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Let's Pretend vs. Let's Pretend


LC

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Apologies if there's already a thread on this. Another thread got me listening to "Let's Pretend" again... both the original recorded version and the slow version Eric did during Raspberries 1970s-era concerts and in his early solo shows. I've come to the conclusion that I prefer the latter—the achingly deliberate delivery gives it a whole new meaning.

The original is awesome, but there's just something about the slow version—it puts more emphasis on the melody itself. It's always fun to play 'em back to back. It'll be interesting to see if I'm alone on this. 

 

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Coloring my preference, of course, is the fact that Eric played the slow version of "Let's Pretend" as part of a medley with "Starting Over." This is a priceless recording from the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 1975, according to the YouTube poster. ("Musicians on the live track are Eric Carmen: piano, vocals; George Sipl: synthesizer; Michael McBride: Drums; Steve Knill: bass.)

This audio-only vid has shown up in a number of threads here since Kirk posted it a few years ago, just after it surfaced. Can't help but appreciate whoever recorded this one. It doesn't really sound like a bootleg, does it? 

 

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I adore them both, but for me the edge goes to the original. Particularly as it appears on "The Essential EC," with the insane falsetto "oooh-wooo-oooh" fade-out somewhat intact and volume-boosted. (Why the hell was that bit ever cut off so soon?)

I'll link to this thread only because it's fresh in my mind, having gone through darn near every pertinent thread on this board even before I officially signed up...

Speaking of radio specials...somewhere, and I cannot recall where (don't think it was here), I believe I read that the band did a similar kind of show with a small in-studio audience for WLIR on Long Island. When I was a Queens-dwelling teen in the '80s the station was well known for its new wave format, but prior to that it was more progressive/AOR oriented. I may be wrong about this and perhaps it was a live broadcast from My Father's Place or somewhere...or maybe it's a complete figment of my imagination. If it does exist, has it ever surfaced?

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What really impresses me about the slow version is how relatively effortless Eric still manages to sing the melody, despite the fact that the notes have been stretched to be significantly longer than in the original recording. Those high notes aren't easy to sing for brief moments, let alone sustained in the way he manages to pull off on that slow version. I really like both approaches to the song; it's hard to choose which one I like better since they each have their own flair.

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7 hours ago, LC said:

Coloring my preference, of course, is the fact that Eric played the slow version of "Let's Pretend" as part of a medley with "Starting Over." This is a priceless recording from the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 1975, according to the YouTube poster. ("Musicians on the live track are Eric Carmen: piano, vocals; George Sipl: synthesizer; Michael McBride: Drums; Steve Knill: bass.)

This audio-only vid has shown up in a number of threads here since Kirk posted it a few years ago, just after it surfaced. Can't help but appreciate whoever recorded this one. It doesn't really sound like a bootleg, does it? 

 

LC, Eric didn't do the Let's Pretend/Starting Over sequence at either of his Roxy engagements. I saw him there in Dec. of '75 as well of as early in '76. The winter of '75 show is well documented on the KMET broadcast that was aired. When Eric played The Roxy in spring of '76, he altered the show a little bit, most notably when he started the show at the piano with Everything and segued into Overnight Sensation. That was so cool! Eric had forgotten about that sequence until I reminded him of it a few years ago. Even he had to admit that it was cool! I do have a small caveat- I only saw one show at each of his appearances at the Roxy. Both engagements had more than one night, although I doubt if Eric changed the set list over the weekend. The second set of shows in spring of '76 were not recorded by anyone, as far as I know- you had to be there!

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55 minutes ago, James said:

It can be argued the original is the purest, most perfect, pop melody ever put down on a disc. It matches up with the best of B Wilson ann Paul Mc.

James, that might be the most brilliant thing you've ever said...

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I would say about the two performances for me, that I can't even compare the two. Watching him perform stripped down with piano is quite different than the original. I get all caught up in how emotionally involved he gets when he's playing the piano. Something you can't hide as a performer when you're so into it ..it doesn't even matter if there's an audience there. It's the first time I'm seeing that live video. And the part I like also about the live video, is that it's such a tender lyric it also deserves a tender treatment. That being said I love the original as well.

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And, of course, you all know this cover of the song—an old Floyd Cramer instrumental that may strike you as Muzak... or that may give you an even greater appreciation of the arresting melody. 

 

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Interestingly, Floyd Cramer is in the Rock Hall of Fame! I know I shouldn't be giving him that boast after I bashed the Hall in another thread. But... it does speak to his impact. The longtime Nashville session musician is also in the Country Music Hall of Fame. So, this was no hotel-bar piano man who did the honor of covering "Let's Pretend" back in the 1970s.

https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/floyd-cramer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floyd_Cramer

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I had heard that before but forgot about it... it's so very sweet. He honours the correct Melody and the chords. And then adds the Floyd Cramer flavour with his piano styling.. all these versions of Let's Pretend coming out here I'm finding it's my favourite song this week.

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  • 9 months later...

The post above where I shared a YouTube link to the mini-medley of "Let's Pretend" and "Starting Over" now has a missing vid note. Thankfully, the whole version from Don Kirschner's Rock Concert is on this video, and the quality is a little better than the first video on this thread:

 

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By the way, the reading of "All Through the Night" that starts at 17:23 in the video above... killer! I was never one who beat up on the lyrics. They're just lyrics in a rock'n'roll song. Wally's guitar is so awesome here.... as is McBride's energetic drumming and McCarl's pounding bass. 

Theyre even better on "Play On," which follows at 23:17. What a band! That's rock'n'roll...

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On 2/3/2022 at 3:04 AM, LC said:

And, of course, you all know this cover of the song—an old Floyd Cramer instrumental that may strike you as Muzak... or that may give you an even greater appreciation of the arresting melody. 

 

While the piano style is a little too country-esque for me, the moments of the thick "boss brass" instrumentation make up for it! 😉

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2 hours ago, LC said:

The post above where I shared a YouTube link to the mini-medley of "Let's Pretend" and "Starting Over" now has a missing vid note. Thankfully, the whole version from Don Kirschner's Rock Concert is on this video, and the quality is a little better than the first video on this thread:

 

I'm in raptures over that footage - wow - I've only seen the snippets up til now! I'm actually surprised that "All Through the Night" made it past the TV censors back then. (sensual wink goes here). It's hard to explain to my 30-something kids just what the 70's were like, but this goes a long way as a perfect demonstration about the great rock and roll, and the open shirts/long hair deal - the Raspberries carried it off very well. Is it just me noticing this, but it seems like EC would start off the set(s) fully dressed and then get more and more (ahem) undressed as he got heated up with the outpouring of energy ;-). (Hard to blame him and guys can get away with that kind of thing more than the gals ;-).

The characterizing that the music critics did .... they had it wrong - this was no teeny bopper band at all!

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