Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 30, 2013.
And, here is the (new to me) one-minute Television Commercial for the Album:
I prefer this to "Made in America."
Historiographic Timeline, of sorts:
First, the Coleman Biography (Pp.326-328) recollections regarding the Voice of The Heart Album:
"..Richard returned to the studio after a few weeks to formulate an album he was sure Karen would have wanted released."
"...Some tracks recorded (sic.) Mid-1982.."
"Look To Your Dreams, Karen had asked John and Richard to write in 1974. Finally recorded 1978. Kept off of any album
during Karen's lifetime, as Richard was 'concerned it was not contemporary enough.' ".
Fan Club Newsletters:
April 1982: "Richard and Karen are laying tracks in readiness for the next album and have completed a few songs."
October 1983: " Release date set for October 17th."
July 1984: " Your Baby Doesn't Love You, Two Lives, Make Believe It's Your First Time, At The End of A Song Recorded MIA-Sessions."
Album now Available on Compact Disc.
November 1984:" Now, last recorded song in 1982. Cover Photo taken in New York late 1980. Look To Your Dreams, Karen's favorite."
Some Liner Notes, Richard Carpenter:
Japan Anthology Red Cover:
Two Lives..."A Work Lead...one of her best readings.."
(1997) Japan Anthology :
Now....from April 1982, Karen's last recording session. Orchestra, singers and sax solo were added in 1983.
Two Lives....heard the tune by Bonnie Raitt and thought it would be very good for Karen. Recorded 1980 MIA Sessions. We over-recorded
for that album (Made In America). " Karen and I had planned to use some of the tunes that did not make MIA on subsequent albums."
(2003) Essential Collection:
Now..." is a Work Lead..."
Make Believe It's You First Time..."a Work Lead recorded during MIA Sessions."
(1987) Japan Treasures:
Look To Your Dreams: "Written, at Karen's behest, 1974. Postponed committing it to tape because I felt it wasn't that contemporary.
Karen never forgot the song and at her urging we tracked it in 1978 during the Christmas Portrait Sessions. Peter Knight penned this
beautiful arrangement. The lead was recorded shortly after."
(2009) 40TH Anniversary:
"I believed that Karen would have wanted these songs released."
Now....My Favorite from the Album, "Vocal recorded April 1982...Karen's voice was never lovelier"
Yet, as documented in Coleman (PP. 309-310):
Karen flew home for a two-week intermission in her treatment.
Levenkron: April 1982 Karen was back down to about 78 lbs.
Richard:" She looked like Hell. Worse than she did when she went to NY." and (page 12) "...looked appalling."
Coleman: "She returned to NY after recording successfully during that California trip."
"Richard and Roger Young flew to Manhattan with a view to recording some more with Karen."
How ironic would it have been if they'd gone ahead and recorded more tracks in New York...the scene of Karen's aborted solo album. Not to mention all the interference this would have caused Karen in her attempts to get well, having Richard around and bringing all the suffocating routines she was trying to escape right to her New York doorstep.
Look to your Dreams would never have been a contemporary song, not sure what Richard meant by that statement. This song is more of a bookend or a track that is timeless and would fit into any generation. It could have easily fit into Horizon or A Kind of Hush or even could have closed on MIA instead of the wedding track.
If MIA was striving to be contemporary then why include Beechwood?
Do you think its possible that there were more tracks Karen recorded that just never surfaced/leaked or do you think the unreleased solo sessions are it?
Excellent commentary and questions, Stephen and Chris.
Also I forgot to include this bit for the Timeline, above,
although I do not know how to affix a date to it (as of now ?)
.... from the official Website:
"All these years later, I feel differently; the songs are outtakes, and though I still feel that Ordinary Fool is a good vehicle for Karen and a good piece of arranging and production on my part, had Karen lived, we would have turned our attention to the new songs (along with some standards, no doubt) and not thought of these tracks again. Out of the two recorded in 1982, only Now would have made any bona fide follow-up to "Made In America"."
I think the solo sessions are it Chris. The story floating round that Molly Ann Leikin (writer of 'Remember When Lovin' Took All Night') said Karen had worked on the track in 1983 is probably a mistake in her recollections. Karen was nowhere near a recording studio in 1983.
This quote has always confused me. Does he mean it would have been a good follow up as a single or as an album track? Now, as beautiful as it was, is the epitome of elevator music (in the same vein as You're Enough). It was a pretty album track at the most and definitely not single material. His musical judgement was way off by 1983.
InsightsAndSounds blog, as is customary, contains other fascinating information.
There is a press release for the album, there---detailing that there was a three-week television campaign
in 14 markets. I wonder if that 'campaign' is the Ad from Youtube which I posted earlier. It is about One Minute duration.
Now, I know (Billboard) over $500,000 was spent on a campaign in the UK in late 1978 for The Singles 1974-1978.
Interesting to uncover the cost associated with the Voice of the Heart Television spots in the USA, as the
album (only) reached #49.
There was the ABC-GMA Interview (November 1983) and the (second) People Magazine Article, I wonder if they were merely
tie-ins to promote the Album? And, the Newsletters state Richard flying to Japan, UK, Australia for promotion.
Again, the added promotion perhaps garnered higher sales and chart positions in those countries?
And, UK (backed by: Look To Your Dreams) and Brazil (backed by: Ordinary Fool) had 45-singles releases of Now.
There's nothing ironic about it-just a missed opportunity.Richard was attempting to finish the album that was started-and if Karen was able to get some recording done in NY,there would've been an album out in 1982.
Make no mistake about it-if Karen was totally in charge of her recording career,very little would've been accomplished.It's because of Richard's sheer brilliance & determination that we have as much of Karen on Record as we do.
Richard meant that "Look To Your Dreams" was kept on the shelf in favor of more contemporary material.
Richard meant that "Now" was the only track that would've been released.A very typical KC torch song-fantastic performance.Nothing elevator about it.
Incidently,talking about musical judgement in 1983-Linda Ronstadt released two singles off her What's New album(title track & "I've Got A Crush On You")-both were traditional jazz arrangements(similar to "Now") & both got plenty of airplay on Lite-FM stations,which undoubtedly helped propel the album to Billboard #3 & platinum certification within a few months.Food for thought.
I'd have to agree with newvillefan on this one. 'Now' is a nice enough song but would have been a commercial stiff in 1983 as it's so old-fashioned. It's pure AC in style, so wouldn't really have got any play on pop or lite-jazz stations.
I'm not sure the Linda Ronstadt comparison is that valid in this instance either - Ronstadt was coming off a period of several Top 5 albums by 1983 (even if her 1982 album hadn't done so well), so could thus attract more attention than the Carpenters could have done at this stage.
You could go a step further and say that the problem for Karen and Richard by 1983 is that certain radio programmers had openly said they wouldn't play anything by the Carpenters - no matter what they put out. So they really were on the back foot when it came to clawing back the level of success they previously enjoyed. As Richard has said, their albums needed a top 5 single before sales would go nuts, so how could they realistically achieve that if radio wouldn't play their singles?
More food for thought......
Addenda, completing the sentence from page from Coleman:
"...Richard and Roger Young flew in to Manhattan. With a view to recording some more with Karen while she was there, he
and Roger viewed some studios. But somehow the prospect did not feel right away from their natural base." (Page 309)
Therefore, within the context--and time--in which the lines were written,
I would ascertain that Stephen's use of the term "ironic"
is quite correct.
There is no indication whatsoever that Karen was aware that they were in NYC. The documentation goes no further than the line quoted.
So, Karen, even at that juncture, was not "in control" of her own career. Decisions were being made without her consultation.
Richard Carpenter stating that "she looked like death during recording of the solo album." (ibid,p.277)
"He (Phil Ramone) had her sounding like she was from New York, and to me that didn't sound natural." (ibid,page 273)
"Now", nice a song as it is, firmly and squarely fits within the confines of Elevator Music.
The only redeeming factor is Karen Carpenter's vocals.
And, this recorded during a two week break from medical treatment. (Richard: "She looked like Hell." ibid.,page 12)
Needless to say, her vocals--while beautiful--lack strength, and tone of earlier recordings.( And, in a higher key.)
And, , recall....It was Karen's urging that convinced Richard allowing recording of " Look To Your Dreams" in 1978.
"...Karen's ear for a memorable song, Karen never forgot it ..". (ibid.,page 327)
Coleman does not say Richard was looking for something more contemporary...he says:
"Richard kept postponing its inclusion on an album during Karen's lifetime because he was concerned that it was not contemporary enough."(327)
Hi all! This is my first post and as a Carpenters fan so hi
I enjoyed this 'album' when I bought it years ago but agree it's not one if their best.
NOW is obviously the last song Karen recorded and will always be dear to our hearts and demonstrates her tone perfectly. I love her lower register - sets her apart.
AT THE END OF A SONG is perhaps my fav song on this album.
But there aren't many I don't merrily sing along to!!!!
I don't think I'd go quite that far. 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' managed to get reasonable airplay despite the ongoing image problem because it was a bit more in tune with contemporary tastes in 1981 (although admittedly it may also have benefited from the novelty of being their first single in a while), so it's not that they would never be able to get another song on radio again.
However, it was certainly going to be an uphill struggle to do so and they would have had to have worked much harder to achieve this than they'd done for years in terms of picking the right material. Radio rejected 'coasting' singles like all of those from Made in America after 'Touch Me...' and would I'm sure have done the same to songs in the vein of 'Now' and 'You're Enough'.
"Touch Me When We're Dancing" provides ample fodder for the view which Newvillefan puts forth.
Released in June of 1981, and yet, according to Billboard, as late as August/September 1981
many radio programmers had not even heard the tune.
(See my previous post from Radio and Records Archives, or Billboard August 15,1981 page 24, Radio Singles Action).
The song Peaking at #16, after four weeks in the Top 100. (Total 14 weeks on chart,I haven't verified the statistic, yet)
Contrast this to the chart action and airplay that Alabama got with their Cover in 1986.(Sept. 1986 Billboard, page 3).
It reached number One on Country charts and was accompanied by a promotional Blitz.
(And, Alabama claims to have never heard the Carpenters' version previous to their recording.)
But, back to the Album at hand: Voice of the Heart,
Some of the songs left off of this release (and, placed on Lovelines)
were much more contemporary. (i.e., "Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night").
By this stage of the music 'business', not only was it going to be an uphill battle,
(i.e., "Make Believe it's Your First Time" reached USA#78)
but, those making the decisions (who would that be?) were out of tune, and out of touch,
with musical tastes of the listening and purchasing public.
Remember, 14 markets for three weeks of Television Spots for this Album in 1983.
And, it still failed to spark musical interest, that is interest outside of the "..final Carpenters' album factor".
Here I agree. Linda Ronstadt had already had a career as a perceived "rock chick" and thus was perceived by the public as "cool." Her going to the jazz standards album was a notable change in style, helping it catch the ear of radio programmers and the public alike. Karen would have had to battle that old image problem - tough to do with that silky-smooth voice of hers.
This article backs up the point I was trying to make..."the overall tone of the collection is soft, even by soft-pop standards. The melodies are pleasant, if not on a par with the duo's early classics".
The fact remains that from the MIA sessions onwards, the duo didn't record a single 'classic' song in the vein of 'Rainy Days' or 'A Song For You'. They took a Burt Bacharach number, but even that wasn't up to the standard of Burt's earlier work. I think the problem with the sessions from 1980-1982 is that Richard was looking at material from songwriters he'd never selected from before (or he was largely choosing from his and John Bettis' compositions)...and it didn't work for them. The bulk of the tunes were too consistently mediocre (relatively to the tracks from their heyday) for anything to have a hope of standing out. I'd single out 'Ordinary Fool' as being pretty much the only exception to this, but that was recorded in 1976 and should have made the Hush album anyway.
And, irony of ironies....Voice of The Heart.....includes Make Believe It's Your First Time....
"believing it (the Solo) to have no hits..."
requesting a bridge be written to accompany "Make Believe It's Your First Time" ,
Recording the tune (again) during the MIA Sessions,
shelving it (again...from inclusion on MIA),
it is the USA Single culled off of the 1983 album,
Cover Photo courtesy of New York Photo Sessions....
Sure thing, Karen had complete control over her recording career.....??
How a track can be twice-shelved and end up being the lead single in the US is beyond me.
Interview with Richard Carpenter,
Courtesy of Ned Nickerson,
entitled Voice of The Heart (1984):
I doubt "Now" would've been chosen as a single-but(back to the original context) at least we have it.The fact that those 1982 sessions even exist is all due to Richard.
Once a recording artist is dead,the only thing that matters at that point is the quality of their recorded output.And,"Now" is a quality recording.
How many hit singles Karen had or might have had is totally irrelevant now.