Ace

How Long

Composed by Paul Carrack

Song Review by

With "How Long," Ace became the only pub rock group to score a massive hit, a song that charted not only in the U.K., but crossed over into the mainstream U.S. market. That kind of success was a pipe dream for Brinsley Schwarz, the undisputed leaders of the movement, but that's because their pop moves came too late and were too retro to really connect with a wide audience. Ace, however, didn't necessarily sound like roots rockers -- at least on "How Long." The single faded in to a laid-back yet insistent, repeated bass line, supported by tinkling high-hats, before it gently eased into the soulful, jazzy chorus. Immediately, this is a catchy, slyly seductive song, but when Paul Carrack starts singing the verse, the whole thing becomes slightly magical. Even this early in his career, Carrack sounds older than his years and he brings real weight to the song that seems to be a lament to the end of a long, failed love affair. But that's not what the song is about. It's about a man who realizes, as he rolls on down the open highway, that he's just spent too damn long playing in a band and that it's time for them to call it a day. Now, that's a pub rock song if there ever was one -- most of the songs were about playing in a band or listening to a band play on a Friday night -- but the great thing is, it never sounds like it. The laid-back vibe, the soulful singing, the great melody all add up to a single that sounds like a soft rock classic of the '70s. And it surely is that. But it is also one of the great pub rock singles, a song that arrived at the end of the pub rock era and certainly summed up what all the bands were feeling, even if they didn't want to admit it to themselves.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Five-a-Side 1974
Ace
Cherry Red
No Image 1975
Various Artists
Ronco Silver
No Image 1976
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
No Image 1982
Ace
Polydor
How Long: The Best of Ace Featuring Paul Carrack 1988
Ace
See For Miles Records 3:25
Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 14 1990
Various Artists
Rhino 3:24
Sounds of the Seventies: 1975 1990
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:23
Blue-Eyed Soul 1992
Various Artists
Virgin
Naughty Rhythms: The Best of Pub Rock 1996
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:19
Rock On 1975 1996
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings 3:21
Rock On: 1975-1979 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:24
De Pre Historie: De Jaren 70, Vol. 2 (1974) 1997
Various Artists
Eva 3:22
Greatest Love [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:16
70's Hits Back Again 1998
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:22
Rock On: From 1970 to 1979 1998
Various Artists
Madacy 3:24
Lava Love 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:21
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 3:24
Singers & Songwriters: 1974-1975 [1999] 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:23
Singers & Songwriters: 1974-1975 [2000] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:23
70's Jewels 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:23
No Greater Love 2001
Various Artists
Global TV 3:19
Singers and Songwriters: 1973-1976 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Then: Totally Oldies 70's, Vol. 6 2003
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande 3:17
Legends: Crank It Up 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:23
Best One Hit Wonders in the World Ever 2004
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI Music Distribution
Heartbreakers [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:18
The Pick of the 70's 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:18
Classic Rock Ballads [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:16
No Image 2005
Ace
Lemon Recordings
Invincible [Original Soundtrack] 2006
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 3:23
Classic Soft Rock: Into the Night 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:22
The Sound of the 70s [Warner] 2007
Various Artists
Warner Strategic Marketing 3:21
Soft Rock Anthems [Crimson] 2007
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:21
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:23
No Image 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / EMI TV 3:20
Top Gear Anthems 2008: Seriously Hot Driving Music 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:20
Seventies Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Virgin 3:20
100 Hits: Drive Time 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:22
Singers & Songwriters [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:23
How Long: The Best Of 2011
Ace
Cherry Red
The Seventies Album [Rhino] 2015
Various Artists
Rhino 3:23
Greatest Ever! Dad Rock
Various Artists
Greatest Ever
More Than a Feeling [Tellydisc]
Various Artists
Tellydisc
blue highlight denotes editor's pick