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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Ace - 1977 No Strings
Ace - 1977 No Strings

ALBUM: No Strings
LABEL: Anchor
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Paul Carrack - lead and backing vocals, keyboards * Alan 'Bam' King - backing vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar * Jon Woodhead - backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitar * Terry 'Tex' Comer - bass * Fran Byrne - drums, percussion * Trevor Lawrence, Bobby Keyes, Jim Price, Steve Madaio - horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock And Roll Singer * 02 You're All That I Need * 03 Crazy World * 04 I'm Not Takin' It Out On You * 05 Movin' * 06 Gleaming In The Gloom * 07 Let's Hang On * 08 Why Did You Leave Me * 09 Found Out The Hard Way * 10 C'est La Vie

One of my guilty listening pleasures is Pub rock, British no nonsense rock 'n' roll of the early to mid 70's and the precursor to punk rock. It was a down to earth scene and a natural movement that was created as an answer to the glam and progressive rock pretentiousness of the time. Pub rock had its heroes. Brinsley Schwarz which featured Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm were the originators. Dr. Feelgood was electric in a live setting and undoubtedly the biggest success story of the genre. Ducks Deluxe, Count Bishops, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Kursaal Flyers and a young Elvis Costello all played a big role in the Pub rock movement, but as far as worldwide notoriety, it's Ace and their massive hit single 'How Long' that put Pub rock on the map. Originally going with the colourful moniker of Ace Flash and the Dynamos the group formed out of the ash and blue haze of progressive hippy bands Mighty Baby and Warm Dust, the latter group featuring Hammond player and vocalist Paul Carrack who should need no introduction here at GD with his later work with Squeeze ('Tempted') and Mike + The Mechanics. In the true Pub rock tradition Ace toured the UK heavily, but it wasn't until 'How Long' broke on both the British and U.S. charts that the bands fortunes began to change. A U.S tour followed supporting Leslie West Band and Kansas, but critics were not impressed. 'How Long' was the standout song in a set that to most music journalists who missed the point was nothing more than standard rock 'n' roll. Try as they might, Ace never had another major hit following 'How Long' on either side of the ocean and like a kiss of death were perceived as a one hit wonder. As a result 'No Strings' would be the final Ace album.

The Songs
It's too bad, because this is a fine record, nothing spectacular, but a good release nonetheless. 'No Strings' offers up a soulful, bluesy, southern rock influenced album. 'Rock and Roll Singer' opens the record with a brassy mixture of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Sea Level. 'You're All That I Need' could be considered a remake of 'How Long', but it's an excellent tune with Carrack's warm trademark vocals and chorus bringing it home. 'Crazy World' and I'm Not Takin' It Out On You' both have a Doobie Brothers and Clover (Doobies related band that featured Huey Lewis and played a role in the UK pub rock scene as well, but that's another story..) feel and it's easy to come away from these songs thinking Ace should have spent more time in America and given another album a shot. Side two's standout is 'Gleaming In The Gloom' and while it wasn't written by Carrack, it still has that 'How Long' vibe, or more to the point the classic Ace sound.

In Summary
Following the break-up of Ace all the band members went on to join the Frankie Miller Band with the exception of Carrack who went on to record with Roxy Music and release a neglected solo album 'Nightbird' in 1980 before joining up with Squeeze. As far as I know 'No Strings' has not been released on CD, but there are numerous Ace compilations out there so get a copy and dig into some great music-Pub rock style.

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#1 | super80boy on July 07 2013 15:17:03
Pleasant listen, but as you said, nothing out of this world. They have a competent production behind them and Carack has his solid vocals. 'You're All That I Need', 'Gleaming In The Gloom' and the most up-tempo song in the lot 'Found Out The Hard Way' are the standouts.
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