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This type of CD is usually something that I am completely uninterested in; however, in Carpenter’s case, the work is more than interesting. It is a blueprint of how a great songwriter becomes one. An artist is the sum of those artists that he or she admires. Carpenter lays that equation out for us here, and the total is impressive indeed.


The opening track, “King’s Highway”, a Tom Petty cover, is a tour de force. The rising, anthemic guitars, the tambourine on the choruses, the in-time cascading drums, and outstanding arrangement brought me back to the time that I first heard “American Girl”. Petty has had a real career for a reason. He really is one of the great rock songwriters of our era. Carpenter recognizes this, and this song is a great tribute to Mr. Petty. He’d love this version.


The second track, an obscure Beatles cover, underscores Carpenter’s true understanding of what made the Beatles great. They played 1-4-5 rock’n'roll for years before they redefined the genre. They cut their teeth in the clubs, and were a great live band (when you could hear them over the screams). Like The Beatles, Carpenter plays a gig almost every night in his native Australia. There may not be a harder working musician anywhere. Playing makes you better. It worked for The Beatles; it works for Carpenter.


He covers “This Will Be Our Year” by The Zombies. Jazz-pop pioneers and fathers of the prog rock movement, The Zombies wrote some of the greatest songs in an era dominated by The Beatles. Purists call them a better band. That Carpenter tries this shows his good taste.


He tackles “Rain”. I cringed at first, because a cover of this song is a tall order. But he nails it, and it even has that “Rain” vibe. Great job.


He tackles Sam Cooke, maybe the greatest singer of all time.


But where this recording really shines is the versions of The Beach Boys’ “Wild Honey” and “You’re So Good To Me”. Carpenter is a ‘70s Brother-era Beach Boys disciple, and these versions really shine.


Available in a limited edition of 500, this release is worthy of purchase for its collectible nature at the least. At the most, it is a journey into the pieces of the puzzle that make a great artist become who he or she is.


This unique recording can be purchased directly from the artist at www.mcarp.com, and in the United States through Not Lame Recordings (www.notlame.com), his Stateside label. You can e-mail him directly at stagefright@msn.com.au.

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By ="Description" CONTENT="Michael Carpenter, Baby (Not Lame) rating: 8.5, review by David Fufkin
31 Dec 1994
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