Carly Simon Michael Oldfield - Essay

Michael Oldfield

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Love is a many splendoured thing and all that—but sometimes it's not necessarily all you need. "Hotcakes" is a case in point. One of the strengths of Carly Simon's previous albums has been her lyrics; they carry a sting in the tail that few other singer-songwriters can match. She's also capable of communicating invective—"You're So Vain"—that shows up the railing against the world in general adopted by so many singers for the embarrassments they are. It's quite a skill to be nasty in a song—and Carly's got it. She also has a knack for writing about specific events rather than abstractedly painting a word picture of a mood or a feeling. Loneliness at the top, for example, is a subject that's always been popular with songwriters; few have tackled it as eloquently as her in "Legend In Your Own Time." Like her best numbers it's sad; "Hotcakes" on the other hand is a happy album. It's mainly a collection of love songs—not surprising, perhaps, considering she's only recently married. "Mind On My Man" (beautifully executed), "Forever My Love" (co-written with her husband James Taylor) and "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" (co-written with Jacob Brackman) are all plain and simple romantic cuts. "Just Not True" and "Misfit" on the other hand are almost the "hard" Carly Simon; but just when she's about to deliver the coup de grace she adds a happy ending. One of her obsessions has lasted though: childhood. "Older Sister" is the best cut on the album…. The other childhood cut, "Grownup" isn't quite up to this standard, but still very attractive…. Taking the album as a whole, on the credit side is Carly's lovely voice, slick playing, and fine arrangements. But without the bite in the lyrics, it only adds up to very hip Muzak.

Michael Oldfield, "Plain and Simple Simon: 'Hotcakes'," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), March 16, 1974, p. 32.