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The Essential

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Album Review

It's been a long time since Eric Carmen has had his body of work compiled — 1997's Definitive Collection, to be exact, which had 18 hits on a single disc. Legacy's 2014 The Essential Eric Carmen easily trumps that set by offering 30 tracks from every phase of Carmen's career, beginning with the little-heard 1969 single "Get the Message" from his first band Cyrus Eri, and ending with the pretty good brand-new "Brand New Year." Carmen's professional career spans over four decades, but there aren't that many studio albums to draw upon: four albums from the Raspberries, six solo albums, plus the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which provided him with some of his biggest hits (so big, he effectively stopped recording afterward, cutting only one album in the years since). That means that this collection does indeed have almost everything of note, from the big Raspberries hits "Go All the Way" and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)," through the '70s solo smashes "All by Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again," through those late-'80s sensations "Hungry Eyes" and "Make Me Lose Control." Inevitably, there are a handful of songs missing — most regrettably, the superb 1985 single is absent, but so is 1979's minor "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'," and anything from the 2000 comeback — but these are ultimately minor omissions, with The Essential Eric Carmen offering a thorough retrospective of a pop singer/songwriter who, at his best, could splice Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, and Phil Spector, sometimes spiking it with some power chords borrowed from the Who. This collection makes it plain that Carmen always worked in this vein — it's fascinating to hear the "Please Please Me" "come on, come on" refrain repeat back to back on the opening "Get the Message" and "Go All the Way" — and just found ways to appealingly refine his craft as the years rolled by.

Customer Reviews

Where the f*** is Take it or Leave it?

Eric Carmen is awesome but my favorite song by him isn’t on here?

Oh, You Glorious Pop Genius

I grew up with Eric Carmen's music. Go All the Way cemented itself in my psyche riding in the back seat of my parents' car watching the world go by. Only later did I realize what the song wasy about. All By Myself whispered in the dark on many nights complete with its long Rachmoninoff bridge. The Beach Boys rose from the dead and backed up Carmen for boppy She Did It.

This catchy popsmith admired by musicians for his deceptively complicated song structure hovered in the background of fame.

I got this brand new, remastered collection and have rediscovered the soaring, glorious harmonies of My Girl which would sound like a contemporary indie pop gem if released today. The husky, plaintive Boats against the Current, an ode to The Great Gatsby. The Rachmaninoff inspired All By Myself and Never Gonna Fall in Love again. The sparkling, frisky Raspberries odes to teenage lust. And, yes there are dark periods which ironically brought him his biggest fame (Hungry Eyes, eh) and recognition but not many can continue to turn out the perfectly crafted pop tunes through the decades like Carmen.

A stroke of genius is getting the Wondermints to play on his first new recorded song in many years. A genius pairing.

I was lucky enough to catch The Raspberries reunion performance at the House of Blues a few years ago and dammit, they still got it. Pop fans would do well to discover or rediscover these gorgeous songs.

Biography

Born: August 11, 1949 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Eric Carmen has amassed an impressive amount of hit singles over his long career, whether it be as a member of the influential power pop outfit the Raspberries, as a solo artist, or as a songwriter for others. Born on August 11, 1949, in Cleveland, Ohio, Carmen began his musical training at an early age -- by the age of six, he was taking violin lessons, and by 11, he was playing piano and penning his own original compositions. With his discovery of the Beatles during the early '60s, Carmen's attention...
Full Bio
The Essential, Eric Carmen
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