Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity


  • Kim Carnes makes her site debut here with this superb copy of her 1981 release, Mistaken Identity
  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The immediacy of the vocals is striking, putting a living, breathing Kim Carnes right between your speakers
  • Bette Davis Eyes was the biggest selling single of 1981, but you can be sure no one until now has ever heard it sound as good as it does on this very LP
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 stars, Grammy Nomination for Album of the Year – the Big As Life Rock Sound Val Garay’s engineering and production achieved with this album surely deserve much of the credit

This vintage EMI pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.).

Hot Stamper sound is rarely about the details of a given recording. In the case of this album, more than anything else a Hot Stamper must succeed at recreating a solid, palpable, real Kim Carnes singing live in your listening room. The better copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years can serve as a guide.

What the best sides of Mistaken Identity have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1981
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Mistaken Identity

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.


Side One

Bette Davis Eyes
Hit and Run
Mistaken Identity
When I’m Away from You
Draw of the Cards

Side Two

Break the Rules Tonight (Out of School)
Still Hold On
Don’t Call It Love
Miss You Tonight
My Old Pals

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Mistaken Identity should have established Kim Carnes as a huge international star. Her Rod Stewart rasp, affiliation with Kenny Rogers, management by Ken Kragen when he was arguably at his peak, makes one wonder why the across-the-board success of “Bette Davis Eyes” couldn’t be duplicated.

Three years after the success of this album, Tina Turner actually did conquer the world, the various producers on Private Dancer weaving enough different textures to make for a multi-dimensional masterpiece. Too many cooks made for wonderful stew.

Val Garay certainly did a good job on Mistaken Identity, more defined than his work with Marty Balin on the Lucky album a year after this, an album which, for that great artist, wasn’t very…lucky. It’s not that the other Donna Weiss/Jackie DeShannon tune, “Hit and Run,” which follows “Bette Davis Eyes,” doesn’t have a good performance; it does. The problem with the Mistaken Identity album is that everything on it stands in the shadows of a masterpiece.

The country risqué of the Jackie DeShannon original from New Arrangement has as extraordinary a re-working as Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll” got from Bob Ezrin when Mitch Ryder got to make it his underground anthem. Carnes is just brilliant on her solo composition, “Mistaken Identity,” and it is subtle and smart enough to have crossed over to adult contemporary and jazz formats.

Frankie Miller’s “When I’m Away From You” sounds like Rod Stewart doing “True Blue” — those upfront snare drums and a hook as strong as an undertow. Perhaps this should have been the follow-up to “Bette Davis Eyes” rather than “Draw of the Cards,” which followed and lingered around the Top 30. Not a place to be for the follow-up to a monster smash.

This is an evolution from her work on A&M, and certainly far removed from the New Christy Minstrels. The album comes with photographs galore on the innersleeve, all the lyrics, and tons of credits. Her first hit on EMI about ten months earlier was the fantastic reworking of “More Love,” and that elegant pop gem was the type of thing needed to propel this to the status Private Dancer attained for Turner, that Physical garnered for Olivia Newton-John. “Draw of the Cards” plays like a mellow dance number, aimed at a new wave audience when — well, face it, her biggest smash before “Bette Davis Eyes” was the mellow “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer.”

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