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Stevie

Best/Worst Solo Efforts

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Stevie   

Saw another thread where the merits of the "Winter Dreams" ("I Was Born To Love You") album was discussed. Personally I think it was a poor effort with nothing memorable on it. Even the "Renee" cover was weak, which is pretty telling as that was one of the all-time great songs.

For those who claimed to be enamored with it I wonder where it would be ranked amongst all of Eric's solos efforts. My guess is that those who claimed its greatness would still rank it last. Anyway, thought this thread might get the personal opinion juices flowing. Here's my rankings (best to worst):

1) Change of Heart

A shocker to most I guess but in my mind the most consistent album from start to finish. Two great ballads, "Heaven Can Wait" and "Desperate Fools," which NEVER get any mention from the fans; great singles pop with "Change of Heart," "Hey Deanie" and "Someday"; slick representative 70's stylings with "Haven't We Come A Long Way" and "End Of The World"; and a legitimate REAL good cover in "Baby I Need Your Lovin."

2) Eric Carmen

Still hard to forget the thrill of an actual Eric Carmen solo album, gold cover and all. The thrill of the opening synthesizer sequence leading into the driving start of "Sunrise" still gives me chills to this day. Side Two can't hold a candle to Side One and the songs are more on the Adult Contemporary side (my Mom loved the songs) but it still holds a fond place in my heart and of course "All By Myself" put little Eric on the map so without this album we might never have gotten any follow-ups.

3) Tonight You're Mine

Spotty but it does contain my favorite solo rocker in "It Hurts Too Much" and one of my favorite ballads in "Foolin' Myself." Some other good tracks but the overall "feel" of the album seems off-key to me. Additional note: This album gets my vote for worst EC album cover as well as one of the all-time worst album covers. I'm sure an embarrassment to Eric.

4) Boats Against The Current

Contains in my mind the best Eric Carmen song ever, "Take It Or Leave It"...only kidding, the best song obviously is "Boats" and another favorite of mine, particularly because of the guest vocal of another favorite of mine, the great Mr. Burton Cummings, in "Marathon Man." Nothing else on the album though does much for me. Even though the other songs aren't bad, the general mood is somber, which is okay, but the songs just don't really stand out.

5) Eric Carmen (Geffen)

Really not all that bad of an album its just that the good stuff is really good and the bad stuff is really bad so that's why I rank it lower than the rest. "Lips" is a cool song, "I'm Through With Love" is one of EC's finest ballads and "American As Apple Pie" I think is a great underrated tune. So you get a great 1-3 start on this album and then it falls off a cliff. You get some life support on Side Two at the top and at the end but not enough to save it from my lowest rank.

6 )I Was Born To Love You

If this is the best culmination of work after over a decade of absence I'm afraid it's time to put the horse out to pasture. A stunning disappointment. Nothing stands out or is worth the trouble of putting into your CD player. Easily the worst of the catalogue. Hands down.

Well, there's my listing. How about yours?

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Billy K.   

Steve, I still need a couple of more albums to make my Eric collection complete, so I can't judge on those that I don't yet have. But I can tell you that the "worst" of Eric really isn't that bad.

Consider the other top artists, and some of their

"turkeys":

Chicago -- "Free Form Guitar"

Beach Boys -- "Bells of Paris", "Anna Lee the Healer", "Some of Your Love".

Boz Scaggs -- "Hard Time"

Beatles -- "Mr. Moonlight", "I Me Mine"

Paul McCartney -- "Biker Like an Icon", "Temporary Secretary"

Stones -- "She Was Hot", "I Just Want to See His Face"

John Mellenkamp -- "Pop Singer"

Bob Dylan -- "Everything's Broken"

The above list is of some very great artists doing some very lame tunes. The "worst" Eric Carmen tune around will blow any of these tunes away.

As far as consistent quality of songs/recordings, there are only a few artists that have are competitive with Eric, as far as the RATIO of "fewest 'duds'" -- just Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, Sting, and the Eagles really are the only ones I can think of, offhand.

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darlene   

Billy K, You compiled a great list of songs from otherwise great artists that were less than memorable, in my opinion as well. But, the point is, it's just our opinion. Some of the artists probably wish they had never done some of those songs, but I'm sure some of them really believed in what they were doing at the time. And you're right, NONE of Eric's songs fit in a category with any of those.

Stevie, I can't reconcile your description of Winter Dreams with either my opinion nor the fact that so many fans here, in Japan, and all over the world adore it. It's a showcase of Eric's writing genius and his versatility. That's about all I can say. --Darlene

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aggiesjc   

Here is my ranking of best solo efforts:

1. Winter Dreams

2. first solo titled Eric Carmen

3. Geffen titled Eric Carmen

4. Tonight You're Mine

5. Boats

6. Change of Heart

It seems my list is nearly the exact opposite of Stevie's, so it just shows that it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round! Actually, ranking whole albums is very difficult and there are songs on each that make my emotions soar, but overall, Winter Dreams is a pure delight from start to finish.

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Steveh   

My top 3 EC solo efforts:

1. I Was Born to Love You, 2. Boats Against the Current, 3. Eric Carmen (Arista). The rest rank 4 - 6, but in my opinion are all clearly below the top three. The Arista album is a masterpiece but I have trouble listening to "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again "because they are so depressing. At least in Boats Against the Current there is HOPE, in addition to some of my all-time favorite ballads ("Runaway," "Nowhere to Hide"). My favorite songs on IWBTLY are: the title track, "Every Time I Make Love To You," "Top Down Summer," and "I could Really Love You."

Steve

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darlene   

Steveh: If you have trouble listening to those two, you must have more listening to "I'm Through With Love." I can listen to all of them because no matter what the lyrics say, the music is SOOO very beautiful. "I'm Through With Love" is one of the most beautiful songs he's written. Strangely enough, even the couple of times in my life when I was "through with love," and very sad, the song made me feel better somehow, because it universalized my feelings and I just knew I wasn't alone by a LONG SHOT! The universality of the feelings Eric brings out in his music is one reason I love it so much. --Darlene

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Best to worst

1. Tonight You're Mine

2. Boats Against The Current

3. Eric Carmen (Arista)

4. Change of Heart

5. Eric Carmen (Geffen)

I'll have to listen to Winter Dreams again as I honestly can't recall a single tune on it. I'm sure it will be toward the bottom for that very reason. Tonight You're Mine and Boats Against The Current are both top notch. The debut album is also very good. Change Of Heart is the most uneven with some dire disco tracks being rescued by standouts like "Hey Deanie," "Someday," and "Desperate Fools." The Geffen album has one classic with "I'm Though with Love" but nothing else even close in quality. I do enjoy "American as Apple Pie" although I would never admit it to any of my friends. I preferred "I Wanna Hear It From Your Lips" when it was called "Fire" by Springsteen.

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Stevie-- I can't say that I completely agree with all of your comments but my hat goes off to you for one INCREDIBLE freshman post! Bravo for giving it so much thought! --Bernie

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I've gotta admit, Tonight You're Mine is my all time favorite, even though I'm embarrassed about the cover. I have to hide the album cover for fear I'll give my elderly mother heart failure if she sees it. I can only imagine how Eric feels about it. Not quite appropriate family viewing material, now is it???

Michelle

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marvin   

Best to Worst? No problem:

1. Tonight You're Mine

2. Eric Carmen (Arista)

3. Boats Against the Current

4. Change of Heart

5. Eric Carmen (Geffen)

6. Winter Dreams

Not counting a couple of compilations, 6 albums in 25+ years must be some sort of record. I think that each of the albums have their strong points and their weak points, and none of the albums are totally strong from beginning to end, however "Tonight You're Mine" came the closest to combining the strength and power of the Raspberries, and the ballad side of Eric that is so prevalent in much of his solo material. "It Hurts too Much" is by far the strongest cut and the fact that it was never a hit still annoys me.

When the Arista album was released, I knew of a few Raspberries fans who were very disappointed with it. It was a bit too Pop for their liking. I thought that the album showed some great promise especially with the standout cuts "Last Night", "That's Rock and Roll", and "My Girl."

The promise of that initial effort was somewhat fulfilled but a bit muted with the more mature effort "Boats Against the Current." Granted Eric was in a different frame of mind at the time of this recording, but I found the tone of the album was too heavy. Without a doubt the title song is probably Eric's best ballad and I think that in the right hands, it could be a hit all over again today. In my opinion the album was weakened by songs such as "Take It or Leave It" (bad attempt at the Faces), and the overly long and melodramatic "Run Away."

I don't know if Eric was filling out contract obligations, but the next album, "Change of Heart" has all the earmarks of a thrown-together album. There is no cohesion whatsoever, and even the strong songs ("Desperate Fools", "Someday") seem lost. The album did however contain Eric's best cover "Baby I Need Your Loving."

In my opinion the less said about the next two releases, (Geffen and "Winter Dreams"), the better. The Geffen album is even more of a mish-mash of material than "Change of Heart." I know that Eric has said that the Geffen album contains some of his own personal favourites but that still doesn't make them good songs. The only songs that I can listen to are "American As Apple Pie" and "The Way We Used to Be."

As far as "Winter Dreams" goes, I've posted many times about my disappointment with this release. After waiting 15 years for new music from Eric, I just could not accept an album that included 2 covers, 2 songs that were 10+ years old, and a bunch of ballads. If he was going to put songs that he had written years ago, he should've included "Make Me Lose Control." This at least would have given the album an injection of life. Save for "I Could Really Love You", the rest of the album hasn't made too many visits to my player. A real drummer and more of Wally or some other musicians would've certainly added to the music.

That's it. Thanks for reading.

Marvin

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Kirk   

I try to give each effort the 'first time listen'-songs like "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" have been played to death, so just because I'm a little shell shocked I don't want to rate them as any less than the great songs they really are; but it is hard to be fair when you're listening to them for the millionth time. O.K. my list:

1. Tonight You're Mine

2. Geffen album

3. Boats Against The Current

4. Arista album

5. Winter Dreams

6. Change Of Heart

Tonight You're Mine is the best of the 'Rockin Eric and the balladeer. I will take a strong ballad to a great rocker any day, but when Eric throws in both with equal measure, I'm in heaven. Only throw away here is Lost In The Shuffle.

Geffen album has the same balance of ballads and rockers, and has strong production. I don't care if She Took Me All The Way is the son of Go All The Way, I'd been waiting for the sequel for 13 years and this one had the benefit of better production. Besides, I haven't heard anyone complain that Foolin' Myself from TYM is the daughter of All By Myself- and I'd take Foolin' Myself over All by Myself if I had to choose. Eric brings me to my knees with She Remembered.

Boats Against The Current's only less than memorable song is Marathon Man. Sure the tone of the album is somber, but that's where I was when it came out. Still hits me hard to this day.

The Arista self titled album is the one I have the most trouble ranking because of having to listen to ABM and NGFILA at least 3 times a day each over the music system at work. But the album is a masterpiece. I can do without the covers on any of Eric's albums, though. He has too much great work and talent to bother covering any one else.

Winter Dreams isn't really fifth, it's actually in a tie for third with Boats and the Arista self titled. But I had to separate them somehow, so by the fact that it has great songs but suffers a little with the drum tracks (sorry to harp on those) it ended up in fifth this week. Ask me next week and it might change. In fact, the first two picks might change, also. They are all so great, what are you going to do.

Except for Change of Heart, which really belongs here. Not that it is a bad album by any means. But it has a cover tune that I could do without, and although Hey Deanie and Someday are wonderful songs, they are a little light and could use some

more punch. Probably my biggest gripe is the influence of the Bee Gees on the overall production. And I'm not sure, but I think this is the album where Eric tried to do his Al Green imitation.

Kirk

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Stevie   

Thanks very much for the compliment Bernie.

Didn't expect total agreement with my comments as we are dealing with a topic that is VERY subjective. As beauty lies in the eye of the beholder I think music lies in the ear of the beholder.

Still confounded though by the Winter Dreams proponents, (Barb and Marvin excepted), and would ask those fans to name one song on that album that is the equal or better of any of the many, and generally mutually agreed upon, great tracks on the other albums (e.g. All By Myself, Boats, etc.). There seems to be alot of "I loved the album" but no one says what the standout/best loved tracks are. No one seems to have that problem with the other albums so I'd be curious to know just what the great songs are on IWBTLY that make it such a fine album and one that is superior to the other solo albums with all of their outstanding cuts.

I think it would also be interesting to know how many current fans became so during the Raspberries era (like I did) as opposed to the solo era and how that determines which solo album they like the most. Sounds like a good topic for another thread.

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bmfc1   

Long time reader, firm time poster. My favorite solo album remains "Boats." Even though it's been twenty years, the title track and "Love Is All That Matters" remain wonderful and beautiful songs. I was thinking the other day that it's a shame no one has ever covered "Love Is All That Matters."

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Steveh   

Stevie,

You asked for specifics on IWBTLY - here they are: First, let me say that this CD has mostly slower-paced songs. Some people enjoy faster-paced songs. I think EC is THE BEST at Ballads. The title track is an outstanding ballad. Why? I don't know! I just love it. EC sings with great emotion, and when he sings his ballads, I really think he means what he sings. Someone That You Loved Before is a nice ballad, but not outstanding. Every Time I Make Love To You is, in my opinion, one of EC's greatest songs ever. Listen to it 5 or 10 times. It may be the combination of the synthesizer and I don't know what but I think its GREAT! Cartoon World I can do without - nothing special about it. Almost Paradise is a beautiful ballad - again slow, but GREAT! Top Down Summer is one of the happiest songs I've heard, right up there with Cruisin' Music. Love it. Isn't It Romantic and I Wanna Take Forever Tonight are nice, flowing ballads. I Could Really Love You is upbeat and different with its Spanish beat - Great! I didn't much like Walk Away Renee.

I loved the Raspberries in the 70's, I love EC's upbeat songs and his ballads. I think IWBTLY was his most consistent CD.

Steve

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aggiesjc   

I agree with this last post from Steve H. on the merits of Winter Dreams (I have the Japanese version). The only difference is that I love "Cartoon World" and "Walk Away Renee" in addition to all the others!

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Julie   

Well, I gotta put in my 2 cents worth here I guess...or should I say my watered-down Barry Manilow, blind, deaf, fake drum lovin' and yet subjective opinion, too. I love IWBTLY. Guess

I'm only guilty of lovin' the whole package. I haven't ever singled out one song, because I love them all. Course, I'm just a hick farm girl from Iowa with no class or sophistication and maybe a tin ear... spin I was tickled pink when I heard it the first time and have only grown to love it more. I even like "Walk Away Renee" (geez, hope I don't get banned from posting!) I get a happy little kick out of "Cartoon World." Reminds me of when my brother and I were kids and "Mighty Mouse" was on opposite of "Johnny Quest"...aahh, the mind doth wander. "I Could Really Love You" is great! Listen to it and tell me that isn't a Raspberry song! "Every Time I Make Love To You" is the kind of song that makes me go weak in the knees. Love it, love it, love it!

To me, Eric's voice is so rich and exciting that heck...I'd buy an album of him readin' recipes out of the Ladies Home Journal, just to hear him. I'd buy a single of him clearing his throat for that matter. He is the master, no matter what the song. If you don't like a song, maybe you're just not in that place right now. I know I never much cared for that "Lost in the Shuffle" song until I got caught up in some of that proverbial 'red tape' myself. That song was my anthem for that week.

I despised the whole "Boats Against The Current" album after I bought it out of the 99-cent bin at Alco. After several years passed though, I got it out again and really loved it. I had matured and could understand it and appreciate it for what it was.

I was really happy to have this version of "Almost Paradise". I thought the Mary Clayton version was a bit over the top. I'm not going to rate the albums in any certain order. I've got a 6-disc CD changer in my car so it's a moot point. laugh --Julie, the farm gal

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darlene   

Julie, I just enjoyed your post so much!!! Maybe we need more "farm girls" like you on this site! I think your opinions are right on. "Reading recipes out of The Ladies' Home Journal" was so great!!! And you're right -- I'm from New Jersey and I agree with you. He is "the" master! I don't rate the albums either because I love them all. And I LOVE "I Could Really Love You," a lot like I loved "I Wanna Be With You," because it's so upbeat, it can sail you right out of a down mood in a second! It makes me smile. The man has a true and rare talent. That's okay, Julie. Some people debated the value of Mozart's music in his time, too...And some people HATED Beethoven's. But that music stood the test of time also... --Darlene

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Julie   

2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

"....'cause I got, Hun-gree

Eyes..."

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt...

Works for me, Darlene!! -Julie smilie

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marvin   

To Darlene and Julie: "I Could Really Love You" is by far the stand-out cut on a sub-par album (sorry to keep harping on the negative), but even this song would have been much better if Wally's guitar playing had been turned up a notch.

Marvin

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Billy   

My two cents on Eric's best to worst:

1. Tonight You're Mine

2. Eric Carmen (Geffen)

3. Boats Against the Current

4. Eric Carmen (Arista)

5. Winter Dreams (IWBTLY)

6. Change of Heart

Could never, never understand why Tonight You're Mine did not generate any interest. He could probably re-release that package today and could get at least one hit single off of it. Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

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While debating the merits of Winter Dreams (for those of us that bought the import), I think that its important to note the time that had elapsed since Eric's last effort. alot had happened to the man in that time and I think that is what is reflected in his work. It may not be better/worse than his earlier material, just older and more mature.

As for cuts that stand out...

"Every Time I Make Love To You" gets my wife off of the couch and next to me each time she hears it (thanks Eric!) if i'm at the computer!

"Born To Love You" and "Someone That You Loved Before" are classic EC songs.

"Isn't It Romantic?" is a wonderful song..."when I look at you it takes my breath away"...how can you not love that line?

I'm probably going to get "roasted" for this next comment but, I for one could do without the "Beach Boy" influenced driving around cut in the future. It just doesn"t apply any longer.

And Bernie, you can put me down for 2 of the internet only CDs featuring all of those wonderful tunes that those less fortunate have not heard.

Where can i get some of those tunes?

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Guest   
Guest

Well, there's my listing. How about yours?

I haven't listened to all of Winter Dreams, but I have heard Top Down Summer and don't know how a person could not like that song. There is great songwriting going on there.

Boats has much more than 2 songs worth listening to. "Love Is All That Matters" is a beautiful ballad that says it all very clearly about love. "She Did It," once again saved by love in a very melodic vividly creative way. This whole album IMHO is as good an album as any front to back including Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds. Try sitting down in front of a piano with a blank sheet of paper and see how difficult writing a good song can be. I think Carmens lyric's are better on his older stuff than his newer stuff. Enough ranting here's my list: Boats, All By Myself album, Geffen, Change of Heart...and that's all I have really heard. Stu

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Julie (the farm gal!) ~ I've just read your post and I LAUGHED! I love the comments about Eric reading recipes and clearing his throat. I thought that was brilliant, mainly because I would buy an album of him doing that too, I think he's that wonderful! Not sure that I'm happy with Barry Manilow being mentioned anywhere near Eric's name though, my sister waited hours in snowy weather to meet him a few years ago, and when he appeared, he was very rude and off-hand. (Eric would never do that!)

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darlene   

Julia, Hi! Barry Manilow has always been very rude and very offhand, most notably RUDE, not always TO, but as respects, his audience. The night of the big Arista Bash (one year of Arista Anniversary or something in the '70s), Eric was supposed to appear solo that night, but he didn't, and I wound up meeting Barry's bass player, who took me backstage while Barry was performing.

After the last song, people were clapping wildly for him to come back out onstage, and he said, "f*** 'em, I'm not doing another one!" His manager or agent or whoever the heck it was had to REALLY browbeat the guy, the more the audience clapped, and, to my amazement, when he finally DID go back out, he leaned over the piano (big PHONY!) and looked at the audience like he just LOVED THEM TO BITS, and said: "Thank you, This One's For YOU," and then sang it. After that, he was absolutely CHURLISH at the party, and as he was leaving I went to take a picture, and he said no ^&&*(*&*^ FLASHbulbs!!" And so I smiled sweetly and flashed one RIGHT IN HIS FACE!

One thing that impresses me about Eric, is that everywhere I have seen him, he has ALWAYS been genuinely kind to the people he has met. He also spent time with them, if it was at all possible. Thanks Eric! People DO appreciate you! --Darlene

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