100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #92 Ace – How Long

Released : 1974

If you were looking for a record to put in the crosshairs of yer punk rock rifle, it was songs like How Long that would surely be first up against the wall, last fag, bang bang, come the revolution. True, Ace weren’t the first band to be the accidental victim of false pretenses; More Brinsley Schwarz than The Doobie Brothers, their only chart bothering was via the epitome of blue-eyed soul, one their pub-rock default mode then never threatened to repeat.

The quintet had a not so secret weapon however, one which gave their one hit wonder the kind of durability most of their long car booted peers lacked. This under appreciated asset was Paul Carrack, the Sheffield-born keyboard player who by this point already had three albums under his belt as a member of jazz-rockers Warm Dust.

Carrack would go on to bigger things, later joining Squeeze in the wake of Jools Holland’s departure. How Long was the antithesis of Glam’s terrace roughness or Bowie’s androgyny, it’s relative sophistication at this point seen as a strength not a weakness. With a slightly plodding, Can’t-Take-My-Eyes-Off-You bass riff leading into some warm Rhodes, it had the advantage of starting with the chorus, a grappling hook of a device which when uttered from Carrack’s soul-drenched pipes stole any further resistance from the listener immediately. It’s classic status has since been confirmed by none other than Phil Collins himself: truly, it’s like 1977 never happened.

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