New York singer-songwriter Carly Simon, who had debuted during the heydays of
the Greenwich Movement (Winkin' Blinkin' And Nod, 1964) and then
converted to the pop ballad, took several years to evolve into an introspective
Carly Simon (Elektra, 1970), with
That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be (a semi-autobiographical
parable, as it dealt with lonely rich people like her, the daughter of a media
and Anticipation (1971), with Anticipation,
were still borderline.
Adopting a rock sound, No Secrets (1972) propelled her to the top of
the musical and feminist movement, and You're So Vain propelled her to
the top of the charts.
A mediocre vocalist, she was one of the most over-rated artists of the
decade. When the hype ended, her limits became evident.
Haven't Got The Time For Pain and
Charlie Foxx' Mockingbird (a duet with her husband James Taylor)
are all there is to rescue from Hotcakes (1974).
She tried to impersonate a disco queen in Attitude Dancing, from
Playing Possum (1975), and opted for soft-rock on
Another Passenger (1976).
Simon's slide continued on albums that were always autobiographical, but
rarely displayed the spark of genius or captured the spirit of the time:
Boys in the Trees (1978), with You Belong To Me,
Spy (Warner, 1979), with Vengeance,
Come Upstairs (1980), with Jesse.
She was one of the first singer-songwriters to rediscover the universe of
easy-listening with the collection of pop covers Torch (1981).
Her hits came from cinema: Nobody Does It Better(1977) and
Chic's Why (1982);
Hello Big Man (1983) and Spoiled Girl (Epic, 1985) set new
artistic lows for her career.
Renewed success with film soundtracks, such as
Coming Around Again (1986) and Let The River Run (1988)
helped promote Coming Around Again (Arista, 1987) as a "come-back"
album. But there was no come-back, just a pop singer desperately searching for
a second chance.
After another album of pop covers, My Romance (1990), Simon actually did
produce a come-back album of sorts, Have You Seen Me Lately (1990),
a cycle of original songs devoted to philosophical/spiritual themes.
Simon also scored the soundtrack for This Is My Life (Qwest, 1992) and
wrote an opera, Romulus Hunt (Angel, 1993).
If Paul McCartney can write classical music, why not Carly Simon?
Letters Never Sent (Arista, 1995) is, again, adult pop without much
imagination, and Film Noir (1997) was, again, a collection of pop
Bedroom Tapes (Arista, 2000) was the ideal sequel to
Have You Seen Me Lately, another intensely self-analysis by a
middle-age woman who lived an unusual, exclusive, wealthy life.
Moonlight Serenade (Columbia, 2005) was instead a shameless sell-out
to the pop ballad.
This Kind Of Love (2008) was the first collection of original material
in a decade, eloquent and sincere but arranged like she was a teenage pop star
in need for overcrowded orchestral and electronic backing.
Never Been Gone (2009) mainly revisited her career.
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