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boats album


bahoodore

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BATC, Nowhere to Hide, Love Is All That Matters and Marathon Man--yes, only 4 songs--make this my favorite EC album. I think it's a crime that LIATM isn't a wedding staple. I only have this is on cassette and would love the opportunity to own it on CD.

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This thread surprises me. Although it's not my favourite Carmen album (That would be "Tonight Your Mine"), I think "Boats..." is Eric's strongest. The only reason it's not my favourite is because it's too laid back for my tastes. The only song on the album that I'm not crazy about is "Marathon Man" (Ironic, as I'm also a big Guess Who/Cummings fan). "I Think I Found Myself" and "She Dit It" are sort of filler songs but the rest is top notch IMHO.

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While I've certainly grown to appreciate it, I recall being very disappointd by "Boats" when it came out....primarily due to its being too un-Raspberry-ish (if that's a word). Personally, I've never bought the concept of writing songs as a kid versus as an adult....to me, the best songwriters' lyrics are those which are the most timeless/ageless...(as Eric & the boys proved in their reunion shows - was anyone really disappointed that it was a bunch of middle-aged men in their 50's singing those horny teenage lyrics? I know I wasn't!)

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Hey--Paulie! You referenced a feature story on Eric (from "an old magazine article") that was written by.... me! "The Ironies of Eric Carmen" was in a special newsstand-only issue called "Rock'n'Roll CD Spectacular" (1988), when I was editing a magazine called Digital Audio (later changed to CD Review). I loved writing that story, not only for EC's quotable quotes, but because as we neared our deadline, a few advertisements dropped out, and the easiest way for me to fill the space was to keep adding pages to my own EC feature. So it went from its original 4-page plan up to 7 or 8 pages. Bernie had the story posted here in his old archives, but hasn't put 'em back up yet.

I got a kick out of your post, Paulie, because I knew what you were talking about. (The Bangles were on the cover.) The whole angle of the EC feature was that Eric's career was always surrounded by so many ironies.... All that talent, but always a battle to get attention.

Anyway, cool! It's nice to know that somebody besides my family bought that magazine. (Actually, we likely would have put around 100,000 copies out there on newsstands, maybe more, and maybe sold 40 percent or so.)

--LC

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DonK, I was about to enter freshman year in college when Boats came out, and I remember that grueling wait. My dad owned a small mom-and-pop department store at the time, and I was "in charge" of the record department. Our distributor's rep, Joe G., came by every week that spring and summer knowing I was waiting for Boats, and he had to give me the bad news every week. I think he got a kick out of my 17-year-old fanaticism.

Finally, he climbed out of his truck one week and pulled an LP out from his jacket and handed it over with a big grin on his face. I took that thing home and studied it for days....

The news in your post, Don, was the EC store display! Wow! Joe used to give me all kinds of posters and displays (still have a nice ELO Out of the Blue mobile somewhere), but I guess he didn't have access to the Boats stuff. Hmmmm. We were only 4 hours east of Cleveland....

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Being so close to Cleveland was probably a curse when it came to Eric stuff... I know from being in retail for a few years that the vendors have limited supplies of stuff and of course the bigger stores and companies get first choice. No doubt EVERYBODY around their wanted their Eric display! Whereas in other "necks of the woods" Eric was "just" Eric, not "ERIC"

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I remember waiting with anticipation for the release of the album. When I heard it the first time I was absolutely floored by it. To this day it's still one of my favorite all time albums. I was lucky enough to get it on CD a few years ago for 20 bucks off Amazon.

LC, hang on to that ELO mobile. I tried buying one off of someone from EBay last week and it ended up selling for 100 bucks!!!!

Jeff

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Hey, Bernie - excellent idea. Like the Rhino suggestion...Hip-O Select is another one to check out for it. Is Varese Sarabande still around? (They released Rupert Holmes' first LP on CD quite awhile back, with bonus tracks from the second one.)

As for the topic of the thread...this is kind of like that Manilow thread was for me: I'm percolating a reply. (You've all been warned - my keyboard may spew without any warning.)

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LC, count me among the people who bought that magazine with your article.

I saw that Arista display only in a mall location for Vine Records in Louisville --- either the other retailers didn't get it, or they didn't set it up.

Paulie, you're probably right --- I imagine Arista saved the "good stuff" from promotions for shopping mall locations or larger record stores.

The guy at Vine Records was a Raspberries fan who also stocked Fotomaker and the Scene Records version of the Euclid Beach Band's "There's No Surf In Cleveland" with a picture sleeve. I imagine he kept the "Boats" display material.

I do have a hard plastic Raspberries album "bin talker" from 1972 --- it's vinyl LP size and the top rises above where the album would be with a "Raspberries For Sale" sign at the top. Imprinted on the plastic below are the cover shots of the first two albums. I have similar "bin talkers" for The Sweet and The Beach Boys, but those are in cardboard. I got the items for $4 apiece from a former Capitol Records employee who was cleaning out his garage!

Don smile

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"There's romance in the sunset, we're boats against the current to the end." "Boats" has always been a dichotomy for me. I was split between the girl I had discovered the Raspberries with, and the one that would become my future wife. I had waited so long for this album, it had to be twice as good as Eric's first effort, didn't it? Even though it will never be my favorite of Eric's albums, it is a gem to be treasured. But, when it first came out, it just wasn't as accesible as I had anticipated. These were very personal 'songs', but not the catchy 'hits' that would catapult Eric to new heights. Even "She Did It" was too thinly produced. In fact, except for the title song, I think the whole album could stand a refreshening. Not sure I could put my finger on it, but maybe Tony could. He's got a pretty good ear for this stuff. I think it's interesting to hear the 'love it or leave it' attitude that "Marathon Man" elicits. I'm in the 'leave it' group on this one. Once again, can't put my finger on it. The album is only eight songs, but I would have bought it just for "Boats" and "Love Is All That Matters". O.k., I would have bought it just for "Boats". Just listened to it (the whole album) the other day. The heartache and hearbreak that I felt, that ERIC felt; I still feel it when I play that album today. I don't think I could ever feel any other way. Kirk.

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I would not choose Rhino Records, based on what I think was an absolutely terrible job promoting the "I Was Born To Love You" cd. I couldn't find evidence of one penny spent on promotion, at least not where I live, and I live near New York.

No, I think this time around, EC and Raspberries will be *extremely* careful about whom they choose to release their next efforts. Their best bet is to talk to a gazillion other artists who KNOW what these companies do and do not do for the artist. An artist who has had a terrible experience with or been exploited by labels (and they *all* will exploit to the degree they can get away with it) is worth a goldmine in determing who NOT to go with. Then by getting mountains of feedback from artists who were treated properly (or *royally,*), they can make an informed decision.

If I were a pop artist, I'd be burning up the telephone lines getting as much info as possible from fellow artists, because, sadly, (in this case), "experience is the best teacher," and, like in other fields, the most valuable resource available is one's fellow professionals, who have "been there" with those particular labels, and know firsthand, and better than anyone, whether they are good labels or aren't.

smile --Darlene

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I think a couple of people have hit it squarely on the head. Boats might not be perfect, from open to close, but it's pretty darned good. And so many of us waited so long for it that we have associated our relief and joy with finally having the album... like a good satisfying *sigh* or finding money in a coat pocket that you didn't know was there!

By the time Eric took over producing the album, it was late and he was frustrated at how things had turned. He had been more or less forced to let his band go in favor of Gus' personal favorite musicians, and then Eric had to let Gus go... more or less... I'd be surprised if Clive wasn't breathing down his neck and looking over his shoulder... "Where the hell is the new album?"

I remember reading that "BATC" wasn't even supposed to be on the album, that Eric penned it near the LP's completion and included it at the last minute; so part of the beauty of this song, and part of what makes it stand out above the rest of the album, is that Eric was no doubt in a totally different place than when he wrote those other songs...

One thing that can not be disputed, at least by a reasonable argument, is that for as beautiful an LP as it is and for as beloved as it has been by his fans, it was the turning point in Eric's career. Blame Clive (I do), blame fate, blame whatever; but it wasn't until Hungry Eyes that anybody besides us die-hards (and certain industry insiders who understood) considered him a major player again.

And that leads us to the "Arista Curse: Part 2" when the "forthcoming" LP to follow up Make Me Lose Control never actually came forth...

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Darlene, I think Rhino Handmade would be a good fit for a "Boats Against The Current" limited edition reissue, which is all that I was thinking about. I definitely agree with you that any new Raspberries release would be better off on another label.

And Pyramid Records did do a horrible job with "I Was Born To Love You." I checked out their current web page --- http://www.pyramidrecords.com --- and the only thing active on it is the label history apparently. Pyramid went from Sony distribution to Warner Brothers distribution and then to its current Fontana/Universal distrubution deal.

Don smile

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Don - I could not agree with you more! Pyramid looked had so much potential with Eric and a few other "known" performers making comebacks on their label, and they just kind of dropped the ball. I know they got the inital release out to the stores because I was able to purchase a copy of IWBTLY on it's scheduled release date... the only copy that store got in. I was on a business trip to West Palm Beach, FL and made sure to take my lunch at a restaurant across from said record store!

I don't know if the label was mis-managed or if they just bit off more than they could chew. When they were releasing the single as that sweetheart package and talked of promoting the title cut as "The Wedding Song For The New Millenium" I had high hopes...

It turned into just another false start... and shattered dream...

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Paulie, I imagine Clive Davis probably was breathing down Eric's neck pretty hard --- in Eric's interview with Crawdaddy magazine in August 1977 - http://web.archive.org/web/20020827193900/www.ericcarmen.com/archive/090177.html - the writer notes that the "Boats Against The Current" LP cost "$358,000 before final mixing".

Then if you read further, the writer, John Grissim, writes about asking Clive Davis "if he was nervous about having invested so much money in the production of this latest album. Davis quipped: 'It's his investment, not mine...'"

Don smile

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How typical of some of the morons in the record business--hyping to the artist what they will do for them, then not really having the musical ability nor judgement to make a call "on their own" nor recognize true talent. Clive may have either been a marketing whiz or had great connections (or maybe just talked a good game), but he certainly didn't have any musical judgement, as far as I could see--(case in point, those riduclous "backing vocals" that were his idea.)

Also, a "label" has many A&R people with different levels of expertise--some good, some disastrous, some bags of air. Like any organization (even Sloan-Kettering--your prognosis may depend upon which doctor you happen to get), there are morons and there may be some savvy people, but the trick is to get someone savvy who wants to see you succeed and is not just in it to exploit.

I didn't see much in Rhino/Pyramid or whatever it was--I just had a feeling it was way too small to do an artist with Eric's calibre of talent any justice. I was right.

Not to worry, this time around, Eric and Raspberries know what to do. They don't need advice from us.

smile --Darlene

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As far as I have seen till now, Darlene basically thinks Eric can do no wrong. This is does not sit well with me. Eric is a human being who has obvious great talent, but he does not walk on water...he is an awesome musician with great talent....period....Darlene... you gotta learn that the Great eric Carmen is a mere mortal and that the whole world does not revolve around the man...he's a guy that has writen some great stuff...we all agree on this fact....but gimme a break...

bahooey...in a bahooey mood...

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Bahoo, You seem to have one subject when you address me--harping on a completely false picture of what I think of Eric. I *know* he's "a mere mortal," a human being. You're barking up the wrong tree on this one. I'm not at all star-struck by celebrities, (except for Robert Wagner and Paul Newman, and, possibly, the Beatles), because I see them as regular people.

When it comes to Eric's talent, perhaps it's my classical background that recognizes his superb (even "mere mortals" can do "superb" work) musical talent. I never said he's "superhuman" or is not subject to the faults of "mere mortals."

But in my eyes, I recognize a musical talent beyond that of *most* "mere mortals." And, while I may be a "mere mortal" in many areas, I am extremely talented when it comes to music. I was accepted to Juilliard when I was young, but even that doesn't define my knowledge of music. My earliest (meticulous) musical training by an eastern European teacher who had the highest standards any human could possibly have does.

That said, you're *really* harping out of left field on my two posts in this thread, because I didn't even *address* Eric's musical talent--I merely said that in my opinion the Boats album is among his finest work. Period. My posts talked about record labels and how *I* would choose one, were I a pop artist (which I'm not!)

I find it odd that you never attack any male posters on this board who praise Eric far more than I. What's up with *that*?

smile --Darlene

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Reading some of the sections in "Marathon Man" on the l.p. reminded me that it was recorded partly in England, partly in L.A. and makes me wonder about the effect of this upon the cohesiveness of the record by these external events/chaos. Sounds to me as though Clive Davis and Gus Dudgeon transmitted really negative vibes into the atmosphere surrounding this record. When you look at so many great albums historically, the majority were pounded at out a single studio or venue. Or perhaps even multiple studios across the same town. This, and altering musicians, can

have bad effects sometimes. I think part of the problem stems from making that transition to piano based material from the Raspberries. Elton John was the best role model, in that time period, since it was piano based but very diverse in the writing and still had that great rock band behind it to give it muscle. But some of the piano based guys were really dismal in that time period even though they had commercial sucess. I think even if youre piano based, you need to open an album with something that really draws people in, it ahs to be powerful whether upbeat or sad. Every Raspberries album has an opening cut that is so hot you immediately want to hear the whole thing. I think the album "Boats" was an attempt to create a more mature vision of the first solo album, but it lacks some of the hooks and pop sensibilities of Erics first record. Still, the song "Boats Against the Current" is completely brilliant and a remarkable ballad. It captures Scott Fitzgerald's romantic idealism but it's one that also senses the intrinsic sadness of the longing involved in that idealism. You can hear the pain in the singing. I think its truly one of the best songs Eric has ever written. That the album was pivotal to Eric's career is implicit in the "Marathon Man" chapters. Theres no doubt that commercial anticipation was a big thing in music in that time period. When you think about it, people would be waiting for the next Elton John, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, or Alice Cooper release to see if they had outdone the last one. (Personally, I was always waiting in baited anticipation that RUSH would not release another new record.) So, upon reflection,I think that the fact that the l.p. didnt have another "All By Myself" on it, had some real effects. "Desperate Fools" actually would have been a wonderful fit for "Boats" in my opinion.

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Very intelligent, insightful post, Raspberrywine.

I'm still mulling it over. I never thought of "Desperate Fools" as being a fit for the Boats album, but I think you are absolutely correct.

I, too, think the song Boats is absolutely brilliant, and hear the pathos and pain in Eric's vocal performance as well.

smile --Darlene

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I love "Boats" but the first time I heard "Desperate Fools" I cried (and almost every time after.) Talk about being a brilliant song that speaks to the soul! I was so stunned because it felt like the song had been written about me by a friend who knew what I had dealt with in my life. Of course that's often what makes a song wonderful to us. I, too, could easily see it fitting into that album because of all the feeling and introspection involved.

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