Album review: ACE – Five-a-Side/Time For Another/No Strings

ACE - Five-a-Side/Time For Another/No Strings

BGO Records [Release Date 12.10.18]

In most people’s eyes, Ace are a curiosity remembered only for an admittedly classic transatlantic hit single in ‘How Long’ and for giving a first break to one of the UK’s most respected blue eyed soul singers in Paul Carrack. However to BGO’s credit, they have pulled together a package that effectively represents their complete works – three albums (if  slightly awkwardly split over two CDs) together with an unreleased instrumental ‘Tastes Like A Fish’.

The presentation is equally comprehensive with album photos- including fascinating pen portraits where Paul reveals his influence was Billy Preston among all the Beatles and Motown name checks- and lengthy liner notes from veteran journalist John Tobler, except on closer inspection there are no quotes from band members, he devotes space to long lists of other bands work, and commits the cardinal sin of more than once saying ‘according to the internet’…… which of course means it must be true.  But I digress.

The aforementioned single was taken from their 1974 debut Five-a-Side, with unexplained football themed imagery including the band’s faces superimposed on what looks like a picture of Liverpool fans at that year’s Cup final.

The single stands loud and proud but the soul influences, while present on the likes of ’24 Hours‘, which features a horn section, are not as strong as I expected. Instead openers ‘Sniffin’ About’ and ‘Rock and Roll Runaway’ epitomise a rootsy sound with a swampy guitar style in the mode of Little Feat,  JJ Cale, Ry Cooder and all those other Whistle Test favourites of the time.

Although the main songwriter on the first and third albums, Carrack fans should be aware that his is not the only featured voice with several other members contributing, though none have a particularly distinctive sound. The jazz-tinged ballad ‘Know How it Feels’ is obviously his, though other songs rock a little more such as ‘Time Ain’t Long’ and the barroom rock of closer ‘So Sorry Baby’.

On the second album, 1975’s Time For Another - which was more of a group songwriting effort- they took their American influences still further into country rock territory. Both opener ‘I Think Its Gonna Last’ and ‘This is What You Find’ would sit comfortably alongside the Eagles’ first three albums and ‘Does It Hurt You’ even featured a  guest appearance on pedal steel from Poco’s Rusty Young.

‘No Future in Your Eyes’ is a classic Paul Carrack vocal but oddly the closing tune- and their only other (minor) hit single-  ‘Ain’t Gonna Stand for This No More’, with its funky, swampy feel  was one of the weakest on the album.

By the time of the third album No Strings in 1977, they were even recording in the USA and featured a new American guitarist in Jon Woodhead. Those countrified edges had been sanded off for a  more mainstream soft rock sound, epitomised by the likes of  ‘Not Taking It Out on You’ which is less distinguishable from the pack, but ’Rock and Roll Singer’ is a brassy opener with a four piece horn section and ‘All That I Need’ has a soulful feel.

Supported by some fine melodic guitar work and with Paul Carrack’s voice having a tinge of namesake Rodgers, the liveliest and most up tempo of the ten songs, ‘Movin’ and ‘Found Out the Hard Way’ reminded me of Bad Company’s contemporary work.

It is a far from bad album but their shot at the big time was probably at an end. They say punk killed this type of music off but the following year Dire Straits took many of Ace’s similar original influences to  begin a stellar career. By that moment Ace’s opportunity had come and gone, but this is an interesting if inessential deeper dive into their catalogue.  *** 1/2

Review by Andy Nathan





Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 22 May.

Next session: Sunday 26 June.

Check out previous videos here: https://www.facebook.com/getreadytorockradio


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 12 June 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 14 June 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages: getreadytorockradio.com


Power Plays w/c 13 June 2022 (Mon-Fri)
IVORY SKIES – Bring Me Up (indie)
HONG FAUX Feign Death To Stay Alive (Golden Robot Records)
OVERLAPS Mind Over Matter (indie)
SOLE SYNDICATE – Brave Enough (Scarlet Records)
DAVID PAICH Spirit Of The Moonrise (Mascot)
JAILBIRDS The River (indie)
NOUVEAU ARCADE Die On Me Now (FiXT)

Featured Albums w/c 13 June (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 DEF LEPPARD Diamond Star Halos (BMG)
12:00-13:00 LONERIDER Sundown (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 VANDERWOLF 12 Little Killers (Vandermax Music)



Popular (last 30 days)


This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS, Reissues and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply