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Official Review [Album]: "MADE IN AMERICA" (SP-3723)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 1, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    9 vote(s)
    13.2%
  2. ****

    13 vote(s)
    19.1%
  3. ***

    26 vote(s)
    38.2%
  4. **

    18 vote(s)
    26.5%
  5. *

    2 vote(s)
    2.9%
  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Ullalume, I learned something new.
    I did not know that Karen had stated it as her favorite from Made In America.
    Interesting. She was a complex, interesting, personality.
    Her musical tastes ran the entire gamut, much more expansive than most
    of the public would surmise.
     
  2. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I think if Karen was nothing else she was a sentimentalist. The interview in which she offered the above info was in Brazil Nov '81. . .at a time when her marriage was close to destroyed. She obviously clung to the "empty" hope embodied in that song. . . a hope that was pretty much dashed even as she sang that song back in August '80. Tragic, really.
     
  3. FreddieB

    FreddieB Member

    I must admit that I really love this album. I think this is my favourite next to 'Horizon'. The only track I don't like is 'Because we are in love'. I am pretty much a folky-rock guy/musician, so there are a lot of moments on this record for me to enjoy. I have actually cried while listening to 'Strength of a Woman' and 'When it's Gone', Karen just breaks my heart, because I can just feel her pain coming through the Hi-Fi speakers. I have always loved her as I can relate to her personality. Her voice just aches even on 'Touch me', to me that is the Karen I feel in love with in the early 70's.
     
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  4. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    "When It's Gone" is so powerful, I agree FreddieB. And I wanted "Strength Of A Woman" to be the second single.
     
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  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Count me in as one who really likes "Strength" as well! I think Karen sounds as good on this as on "Touch Me". Great arrangement too.
     
    Jamesj75, GaryAlan and aaflyer98 like this.
  6. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    "When it's Gone" is on my top 5 of all their tracks.
     
  7. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    My top 3 favorites from MIA have always been 'Back In My Life Again', 'Strength Of A Woman' and 'Touch Me When We're Dancing'. Those songs remain favorites to this day, even though Karen's voice wasn't mixed loudly enough.
     
    aaflyer98 likes this.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I listened to this track for the first time in probably a year or two and was still blown away by its beauty. Richard nailed it when he said the track was 'an arranger's dream'. The arrangement is so rich and detailed and Karen's vocal is stunning.
     
    byline, aaflyer98 and GaryAlan like this.
  9. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I love love love this song, the lyrics are timeless and love the way Karen sings this...."where's the face in the locket"...where's the method to this madness....where's the color on the stain where the tears have fallen" Wow, I always loved these lyrics, it's like a storybook of heartbreak....perfect for Karen's vocal bringing the listener into her world.
     
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  10. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    "Strength" was first recorded by R&B singer Eloise Laws on her 1980 debut album.K&R probably first heard it on Eloise' album-and their version retains much of the R&B influence. Karen sounds very natural in this type of setting-and,I do agree,great arrangement.
     
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  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that info, I'd never heard of this version. Here it is:



    The arrangement is much busier and the verses are nothing like the Carpenters' version. In the choruses however, I can hear where they got the R&B/soul influence from and I see now why Richard added the extra vocalists that he did.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2014
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the heads-up on the Eloise Laws' Strength of A Woman.
    The song is one of the best on the Made In America album.
    And, of course, Carpenters' version is far superior (to my ears, although the original is fine).

    I (re)listened to the entire Made In America album (SHM-CD from 40th Box) last night.
    Little has changed in my over-all impression of the album in all these years (1981 to 2014).
    I do believe the drums on (Want You) Back In My Life Again are too voluminous (Ron Tutt, I believe drumming).
    Karen's vocals are almost trampled upon with the drum-beat in that song (although, I do like the tune).
    Compare this to the songs where Larrie Londin is drumming (i.e., Touch Me When We're Dancing).
    But, especially, I wanted to really get into Those Good Old Dreams. (One of my favorites)
    I played it in conjunction with the other Carpenter-Bettis tune, Because We Are In Love (One of my least favorites).
    Does any one have a timeline regarding when these two songs were composed? (The same month?)


     
    byline likes this.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Because We Are In Love was a rush job for Karen's wedding, so most likely composed in August 1980. I would hazard a guess that Those Good Old Dreams was composed sometime in early/mid 1980, because it was written by Richard and John specifically for the upcoming album.

    Karen's wedding plans aside, it's still amazing that they started recording sessions around May 1980 for this album and it didn't get released until June 1981.
     
  14. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    In the Essential Collection, which is chronological, Dreams is the last track listed from MIA, after The Wedding Song which was tracked the last couple of days of August. So TGOD was recorded either Sept, Oct, or Nov of '80. I think "Your Baby. . ." was the last song recorded for the album in Nov.
     
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    In the A&M Compendium, 1975 interview, Richard Carpenter expressed his thoughts regarding his choice of singles and how
    he wanted even the album cuts to be ultimately single-worthy.
    His concern, expressed at that time, was that your last 3-minutes, meaning the last charted single, was generally
    how a musical group is remembered by the record-buying public.
    So, given the above sentiments,
    how is it that "Beechwood 4-5789" would be issued as the fourth, and last, single from Made in America, March 1982 ?

    Recently, the metaphor was put forth that: " Karen, although a great race-car driver, was put into a bad car."---this, in
    reference to her solo work. (Good grief, Karen Chose the songs she wanted to record).

    Well, then, where does that metaphor fit , if pressed into service ,regarding the Made In America venture?
    I apologize for running this through the ringer, but it seems to me that there is a double standard.
    If anyone else was in the driver's seat, it's considered a bad deal--a bad car.
    If the status quo remained, no matter what was turned out, it was deemed releasable.
    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    1974,1978,1979,1980.....there could have been an album of "American Standards" recorded to Highlight
    and emphasize that Generational Voice, the 'basement' vocals, if you will.
    A&M Records, and all of those folks who knew that that was THE money voice ("the money's in the basement")
    could have steered things in that direction.
    No choirs, no instrumental filler, no Carpettes,
    Just Karen Carpenter.
     
    Don Malcolm, A&M Retro and djn like this.
  16. djn

    djn Well-Known Member

    You GO Gary!!! You're so good at digging facts n quotes n stuff like that there.
     
  17. byline

    byline Active Member

    True, but I think if we look at why Karen chose the songs she did, the analogy is still apt. Karen's primary focus seemed to be on changing her image. No one had any idea that her time on earth was so limited. I think if they had, then everyone – Karen included – would have made different choices. She was choosing material based on her desires at that point in her life. But a lot of that, I will always believe, was subjective, based on what her emotional needs were at the time. This was as close as she got to rebellion, and it was reflected in her choice of material. She probably thought of it as reflecting a fixed point in time, and not as something that would be definitive. But if she knew this was to be her one and only shot at a solo album, then – just as Richard insists he would not have had her recording "Beechwood" and other oldies – I think it highly likely that she would have chosen very different material.
     
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  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    All salient points, Byline.
    Maybe I am the only one, but, let me say that after I had seen photos of Karen Carpenter,
    back in 1981, and between 1976 to 1980 on Television, it occurred to me that something was
    terribly, physically amiss.
    Those in her immediate circle of family and friends (and business associates) knew even more, and
    wasn't it Harold Carpenter who voiced the concern that he felt Karen was not going to be around much longer?
    Didn't Jerry Weintraub express the same sentiments?
    In other words, to the extent that Karen had battled this disease, the terrible toll it was taking had to have been evident.
    Many expressed concern for Karen's health, and I am of the opinion (be it right or wrong) that
    they feared for her life.
    Richard stated that she was unable, in 1982, to listen to vocal playbacks (in studio) without retiring to the sofa for rest.
    It just seems to me that they were aware of how very ill she was.
    Richard's commentary on the 40th DVD pertaining to the three videos shot in one day (June 1981 : Touch Me, Beechwood, Good Old Dreams)
    is such that he says: "..they are difficult for him to watch, because she is so ill".
    Sadly enough, that did not prevent them, at that time, from filming those videos anyway.

    Oops, I apologize for the rambling,
    I need to simply close with the (opinionated) viewpoint that:
    Karen would have chosen these song regardless,
    and, Richard's choices for Carpenters' recordings would have been
    chosen regardless.
    Only with the benefit of ( tragic) hindsight can we say otherwise for either of them.






     
  19. byline

    byline Active Member

    All excellent points, Gary. You know, I think everyone in Karen's immediate circle was worried about her health. But I don't think anyone really believed she would die (and this is why they say, "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt"). I believe everyone thought Karen would hit her lowest possible point, some sort of acute crisis from which she would be saved, and then it would be at that point when she would wake up and fully understand the gravity of her situation ... and then seek a real, lasting recovery. Richard said as much when he talked about his reaction to his mother's phone call, after Karen had collapsed upstairs at their parents' home. His immediate thought was, "OK, now maybe this is what it takes for her to finally get well." (I'm paraphrasing.) It was only after arriving at the hospital that he discovered it was much too late for that. I suspect that was how everyone felt. Up until that time, there were no documented deaths from anorexia nervosa, so I really believe that everyone was holding out hope for a full recovery. They knew that Karen was frail, but I don't think anyone fully comprehended just how near death she was. The near-misses that Itchy talked about were just that. I think each time, everyone felt Karen had dodged a bullet, and there was still a chance to move on and get better. Hope is a good thing, but when it works in tandem with denial it can be a real liar.
     
  20. cam89

    cam89 Active Member

    Yes, I had too read that Karen shot those videos all three on the same day, but I always wonder about the three different hairstyles she wore, if it all was in one day. In Beechwood it is short and kinda curled under....in Touch Me, it is like a frizzy perm. And in Those Good Old Dreams....it looks like the hairstyle she wore when she sang in the outside telethon on the A&M lot.....unless she was wearing a wig for the Beechwood video. In Touch Me, she does not look her best.....
     
  21. Maybe this is exactly the problem with the solo album. Perhaps the focus should have been on creating a quality timeless album with material fitting the greatest singer of a generation.

    Just sayin'...
     
  22. djn

    djn Well-Known Member

    My head hurts...
     
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    With some chagrin I note that the Coleman Biography speaks in such glowing terms about this album ,
    and dismisses Karen's solo album.
    Ray Coleman, and Richard Carpenter, speaks to Karen's deteriorating health during the solo sessions,
    but fail to discuss her appearance when promoting Made In America (look at the Brazil 1981 Performances,
    especially the lip-synched Medley).
    Richard was too ill to accompany his sister in December 1978 for Karen's Awesome Forsythe British Performance
    to promote Singles 1974-1978 LP,
    but, then, despite her condition, they are going through the motions lip-synching in Brazil
    to promote Made In America.
    Please, what is happening here?
     
  24. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    This is because Richard had complete editorial control over the Coleman book - it's natural that it fawns over Made In America and is disdainful of Karen's solo LP, because that's exactly how Richard felt about both albums. Made In America is one of his favourites of their catalogue. Which is why I take much of the Coleman book with a pinch of salt.
     
  25. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure whether it's written in the DVD liner notes or not but those videos were not shot all on the same day. Karen's appearance (including her hairstyle) is different in each one. In 'Those Good Old Dreams' she's sporting a deep suntan (which she doesn't have in the other two) and I think in the Beechwood video she actually looks much better than she does in the promo clip of 'Touch Me When We're Dancing'.
     

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