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boats album


bahoodore

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I just got my turntable belt replaced and put on "Boats"....it remeinded me why i didn't play it too often. There are too many weak songs on the album , however....the good songs aren't just "good"...they are amazing!!! Probably some of Eric's best ever...

The musicianship is awesome too.

bahooey

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Couldn't agree more. I remember that album being the first with Eric penned TUNES that I didn't "love" . Which is not a knock because who else writes entire albums of songs that you love and then do it album after album. However that was the beginning of a new phase. And the proof is today I can name every song on every Raspberry and Eric's debut album without looking but can't do it for the albums after BATC. To word it more positively IMHO this is where he began to be human and I believe sales support my thinking.

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Quote:
To word it more positively IMHO this is where he began to be human and I believe sales support my thinking.

There is a definite difference, but I think it can be attributed to growing up. Eric was very young when he penned the early Raspberries tunes and still a part of that group when he penned some of the songs from EC1. With Boats he was penning songs as an adult and aimed at a more adult market I believe.

That's not to knock you or anybody who prefers his earlier works. There are many fans who prefer his ballads only and others who like the harder stuff. Some who can't stand him solo and still more who wonder why he ever burdened himself with a band. The beauty is that they can all be right, because it is perception and perception alone.

I'm still a Raspberries fan first, but I like all the guys individually too. I think had there never been a 'berries Wally, Dave & Eric each could have gone solo or fronted another successful band. Jim too perhaps, but I'm not familiar with his songwriting or vocal capabilities like I have been the other 3 (and Scott McCarl as well)

As for Eric's efforts solo, I think his first LP had some items that were left over, if not actually written, at least in the idea stage, from 'berries. If memory serves me, early on he remarked that he didn't want to release That's Rock 'n Roll on his own because it sounded like it could have been a Raspberries song.

I do think that Eric's music writing changed, but it was more a matter of entering a new stage in his life more than losing his way. Guess I said a lot to just say that, huh?

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Yeah, Tony; She Did It was a cutesy song that surprised me as the first cut from that LP. I'm not sure anything uptempo on that one should have been a single. Boats & Nowhere to Hide were the class of the album; and yet I really enjoy the album. I'd rather listen to it from beginning to end than any other EC album. Tonight You're Mine is a close 2nd; interestingly enough as it is more rock and less ballad driven...

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I'm gonna be a little paradoxical. I understand where the initial post and Tunes' follow-up are coming from. Melodically speaking, Eric Carmen was on FIRE for the Raspberry albums and his first solo. As a younger guy I loved "Boats" and felt personally closer to it than his others but also thought 3 or so of the Boats' songs were only average....vs. the album's other tunes, all his penned Raspberry songs and all EC Arista songs being great.

But now I'd rate all the Boats' songs as good to great. I skip over "She Did It" also but still think it's a great little pop song. I love "Take It Or Leave It" but think its has unrealized potential...the production seems a little tired or something.

But I guess the bottom line is if I had to give up all my albums except for one, "Boats Against The Current" would be the one I keep.

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It should be noted as well that Eric never wrote every song on a Raspberries album. He had previously written or been inspired with the idea for some of the songs on EC1. (Not to mention the cover of "On Broadway") So Boats was the first time Eric ever penned an album from first cut to last! I'd hate to think I had to do that (atually I'd love to do it, but don't have the musical talent!)

Imagine that album if he had not written Boats near the end of production and had instead left "Hey Deanie" on it. While "Hey Deanie" is a good tune, it ain't "Boats!"

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Well, I admit I can't be subjective on this one. Personally, I don't hear a clunker on Boats. It's EC's greatest triumph, and I don't care so much anymore that the "masses" didn't embrace it. To me, it's a treasure, and a time-machine, too.

What great ballads, both depressing ("Nowhere to Hide") and positive ("Love Is All That Matters"), not to mention desperate ("Run Away"). And "Boats," the title track... well, it's just killer---still my favorite EC song and lyric. (I have two young daughters, so I hear the rhyme "Row Row Row Your Boat" a lot, but I find myself always waiting for that piano intro....)

The lone rocker on Boats, "Take It Or Leave It," is still hot stuff. And I loved "She Did It" even before I became Beach Boys-obsessed. What other pop/rock songwriter ever wrote about a Ship called Emptiness and the Island of Loneliness?

As for "I Think I Found Myself".... I know what some of you mean. It took me longer to "get" that song than any of the others. But one night shortly after the Boats album came out, I remember suddenly waking up out of a deep sleep at 3 or 4 a.m. to the sound of "I Think I Found Myself" on the radio.

(It was weird, because that might have been the only time it ever got any airplay. It was played, as I found out after the song ended, by a talk-show host who tried to inspire his listeners with encouraging words and songs.)

Anyway, "I Think I Found Myself" kind of flowed into my head while I was half-asleep in the dark that night. It was haunting, really, maybe because of the background vocals. I guess it sort of seeped into my subconsciousness, if that makes any sense, and I got to love the determination in the lyrics and EC's delivery. Something about hearing it in that setting has stuck with me.

So there you have it.... I'm biased because of where and who I was back in 1977, and because of how Boats struck me at the time. Even today, the whole album "can do no wrong" in my book.... But that's just me....

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I agree with LC. "I Think I Found Myself" is a very well crafted haunting and emotional song - especially when you consider that Eric was singing about some of his frustrations with the Raspberries and the music business as a whole. The lines "I lost my inspiration and I couldn't get it back again - I trusted everyone else so completely, well I was deaf, dumb and blind..." are heartbreakingly honest and I've always loved this song because of how personal I felt it was to Eric. Really, the whole Boats album is like that for me - a very personal reflection on that stage of Eric's life. In my opinion, Eric has the most beautifully expressive voice in all of music. He has always had the ability to make me feel his songs on a visceral level... and for me, the emotional impact is even greater as the years go by...

I think the single most moving lyric on Boats is "Long ago an innocence lived deep within my soul in a yesterday where love and dreams remain... now disillusion clouds my eyes and the winter takes it's toll for the spring has gone and will not come again" from "Run Away". Brilliant!

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I must admit as I have Boats on vinyl and haven't played any vinyl in at least 15 years these posts have given me a reason to want to go back and listen again. I am much older and a much different person than I was when the album came out. I may have to get this on CD and relisten.

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RE: "I think I Found Myself", I love the song.

But I'm thinking back about my roommate freshman year of college (1977), who was not familiar with Eric Carmen. This didn't last long as I slammed Boats etc. down his throat and he became a fan.

More on point, "I Think I Found Myself" became his theme song. He had been denied acceptance to West Point after high school, but it was still his life's dream and he was using his time at our school (TCU) to earn his way into West Point..... his nickname at TCU was Plebe :-).

"I Think I Found Myself" was his "motivator" song. I regularly came back from class to find him stretched out and meditating with this song on the turntable....

.....good memories!

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I adore the Boats album. I don't think it has as much to do with what Eric was "trying" to do or what "phase" he was in as much as what he had gone through/was going through. Raspberries albums are full of the youthful exuberance of, well, YOUTH! That's one reason we all love them so much. They sound like *our* youth, too! But they were never "young" or "immature." Raspberries was four consummate artists, even when they were all young. They were musical Methusalehs! Always mature, artistic and wise.

Boats is a different matter. Absolute emotional pathos. I don't think it came from anything Eric was trying to do, but that it just "came," as a result of what he had been through. An artist's best work comes unbidden--when one doesn't try at all, but when one's emotions just dictate it--things "write themselves." They just visit you, without being called up. It just happens.

Boats is brilliant. I love it desperately and relate to it completely. I also think it represents some of Eric's finest work.

smile --Darlene

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Kia ora ,I agree with you 100% Darlene.I waited with great expectations after Eric's first solo album (probably a lot longer than you guys) When it finally hit the shops here in NZ,I was just about the first person here to buy it. I loved it from the first time I played it.At the tender age of 17 I have to confess that I really didn't have much idea about some of the concepts in the lyrics.But 30 years down the road I can understand fully alot of the themes and ideas Eric wrote about.I still play it and to this day it remains my most favorite of all his albums.

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Only speaking for myself, of course, but I love the "Boats Against The Current" album. I was 20 and in college, and that album just "spoke" to me. I think the lyrics are by far the best of Eric's career, and instrumentally I think it is a very strong album.

I waited for that album with great anticipation --- checking stores every week and reading the trades. I have GIG magazines where the eventual "Boats Against The Current" release was actually announced during the two years between albums as having titles of "There's No Surf In Cleveland" (October 1976) and as "Nowhere To Hide" (May 1977).

"Nowhere To Hide" would have been a great title (kind of like Paul McCartney's "Band On The Run" --- it just sets the mind to wondering what the artist's album is about).

When the Phonograph Record Magazine cover story on "Boats Against The Current" hit the newstands in August of 1977 (it was "free" at record stores if a local station sponsored the magazine), I was at the record stores daily waiting for a copy to arrive (the joy for a Raspberries fan to see a massive endcap display with hanging Eric Carmen mobiles and a giant standee of Eric is something I can't explain --- "By George, the lad has made it!").

"I Think I Found Myself" is a personal favorite --- it's "cool" on every level, and one of those tunes which I totally believe comes "from the heart" of the artist. As a college kid on the verge of being in an adult world, the lyrics really grabbed me at the time.

I've got mutliple copies of the vinyl LP and the Japanese CDs (including the 24-bit remastered version, which is great). I wore out an 8-track tape in my car "drivin' around" listening to the album (I hate 8-tracks, but the way it cut out at the acoustic guitar break in "Take It Or Leave It" on my car stereo was kind of cool (sudden fadeout, pause, track clicks over, then back to the song).

"She Did It" was a poor choice as the first single, I think --- "Marathon Man" would have been a stronger "first single" with the additional attention brought to it by having Burton "Stand Tall" Cummings singing with Eric (by the time it was released as the third single, there wasn't any Top 40 radio interest in Eric or Burton, due to the "disco virus" that infected radio stations, so it bombed; if it had been the "first single," following the previous three Top 40 singles from the first LP, I think it would have gone Top 10 based on what was on radio in August of 1977).

I also think Arista should have promoted who was playing on an Eric Carmen album --- none of their advertisements mentioned Burton Cummings, Andrew Gold, Nigel Olsson, or any of the other "hot" artists on the album whose presence might have caused *their* fans to check out Eric's album.

If the album had weaknesses, I think the mass public expected a more "pop" sounding album like the first solo LP and, as released, an album with only 8 songs can be a problem --- I think the tunes Eric recorded but decided to leave off the album, "Hey Deanie" and "Someday," would have fit the concept of the album and brought the song total to 10, making it a more commercial album (at least for the album-buying public, if not the fans); just my feeling, and I know Eric would disagree with that assessment --- I just remember watching "She Did It" stiff just short of the Top 20 while Shaun Cassidy's cover of "Hey Deanie" went Top 10).

It isn't my favorite of Eric's solo albums to listen to (that status belongs to the "Tonight You're Mine" album, followed by the Arista "Eric Carmen" LP), but because it is such an autobiographical statement and the songs are so well-written, I consider it Eric's best solo album.

Again, just my opinion, but I think Eric should be very proud of what he did on "Boats Against The Current."

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Elton John's song "Don't Let The Rain Fall Down On Me" is very slow and very long. Over time the "Rising Beauty"of this mini-symphony really began to impress me after repeated listenings.I was even pleasantly surprised that it was embraced by the radio and the masses and became such a huge hit. The song "Boats Against The Current" also demands patience and repeated listening to realize similarly,that THIS "mini-symphony is also a thing of unparalled musical and lyrical beauty.Sadly,this song was not accorded the opportunity it deserved and was not a smash.I guess in those days Elton could have sung the contents of tge "London Phone Book" and received massive radio support.-Ira.

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The Boats album is a special favourite of mine. Having played my original vinyl copy to exhaustion, I got it again on CD last Christmas. "Nowhere to Hide" and "Run Away" and of course BATC are exceptional songs that still send a shiver down the spine when I listen to them.

However, I still remember being initially disappointed with the "sound" of the album when I first bought it in '77. Its because Eric had a unique production sound before that - very clean and crisp vocal style with a production sound that was more finely developed from album to album up to EC1. Then by the time of BATC, every solo singer/piano player was trying to mimic Elton John's production sound and that's what the BATC album sounds like to me. I still love it and it deserves its special place, BUT it hasn't got Eric's special "sound".

His vocal style changed as well - the execution of "Marathon Meeaan" for instance does not sound like Eric on anything on any album pre BATC.

The album has I think aged somewhat better than other EC albums in some ways though. In particular I find that the sound is more instantly accessable for people being exposed (as it were) to EC for the first time, probably because in a way, it "sounds" like a lot of other peoples' albums.

The clunker for me is Marathon Man.

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No doubt the "distinctive production sound" you refer to was Jimmy Ienner's influence on the music.

This album sparks so many different opininons among those who admittedly love it, it's a sign of how much the album lived up to the legacy of the title cut... Eric wrote a while back that he was surprised when people told him that BATC was a beautiful song because it was so full of hope and promise when on the surface it's just the opposite. "There's romance in the sunset, we're boats against the current to the end" speaks many things to many people.

I just hope one day another artist will take that song to the top of the charts, where it has always belonged...

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Reading Bernie and Ken's "Marathon Man" book, I was struck by Eric's set list for the November 9, 1979, Yamaha World Popular Song Festival --- according to the book, he did seven songs, six of them originals, and three of the tune's came from "Boats Against The Current": the title track, "She Did It" and "Marathon Man." I liked Eric's comments on the song "Marathon Man" in the book, too.

There's an interesting article by Jane Scott, Cleveland Plain Dealer, from September 11, 1977, when the "Boats..." album had been in release for about a month --- http://web.archive.org/web/20030110143834/www.ericcarmen.com/archive/091177.html --- in which she notes sales figures up to that point. According to Jane Scott, the single "She Did It" had sold 254,000 units nationally (22,000 copies in Cleveland) and the album had sold 343,519 units nationally (34,913 in Cleveland) --- certainly showing a good level of Cleveland support for Eric.

That album really deserved to chart better than peaking at #45 in Billboard for two weeks.

Don smile

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With so many interesting opinions, it's hard to believe it is such a difficult CD to buy on the internet. Sure wish they would put it out on the American market again. I had the LP, cassette, and 8 track at one point, but have never found it on CD, except for like a zillion dollars from guys with 74% feedback on ebay. I have most of the songs on the "All By Myself-Best of EC" put out by Camden, but I'd still rather buy it outright and put the money in Eric's pocket.

Hey, Bernie, any chance Eric would ever wipe the dust off some of those unopened cartons of CD's he must have in his basement and let you sell them on the website? I think this thread proves he'd have some buyers! I know I'd be one.

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If someone could tell me where it would do the most good I'd love to petition a record company to release a 30th Anniversary Edition of Boats…complete with demos and bonus tracks. Arista doesn't seem much interested in properly packaging Eric's catalog, so the question is who?

Bernie

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Another thought, might call it one of the "Ironies of Eric Camen" after an old magazine article...

I was one of those who waited anxiously for the release of Boats. I remember I actually let out an "Oh YEAH!" in the store when I saw the display. It was a Camelot Music store in the Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach. There was this huge display of the LP and I remember thinking too that it was about time that Eric had "made it"...

The irony? The sticker on the album. In that time, they listed the title of the album and then the artist, last name first. If the title was too long, they'd just cut it off after a word... so Boats Against The Current read...

"Boats Against The, Carmen, Eric"

Since despite the way the LP is beloved by his fans, it is also the LP that torpedoed his career for a time... fate can sometimes be cruel and funny...

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Bernie, Rhino Records might be a good bet since they have those limited edition, 5,000 copy collection reissues in the "Handmade" series --- http://www.rhinohandmade.com/ . Maybe Ken Sharp still has some contacts there (considering his work on the "Poptopia" collection for them).

They have a suggestion box for albums they should release at: http://www.rhinohandmade.com/suggestions.lasso --- should we "fill 'er up" with suggestions???

Since Rhino reissued Eric's first Arista album with bonus tracks, "The Fotomaker Collection" anthology and the 3-volume "Poptopia" set (with commentary from Eric in the liner notes), I bet Rhino Handmade could produce a pretty nice package for "Boats" (toss in "Temporary Hero").

Really exciting idea, Bernie.

Don smile

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