Eric Carmen – The Essential Eric Carmen (2014)

There is much to love, of course, about this double-disc 30-song collection of confectionary power-pop goodness. After all, it’s a first-time-ever grouping of both the best of his years with the Raspberries and as a solo artist. But The Essential Eric Carmen goes one step further, collecting Carmen’s first new song in some 18 years.

That track, a determinedly hopeful ballad called “Brand New Year,” isn’t going to push “Go All The Way,” “Overnight Sensation,” “All By Myself” or even “Hungry Eyes” off your playlist. At the same time, though, it illustrates how Carmen — even while dashing off a song at a darkened piano during a power outage, as he did with “Brand New Year” in November 2013 — remains a well-spring of sun-filled joy, evocative of another time in American radio when it wasn’t uncool to be happy.

Essential, due March 25, 2014 via Arista-Legacy, couldn’t be less hautily insouciant, less in the moment, less of its time. But, oh what a time it was: When Carmen, because he couched “Go All The Way” in a billowing pillow of radio-ready sweetness, could sing about propositioning somebody without the censors noticing. When a pop symphony like “Overnight Sensation” could take you on a magical ride, via a tinny transistor radio. When you could marry the inspirational underpinnings of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and get “Let’s Pretend.” Or the melody from a piano concerto by Rachmininoff for “All By Myself” and “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.”

Carmen was so good that he was giving deep cuts to teenyboppers like Shaun Cassidy, and they’d become huge hits — as with “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Hey Deanie” from this set. So good that people like the Guess Who’s Burton Cummings wanted to sit in (“Marathon Man”), as did guys who’d work with Elton John and Vanilla Fudge. So good that his music impacted everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Kiss to Courtney Love.

And yet, never quite given his due. Here’s hoping that The Essential Eric Carmen, which also includes some of his earliest recordings as well as previously released live material recorded at the Bottom Line in 1976, gives him another chance at being the overnight sensation he always should have been.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B000FIMHZ8″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0000032XT” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00IBQ5OUQ” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000A2PA8A” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00197U07G” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • David Lunbeck

    hmmmmmm

  • MST66

    Great song, but the video is awful!