14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2000
Carly's "punk rock album"? PLEASE. Maybe too much time has gone by for casual music fans to make the distinction between new wave and punk influences, but one listen to "Come Upstairs" ought to set the record straight. Though I will admit that this album has some of her rawest lyrics/performances as well as a self-conciously trendy production, this is not the kind of stylistic contradiction that Linda Ronstadt's "Mad Love" album was.
Producer/keyboardist Mike Mainieri may have been borrowing too many Top 40 ideas to suit Carly's established cult, but his direction gave "Come Upstairs" a solid, tight musical foundation. And though I wouldn't label "Come Upstairs" as a new wave record, there's at least one fundamental thematic similarity: it doesn't pander to those who have pre-existing expectations. I'd be the last person to blame Carly for wanting to ditch the kind of El Lay/Noo Yawk formula soft rock that dominated radio in the 70s...her own hits included.
In any case, the strength of her writing and performances are similar to past efforts. The enhanced percussion and synthesized trappings can't hide the fact that this is the same sensitive, observant and thoughtful Carly Simon who recorded "Anticipation." Several tracks ("Jesse," "James," "The Desert") are reminiscent of earlier songs, and could well have appeared on previous albums with slightly different arrangements. The hard-rocking edge of "Stardust" and "In Pain" is a bit of an eye-opener, though. Unfortunately, the latter track is too big a vocal stretch, and Carly hasn't sounded this 'squawky' since "Playing Possum."
Some highlights: the unrelenting melodic hooks of "Come Upstairs," the romantic dilemma of "The Three Of Us In The Dark," and the pedal-to-the-metal emotional joyride of "Take Me As I Am." Even the tongue in cheek paranoia of "Them" is an enjoyable listen.
Though "Come Upstairs" may look like a one-off novelty on the surface, you don't have to dig far to find Carly...hard at work and enjoying a new fashion in the process.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2000
I was so excited in the summer of 1980 when this was released. There was no warning, one hot summer afternoon I heard this great dance song, and to my amazement it was Carly singing "Come Upstairs"! I thought it was the greatest song ever. Later, radio started playing "Jesse" and it was a huge hit. It made it to the top 5 over here on the west coast. "Jesse" was considered a "Carly" song, "James" too. I was so proud of her for trying something different, and watched the charts that summer, the album stuck around in Rolling Stones LP chart for about 6 months. "In Pain" was a favorite at the beginning, but she really sounded "in pain" while she screamed the title. Was "The Three of Us In the Dark" really about her, John Travolta, & James? It sounded like a Dire Straits song (COOL!) "Take Me As I Am" was the second single, but it didn't go anywhere, it was a good song too. "The Desert" is still one of my favorite songs. She deserves a LOT of credit, and this album is really good.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2008
I've had this CD for awhile but have been waiting to comment on it for a few reasons, mainly I was hoping I would end up liking it the more I hear it. Luckily, for me, it has grown on me quite a bit, so here we are to talk about Carly's toe dip into the new wave circa 1980.
Everyone who was everyone was making a pseudo new wave album in the early 80s; Billy Joel had Glass Houses, Linda Ronstadt had Mad Love and Carly had Come Upstairs. They all scored top ten hits with both the singles and the albums released; Carly found her way back to the charts after a lenghty absence with "Jesse" pulled from this album which was always one of my favorite songs from when I was a wee tyke.
The album opens with the title cut, a guitar riffing keyboard laden song which has Carly at her usual sexual shenanigans not really wanting to be with the guy but figuring what the hell, she'll give him some fire and she'll give him some wood; that is probably my favorite part of the song.
There's a strange little foray into the new wave with "Them" - I get the impression she is singing about men but you can't be sure, we just know she doesn't know what to about them and hopes to get help from the people she's singing to. I thought it was totally ridiculous but as is usually the case, it's now one of my favorite tracks on the album. I
n fact, that seems to be my whole Carly thing, I'll get an album full of high expectations only to be intially let down and then have it turn around and bite me on the tuchus a few weeks later.
Perhaps she's not everyone's cup of tea, but the more I hear Carly's idosyncracies the more I fall in love with her. Perhaps she'll read this and invite me to Martha's Vineyard for the summer. Or get me a job working with her family at Simon & Shuster... or maybe she'll just sick "Them" on me.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
I'm sure I'm not alone in admitting that "You're So Vain" is my absolute favorite Carly Simon song of all time. How she had the balls to say "You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive" and get a #1 hit is nothing short of amazing. And time and time again, Carly has proven herself as a role model for the independent woman, even during her stormy marriage to fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor. By 1980, both Simon & Taylor were experiencing a bit of a downturn in their careers. But while Taylor pretty much stayed the same (and has even now), Carly decided to shake things up a bit by going new wave for her album COME UPSTAIRS. The result was the first album of hers you could dance to. The disco era was on its last legs, but dancing never went out of style and COME UPSTAIRS was and still remains a great soundtrack to kick up your heels. Songs like this include the sensual title track, the angry, syncopated rhythms of "Them" and my second favorite Carly Simon song "Jesse", which was her biggest self-penned hit since "You're So Vain" (her last big hit was the James Bond theme "Nobody Does It Better"). Vocally, Carly was at her most energetic in ages, and there are times when you can almost see the snarl in her famously-large lips. With female rockers like Pat Benatar coming into their own, Carly seemed to acknowledge that with hard rockers like "In Pain" (next to "Jesse", this is Carly's most impressive performance on COME UPSTAIRS) and "Stardust" (not a cover of the Hoagy Carmichael classic, although an album of covers was next on the agenda for Carly). But COME UPSTAIRS isn't a total rock-out for Carly. There are still some ballads that have always been the best way to hear Carly's voice. "James" was her plea for understanding to James Taylor as their marriage was beginning to crumble. You almost wish they'd have reconciled by her performance on here. Carly's lyrics have always had their air of mystery about them (the subject of "You're So Vain" is still a puzzle today), but whether or not Carly's inviting a threesome with "The Three Of Us In The Dark", she makes the proposition sound so enticing. With that song alone, it was clear that COME UPSTAIRS was both a commercial and creative revitalization for Carly Simon who had seemed on the verge of "where are they now?" status with the commercial failure of her last few albums (1978's BOYS IN THE TREES had "You Belong To Me" as a top 10 hit, but even that was not among her finest compositions). But the singer-songwriter movement was nearing its end by the dawn of the 1980s, and artists like Carly Simon and James Taylor had to settle for occasional glimmers of widespread success while basically continuing to make music for their own benefit. However, COME UPSTAIRS shows that Carly could have easily remained in the front rank of rock stardom had things gone her way.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
Released in 1980, "Come Upstairs" hit #36. When this was released new wave was hitting at full blast, this is Carly's take on the venture in the marketplace. The title track is quite engaging, this song was a club hit, and the lyrics and synths are something. "Stardust", with James Taylor on vocals. The new wavy "Them", with Laraine Newman of SNL fame on the US vocals and Alex Taylor,Hugh Taylor and James Taylor on the Them vocals, a fun little song. "Jesse", a big hit off the album #11, didn't really care for it in 1980, but I like it now. "James", written about her husband at the time James Taylor, a fine ballad on the album, good cello by Jerry Grossman.
The rock of "In Pain", great guitar by Sid McGinnis, Carly's vocals are great here. "The Three Of Us In The Dark", a great little tune, Sid's guitar is the right atmosphere on this track, Carly what went on that night?.
"Take Me As I Am", released as a single but went nowhere, very upbeat song, new wave sounding. "The Desert", a fine little piece, great fretless bass by Tony Levin. It's too bad Carly never ventured into this type of music some more, this was her best since "No Secrets" (MHO).
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2000
A pop precurser to Sinead O'Connor and PJ Harvey, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love the music, a great, cheesy, early 80's disco/new wave/pop mixture, but the strength for me is in the lyrics. The music is a populist vehicle for a very private expression, a document wrested from the heart of a woman struggling with contradictory desires. I first heard as a 5 year old - driving up to the country past feilds rushing by - and my newly divorced mom put this album in the Volkswagon rabbit's cassette deck. The songs became interwoven with the way I see my mother and the struggles and complexity of that whole generation of women coming into their newfound independance. "Come Upstairs" is an unabashed come-on popsong still unmatched in its expression of real female desire, not prancing around like a teenager in your underwear, but full-on adult desire. "Them" is a intense growl from deep within the reptilian soul of women's fear, hatred and confusion over men (how many times has a pop singer broached that topic?) "James" is one of the most beautiful love a songs a woman has ever written to man, objectifying her lover while mantaining intimacy with him - wrapping a sinewous melody around the paradox of their differences and similarities. "Pain", "Take me as I am" and "Jesse" are rokcin and heartbreaking songs of a woman's need to be accepted and loved for her inner self, struggling with lovers who discount them. All of the songs are rare gems of universal narratives, filled with raw energy and passion.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2008
What else can I say, this is a great album from a great artist. It's clear from the start of the album that it's unlike Carly's earlier music, more hard rock, edgier. But the Carly quality remains the same. Jesse is a masterpiece, a wisper of You're So Vain. In Pain has a sound all it's own, and I love it. Stardust is a fun one. The Three Of Us In The Dark and Take Me As I Am are also outstanding! This album is far too underrated, from the time of it's release, to present day. It's a must have for Carly's followers, or for classic rock lovers. Fast and fun all the way through!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2003
"Come Upstairs" reeks of the divorce-induced depression that Carly seemed to experience during and after her split from James Taylor. This is one of my favourites though, in that it's memorable and interesting melodically.
The most memorable song on this album was the Top 20 hit "Jesse", reminiscent of 60's pop/rock. It's sensitive and tailor-made for radio airplay and stands the test of time. Its b-side, "Stardust", seems like a weird commentary on the ups and downs of stardom, the weird key changes seeming to suggest delusion with fame. It's one of my favourites, even though the music borders on arrogant rock. "Come Upstairs", "Them", and "Take Me As I Am" are all fast-paced numbers. The title track suggests a semi-sleazy one night stand, "Them" is a creative, slightly robotic, edgy feminist anthem, and "Take Me As I Am" is a song with an edge but without sounding harsh or mean. "In Pain" screams and whimpers for over 6 minutes and is extremely effective in its lyrical content. It says what many pained people are thinking but without sounding innappropriately poetic or unreal. "The Three Of Us In The Dark", actually more about thinking about someone else while being with a lover than about a threesome, is another dark song with a memorable and pleasing harmony in the chorus. "The Desert" is eerie and humbling lyrically, but with a sort of pretentious melody.
At only 9 songs, this album is a little short in duration, but still works cohesively in the end. However, I would only recommend this for people wanting to get to know Carly Simon beyond her biggest hit songs.
on June 29, 2011
This feels like a transitional album (after "Spy" and before "Torch," I think)...Carly Simon never returned to this kind of new wave music and maybe that's okay. It wasn't a great fit. HOWEVER, as an exploratory, inventive record "Come Upstairs" is really engaging. On the title track Carly Simon foregoes romance altogether and celebrates sex. I love the tongue-in-cheek lyrics ("You'll want to knock on some wood/Well, I'll give you some wood") and the abandon in her voice. She makes no apologies for singing such a stereotypical male song, and the aggressive, driving music is perfect. "Jesse," "James," and "Take Me As I Am" all benefit from the stripped-down approach (her voice is almost flat in places, capturing the anger behind these songs). I even like "Them" with its men-as-aliens theme, although the relentless synthesizers are everything I hated about most 80s music. And I really, really appreciate the fact that there are no children's choruses or anthems on this album. No one can pull these off, nor should they try.
The only songs that don't fly, for me, are "The Desert" and "In Pain." The first song is an idea that needs to be fleshed out (it's a song about nothing, it seems, but there should be more to it) and the second is bombastic (although I like the lyrics...I'd like to hear her sing it with the quiet intensity the song deserves).
Still, I think Carly Simon is vastly underrated, and this album has many of her virtues. It's witty, thoughtful, surprising, and starkly honest. She avoids cliche and has an artist's heart. Carly Simon would never write a song called "An Artist's Heart." Thank god for that.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2000
In 1980,everyone had a Punk Rock Record,this was Carly's.When I first heard,"Come up Stairs,"It really got me rocking."Jessie," the first single released from the album,and Carly's last top ten hit,is great.I read in a interview that Carly's Mother hated this song,and it bothered Carly alot.The second song released from the album was,"Take me as I am." It did chart in Billboard,but not to high.I think "The Three of us in the Dark," would have been a great second single.Who says Madonna was the first to have X rated songs.This one's very sexy.The song,"James," about JT is one of the best on the record.Everyone loved this song the most,but its not that long.I was on stage with Carly at the Stanley Theather in Pittsburgh Pa. when she was touring with the album.You can see picture's I took of Carly that night at my web-site on my members page.She asked if some of us would come up on stage to help her with the stage fright she was having that night. It was the greatest night for me,but the worst for Carly. This album finally came out on CD two years ago.I cherish this with all my other Carly CD's.