Ripe talent from an old Raspberry
By Philip Elwood
Eric Carmen, a name not likely to strike many as a household word, came through town last night with a powerhouse band — he's a composer, singer, pianist and guitarist. If you are intense about your rock enthusiasm you know he was a mainstay lead man of the Raspberries, thought by many to be one of America's very best mainstream rock 'n' roll bands.
Carmen's show at the great American Music Hall, which was broadcast live on KSAN-FM, was superbly produced (too loud, of course, but still well done in that context) and a particularly great treat for the old R&R fans.
Out of Cleveland, Carmen is a competent performer — his derivations are more prominent than his originality. He and his orchestrations reflect the McCartney-Beatles image on a number of tunes. On "Sunrise," his strong tenor leads a surprising show-biz arrangement, on "Last Night," which many thought the best thing he did, Carmen utilized a baroque sound in the electronics backup. The old Raspberries song "Overnight Sensation" was a great rendition, a good crowd kicker.
"Al By Myself," which might become a pop standard, has elegant synthesizer work by George Sipl and the basic theme is enhanced by bits of Chopin, Beethoven and Alan Price.
Although Carmen plays piano and guitar he is not dominant on either. On the Beatles' "Slow Down" he mentioned Gershwin, did some Chuck Berry material and then moved to "On Broadway," one of his best renditions.
Carmen enjoys stop-time, lavish syncopation, rapid shifts from vocal to instrumental lines and dominaance of the group if he needs to.
His voice is microphonic, his mood a bit frantic, his range in the raspy-tenor region. Energy is part of the act. With two drums, two guitars and two keyboard artists in the band and they are forever switching roles Carmen has to keep on his toes as a leader — and he does a good job.
His "Go All The Way," reminiscent of the best of the Raspberries, has a nice flowing sound like the Dead, the Band or the Chambers Brothers.
So where does this lavishly promoted "new" artist go? He has a nice manner, a nervous but convincing picture, and brain — not necessarily prime show-biz requirements. But, then again, Carmen enjoys heading a band and he has a magnificent ensemble. His closing "Go Al The Way" and "Be My Baby" were more than enough to convince me that he has got ut all and that it's up to the public to give him support.
Carmen is certainly a talent worth considering. He works tunes well, tosses in oldies but goodies without fanfare, and gives his splendid band considerable chance to blow on their own.
—San Francisco Examiner, December 23, 1975