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In Hindsight: 1975's Eric Carmen album (Arista)

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LC   

When Bernie put up his Boats Against the Current blog in 2007 and asked both our late friend Don Krider and me to contribute some material, I was honored and had a great time doing it. It was such a nice nostalgia blitz... (see the postings on LP stickers and 8-track tapes). But the post that was the most fun was one where I relayed my own personal ranking of the songs on Boats. It was nearly impossible to come up with a "favorite to least favorite," but I did it anyway, and several others chimed in. (The post is called "The Best of Boats" (scroll down about halfway down on the blog.)

Five years later, I thought it would be fun to give the same reassessment to Eric's first solo album. By now, we have, what, 37 years of hindsight? (The years keep slippin' away...)

Anyway, here's how I rank the songs on Eric Carmen. Not an easy exercise if you love the whole album, but... if you were forced, how would you rank 'em? And just because you have to stick something down at Nos, 8, 9, and 10 doesn't mean you hate 'em — just that others are even better. (Bernie, you're allowed to cheat and have a #1 and a nine-way tie for #2, like you did with "Boats.")

1. All By Myself. Maybe we take it for granted, now that it's a classic power ballad and pop standard and has been recorded by hundreds of artists. But it still has to rank at the top of the heap here — it just has to. I also appreciate that it subtly introduced me — and how many others? — to Sergei Rachmaninoff (also spelled Rachmaninov; see Yahoo answers ).

2. Sunrise. Marlene's favorite, right? That's good enough for me. I don't know if there's a song that starts off a day better than this one does. I really need to make it my alarm clock.

3. My Girl. I wouldn't have ranked this one so high back in the 1970s, because I didn't give Side 2 enough listening time, compared to Side 1. But upon further review, it's a perfect pop song, it's it?

4. Never Gonna Fall in Love Again. What a melody, and those lyrics really hit home back in high school, and college... (and even now). Kudos again for the Rachmaninoff exposure.

5. That's Rock'n'Roll. Is this the song that taught Eric about songwriter royalties, after Shaun Cassidy's cover became a huge hit? Cassidy's version is nice, but the original has more muscle.

6. No Hard Feelings. Speaking of muscle, whew. This is just a great rock'n'roll song that also gave us the benefit of summing up (satisfyingly so) the trials and tribulations of the Raspberries' "short but illustrious" career. Back when there was precious little reporting to be found on why the 'berries broke up, and no Internet to provide intel, we got the inside story, right from the horse's mouth. ("Four years on, and things were really gettin' too intense....") I think Eric should write an update of the song and add a verse about the reunion. :-)

7. Everything. This is another one that didn't get a fair shake from me back in the day, but... this is a great description of why somebody sets out for success in pop and rock'n'roll. Love it.

8. Last Night. It's not fair to have this one ranked so low, I know, but... what can you do? Yet I do love it. When CDs came along, I often skipped right to this song (bypassing the quartet of well-exposed hits). It was great to hear it back-to-back with "My Girl," something we couldn't do with the LP unless we got up and flipped over the vinyl — music interruptus.

9. Great Expectations. A light but fun moment, with a line that still pops up in my head maybe more than any other on this album: "Sometimes you get a hula-hoop, sometimes you get an Edsel." Or both.

10. On Broadway. Well... something has to go at the bottom. But this is still a worthy cover, and Eric makes it sound like his own. "They say the chicks are somethin' else, on Broadway...." How long has it been since you used the word "chick" for a woman? :-)

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Kirk   

Fun thread, Larry- thanks for spicing things up a bit. Here's my rankings on this 'Greatest Hits' debut album:

4,3,1,2,7,5,6,8,9,10. We're in the same ballpark on this one, LC!

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marvin   

1. My Girl

2. That's Rock and Roll

3. Last Night

4. All By Myself

5. Everything

6. No Hard Feelings

7. Sunrise

8. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again

9. Great Expectations

10. On Broadway

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LC   

KIRK'S HINDSIGHT:

1. Never Gonna Fall in Love Again

2. My Girl

3. All By Myself

4. Sunrise

5. Everything

6. That's Rock'n'Roll

7. No Hard Feelings

8. Last Night

9. Great Expectations

10. On Broadway

It's nice to see "My Girl" get some love, from both you and Marv. Perfect pop... and still another with a classical reference. Encore!

This is such a great album overall.... It benefited at least a little, of course, from Raspberries' break-up, right? We know Eric wrote "ABM" while still in the band; maybe he had a head start on a couple of others, too.

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James   

This album is a melodic masterpiece, IMHO. Only matched by The BeeGees MainCourse maybe.

And I´ll put "My Girl" as my #1 song too on this album. Has there ever been a more joy inspiring segment of a pop song than the part of "My Girl" where the bridge climaxes into the chorus toward the end of the song?

I can´t think of one except for maybe "Love Grows" by Edison Lighthouse.

James

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1. My Girl

2. That's Rock and Roll

3. All By Myself

4. Everything

5. Sunrise

6. Last Night

7. No Hard Feelings

8. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again

9. Great Expectations

10. On Broadway

Bernie

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Okay, here's my take, but I wanted to spend some time on each record listening and adding my thoughts, ala LC, so let me start with my favorite EC album.

1. Sunrise: A fantastic song that I have always felt was one of the greatest songs ever written. It simply has everything I ever wanted in a pop record and is my favorite Eric song of all time. Signature reminds me of a positive Elton’s “Funeral For A Friend†for style points. I still remember the day it came out and I went and stayed at a relative’s house that night and we listened to this song, and album, virtually all night long, blasting it with our cool black light posters lit up on the walls.

2. All By Myself: Had such an impact on me as a young musician. “Oh, what is THIS? A flatted fifth? Oooooh, okay! Don’t hear those every day. I’ll be writing songs with those in them some day!†The piano interlude both incredible and moving and the vocal simply a classic of lost love and loneliness. They should slap any program director who ever took it out when played on Top 40 radio. Not surprised this has been covered by so many people, just surprised more haven’t covered Eric’s tunes because of it.

3. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again: Yeah, ya just can’t drop this on a sixteen year old! It’s simply not fair! The lyrics and melody just drove this onto every chart in the country. Can still see him doing this on The Midnight Special! Love how this song starts on a minor chord and then the chorus changes to major chords. Such an ear pleasing song!

4. My Girl: Song features one of the best bridges I have ever heard in all my years of listening. Song should have been titled, “Eric Carmen Does Brian Wilson†His backing band does an incredibly underrated performance with this tune. Always loved the vocal only snippet Bernie provided us a few years ago.

5. No Hard Feelings: Anyone that has ever been in a band relates to this, especially the “Let me OUT†part! I recall bringing this album to a party and playing this song on the record player while I stared down a former band mate! What I bad ass I was and what a great song this is!

6. That’s Rock N’ Roll: First Eric Carmen song I ever got to sing in a band. Remember that when you are playing Blackhawkpat trivia! I remember seeing Eric do this live when he was promoting “Boats†and he did a completely different bluesy kind of version. Wonder if he recalls that? Should have been a monster hit, not just for Shaun, but for Eric, too!

7. Last Night: Again, underrated tune and I love the “Carson show†reference. Somebody should have gotten that to Johnny’s people and gotten EC on the show! Another song showing the Brian Wilson influence on EC.

8. Everything: Really enjoy this song, especially the way it fades in, but I wish it was longer! If you consider it a medley with “No Hard Feelingsâ€, it gives you a real keen perspective on being in a band at any level. Was always surprised that Axl Rose covered this song, but it showed that there is a huge Eric Carmen underground fan base and why he belongs in the Hall!

9. Great Expectations: Nice vocal performance by Eric, but not one of my favorite songs by him. Never quite got the whole tap dancing and WC Fields stuff in there, even though it still sounds to me like he says “boy, you sound like Lou Reed†instead of the angels reference! Probably the only song ever written that has the word “Edsal†in it, at least after 1935!

10. On Broadway: Solid version of a classic song, but being the fan of Eric’s writing that I am, have to say I wish it had been replaced on the album by one of his. Did I read somewhere (maybe Eric/Bernie’s book?) that George Benson said he got the idea to record it from hearing Eric’s version? Again, this lends evidence why he should be in the Hall. Benson stole, Grand Funk stole, Todd stole, and all the people he influenced as a balladeer as a solo or as a power pop rocker as a band member.

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LC   

Awesome, Pat! I love your commentary and recollections, especially the "Never Gonna Fall in Love," "All By Myself," and "No Hard Feelings" stuff. Thank you!

One reason I did these "hindsight" threads is because, well, we aren't getting any younger, and we're not getting any hints of new EC music, so... it's a good time to reflect on his catalog and how his records made an impact on us.

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1. All By Myself A+

2. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again A

3. My Girl A

4. That's Rock N Roll A

5. Last Night A

6. Sunrise A-

7. Everything A-

8. On Broadway B

9. Great Expectations B-

10. No Hard Feelings C

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LC   

1. All By Myself A+

2. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again A

3. My Girl A

4. That's Rock N Roll A

5. Last Night A

6. Sunrise A-

7. Everything A-

8. On Broadway B

9. Great Expectations B-

10. No Hard Feelings C

One more thread to update with letter grades....

1. All By Myself: A+

2. Sunrise: A+

3. My Girl: A+

4. Never Gonna Fall in Love Again: A

5. That's Rock'n'Roll: A

6. No Hard Feelings A

7. Everything: B+

8. Last Night: B+

9. Great Expectations: B

10. On Broadway B

What a great record. This is the sound of an inspired artist — fresh from the 'berries breakup, new label, new band, lots to say. For me, it's a just a hair below, if not virtual tie with, Boats Against the Current as Eric's finest.

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James   

Ok, I will adhere to the slavedriver´s (LC) wishes:

:-)

1. My Girl - A+

2. Sunrise - A+

3. Everything - A+

4. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again - A+

5. No Hard Feelings - A

6. That´s Rock & Roll - A

7. All By Myself - A

8. Great Expectations - A-

9. Last Night - B+

To me, this is the best album of alltime if you judge an album on melody, upbeatedness etc. Though it had some commercial success, it was still WAY underrated in the market, IMHO.

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Les R.   

1. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again A+

2. All By Myself A+

3. That´s Rock & Roll A+

4. Last Night A-

5. Sunrise B+

6. My Girl B+

7. Great Expectations B

8. On Broadway B-

8. No Hard Feelings C+

9. Everything C

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LC   

James,

Good stuff. Clearly, "My Girl" is a serious all-time favorite among Eric's fans. I had a chat with my friend Blackhawk Pat the other night and the topic of song placement on albums came up, with regard to the Raspberries albums.I wonder if Eric/Arista had placed "my Girl" right after "Sunrise" or "That's Rock'n'Roll" -- maybe it would have been more widely known. I just know from my own LP habits that I would play one side of most LPs more than the other, and hence get way more familiar with one side than the other. And I would bet that most people who bought EC's first album wore out the first side -- and maybe not the second side as much.

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James   

...probably, probably.

Though on the other hand, "My Girl" was the first song on a side. RE: my record listening habits, first songs on album sides always were impressed in my mind more than songs located at other positions on the album. And I´d always give those first songs more of a chance because I figured the artist/record co. thought a lot of the song in order to have made it a side opener.

I think both views (what you said and what I said) are accurate.

I remember Eric saying that he didn´t like the final construction of "My Girl"...he said something to the effect that his vision was for a more "heavy" sound.

Hard to imagine that song being any better!!..

James

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PaulMaul   

Love this thread!

I don't have time to expound at the moment but here's my ranking of the fantastic songs on what I feel is one of the best albums of all time:

1. Sunrise

2. My Girl

I personally feel these two should be ranked through the stratosphere....two of my favorite songs of all time for sure

3. All By Myself

4. That's Rock n Roll

5. Last Night

6. Everything -- I really love this, but it's more of a snippet than a song so I can't rank it higher

Those four are the second tier for me

7. NGFILA

8. Great Expectations

9. No Hard Feelings

10. On Broadway

I seem to like NGFILA less than most EC fans, but then I feel that same way about most of Boats...it's just not my favorite musical style I suppose....

I like Great Expectations more than I used to, but it's more of a novelty. The lowest ranked songs on this album I still listen to frequently and enjoy. A true masterpiece!

Can't wait to read the threads about the other albums. This kind of thread is what I used to enjoy about EC.com!

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LC   

Thanks, PaulMaul (a.k.a. Dave, right?).

Hey, have you ever heard the full version of "Everything" — not by Eric but by another singer? I'll need a little help here, because I can't find it on the site, but... I swear Bernie had a cover of "Everything" by an artist I can't remember, and it included an extra verse.

It's not the Axl Rose version of "Everything," which is here:

It's another artist, and I know it appeared here before, but I can't find it.... Maybe it was a Christmas-day posting a few years ago. Anyone remember?

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Kirk   

Larry, finding this one is a little like knowing your way around the old hometown, navigating the byways and finding the shortcuts.

You have to go in through 'Multimedia' at the top of the taskbar. No, not the one you're looking at here. That only takes you to the current crop of demos. Click on some part of the website that Bernie hasn't updated yet, such as the 'Press' section. Now, roll the cursor over 'Multimedia' and click on the 'audio' portion. This brings you to the Jukebox, where you can scroll down and find Keith Barbour's version of "Everything", which I hope to link to this post. If it's not a direct link, you'll still be in the ball park.

Don't get lost! It's a zoo out there!

http://www.ericcarmen.com/multimedia/mp3.htm

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LC   

Hey, great directions! Thank you, Kirk! The nice thing is, I know I'm not going crazy. (Well... that's up for debate...)

PaulMaul, check it out.... It's not Eric, but you get to hear the whole song.

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In Hindsight, The 1975 Arista album is a great album with the most diverse set of pop tunes Eric has put together in one group...So why is it that only a few of songs on the album really move me? I like EVERY song on the CD, but I only REALLY like maybe 3. "NGFLA", "ABM" (long version only) and "Sunrise".

Other Carmen CDs don't have as many good songs, but have as many or more REALLY good songs...IMHO. (But who's kidding, my opinion IS the most important opinion...I mean, Who says, "Well Jesus, that's an interesting rule to live by, but that's just your opinion.")

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After the Raspberries bust-up, I was thrilled to find EC had gone solo. At that time I did not know the depth of the issues that led to the breakup, all I knew was that their singles were not becoming "hit records" so the end was sure to come... though with "Starting Over" I, the "casual teen-fan" expected at least another album or two... frown

Still, finding Eric's album was enough to assuage my loss of my favorite band... even if the whiny-ballad All By Myself was the lead single... Yeah, I know... it's a great song... and I know it's made Eric a shit-load of money with all the covers and such... but... What if?

Sunrise... the perfect first song for a "first" album... A very minor (#38?) hit as a follow up to the two "sappy" lead ins... Had it been Eric's first offering, he might have been considered a "rock" star and not a singer of ballads.

How about the incredible That's Rock And Roll? What I suspect would have been a monster Raspberries' hit was (intentionally?) not released as a single here to prove that Eric was not "just" Raspberries? Had either of those been the first offering, the longevity and success of Eric's career might have gone differently. Would All By Myself still have been a hit if released after those? I think "yes"... How many heavier musical acts score a huge hit with a "ballad" but are still considered viable rockers? But a "balladeer" with a rock release never seems to have the same success crossing those genres...

Most of the other stuff on Eric's fist offering was solid... My Girl, Great Expectations, and especially No Hard Feelings got played-to-death on my 8-track... Everything benefitted from "being in there" with them. I'd usually pop the tape out or start over when "On Broadway" came on, even though it was not a bad song, at that point I was not looking to have Eric be a "cover band"...

I know my opinions here are likely in the minority, and it sure ain't my place to second guess the career path of our hero... but one of my favorite "rabbit-trails" is the idea of the alternate universe... and I'd love to see the 37 year old charts if "my" path had been Eric's. laugh

Edit: Adding my "list"... laugh

1. That's Rock And Roll

2. Sunrise

3. No Hard Feelings

4. All By Myself

5. Great Expectations

6. My Girl

7. Never Gonna Fall In Love Again

8. Everything

9. Last Night

10. On Broadway

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All I can say is wait until you guys hear the brilliantly remastered versions of "My Girl" and "Last Night" that are going to be on the new Sony double CD . My prediction is that those two songs are suddenly going to FLY into the top five on everyone's list. As a matter of fact, if this remastered version of "My Girl" had been on my first album, it might well have been the first single ( which is what I thought it would be, when we went into the studio).

 

To take things a step further, I think the singles from the album might have been released in this order:

 

"My Girl"

 

"All By Myself"

 

"Last Night"

 

"Never Gonna Fall In Love Again"

 

And to take things one more step further, if that had happened, my guess is that my first album would have sold two or three times as many copies, and my career, overall, might have taken a completely different turn.

 

ec

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Kirk   

Eric, you're killing me with anticipation for the new release(s)!  Interesting order for the singles off your debut album...where would "Sunrise" have been on your list?

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James   

Looking forward also!..

 

What I´d love to hear is a longer version of "Everything".   It´s one of the best melodies ever...one of the most beautiful songs ever..... but it´s impossible to get enough cuz of the shortness of the song.

 

James

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