.S. single charts. Living Years belongs on this album, but Paul could not get the rights to use the original. He was quite unhappy about that and it could spell the end of the Mechanics. So he recorded a new version that does the original justice and does not lose any of the intensity.

Paul 2006In 1989 Paul released Groove Approved to little success. Battlefield and Dedicated are included in the compilation. The version of Dedicated is a new recording based on a spontaneous performance on Dutch radio which was played frequently in 1989. In the early 90s there were less news about Paul Carrack. The Mechanics recorded Word Of Mouth, but nothing from that album made it onto the compilation, not even the single hit Everybody Gets A Second Chance.

In 1995 the Mechanics came back with a fresh acoustic sound. The first single, Over My Shoulder, received lots of airplay and naturally was included in Paul’s greatest hits album.

Around that time The Eagles decided hell had frozen over and went on tour again. For a time it was considered that Paul join the Eagles, but in the end he “only” wrote the hit Love Will Keep Us Alive for the legendary band. This song was released on Paul’s album Blue Views; the version on the compilation is a new recording that was also released as a single to promote the Greatest Hits album.

Blue Views also includes a new recording of How Long; the first single from this album, Eyes Of Blue, is part of the Greatest Hits.

Paul immediately recorded another solo album called Beautiful World. The title song can be found on the compilation, though it might have been better to use an uptempo song like The Way I’m Feeling Tonight or Time To Let Go.

Beautiful World was followed by another Mechanics album M6 in 1999. All The Light I Need was apparently considered for the Greatest Hits album, but in the end no song was used. After that Paul embarked on his independent phase. He recorded Satisfy My Soul on his own, dispensing with all the electronic nicknacks. The title song documents that album.

Later he recorded a couple of classic songs mainly from the 60s just for fun. The result was called Groovin’ and became very popular with the fans. Anyday Now and the title song Groovin’ landed on Greatest Hits.

By 2003 the electronics were back. It Ain’t Over had a couple of singles, though neither She Lived Down The Street nor Nothing To Lose were used for the compilation, but the title song and the single Where Did I Go Wrong were.

cover Late in 2005 Paul Carrack was bitten by the big band bug. He fulfilled one of his dreams by recording the album Winter Wonderland / A Soulful Christmas with the SWR Big Band. The album included a couple of Carrack hits along with numerous classics. What A Wonderful World was selected as the apt closing song for his Greatest Hits album.

Hits compilations are a bit ambivalent. Just to make some money, to fill the gap before the next album, and so on… Paul’s Best Of is the first compilation of his career that was controlled by him. Of course a one CD album cannot respect everybody’s wished. Nothing was included from his work on Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited. Hey You was also left out, the song he sang at Roger Waters’ The Wall Live In Berlin. Neither his work with Nick Lowe nor his first album Nightbird are represented; a couple of Mechanics hits are missing, and so is material from M6 and Rewired. A song from the Spin 1ne 2wo album would have been another good addition to The Story So Far.

All in all this is nevertheless a good career retrospective. The album is a good starting point for those who are just beginning to discover Paul Carrack. Paul has even written a couple of notes about each song; these and a couple of interesting photos make up the bulk of the booklet.


1974: How Long (Ace)
1981: Tempted (Squeeze)
1982: I Need You
1985: Silent Running (Mike + The Mechanics)
1987: Don't Shed A Tear
1987: When You Walk In The Room
1988: The Living Years (Mike + The Mechanics, 2006 new version)
1989: Battlefield
1989: Dedicated (2006 new version)
1995: Over My Shoulder (Mike + The Mechanics)
1996: Love Will Keep Us Alive (2006 new version)
1996: Eyes Of Blue
1997: Beautiful World
2000: Satisfy My Soul
2001: Groovin'
2001: Anyday Now
2003: Where Did I Go Wrong?
2003: It Ain't Over
2005: What A Wonderful World (with SWR Big Band)

by Christian Gerhardts

translated by Martin Klinkhardt

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