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Raspberries = Cutting Edge; Eric solo = ?


marvin

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Continuing on some thoughts that were posted by Pierson, Greg and others:

I know there are many who caught onto the 'berries after first getting hooked on Eric solo, but there are also many like myself who were berries fans first. I bought that first Eric solo album ONLY because he was a member of my favourite group, and because he was the main songwriter. Was I disappointed when I first heard the solo album? You better believe it. My first few listens left me very confused and wondering "What happened?" "Where is that Raspberries sound that Eric helped forge?" I am certain there were many like myself who also bought that first album under the assumption they were going to be hearing music similar to that of the 'berries - i.e. "Tonight", "Ecstacy" or even "Overnight Sensation." The first solo album and the others that followed (save "TYM") have revealed the true Eric - an artist who falls into the Adult Contemporary category. Certainly most of Eric's solo music has been good, but no way has it been "cutting edge" or ground-breaking in the way the 'berries were. No over the years I've grown to love that first solo album, but at the same time it's also become very clear to me that as talented a songwriter Eric is, the sound that he helped forge in the 'berries was greatly influenced by Wally, Dave, Jim, Scott and Mike.

Marvin

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Although some cutting edge people says I¥ m crazy,I can¥t avoid I like All By Myself and Boats Against The Current a lot.I think they have enormous possibilities if they are sung by people like The Jayhawks,Wilco,Weezer or Nick cave(although they aren¥t my cup of tea)I have listened to All By Myselfa lot in 1981 or so and Marathon Man and Boats...a lot in 1979,and true but very weird,Let¥s Pretend as if it was an Eric solo song in 1981!!!!.I had this one taped and I started to listen to it again and again,until I asked a friend in what Eric¥s record was,He told me it was by The Raspberries second album ,I bought it,and...I fell in love with The Raspberries!When I listened to I Can Remember for the first time I wondered if it was a Raspberries song or an outtake from Boats...

I think Eric¥s first and second albums must leave the mainstream/Soft AC area as soon as is possible.

I don¥t know the way Winter Dreams sound like since I don¥t know it,But if Eric covers The Left Banke in a cheesy electronic waythen,Is WD in the vein of The Magnetic Fields or The Postal Service?(I don¥t like these bands either).

All By Myself would have GREAT possibilities in the vein of Diana Krall,for example.Only piano,acoustic instruments and voice in a Jazzy way...

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To each his own. I would gladly trade all four Raspberries LPs for BOATS AGAINST THE CURRENT. That LP so profoundly affected me that nothing (NOTHING) comes close. It is a masterpiece musically, lyrically and spiritually. I cannot think of another collection of songs that I feel so passionate about.

Bernie

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Bernie you are very correct: To each his own. As much as I love "Boats", I can think of at least a dozen albums that I am more passionate about. That's what makes music so special and different for each individual: If it can touch even just one person, it has done it's job.

Marvin

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There seems to be a reccuring theme in Eric's songwriting that can't be ignored. It's the struggle to be true to yourself verses the need to write material that will make a label happy (as in selling records). Eric hit it BIG solo with a classically inspired ballad. Followed that with another, and finished the album with a third top 40 hit that might be classified as a 'power ballad'. Three big AOR hits that went top 40 on the hot 100. Based on that success alone it seems as if Eric was already cast as a 'balladeer'. Talk about Rock and Roll prison! The next three albums were about as different from this one as they were from each other. Caught in a Rock and Roll timewarp? Maybe. Cutting edge? Maybe not. But certainly a great variety of beautiful music. Take it or leave it--Kirk.

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Kirk I agree that Eric has written some great music, but I think he perpetuates the myth of being a 'balladeer' by releasing a cd such as "WD" that is so heavy on the ballads side. Also when your first big hit is a ballad ("ABM"), and then it is followed by another ballad ("Never Gonna..."), whether consciously or not, you tend to veer in that direction and try to continue that streak of success. I think Eric realizes that this is his niche and he has accepted it - especially now that his core audience is a lot older. Out of all the singles, the only successful non-ballads were "Make Me Lose.." and "Hungry Eyes" - and those aren't really up-tempo either.

Marvin

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Bernie, I have to agree with you. "Boats" is such a masterpiece I honestly don't think he'll ever be able to top it. That's OK, as I think most artists have an album in their catalog that no matter what else they put out it will always be compared to that album. McCartney has "Band on the run", Elton has "yellow brick road" The Stones have "Exile" and so on.

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bernie

i agree about boats. it is easily erics most personal cd. i have always thought that his lyrics on BATC were his best. wonder what else eric would have included (devil?)if he did'nt have arista breathing down his neck to turn out something "peppy and snappy". hopefully, this subject is covered in the new book. i'm curious just what type of relationship ec had with clive (turn out those hits boys) davis.

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Greg do you know something we don't know? This is all hypothesizing on my part, but I don't believe that Arista would have asked for something "peppy and snappy" because Eric was making a name for himself on the strength of his ballads. From the "Boats" album, the first single was "She Did It. When this did not get into the upper reaches of the Singles charts, I believe that "Boats" was released as the second single. I think Arista realized where Eric's strength lay, and they also knew that the audience he was building up knew him for this type of material.

As you say, maybe Bernie's book will give us some insight into this.

Marvin

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no marvin, i don't know anything for certain. but i did read clive's book about the music business and came away with the impression that clive has a "formula' for success. i think that eric did not follow that formula with boats....it took too long to produce and was to "ballad laiden"...(clive would have had it out two weeks after the last single from ec's debut if he had his way). remember, in the 70's it was rare for musicians to take "years" to produce new music. it was every or every other year for most. arista releasing "she did it" as the first single i think indicted the entire lp.(it was almost as if arista was trying to hide the true mood of the lp, trick folks into thinking the lp was lighter than it was). while aristas adds for the lp talked about how the lp was about self revelation! "she did it" (i love the song by the way) always stuck out like a sore thumb to me. i would guess that eric would have included more "pensive" tunes with boats but probably had to include a "single" for mr. davis.

to define clive's formula........see barry manilow, and later whitney houston.

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Marvin,

It should be noted that being "cuttin edge" is not neccessarily a good thing and that the majority of rock and pop musicians who have left "cutting edge" bands to forge a career as a solo artist usually lose a certain amount of artistic aplomb. The quickest comparison to Eric would most likely be Paul McCartney who, despite making strong credible solo albums, was never again deemed "cutting edge."

Eric followed a similar path, but as you said, followed the track of his biggest hits, which were ballads, and that's where his strengths lied.

It's a tough call to make as to whether Eric's solo work showed any artistic growth. The first two solo albums truly show the work of a major artist and resonate with specific vision. Once the hits dried up, the work loses some weight (see "Change Of Heart"). "Tonight You're Mine," despite it's bad cover art was his strongest collection of songs and was something which connected with the spirit of the artist who we knew in The Raspberries. Sadly, nothing off of it became a hit.

From there on in, Eric never regained any substantial artistic footing. Instead, he took on the role of adult contemporary/pop songwriter, and would land the fleeting soundtrack work which showed him doing stuff "by the numbers" (see: "Almost Paradise"). The '80s was a decade of survivalist instincts for any major artist from the early '70s (i.e. Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John). Take one look at their '80s output and compare it to their work which defined them in the early '70s and it's almost a sin against mankind. All of them shed their "artistic cred" to cut pap for the masses with bloated '80s production and banal topics and themes. Luckily, for Eric, most of his '80s hits were done by other artists.

In a perfect world, Eric Carmen would fall into the circle of Elvis Costello and make a brilliant adult pop/rock album like Costello & Bacharach's "Painted From Memory" or McCartney's "Flowers In The Dirt." That's basically how it's been done. In Bowie's case, he found Reeves Gabrel, in Elton's case, he found Ryan Adams. In Rod and Stevie's case, they have yet to wake up. Also, Todd Rundgren, where are you?

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pierson

mccartneys "flowers in the dirt" is a great cd. its funny you mention elvis costello...he helped paul on that cd. elvis is very underated in my opinion. i'm not sure what you mean re: elton john. he got "back on the beam" when he reunited with his writing partner bernie taupin. eltons last cd has few tracks that compare with his best.its about time for a new ej cd!

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Excellent post Pierson. I agree that most artists hit that 'cutting edge' mark early in their careers. In Paul's cse, it's true that his post-Beatle's career has been spent trying to re-capture the excitement of that OTHER group, and works such as "Band On the Run." However, given the fact the he's been writing songs for over 40 years, the fact that he's still able to come up with ideas is a phenomenal accomplishment - especially since most of the time he is writing by himself. His work with Elvis (the closest he's ever come to being paired with someone with the biting cynicism and lyrical wit of Lennon) on the "Flowers" album and on songs like

"Veronica", is proof that if he's paired with the right person, he can still hit the bull's eye. Personally, I felt that his latest disc,

"Driving Rain" (save the horrible song

"Freedom") was extremely adventureous and as

'cutting edge' as anything he's done in years.

Maybe this is what Eric needs: Put him back with someone like Wally or another contemporary artist, who refuses to accept anything but the best, and I'm certain you'll see 'cutting edge' Eric again.

Marvin

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In Paul's cse, it's true that his post-Beatle's career has been spent trying to re-capture the excitement of that OTHER group, and works such as "Band On the Run."

Marvin

Marvin,

I think that "Band On The Run" (9 songs: 'Band On The Run," "Jet," "Bluebird," "Mrs Vanderbilt," "let Me Roll It," "Mamunia," "No Words," "Picasso's Last Words [Drink To Me]" and "Nineteen Hundred & Eighty Five") is grossly overrated amongst the McCartney canon. Especially compared to the underrated "Ram" (12 songs: "Too Many People," "3 Legs," "Ram On," "Dear Boy," "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," "Smile Away," "Heart Of The Country," "Monkberry Moon Delight," "Eat At Home," "Long Haired Lady," "Ram On [reprise]" and "The Back Seat Of My Car"). I think the idea has been spread by fans and people who just immediately think it's the "best" McCartney post-Beatles album. I think it's good, but it doesn't cut as deep as "Ram" (i.e. "Too Many People" and "Dear Boy").

It's hard to imagine Eric Carmen coming back to an edgier M.O. I DO, however, think he's capable of making a strong 'pop' album that's reminiscent to Brian Wilson and McCartney's best current stuff.

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Reeves Gabrels Please..... Bowies stuff started to really suck when he got hooked up with that latch on no talent loser. Tin Machine arggghhghh.Bowie has survived because he has changed with the times and keeps reinventing himself.Reeves gabrels coudn't hold my guitar pick.Cutting Edge is a loose term that is used when it should'nt be.Cutting edge usually means to define something new.Like Nirvana or disco did or motown or zappa,queen.There is no cutting edge anymore it's all been done.

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The songs "Band On The Run" and "Jet" are certainly worthy of praise, but I'm with you Pierson -- RAM has always been my favorite McCartney album -- with my personal faves being "Too Many People," "Ram On," "Heart Of The Country," and "Back Seat Of My Car" ("Whoah-oh! We believe that we can't be-eee wrong!")

Bernie

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I think "Band On the Run" remains popular mainly because of its commercial success and because you'll be hearing "BOtR" and "Jet" on classic rock radio until forever. "Ram" was a fine album indeed (I was once in a band that did a killer version of "Eat At Home"), but personally, I enjoyed "Venus & Mars" and "Back to the Egg" much more. Guess what I'm trying to say is that in McCartney's case, he's been recording and performing for close to 45 years (!!!) and he is still able to find inspiration and the drive to continue composing. Maybe his music is not original anymore, but until Brian Wilson came back into the recording / touring scene a few years ago, this feat was unmatchable in Pop music.

Marvin

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Another McCartney album where he was trying different things was "Back to the egg" It was panned by critics and didn't sell close to his previous efforts had at the time, but it's still one of my favorites.

To me Bowie's never recovered from the Tin Machine debacle, because he's still writing with Reeves Gabriel.

I have one more comment about "Boats.." Another thing that made it such an elegant album was the use of Paul Buckmasters string arrangements. There's a reason Elton used him on so many of his early albums such "Tumbleweed" Madman","GBYBR",etc. his string charts were amazing and added so much to the songs. Elton even as recently as '95 used him on "Made in England" and again on his last CD "Songs from the West Coast" Maybe when Eric does record again he should go back to the same ingriedients he utilized on BATC. ie Buckmaster, Davey Johnstone,Nigel Olsson,Andrew Gold, Burton Cummings etc

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stut5 is right...it is pretty difficult to be "cutting edge" any longer...at least where pop music is concerned.

as for eric, i agree with you pierson, ec has another great pop cd in him, but its going to be crucial as to whom he chooses to work with. if he decides to go with all "fresh" material...i would think he may want to have someone produce it for him (i'm thinking maybe jeff lynne). i am definately not in favor of ec producing it himself. as for mccartney, he is amazing if only for the fact that his solo catalog is going to be forever compared to the most "cutting edge" band that ever lived, and it holds up very well.

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Reeves Gabrels Please..... Bowies stuff started to really suck when he got hooked up with that latch on no talent loser. Tin Machine arggghhghh.Bowie has survived because he has changed with the times and keeps reinventing himself.

Not true. (Although I'm not a fan of Reeves either). Here's what Bowie said: "Well it was a hard thing to inflict on people [Tin Machine] because it was such a selfish propostition. It really was. And I knew nobody would accept me in a band. But it wasn't the point. My point was to be able to radically strip down everything I was about. And I had to it for myself. I wouldn't be doing what I do now if I hadn't taken that step. All credit to Reeves to convince me to go with my instinct. I said, 'You know Reeves, for me, creatively, the best thing I could do at this moment is cut it all off and restart everything from the ground up.'

As harsh and sometimes weak as Tin Machine was, it was at least showing Bowie was heading in the right direction; away from "Never Let Me Down" and "Tonight" era glop...and trying to create from gut... As much as I don't care for Reeves style, he did a lot of work on "Hours"--one of Bowie's finest albums...

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Well, it hasn't ALL been done in pop music. You want cutting edge? How about Eric writing a catchy pop melody with a great hook in a song with a lot of dissonance and tension resolving itself in the most unlikely of places. Sort of like the Beach Boys meets Miklos Rosza. If I had Eric's talent, I'd try it! Kirk.

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Here you have some examples of singers who are soft(except maybe one of them).Adult(they have more than 40)and contemporary..Tom Petty,Jackson Browne(He lives in Spain now),Bruce Springsteen,John Mellencamp,Chris Rea,Bob Seeger,Dan Fogelberg...Why can¥t Eric take some inspiration from them instead of being "the other Michael Bolton"?

I think Eric has enough talent to look into his roots and make the music he rally loves!

And for all of you who think IÂ¥m a cutting edge who only listens to what is cool here are some really GREAT soft AC songs

Music-John Miles

The Arms Of Mary-Sutherland Brothers And Quiver

Honesty-Billy Joel

Rocket Man-Elton John

Baby IÂ¥mA Want You-Bread

Motorcycle Mama-Sailcat

Anyway-Paladin

All of them are so brilliant and they don¥t pay them on soft AC stations.They only pay CD¥s like "The 50 Best Ballads","Romantic Hits"etc.Aren¥t there new young talents that can put a bit of innovation in Soft AC?If Soft AC is only based on 2The 50 Best Ballads","Romantic Hits" etc and they are always the same singers and the same songs then the genre will die.What was Soft AC last innovation?Maybe the use of linndrums?

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