Carly Simon's self-titled debut album arrived on Elektra Records in the spring of 1971, nestled in the label's discography between singer-songwriter Paul Siebel's Jack-Knife Gypsy and folk band Farquahr's eponymous LP. Carly wasn't quite a stranger to the music business, having recorded three albums for the Kapp and Columbia labels with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters, but her solo debut augured for a major talent. She was signed by the label's founder, Jac Holzman, beginning an association with Elektra that would endure for the entirety of the 1970s. Holzman's hands-on approach to overseeing his label's output, however, would only last for three of Simon's albums, as he departed Elektra in 1973, three years after selling the company to the conglomerate that had just swallowed up Warner Bros.' assets. Now, that brief but halcyon period of collaboration is being collected by Rhino. These Are the Good Old Days: The Carly Simon and Jac Holzman Story, due September 15, is a 1CD, 2LP, and digital compilation curated by Holzman and drawing on both hits and deep cuts from Carly Simon (1971), Anticipation (1971), and No Secrets (1972) plus one previously unreleased bonus demo and a previously unreleased mix of the John Prine-penned "Angel from Montgomery" sans overdubs. All audio has been remastered for this release.
Carly Simon, produced by Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker), introduced the singer-songwriter's distinctive and personal voice on songs including the haunting "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" (co-written with Jacob Brackman), the folk-rock-flavored "Alone," country-tinged "One More Time." With "That's the Way...," Carly earned a Grammy nomination and her first top ten hit - no small accomplishment for what's essentially an art song, beautifully crafted and intimately performed. Paul Samwell-Smith (Cat Stevens, Yardbirds) took the production reins for Anticipation later in 1971. The album yielded another hit with the irresistible title track which captured the tension, anxiety, frustration, and euphoria of a relationship in bloom. The third album in Simon's Holzman trilogy, No Secrets, was helmed by Richard Perry (Harry Nilsson, Barbra Streisand) and proved to be her commercial and artistic breakthrough.
Like her first two albums, No Secrets was deeply autobiographical. Album opener "The Right Thing to Do" is a piano-driven pop song that marries one of Simon's brightest, most infectious melodies (reportedly inspired by Burt Bacharach) to an arrangement that subtly brings forth the tension under the surface. When she intones "Hold me in your hands like a bunch of flowers," who could resist the joyous and sensual invitation? The fierce "You're So Vain" launched one of rock's most enduring mysteries, becoming Simon's signature song in the process. "We Have No Secrets" not only gave the album its title, but has a typically clever lyric of self-discovery. James Taylor provided the bluesy "Night Owl." Simon returned to the art song milieu with the arresting "The Carter Family" and "His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin." No Secrets encapsulated every side of the artist.
These Are the Good Old Days: The Carly Simon and Jac Holzman Story includes the expected favorites "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," "Legend in Your Own Time," "Anticipation," "You're So Vain," "The Right Thing to Do," and "We Have No Secrets" but also dives into the album tracks from all three albums for a selection of Simon's most beguiling lyrics and melodies.
The new set touches on some of Simon's biggest songs with "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," a Top 10 hit in 1970, and "Anticipation," a #13 hit from 1971, whose refrain serves as the title to the new collection. Also included is the #1 smash "You're So Vain," which, in 1973, topped the singles chart for three weeks in the U.S., where it was certified gold. Years later, in 2004, the song was inducted into the Grammy® Hall of Fame. However, for most of the collection, Holzman focuses on deep tracks like "The Love's Still Growing," "Our First Day Together," and "Embrace Me, You Child." One previously unreleased track is part of the package: "Alone," part of the five-song demo featuring guitarist David Bromberg which Simon sent in 1970 to Columbia, Atlantic, and Elektra. Holzman, already aware of The Simon Sisters, invited Carly to lunch and soon signed her to his label. A subsequent version of "Alone" was included on Carly Simon.
Ted Olson provides the liner notes for the package, drawing on new interviews with both Simon and Holzman. Rare photos round out the package. In the press release, Simon says of her collaboration with Holzman, "There was never more care given to me. Never more respect, and I can surely say that I would never have become a performer had it not been for that first call from Jac after listening to my first little demo cassette." He notes, "Carly and I created a lifelong friendship born from our '70s music collaboration. I think the good and positive effect we had on each other resulted in records that were gifts for Carly fans and music lovers the world over."
These Are the Good Old Days: The Carly Simon and Jac Holzman Story is due from Elektra/Rhino on September 15. You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below. The remastered rendition of "Angel from Montgomery" is streaming now.
Carly Simon, These Are the Good Old Days: The Carly Simon and Jac Holzman Story (Elektra/Rhino, 2023)
* previously unreleased
- It Was So Easy
- Alone (Demo) *
- The Best Thing
- Dan, My Fling
- I've Got to Have You
- The Love's Still Growing
- Summer's Coming Around Again
- Our First Day Together
- Embrace Me, You Child
- Legend in Your Own Time
- That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be
- The Carter Family
- Angel from Montgomery
- Julie Through the Glass
- His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin
- The Right Thing to Do
- We Have No Secrets
- You're So Vain
Tracks 1, 6, 8-9, 11 and 15 from Anticipation - Elektra EKS-75016, 1971
Tracks 4-5, 7, 12 and 17 from Carly Simon - Elektra EKS-74082, 1971
Tracks 2, 10, 13, 16, 18-20 from No Secrets - Elektra EKS-75049, 1972
Track 14 original mix of track from Clouds in My Coffee 1965-1995 - Arista 07822 18798-2, 1995