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Change of Heart
Eric Carmen

Arista 4184
Released: October 1978
Chart Peak: #137
Weeks Charted: 12

From the harmonic rock of the Beatles and the Beach Boys to the more heavily arranged Motown style, people have been trying to make rock & roll bands sound like orchestras for years -- and Eric Carmen has been listening all along. Though Change of Heart steps back a bit from the orchestral bombast of last year's Boats Against the Current, its music represents more of a change of emphasis than design. If the Raspberries were a crystalline clone of the best pop rock of the Sixties, it seems appropriate that Carmen has used many of the same sources to become a rock-oriented but ferociously commercial MOR singer. This guy's got his head set on being the Barry Manilow of rock & roll.

So it's unsurprising that Carmen covers the Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," and not only because almost every record these days appears to have at least one Sixties standard. The new album's best uptempo tunes, "Haven't We Come a Long Way" and "Change of Heart," are arranged in Motown fashion, with ringing guitars and backup vocals swaddling the funky beat in slick Sunday-night finery. Sure, the sound music here is closer to Las Vegas than Detroit, but with shimmering self-production and some expert playing (the Section, et al.), the results appease if not please the ears. Similarly, Carmen's Beach Boys-like songs, "Someday" and "Hey Deanie," catch the sound but not the spirit.

The ballads are also heavily orchestrated, and, on compositions like "End of the World," the general innocuousness of the singer's lyrics tends to add yet another dollop of molasses into the mix. But when a harmonica solo is laid gently upon a bed of strings à la a thousand movie soundtracks ("Desperate Fools" overture), I find myself adding a question mark to one of Eric Carmen's most memorable earlier songs: "That's Rock 'n' Roll?"

- John Milward, Rolling Stone, 4/5/79.

Bonus Review!

Carmen's third album for the label, following his 1976 breakthrough set Eric Carmen, and last year's commercial setback Boats Against The Current, is a near-perfect mix of bouncy rockers and heavily orchestrated ballads. Two standout cuts on the album are "Hey Deanie," Carmen's ultra-effervescent rocker which was a gold hit for Shaun Cassidy earlier this year, and a remake of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Baby I Need Your Lovin'." A classy overture opens the album, with strings arranged and conducted by David Campbell. Best cuts: "Hey Deanie," "Change Of Heart," "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," "Desperate Fools," "End Of The World."

- Billboard, 1979.

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