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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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