Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Aug 6, 2013.
And kudos to Richard to giving over the reins as it were. His vocal flourishes fit in perfectly.
I, too, think that "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" was a good choice for a single. The single edit is brilliant. The album version is a tedious listen with the only added draw being the DJ / alien spot at the beginning. I would say that this song did garner more fans for Carpenters in 1977 / 78. It was the change in direction that they needed, to make a new set of people sit up and pay attention. People who hadn't been attracted to their usual ballad output were drawn to the fun and novelty of "Calling Occupants". In territories like Japan, Australia, Canada, the U.K. and Ireland, where the single and / or the album were big hits, the change in direction did have a positive influence on the way the public perceived Karen and Richard, and this made a difference. In Australia, "Calling Occupants" was Carpenters' second-longest staying single ever on the charts, behind "Close to You", (seven months, trailing eight months), and was their eighth-highest peaking single out of 23 chart entries. Of the studio albums in Australia, four stayed on the charts longer than "Passage", which had a ride of four and a half months. In my state, "Passage" neared the Top 10, peaking at Number 11, although its national peak was not high. I only ever heard my school mates talk positively of "Calling Occupants" and "Please Mr. Postman", the two more 'fun' singles. Any other comments about Carpenters were derisive, except for comments by one girl my age, who said that Karen was a good drummer and borrowed my poorly-copied Carpenters tapes. (There was no way I was going to lend her my records!)
I just tried the same experiment. B'Wana is MONO on the 80's CD. I also tested the 2001 reissue of the Beach Boys "Today/Summer Days" CD (both originals albums are mono, only select bonus tracks are stereo) and got the same result on 'Dance Dance Dance) album version, but the Alternate take, which was listed in stereo, gave me stereo sound.
Since you are obviously convinced, then we'll accept your assertion that you have an ultra-rare CD in your possession. Take good care of it. Maybe it will be worth a fortune someday.
I just remembered that I read somewhere years ago, (the fan club newsletters, maybe), that a local TV station had filmed the recording of 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina' for a news bulletin. I've never seen this footage on YouTube or anywhere else. Has anybody else?
Before the release of Passage, I also remember reading in an Australian women's magazine, ("Women's Weekly", maybe), a snippet in the entertainment section that said something like, "The Carpenters have been recording a new album with the help of a one hundred-piece orchestra and a fifty-voice choir. God knows, they need it!" However, when the album was released, the public's response seemed to be much more positive, especially after "Calling Occupants" became a hit.
What we all agree on is that it just doesn't sound good on the album...and it's the only thing on the album that doesn't sound good. I was listening to "All You Get..." and "Calling Occupants..." and both sound great. They have a lot of space in them and they really tickle the ear drums. Whoever did the original mastering should have done a better job of making the 1st track sound at least somewhere in the neighborhood. I spent about 15 minutes (if that) on "B'wana" myself and, in my humble opinion, it sounds better. I didn't even have the tape or high-res digital transfers to work with. I was working with the 16-bit "Remastered Classics" pressing. I'm going to try the same thing with the LP and see what I can do with it.
This is kind of a fun experiment. It almost sounds ounds like the song on the CD is completely unmastered.
Well there are a number of well known albums out there that sound terrible on CD because they are mastered from tapes that were mastered for vinyl, whereas CD's are able to handle stereo bass a lot better. As I linked to in another post, vinyl needs the bass to be in mono, otherwise you get the needle jumping all over the grooves, most likely damaging the record. And considering just how many drums and bass lines you hear in B'Wana (including the bass vocals), I have to wonder did they make a mono master in 77 after finding that test pressings were causing the needle to jump out of the groove and damage the recording. And now that is the master that is being used for all outings of the song, and the only thing that will help make the song better on CD is for Richard to do a brand-new remix and just go back to the original multi-track masters (or the digital copies) and rebuild the song from the ground-up for stereo.
Well, the master isn't mono because my CD and LP aren't. That I can assure you. I've mastered albums (my occupation) from EQ-limited tapes where parts of some tracks were mono'd for the very reason you specify. There's no way out of it once the ¼ inch ½ track has been messed with. The stereo image on my CD and LP are greatly collapsed.
My only guess that is that he can't fix the tune due to sub-mixing. We can be reasonably sure that the strings were sub-mixed because there'd be no room for anything else if they weren't. Depending on the number of vocals (Gene Puerling was known not to skimp on them if he was going for a sound), those may have been sub-mixed as well. The rhythm section likely isn't but if Richard needed the room for vocals, he may have sub-mixed them too. Hard to know unless he tells us.
Sorry - not buying this.
Millions - yes millions of record albums were sold in the 1960s - in stereo - with this track on it:
The bass and kick drum are pure left channel (as they are on 90% of the old Tijuana Brass recordings), and to my knowledge, no-one was returning them as defective because their "needle" (I call it a stylus) was jumping out of the grooves.
Don't believe everything you read on the web.
What puzzles me is why he had to fold down several tracks to one sub mix track in the first place. If he was able to achieve a wide stereo sound on a track as ambitious as Occupants, why wasn't it possible here? There's definitely not as much going on in B'Wana as there is in some other tracks and they were recorded perfectly well in stereo (so much so that some of them could be expanded to 5.1 surround sound).
I'm sticking with my theory that the track sounds exactly the way he (& she!) wanted it to sound!
Not sure. Certainly, "...Occupants..." is a far larger production so that would have required far more sub mixing than "B'wana" would have. We won't know either unless he tells us.
To @Harry's point, I can't imagine Richard (or Karen) allowing the album to leave the studio not sounding the way they wanted it to. That likely is the sound they were going for. I just can't imagine why they wanted that sound. The "boxy" sound had already gone out of fashion by then.
@Chris May If you ever get the chance to speak to Richard again, on behalf of us all, would you ask him this question?
Already on it. He's been busy with end-of-school-year stuff with the kids, but hopefully if he has time, we'll get a little more insight. Will keep you posted...
Trying to catch up around here will be a daunting task to say the least...I'm also a believer that B'wana is not a mono recording and I also believe that it sounds the best from the original A&M CD that brightness especially noticeable in her vocals makes it the best version I've ever heard. Just a quick sample of her first verse on this song from the different CD's released will allow you to hear just how much better it sounds on the original A&M CD (the muddiness is gone and brighter is better). I will say that if you have the Sweet Memory Set, this song appears and it sounds almost a good as the original CD version just a bit louder.
I was re-listening to an interview the Carpenters gave about Passage and Richard says it took close to 5 months to complete this album and that most of that was in the "mix down"....he also stated how they left mixing one night to go see the Star Wars movie and Karen stated yeah then they went back to the studio to finish mixing the album. So why was so much time spent on the mix down and why to my hears does the original A&M CD have the best audio quality?
There is always the possibility of "age" creeping into the master tapes used for each project. I've long-noticed, in comparing various CDs for Herb Alpert or Sergio Mendes, that in many cases, old transfers done when CDs were new back in the 80s have the brightest "sheen" on the sound. They were done when those tapes were much closer to new.
The odd thing in this case is that none of the other tracks on PASSAGE seem to suffer as much as "B'wana..." when remastered in the late '90s and beyond.
When I saw this post the other day I realized that I do not own the single vinyl 45 of I Believe You b/w B'wana She No Home. I do own the mono/stereo promo 45 of I Believe You but that does not contain the flip side. So I went ahead and ordered the single and looking forward to listening to this on the 45 format. It's always been a favorite track of mine so I'm looking forward to hearing it..hey maybe B'wana it will be mono disguised on a stereo label.
That's true - it does sound about the same as the A&M CD - so does the old British COLLECTION disc of PASSAGE. They both would have used whatever masters were around prior to the Remastering in 1998.
Another strange thing about B'Wana She No Home is the way the strings are buried deep and centre in the mix. You could almost miss them as there isn't a lot of string action on this number, but what you do hear is unfortunately almost lost in the overall mix. Still admire the attempt to produce a song that makes Carpenters sound almost funky, if that's the right description, probably a word that's a bit dated now.
Tom Nolan,Inner Sleeve.....
"Then there is B'Wana She No Home, Michael Franks sinuous, subtle, droll explication
of the master-servant problem--another eye opener:
jazzy,seductive, and a spontaneous triumph, elegantly executed with the assistance
of pianist Pete Jolly and flautist-tenorist Tom Scott, who trade choruses in in of the album's
several live cuts."
Revisiting the Yesterday Once More Commercial compelled me to
re-visit many of the Videos,
and, I must say, not only is
All You Get From Love Is A Love Song
a great song, the video is simply one of the best of Karen and Richard.
How often did they both look as if they were having fun ?
A great song and a great video for the song.
I meant to answer this the other day but got sidetracked. The "B'wana She No Home" track on the flip side of "I Believe You" sounds a good bit "airier" than the CD tracks, more in line with the A&M CD version but perhaps sounding like the highs are more prevalent. The LP version also sounds brighter than the Remastered CD. The stereo separation remains stuck in the narrow mode, but at least it doesn't sound as muddy.
This may be because the track clocks in at over 5:30, and to fit that much on a 45, some of the lows might have needed to be a bit filtered to the tighter grooves could fit. Which reminds me of an interesting fact - "B'wana She No Home" is likely the second longest Carpenters track on a 45. "Calling Occupants..." on the promo single with the album version would be the longest.
This is the exact reason why I went ahead and ordered the single 45. I can't stand the muddiness of the remastered classics version of this song and I was really hoping the 45 has an even brighter sound that the original CD version. I got a noticed it shipped so let's hope it's not full of snap crackle and pop.
I just got the Remastered Version of Passage. Boy does it ever sound compressed, as if when they transferred the analog masters they were getting distortion, which from what I've heard on the LP it sounds like there is a little bit of distortion, especially where the flute is concerned (also the LP version does playback as stereo on my equipment---but it plays back the same as a mono LP or 45 on a stereo turntable). But the Remastered CD is also mono for B'Wana on playback. Although the version of Calling Occupants on the disc sounds like the version from the 1974-1978 CD.
Must just be your "Remastered Classics" CD. Mine isn't mono at all. As seems to be the case all around, mine is narrow stereo.