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How Long – Ace

Five A Side by Ace featured "How Long" a 1974 one-hit wonderI’m pretty sure I’m awarding “How Long” by Ace bonus points due to my affinity for “Tempted” by Squeeze.

Both songs are ably sung by Paul Carrack, a man who found success with Ace, British critical darlings, Squeeze, and as a singer with Mike and the Mechanics in the mid- to late-1980s.

Carrack obviously does something right to hit the Billboard charts with three different bands. But he doesn’t need a band to get airplay; he can do it on his own just as well, having reached the Billboard Top 40 four times on his own. I think it’s his voice that is effortlessly soulful as he belts out “How Long” and “Tempted.”

Listen to How Long by Ace

“How Long” is from the soft-rock school of music that features soaring choruses, three-part harmonies and bands with names like Ambrosia, Firefall and Orleans who continue to play the county fair circuit today.

To my ears, “How Long” sounds more like a 1978 hit than one from 1975. It’s all in the production that mixes a persistent but unobtrusive drum beat, a slightly dirty guitar solo, Carrack’s electric keyboards and, of course, those killer harmonies.

It’s a song that worked as a stylistic influence for many bands that came afterward, including one of the my all-time favorite two-hit wonders, “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck from 1976 (it’s #1 on my list of the Top 8 Moon Songs).

“How Long?” by Ace reached #3 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1975 making Ace a one-hit wonder.

The song has aged well and sounds just as good today as it did in the mid-1970s. Especially if you like soft rock.

How long with soft-rock stations play this hit? Probably forever.

Bonus points to disco fans who remember one-hit wonder artists, Lipps Inc. (“Funkytown”) and their discofied version of “How Long” from 1981. It’s garbage, but fun. Check it on YouTube.

Buy “How Long” by Ace

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I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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2 Responses to "How Long – Ace"

  1. Walker says:

    Personal favorite, but you almost ruined it with that Starbuck’s song reference.
    I don’t see the similarities either.
    “How Long” is supposedly a blast at a former Ace bandmember who left for another group.

  2. Michael Waterman says:

    Walker,

    I agree that “Moonlight Feels Right” and “How Long” don’t sound the same. Paul Carrack’s vocals are way better for Ace. What I hear is a kind of breezy, laid-back vibe of mid-1970s soft rock in both songs. They can be compelling as foreground music or blend into the background just as easily. That’s the beauty of ’70s soft rock and, I believe, a big reason many of the ’70s soft-rock hits are played on the radio today. They’re comforting without being challenging.
    Michael

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