Kim Carnes

Café Racers

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Kim Carnes was a full-fledged star after her 1981 album Mistaken Identity spent four weeks at number one, thanks to the Grammy-winning single "Bette Davis Eyes." Her follow-up record, 1982's Voyeur, was supposed to solidify that success, but it stumbled. It was now up to Carnes' fourth album, Café Racers, to regain whatever ground that was lost. To that end, Carnes and her team of collaborators decided to modernize her sound -- which meant that she delved deeply into new wave affectations (the opening of "Young Love" and the included single version of "You Make My Heart Beat Faster" were clearly designed for synth-heavy modern radio), while finding a firm footing in adult contemporary radio with songs like "Met You at the Wrong Time of My Life." On top of that, Carnes and EMI flooded the market with extended dance mixes of singles, including the non-LP single "Invitation to Dance," a song taken from the That's Dancing! soundtrack. This was a standard practice at the time -- nearly every artist had an extended dance or extended vocal mix on the market -- but, in retrospect, it adds an air of desperation to Café Racers. It was as if nobody involved with Kim Carnes had a good idea of how to bring her back into the charts, so they tried anything within reason. All of their efforts backfired. Without a big hit the record crawled to number 97, a major disappointment for an artist who had won Grammys and platinum awards just two years earlier. Looking back, Café Racers is a snapshot of the various styles and sounds of mainstream radio circa 1983, but it had to be more than that to be a hit in 1983, even if it evokes that year strongly decades later.

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