Archive for the ‘80’s Female Singer Songwriters’ Category

Kim Carnes – View from the House   Leave a comment

house

Kim’s 11th album View from the House was released in 1989 on MCA, three years after the relatively unsuccessful Lighthouse album. Many would not have been too aware that Kim had her roots in country, let’s face it she doesn’t have an obvious voice for country and she is famous for the archetypal 80’s hit Bette Davis Eyes. But country is where she started, her first LP Rest on Me having been produced by Jimmy Bowen. Kim teams up with Jimmy again for this album and shares production credits with him (Bill Cuomo also has a co-producing credit on the closing song). There are 5 covers on here, 1 Kim original, and the remaining 4 co-writes between Kim and Donna Weiss (tracks 1,2,8 & 10). The album reached no. 39 on the US Country chart and both Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness and Crazy In Love were hits on the US Country chart (no. 70 & 68 respectively). Crazy reached no. 13 on the US AC Chart. Kim retained a few of her old musical partners for this album, Josh Leo and the Craig’s Krampf and Hull.

Opening song Brass & Batons starts off with a jaunty fiddle melody courtesy of Mark O’Connor before seguing into a piano / synth based backing. The chorus seems to echo Kim’s career arc through the 80’s “Brass & Batons they fade away, they’re only moments in the haze”; this song builds on it’s fiddle / piano melody before being joined by Craig Hull’s slide guitar. Bruce Hornsby also plays accordion on this song, but it’s not too high in the mix and you barely notice him. Next up is the UK single taken from this LP – Just To Spend Tonight With You, which opens with Kirk Johnson’s harmonica (a little reminiscent  of Laura Nyro’s Stoney End opening). This is a gentle mid-tempo countryish sounding track that travels along quite nicely before cutting out to just Mark O’ Connor’s mandolin outro – a nice touch. Track 3 is more of a country rocker Heartbreak Radio – written by Troy Seals and Frankie Miller, Kim had covered his songs before this. Heartbreak is a little like Achy Breaky Heart, my friend described it as a bit of a “line dancing song” and she may not be too far wrong there. The lyrics are great fun and Kim gives it her all. This song was also recorded by Rita Coolidge as the title track of her 1981 album. Track 4 Crazy In Love is a completely different change of pace. Kim singing over an electric keyboard, it is just lovely and shows off Kim’s way with a lyric, understated, heartfelt, pushing at all the right points – probably the high point of this album – I love the way her voice dives to that raspy edge before rising again tenderly at the end. Side One ends with the jangly guitar of If You Don’t Want My Love (curiously credited to John Prine and Phil Spector), this was taken from John’s 1978 album. The song is quite gentle in tempo.

Side Two kicks off with the electric guitar of Willie And The Hand Jive. This is real fun but has more of a rocking Bo Diddley type rhythm than perhaps a country one. The song was written by Johnny Otis and was a hit for him in 1958. Next up and picking along with an acoustic country melody is another John Prine song Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness, later covered by Nanci Griffith. The accordion solo is by John Cascella. I’ve always enjoyed the lyrics and melody to this song and Kim does it credit; Lyle Lovett shares harmony with her. The piano ballad Blood From The Bandit follows; a bit of a downbeat song “Money buys anything anytime”. After this we are back in the country corner with the Kim original Fantastic Fire Of Love. This is a great song with a catchy chorus driven along by Mark’s fiddle oncemore. Crimes Of The Heart closes the album and is one of 4 songs written by Kim and Donna Weiss. This ballad starts off with the only obvious bit of synth on this recording, from Bill Cuomo, and this continues to form the backbone of the melody. I guess the message of this song is that no matter how hard we try we can all end up caught in something we don’t want and end up hurting someone, but despite that rather serious message it is a quite uplifting song. Bill co-produced this song with Jimmy and Kim.

View from the House is an enjoyable album, it has been classified as a “Country” album, but it’s not that country; If you like Kim but are frightened of dipping your toe into country waters I would say take the plunge. As this recording was from 1989 it was released on CD then, but hasn’t been re-issued since.

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Kim Carnes – Lighthouse   Leave a comment

Lighthouse

Lighthouse saw Kim paired with producer Val Garay again, perhaps in an attempt to recreate the success of Mistaken Identity and Voyeur which he also produced. Husband Dave was strangely absent from this record. As a result of the Garay effect we see two Weiss / de Shannon songs for the first time since MI. Kim co-writes four herself plus the solo Black And White. Despite the production efforts by Garay which saw a sound more akin to his other work with Carnes, the album was not successful, peaking at no. 116 on the US Billboard charts. Divided Hearts was the first single, reaching no. 79 in the US but follow up I’d Lie To You For Your Love failed to chart.

I used to listen to Radio Caroline a lot in the 80’s and confess I had lost track of Ms Carnes, until Divided Hearts was released as a single which they played on heavy rotation. I consequently bought the Lighthouse album. Side one kicks off with this single which is a great Kim song. It has a sort of synth backbeat to it similar in feel to Bruce Hornsby’s The Way it Is from the same year. The chorus is a killer and has some strong BV’s from Philip Ingram, Kevin Dorsey and Oren Waters. Kim co-wrote this with Donna Weiss (who would have four co-writes on this LP), Kathy Kurasch and Kim’s son Collin Ellingson. Next up is a rather different track I’d Lie To You For Your Love opening with some strummed acoustic guitar that sounds a bit like Eurythmics’  Thorn In My Side. This song is a cover, being written by Frankie Miller, Jeff Barry and the Bellamy Bros. It’s a great song and rocks along nicely. Track three is again different in feel, opening with Steve Goldstein’s synth intro before Jerry Peterson’s sax kicks in. Black and White, written solely by Kim is a beautiful song and shows off Kim’s vocal prowess to great effect. The song tells the story of a relationship that once was, that just “burned too bright, I guess things just look better in black and white”. Track 4 Piece Of The Sky picks up the pace and is more synth driven than the previous songs although it is not set against a drum track. Unbelieveably this was the first song Kim recorded that was written by Donna Weiss and Jackie de Shannon since Bette Davis Eyes. You would have thought they would have been paired up again before now but no ; I really like this song, although I’ll admit the lyrics don’t really make much sense. Side One closes with a jangly guitar ballad – You Say You Love Me (But I Know You Don’t), a co-write with Val Garay and guitarist Craig Hull. Short and sweet this song is an interesting way to end Side One.

Side Two kicks off at great speed with the (sort of) title track Dancin’ At The Lighthouse with Jerry’s searing sax. A co-write with her old vocal partner Daniel Moore who adds great harmonies to this with the J D Steele singers. I always thought this could have sneaked out as a single. The pace doesn’t slacken with track two Love Me Like You Never Did Before written by Phil Brown and Eric Kaz, who both play on it. This tells the tale of someone who has been let down giving that person another chance but making it clear, it will not be the same this time around. The synth track sounds a bit like what Heart were doing at the time and Kim’s vocal is brilliant, she really put’s her heart and soul into this one. Track three is Along With The Radio written by Kim and Craig Krampf. This ballad sits on Side Two in the same place as Black And White on it’s flipside and they are quite similar, perhaps they both act as a centerpiece to each. This is a lovely simple song and a real band effort, I have always really liked this. The penultimate song is Only Lonely Love that slides along on a percussive synthy rhythm; this is a second Weiss / de Shannon song and again, this is very catchy, could have been a hit. Donna and Lauren Wood are on BV’s. Waddy Wachtel contributes a searing guitar solo. The Donna Weiss / Bruce Roberts song That’s Where The Trouble Lies closes the LP and is the most synthesised song on this record. The verse has a sultry Kim vocal, perhaps the chorus is a bit repetitive.

This release is less ’80’s’ than Kim’s previous efforts, it is more of a fusion between synthesisers and guitar driven songs, it is very much a band effort. The songs are mature (no Abadadabango here…) and has always been a massive favourite of mine, I love every song. I have always thought it a shame that on Kim’s many compilations it’s tracks are so rarely featured. The CD has for many years been selling for exorbitant prices on ebay but now Culture Factory are due to re-release it in one of their paper sleeve CD’s in August 2013. If you don’t know this CD but love Kim’s other work, go buy this album you will not be disappointed !

Cowboy Junkies – Live @ The Barbican 25.01.13   Leave a comment

Ok – Yes, I know, this is a blog about Female Singer Songwriters and Margot Timmins isn’t; brother Michael writes 99% of the material, but I have always loved them, so for me she is an honorary singer songwriter, whilst not ever penning a line herself. In many ways the songs are hers, as much as Michael’s. I have seen The Junkies twice before, but the first time didn’t really enjoy them. Maybe the venue or the mix of music was wrong, who knows – anyway at this gig they were the best I have ever seen them. Margot’s stage presence was incredible, she really lived and expressed the emotions in the songs, far more than I remember before. Her vocals were unsurpassed. The band were cracking too, the 4 plus Jeff Bird. Some of Michael’s guitar solo’s were Hendrix-esque but he never moves from his seat, both he and Alan Anton on bass seem to possess such inner control.

The last 4 releases by them have been part of what they have called The Nomad series – 4 very different pieces of work with it’s own identity. A selection of these songs were showcased in the first half, and are listed here :

Wrong Piano

I Cannot Sit Sadly By Your Side

Stranger Here

See You Around

Square Room

3rd Crusade

Late Night Radio

Damaged From The Start

Fairytale

Margot was comically disparaging about them beforehand reassuring the audience that all the well known stuff would be in the second half. I was really pleasantly surprised by the material, only Square Room drifted a little for me, but opener Wrong Piano and 3rd Crusade were really blistering. I bought the CD box set at the stall in the interval, for a very reasonable £25. Sorry Air Canada, your extra baggage fees will be a little lower going home…..

The second half contained, although not in this order:

Sweet Jane

Spiral Down

Good Friday

Five Room Love Story

Working on a Building

‘Cause Cheap is How I Feel

Misguided Angel

Blue Moon Revisited

A Horse in the Country

Something More Besides You

A Common Disaster

My Little Basquiat

Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young cover and show closer).

I can’t remember the order these came in (!) sorry ! but it was a really wonderful show, each song a surprise as to what was coming next. Towards the end, a lady tried to get Margot’s attention to give her some roses, and I just thought Oh God, she ended up throwing them onto the stage and then tried to make her way back to her seat, but…..Margot had seen her, picked up the roses (holding them throughout Misguided which she sang next) then hugged and kissed the lady, and odd as this sounds, I found my eyes welling up, it was such a lovely moment.

I must make sure I don’t miss them next time they visit these fair shores.

Posted January 26, 2013 by songfromaseagull in 80's Female Singer Songwriters

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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.

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.