Carly Simon Susin Shapiro - Essay

Susin Shapiro

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Hotcakes wants to sizzle but when you take that first serious chew, the flake falls away and the words are runny, underdone.

Gone is the soft loneliness and sad cynicism of Carly's Anticipation album…. [Carly] seems to have lost that adrenal-inspiration only touring can ignite. It's been replaced by maritally exuberant content and a stay-at-home pace, doubtless totally fulfilling to live but less fun to eavesdrop on. "Forever My Love" … extols this bliss best.

Carly's songs have never been "heavy" or involving, but there was always enough successfully sublimated social comment and repetitive rhythms to make you whistle along in the shower or hum in the subway buzz. (p. 73)

If I dare compare, Carly's got the pyrotechnics but [Joni Mitchell's] got control. Carly fails to enlarge her stylistic idiom; Joni dares not miss that chance. Carly once wrote: "Whoever you want is exactly what I'm willing to be." Where are the assertive seeds of independence that women are supposed to be nurturing these days? Carly can't and doesn't speak for the common woman … and that's why Hotcakes is ho-hum. "Come home with me, we'll turn on the TV." Yawn. "She rides in the front seat, she's my older sister … She goes to bed an hour later than I do … I'd like to be my older sister." Snork. Not terribly scintillating….

What I miss most is the growth. Richard Perry [the album's producer] has widened Carly's music, but being well-fed is not growing taller. If an artist is content to rest on his childhood flannel blanket then we must let her/him know in some manner that we're too big to crawl alongside them. Buy quality, not predictability. Accept no substitutes, sweet or otherwise. (p. 74)

Susin Shapiro, in her review of "Hotcakes," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1974 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), April, 1974, pp. 73-4.