No Strings


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No Strings Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

If Time for Another was a tad bit subdued, Ace’s 1977 follow-up remedies that problem by giving the pub rock a big, splashy production suited for the crossover audience “How Long” gave them three years prior. It was a case of too much too late -- Ace lost whatever chart momentum they had and the times were beginning to shift, with many of their pub rock peers gravitating toward punk. Ace took the opposite approach: they retooled themselves as a soft rock outfit with a distinctly Southern California bent. No Strings is music made with the charts in mind but it’s livelier and more varied than Time for Another, capitalizing on Paul Carrack’s soulful voice. Carrack is now front and center, so ably navigating the turns from bouncy pop to bright boogie to gossamer ballads that it’s no wonder No Strings sounds in retrospect like a blueprint for his subsequent solo career. Nevertheless, No Strings is firmly a band album, gaining strength from Ace’s group interplay, John Woodhead seamlessly filling the departed Phil Harris’ shoes, but the production is so slick that it glosses over any potential rifts. And that smooth production is a big reason why No Strings is a strong record: it may not have been a hit, but with its soulful shine and easy melodies, it captures ‘70s major-label soft rock at a peak.

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