Archive for November 2012

Kim Carnes – Cafe Racers   Leave a comment

For the follow up to Voyeur, Kim would work with Keith Olsen for the first time (he had worked with Fleetwood Mac on Tusk). Released in 1983 (Kim’s 5th album in as many years) it would not chart as high as it’s two predecessors attaining only a No. 97 placing on the US chart. Invisible Hands was it’s biggest hit reaching No. 40 in the US. The Universal Song, I Pretend and You Make My Heart Beat Faster would also be released as singles. Kim would be involved in writing only 5 of the LP’s songs. Kim is pictured on the cover on a vespa – not quite sure what a Cafe Racer is (any ideas ??), but it is a line from Track 5.

The opening track is very catchy with a more dance oriented synth beat and a great guitar solo by 80’s guitar maestro Steve Lukather ; also on guitar is Chas Sandford who appears a few times on this LP –  he would also write Talk To Me for Steve Nicks.The track was a co-write between Kim, Dave Ellingson and Martin Page and Brian Fairweather. Page & Fairweather would contribute to a further two tracks on the LP, and go on to write These Dreams for Heart. Catchy as the opener is, the chorus does get a bit repetitive. Next up is Young Love, featuring Lukather and Waddy Wachtel on guitar, with Mark Andes and Dennis Carmassi. Andes and Carmassi would in a couple of years become the rhythm section of a revitalised Heart. Met You At The Wrong Time Of My Life follows, which starts of with a very Foreigner like synth intro by Bill Cuomo, and has the first of three appearances by Sax stalwart Jerry Peterson. Hurricane picks up the pace a little bit, but for me doesn’t really go anywhere. Side One closer is The Universal Song which was released as a single reaching No. 40 in Netherlands.

Side Two starts us off with Invisible Hands which has hit written all over it, surprised it did not go higher ; again more dance oriented this Page / Fairweather track has a catchy chorus which Ms Carnes carries off well, I always enjoy this song. I Pretend is another Page / Fairweather song, a much slower mid tempo rocker – this song probably deserves a wider audience. Hanging On By A Thread is next up, a ballad featuring John Waite (later of Missing You fame) on backing vocals. This was the only Kim Carnes song on Cafe Racers that Kim wrote solely herself. A Kick In The Heart is a Mark Goldenberg song (he also worked with Wendy Waldman and Linda Ronstadt) although he didn’t play on it. In tempo this is more of a mid paced rocker, similar to I Pretend in feel. Finally the LP closes with perhaps it’s best known song – I’ll Be Here Where The Heart Is – featured on the Flashdance soundtrack  (which cements Kim Carnes’ part of the 80’s even more ! ). This is, one might argue the best track on the LP with a great chorus featuring backing from her husband Dave Ellingson and Daniel Moore (where was he in the rest of this recording – sadly absent). The track is a ballad with a synth beat in the background, and Waddy Wachtel’s guitar on the verses.

Cafe Racers is not one of my favourite Kim Carnes albums, her performances are great as always, I just don’t think the songs are quite up there. Shame.

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Kim Carnes – Barking at Airplanes   Leave a comment

Barking at Airplanes was released in 1985 and reached No. 48 in the US and No. 40 in Australia ; Crazy In The Night was a big US hit attaining a No. 15 position, and also charting down under. Abadabadango was a follow up hit ; Invitation To Dance was also a hit earlier in 1985 from the That’s Dancing soundtrack, but was not featured on this LP, nor was her duet What About Me with James Ingram (rewarded with an appearance here) and Kenny Rogers that made the No. 15 position on the charts in 1985. Neither featured on the One Way Records CD re-issue in 2001, although that release does have three bonus tracks. All of the 10 original LP tracks were written solely by Kim Carnes or co-writes with others with the exception of Touch And Go. Kim and long time cohort Bill Cuomo would co-produce the LP, except Abadabadango which has a Duane Hitchings co-producer credit.

First track up is wonderful ! A solo written song from Kim – Crazy In The Night with all the usual suspects on backing – Bill Cuomo, Waddy Wachtel and Craig Krampf – “There’s a monster on my ceiling, there’s a monster on the wall” great fun ! One Kiss follows, and I already feel this LP is better than Cafe Racers, more synth driven and a great chorus. Begging For Favors kicks off with a synth / guitar beat and Jerry Peterson saxing away – this track has a great chorus with an insistent vocal from Kim, backed up by Lindsey Buckingham on BV’s – their vocals really blend well – great song. He Makes The Sun Rise is next up – a co write with Chas Sandford. This song has a sort of African feel from the guitar parts and features the well known vocal duo of Maxine Waters-Willard and Julia Tillman-Waters together with Daniel Moore on backing. A ballad follows – Bon Voyage – a hint on the subject matter is in the title, Kim sings this song with real emotion and the track begins and ends with an Airport announcement to add a little atmosphere.

Side Two opens with Don’t Pick Up The Phone, a Carnes / Cuomo composition, mmm well what can I say – it is what it is, hardly one of Kim’s best songs. Rough Edges follows, another ballad, featuring guitar by Ry Cooder and backing vocals by James Ingram and Martha Davis (amongst others). Written by Kim and Dave Ellingson this is a lovely song and performance – it cancels out the preceding track. Abadabadango is next up “the rhythm of the heart that beats for a million years” ; having a title like that I always think of something execrable like Agadoo, but to be honest, despite the song title, this ain’t all that bad, very catchy – and it does feature Duane Hitchings, sadly missing from Cafe Racers. The penultimate track has a synthed Caribbean drum flavour, its mid tempo rhythm fits the LP well. This song was written by Clive Gregson who is a great songwriter (he had a duo with Christine Collister in the 80 – 90’s) and he would later relocate to the US where his songwriting craft could be properly appreciated. Touch And Go has a copyright of 1981 so could be a track from Clive’s recording with his band Any Trouble in the early eighties, can only guess where Kim picked the song up from. Album closer is a ballad – Oliver (Voice On The Radio) and finishes us off nicely.

The three bonus tracks on the One Way records CD re-issue have no information, so ?? – I Am A Camera has a distorted chorus repeating the title, its not all that bad, very 80’s – I assume this was a B-side to one of the singles ( I shall investigate further !). Make No Mistake, He’s Mine was a duet with Barbra Streisand originally and is featured on her 1984 release Emotion. I have heard the original, and trust me Kim more than holds her own against La Streisand ; unfortunately for Kim, normally anything Streisand touches would be massive – not this time – only No. 51 in the US charts. The version here is Kim solo, and the song is essentially a piano ballad. For me the song is better as a duet. Final bonus song Forever is very upbeat, with a Motownesque beat, someone is on BV – Dave or Daniel. Neither of bonus tracks 1 or 3 would have been out of place on the original release.

Keith Olsen was nowhere in sight on this LP, and I think that Barking At Airplanes is all the better for the fact Kim co-wrote most of these songs and co-produced it. Her sense of humour is present in songs like Crazy In The Night ; this being an 80’s production, the backing is everything but the kitchen sink thrown in, very synth pop. I really like this album, I probably don’t play it enough (although I might skip Pick Up The Phone….)

Kim Carnes – Voyeur   Leave a comment

Voyeur would be Kim’s follow up to Mistaken Identity and was released in 1982. It would reach No. 49 in the US proving to be a bigger hit in Australia. The title track was the lead off single and would reach No. 29 in the US and only No. 68 in the UK. Follow up singles Does It Make You Remember and Take It On The Chin would fail to chart in some territories.

Again produced by Val Garay, the album would try to capitalise on the Bette Davis Eyes musical style and be more synth driven ; it would feature 10 tracks, and this time Kim would take much more of a hand in the songwriting, only two being complete cover versions.

The LP kicks off with the title track, very hook driven and more heavily relying on a synthesiser driven rhythm by Bill Cuomo and Duane Hitchings; the song feels a lot “darker” in feel – the chorus is catchy “Voyeur, Voyeur who ya got tonite”. Surprising this was not a bigger hit. Looker is up next, again a dark synth intro, reflecting the lyrics about someone who isn’t quite what she appears on the surface. The chorus is guitar driven by Craig Hull and Josh Leo, and Craig’s guitar solo fades out to the boy’s shouted chorus. Track 3 is Say You Don’t Know Me, a synth driven rocker with a Jerry Peterson sax solo, great arrangement with Dave Ellingson and Daniel Moore echoing Kim’s repeated title as the chorus line. Love the ending of Kim’s echoed “Don’t tell em that you know me!”. Does It Make You Remember reminds me in the beginning of a Journey or Reo Speedwagon AOR ballad, and is the LP’s first real ballad. After Craig Hull’s guitar solo, the song slows right down into an almost classical interlude by Steve Goldstein before building back up – great arrangement again ! Old Side One closes with the piano ballad Breakin’ Away From Sanity, deftly handled by Kim. The song ends almost mid verse; if I had to make a criticism I could have done without the children’s backing vocals on the second chorus – I don’t think it adds anything to the song – just personal taste I guess.

Side Two starts with Undertow, with just Ms Carnes and Duane Hitchings’ synth cementing this LP’s 80’s credentials ! Love the vocodered (if that’s a word) “Can anybody hear me”. This song winds down almost immediately into Merc Man, really amusing and observed lyric from Carnes / Ellingson / Hitchings and this is an enjoyable track. Track 3 is The Arrangement, a more rock driven song with Martha Davis providing harmonies. This album is driving along now and again this is a fantastic rock song, with a by now expectedly strong vocal from Kim – all in all this song is wonderfully handled by both vocalists. The Thrill Of The Grill is next up with a guitar driven rhythm by Craig Hull and Waddy Wachtel – fantastic chorus, synth hook by Bill Cuomo, not surprising this is one of Kim’s most popular songs amongst fans. The LP finishes with Take It On The Chin (I need a rest after the previous two tracks!); this is a slower synth driven song, solely written by Kim who tells her guy that she has had all she can stand – “Take it on the chin, baby – if you’re tough enough !”

This is a much more “80’s” album than Mistaken Identity but really enjoyable. Although we don’t have any big hits this is a really cohesive album with fantastic arrangements and songs by Kim and her co-writers. Go search it out and enjoy !!

Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity   Leave a comment

Mistaken Identity was Kim’s 6th album, and was released in April of 1981 ; it would prove to be her best selling album reaching No. 1 in the USA, and No. 26 in the UK, and also reached No. 4 in Australia.

The massive selling single Bette Davis Eyes would reach No. 1 in the USA (and stop there for an incredible 9 weeks) and Australia, and No.10 in the UK. Draw of the Cards and the title track would be released as follow up singles with diminishing success.

Mistaken Identity was produced by Val Garay (who would also produce Martha Davis and Joan Armatrading’s hit Drop the Pilot). It contained 10 songs, 2 written by Jackie de Shannon and Donna Weiss ; Kim would have a hand in writing only 5 of the songs. Often compared to a “female Rod Stewart”, Kim’s vocals are distinctive ; you wouldn’t mistake her for anyone else. Prior to this recording Kim’s career had been in a more Pop/Country direction, and her vocals were much softer.

The album kicks off with that massive hit, Bill Cuomo’s synth intro is so recognisable, like Ultravox’s Vienna, and Kim’s vocal perfectly rendering the lyrics, although for many years I misheard a lot of them; Hollow Gold for Harlow Gold and Crow Blush for Pro Blush. The sound of this song just epitomises the 80’s ; what makes a hit record ? who knows – but this song is full of hooks and I never tire of hearing it. The following track has more of a country drive to it, featuring Daniel Moore on backing vocals. It is perhaps pleasant enough but nothing remarkable. Track 3 is the title track and a ballad, showing Kim’s vocals off to fantastic effect. This is one of my favourite tracks by Ms Carnes and one of only two solo written songs here. The vocals don’t “push” but are emotionally heartfelt, almost held back. That seems to give this song added power which together with Bill Cuomo’s keyboards and Jerry Peterson’s sax make for a great title track. Frankie Miller’s When I’m Away From You is next up and is driven by acoustic guitar, more of a straight ahead rock track with a country feel, similar in feel to I’d Lie To You For Your Love from her 86 Lighthouse album. Side One closes with Draw Of The Cards, another favourite of mine, featuring Kim’s sardonic vocal with a fully backed chorus just repeating “and its all in the draw of the cards” ; this track is more synthesised in rhythm and perhaps closer to BDE featuring great guitar work from Craig Hull, finishing with Kim’s devilish laughter. Inexplicably this song was missed off Gypsy Honeymoon her compilation CD released in the early 90’s.

Side Two kicks off with a good straight ahead rocker Break The Rules Tonite, the first of two songs with Wendy Waldman as a co-writer. This is a great song with a full on Carnes vocal and great fun. Still Hold On follows, a lovely ballad, starting off with just Kim singing over Bill’s synthesiser line, but soon beefs up after the chorus, these feature Wendy and Kim’s husband Dave Ellingson providing great harmony vocals. This song is not too dissimilar in style to some of Joan Armatrading’s songs of this era and I can imagine her singing this. The song fades out on Jerry’s sax solo. Next up is Don’t Call It Love, this would have made a great single – it has a killer chorus and perhaps with a different arrangement could have been a more dance oriented track. The final two tracks are both ballads, Miss You Tonite starts off with a similar synth rhythm to BDE, has a fantastic Carnes vocal, opining for her lost lover who she misses, “Do you ever think of me ?” after the second chorus the middle eight finishes with an amazing vocal by Ms Carnes. The album closes with My Old Pals, with Kim accompanying herself on piano ; this has more of a country-ish feel, and is a lovely if maybe surprising closer for the album.

Not surprisingly this was the start of a purple patch for Kim and really set the template in style for her next 4 or 5 albums often using the same musicians. As this LP contains such a massive 80’s hit, so memorable for its synth hook, the LP is a lot less synth driven than you might expect. A great set by Kim, and now wonderfully remastered.

Kim Carnes – Remastered CD’s   Leave a comment

For all of those Kim Carnes fans out there, you will be pleased to hear that culturefactoryusa have released three Kim CD’s – Mistaken Identity, Voyeur and Cafe Racers.

Mistaken Identity is quite often knocking around as it is her most popular and successful release but many of Kim’s other CD’s are very hard to find and very expensive on ebay.

I have only bought MI and Voyeur, and these releases come in a cardboard sleeve and are re-productions of the original LP’s ; The look and feel of them are really nice but the drawback is that the lyrics are really hard to read !

The CD’s have been remastered in High Definition and the sound is excellent, I will post separate reviews for each. It’s great to see some of Kim’s work become available again at a decent price. Hat’s off to culture factory, who have also released Motels’ CD’s in the same way.