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Official Review [Album]: "PASSAGE" (SP-4703)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Aug 6, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    7 vote(s)
    9.5%
  2. ****

    37 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. ***

    26 vote(s)
    35.1%
  4. **

    4 vote(s)
    5.4%
  5. *

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    From all the comments/discussions I've ever read about the poor sound of Passage, I don't think I've ever seen a reply that satisfactorily answers the question: why?

    The one thing we are all clear on is that it's definitely sub par compared to other albums. I guess the only person who can answer that question is Richard himself and he'd probably claim he doesn't hear anything wrong, just as he did regarding the mix of Karen's vocals on Made In America. If he did hear anything wrong with the mastering, I'm sure he'd have corrected it by now on one of the many re-issues.
     
  2. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    As I've always said, I think it came down to the gear and types of mixing techniques that were being used at the time. Again, this album was an experimental one of sorts, with even more overdubbing and track sharing than what was done previously. Any time that was done, especially with the limit of 24 tracks (which was considered a LOT back then), you have a whole lot of sub-mixing going on in that master. Once a bunch of instrumentation, vocals or what have you get locked into a single track, then the ability to go 'stereo' and/or have any EQ separation goes right out the window. As more of these sub-mixes get added to the master, the less air you have in the final mix.

    I'm sure at the time this all made sense. But heck, listen to a lot of masters that were created back in the late 70s and you're gonna hear a lot of this sort of thing. It also probably didn't help that Richard wasn't exactly on top of his game during that period with all due respect. And the fact that he hasn't had a reason to go back and remix most of this stuff pretty much explains why it is still out there 'as-is'.

    Remastering can do a little (and in some cases actually quite a bit) in terms of brightening up EQ, adding some more compression and punch, as @Harry has stated with regard to the early A&M CD. Much past that, it pretty much just "is what it is" as far as the stuffiness is concerned on a few of those mixes.
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  3. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    I am now "obsessing" about All You Get From Love Is A Love Song and how it did not chart higher than it did. The song had "hit single" written all over it IMHO. If released one or perhaps two years earlier, I believe it would have made at least the top ten, if not the top spot. It is a perfect summer song, not unlike the top song for 1975 Love Will Keep Us Together and I think it could've been a hit in 1976 as well. But by 1977, "disco" was firmly entrenched. The timing was just off. What if this gem could have been inserted into either the Horizon or Hush albums? It certainly would've brightened-up the overall "seriousness" of Horizon. Swap out Solitaire, which in retrospect, shouldn't have been a single, with AYGFLIALS! But to only reach #35? Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda...what might have been...
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  4. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    As I remember, it says on the inside of the LP that they were wanting a "live" feel. So they played it in the studio "live" and had piped into the board as they played. My guess is that some instruments may have been tracked at different time, but it is not clear. I wish they would have recorded it as usual.

    All You Get From Love is as good as any song, it just not better.
     
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    So....I have been listening to Vinyl LP's today--Passage--that is.
    As I have yet to move on to CD's, I am unable to offer comparison of sonics.
    I'll listen to the cassette tape, also. (we all remember those, right !).
    My God....Karen's reading on I Just Fall In Love Again (vinyl),which just now is playing,
    is utterly fantastic. (By the way, this is the Japanese pressing of the LP).
    But, I digress....B'Wana She No Home is great as an opening for the album;
    creative and imaginative. The congas, played by Jerry Steinholtz, clear as a bell; the electric piano,
    played by Larry Muhoberac and Tom Scott's alto flute all combine to a fantastic wall-of-sound.
    (Now, if only the congas on I Believe You--played by Jerry, again-- were as prescient on MIA.)
    Well, I am biased--I really do love this album.
     
  6. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    To be quite honest, aside from all of the nitpicking with the mix, B'wana is actually my favorite tune on the entire album!
     
  7. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Me too- by far, actually!
     
    Carpe diem and Chris May like this.
  8. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    Thanks fellas... all this discussion inspired me to revisit "Passage" today. Mmmm, that "B'wana" is sweet! I rediscovered my initial attraction to it. :)
     
    Carpe diem likes this.
  9. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    And Bwana makes a great ringtone.
     
    Carpe diem likes this.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    B'Wana She No Home,
    Unique in another way.....
    ......Vocal arrangement by Gene Perling.....
     
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  11. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Gene Puerling of the Hi-Lo's and Singers Unlimited. Best vocal arranger who ever lived.
     
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Easily. Just wish it sounded better. I've got an original CD coming so I can hear if it's better.
     
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Mine too, which is why I've got such a gripe about the sound lol
     
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  14. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Agreed. The fact that it sounds as bad as it does is a legitimate complaint. I'm with you totally. "All You Get..." sounds far better. In fact, I think everything does. It's just that one tune that sounds annoyingly "muddy".

    Ed
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  15. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    [​IMG] This CD sounds crystal clear, only complaint is B'wana She No Home sounds as if it was recorded in mono.
     
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I think that's one of the issues with it, everything sounds centred, there's nothing dynamic about the sound. This is probably explained by what Chris May said earlier about various tracks being rolled up into sub-mixes and bounced onto one track: there's little you can do once that's happened.
     
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The Disc 4 from the Japan Sweet Memory Set sounds incredibly good on B'Wana.....
    Perhaps others can affirm this for me (my ears are not what they used to be !).....
     
  18. The SWEET MEMORY version is just slightly brighter (hardly at all) than the Remastered CD and other duller versions. The A&M CD has the most brightness about it - again, not tons, but there's an airiness around it that opens it up just a little bit. For sure, all versions are mired in mono-ness as that's the way it was mixed.
     
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I wonder if there are still copies of the original session tapes that Richard would be able to use to maybe create a whole new stereo version of Passage, just like he did with Christmas Portrait. We know that he has made attempts on Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft to, since 1989, create a more FM Stereo mix rather than a mono mix that was suitable for AM radio, and there is that 5.1 surround mix of Occupants out there, so in at least 2004 he had access to the original or at the very least digital copies of the original multi-session tapes.

    But I guess with Passage, especially the Remastered CD version, the idea of that project was to go back to the original LP mixes and EQ's, and I recall reading not to long ago that, even to this day, there are some groups (like The Mama's & The Papa's) where all that exists are the stereo album masters that were made back in the 60's and 70's, years before the CD even came out, and because those masters were EQ'd for vinyl, any CD release, either because the original multi-track masters could not be found or were known to have been thrown out, do not sound that great on CD. This may be what has happened with Passage, especially since Passage is in that later section of albums (with the exception of Christmas Portrait) where there have maybe only been 1 oe 2 or 3 songs that have had any sort of remix (whether it be for the 45 or because Richard didn't like synths, or the song was included on the 2004 SACD), otherwise, as for maybe Made In America, Voice Of The Heart, An Old-Fashioned Christmas & Lovelines the final master was recorded on a Sony PCM1600, which came out in 1978 and recorded digital information onto 3/4-inch U-matic, allowing for the vinyl masters to be made from digital sources, and as such Richard has not had the need to go back and remix those later albums to sound fine on CD (as we can hear on the Treasures collection from Japan where Richard clearly mentions that on digital CD certain things were noticeable). Even though Passage might exist on just analog masters, Richard might think that it sounds fine, and even for the Remastered sessions, aside from returning Occupants to it's pre-1989 version, Richard had no need to touch the original Passage master.
     
  20. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Horizon(1975) sounds great on CD, A Kind Of Hush(1976) sounds bad on CD, and Passage(1977) sounds average. Unexpected that after Horizon the following two studio albums appear to sound inferior on CD. Can anyone remember if that was the case when the albums were released on vinyl?
     
  21. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    In my opinion, "A Kind of Hush" doesn't sound bad at all on CD. "Passage" doesn't either except for "B'wana". What don't you like about the sound of the "AKOH" CD?
     
  22. There's a gritty sound to A KIND OF HUSH, most noticeable on the title track. Put on some good headphones and be surprised...
     
  23. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Yes, and that album has a lot of sloppy edit points throughout (punches, splicing etc). I never could understand what happened from '75 with Horizon, to Hush in '76 with regard to the sonic quality of the two albums side by side. You also begin to hear similarities with a lot of the mixing from Hush on thru Portrait.
     
  24. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    If Horizon could sound that amazing recorded in 1975, it doesn't make sense that the following two albums A Kind Of Hush and Passage compared to Horizon, sound inferior to an album that was recorded earlier.
     
  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    With Portrait, I wonder if some of the sonic problems with the original vinyl was caused by the amont of material that was placed on the LP. When I compare the bands on the disc with other Carpenters vinyl, the only other album that comes close is Old-Fashioned Christmas, in having the grooves so close together. Otherwise, when I compare the German CD and the tracks form Special Edition, on CD they sound much cleaner and not as compressed. I guess one analogy could be that the Carpenters released their non-seasonal albums on VHS in SP speed, but their Christmas albums were released on VHS in SLP/EP.
     

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