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Official Review [Single]: 13. "TOP OF THE WORLD"/"HEATHER" (1468-S)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Aug 20, 2016.

Which side is your favorite?

  1. Side A: "Top Of The World"

    31 vote(s)
    96.9%
  2. Side B: "Heather"

    1 vote(s)
    3.1%
  1. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    “TOP OF THE WORLD"/"HEATHER"

    TOTW.png Heather.png TOTW Single.png TOTW - Silver.png Heather - Silver.png
    Side A: Top Of The World 2:56 (Carpenter/Bettis)
    Side B: Heather 2:47 (Pearson)


    Catalogue Number: A&M 1468-S
    Date of Release: 9/17/73
    Format: 7" Single
    Speed: 45 RPM
    Country: US
    Chart Position: #1 (Two weeks)

    Ochre label first-pressing label variant from Columbia Records' Pitman, NJ pressing plant.

    Arranged and Orchestrated by Richard Carpenter
    Side B taken from A&M SP-3519 album "Now & Then"
    Producer, Side A: Richard and Karen Carpenter and Jack Daugherty / Producer, Side B: Richard and Karen Carpenter

    For more definitive information regarding each single, you can visit our Carpenters - The Complete Singles page in our Carpenters Resource.
     
  2. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    Time and time again I have told of my utter favoritism of this single, and perhaps unusual love for the later remixes. There is such emotional depth tied into those versions for me, much like for some of you and the original mixes (can never forget your first hearing of a Carpenters song :wink:). The twangy bass (has something been done to it in the remix?), piano, steel guitar, and strings envelope the melody so perfectly. I don't even know where to begin with the vocal on this track -- I was entranced by this woman singing long before I knew the Carpenters or their story. Every nuance in Karen's voice is chilling and this is one of my favorite examples. The song as a whole is able to take me to another world -- the mark of a good song! :uhhuh:

    "Heather" is okay. I can't say I flip to the b-side often, but it's a pretty song. I love the reed and piano parts of the melody.
     
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    If ever I get the chance to ask Richard Carpenter a question,
    one of them would surely be :
    Why Heather?
    As Karen's voice was in top notch form in 1973, what a wasted opportunity !

    Otherwise, Top Of The World
    is simply one of my all-time favorite songs.
     
  4. I think that "Heather", as a track on NOW AND THEN was sort of a last gasp effort to give Richard a little showcase on an album. It was clear that Karen was the star attraction, Richard knew that, but there was still that nagging "Richard is the piano player of the group" mentality that they tried to overcome. But it wasn't to be. "Heather" and all of the oldies with Richard's lead were essentially his final efforts at being a lead for Carpenters, except for the Christmas stuff.

    As a single b-side, it didn't need to be a Richard Carpenter composition since the a-side took care of that.

    As for wasted opportunities, no-one ever considered that there was a limited time with Karen. There was always plenty of time in the future for everyone to get their showcases.
     
  5. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    US
    "Heather" is a lovely song and a rare instrumental. I guess they liked redoing commercials? :laugh:

    There is no doubt in my mind that I'd choose "Top of the World" as my favorite of this 45 any day! It's such a fun, upbeat, and timeless song. A welcome break in the midst of a line of mostly melancholy singles for sure!
     
  6. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Sorry, can't hear "Heather" without thinking of Geritol. Pleasant enough instrumental, but it could be anyone performing it. "Top" is all Carpenters.
     
    CraigGA and toeknee4bz like this.
  7. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Although Top '72 has its charms, the new '73 version is iconic.
     
  8. Of course I voted for "Top Of The World". It was fun hearing this one all re-recorded and "singled" up after its turn as an album track.
     
    CraigGA likes this.
  9. natureaker

    natureaker Active Member

    I voted for "Top Of The World". Yes, I do absolutely love Heather, but Top Of The World wins for me
     
    toeknee4bz likes this.
  10. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    This was no contest, I voted for Top Of The World. Even my parents liked this song, and they were not into pop music at all. They were into that big band, Lawrence Welk kind of music. But their ears always seemed to perk up whenever Top Of The World came on the radio.

    For me, Top Of The World has always been an uplifting song and that's why I like it so much. The team of Richard, John and Karen really nailed it with this song. It's pop perfection, IMO. I never get tired of hearing it!

    A while ago I read some other views on this song that made me think about it in a new light, but mostly they made me chuckle because I think they were over-analyzing the song a bit too much. One person called it delusional and another described it as a song about being in the throes of a manic episode. :laugh:
     
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, to clarify my outlook regarding the song Heather.
    I do like the song, it is a beautiful instrumental.
    But, regardless of anything which ultimately transpired---that is, irrespective of future events--
    it is still filler, and filler at a time when Karen Carpenter's vocals were at top notch best.
    Thus, I stand by "wasted opportunity". Not, because of Karen's brief time on Earth, but,
    because it was "filler" at a time when her voice was astounding.
    As is well known, I do not care for other instrumentals on (earlier !) Carpenters' albums, either.
     
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    A-side for me, no contest. Heather is a pretty song but I'm quite shocked it was included just three tracks in on side 1 of the album. As an instrumental track it doesn't warrant that place. Had they replaced it with another strong KC lead track then that side of the LP would have been much stronger.
     
  13. "Top of the World" is just terrific and always will be, and it's so often the one Carpenters' song included in movies and TV ("Shrek", "Dark Shadows", etc.). This single was our favorite duo at their very best in the prime of their career.
     
    CraigGA likes this.
  14. adam

    adam Active Member

    Hi
    Top of the world ,a very pleasent,happy and upbeat tune.Always geta airplay here in the Uk.Poular song Worldwide as well.
    Some statisitics.
    Canada 1
    Britain 5
    Australia 1
    New zealend 1
    Netherlands 14
    Germany 38
     
  15. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I don't consider "Heather" to be filler. Keep in mind, on all the albums to this point Richard was still doing a couple or three vocals per album. And, on the album A Song For You, he had his "Piano Picker" instrumental showcase. So this was just another link in that chain for him, along with his vocals in the oldies medley. With the NEXT album, he would abandon the lead vocals but he still got his couple of instrumental shots. So "Heather" is just one in a string.

    On the other hand, it's well known that they were pressed for time when this single and the N&T album came out, so maybe they just didn't have the time to come up with another great vocal track.

    As for this single...."Top" has to be the clear choice, moreso than most of the other singles just by the fact that "Heather" is sort of a generic sounding instrumental as opposed to other instrumental records of its time. It doesn't have much of an identity.
     
    natureaker and K.C. Jr like this.
  16. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Don't forget that "Top Of The World" was originally just meant as album filler, and didn't get considered as a single until after it had begun to chart just from requests alone, and Lynn Anderson sent it to #2 on the country charts and #76 on the Hot 100. Even Japan released the album version in 72 as a single over there and it soared (with "Druscilla Penny" as its B-side), and then a year later the official single was finally released (and in Japan "Druscilla Penny" reappeared as its B-side, not "Heather") and topped a number of charts.

    As for "Heather", I really don't get the Geritol thing, but I guess being born in the 80’s, I guess I never saw whatever it is people are referring to. But one thing that I have noticed with "Heather", especially on the recent "Complete Singles" collection is how-dated sounding the instruments sound. On the LP (which my copy is heavily scratched so I thought that it was maybe because of the scratches) I could hear the sound, but on CD it is really obvious that the instruments were recorded in mono, especially Richard's piano, and the fidelity of the recording is really impacted by trying to spread music that was recorded in mono across a stereo stage. It's funny how "Heather" has this dated sound, but "Flat Baroque" doesn't. It's surprising that Heather was recorded mono, but Baroque has most of its instruments in stereo.
     
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I suppose the term "filler" is in the eye of the beholder....
    Heather

    more....
    "More television work followed as Pearson conducted orchestras for programs starring the
    Carpenters and Dusty Springfield. The Carpenters' 1973 album Now and Then included the song Heather,
    which had originated as an instrumental called Autumn Reverie, written by Pearson in 1968
    as a piece of library music, made for TV, film and commercial producers looking for low-cost, ready-made background music."
    Source:
    Johnny Pearson obituary »
     
  18. One of the reasons that Richard remixed so many of the older tracks was because his piano sound was always monaural, and with later equipment and techniques he was able to re-do his parts with a more stereo sound. "Heather" never got a remix so what you hear is the original track as it was mixed. In "Heather", various instruments come and go for short solos on the melody and each time they are centered in the stereo mix.

    However, the orchestral strings a very much in stereo coming from the hard left channel. The bass guitar is also mixed slightly left in comparison with Richard's piano.
     
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  19. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I loved this song in 1973 when I first heard it (as I did not hear A Song For You until a year later) and still love to hear it and was glad it was chosen in the movie Dark Shadows. The mood that played in the section of that movie is the same uplifting emotion I felt in 1973 as I was entering 7th grade. And since I craved to see them live I am glad they choose a clip I had not yet seen as it helped duplicate the emotion of the time period as I felt in 1973/74.
    As for Heather, all I can think of is Geritol. I know this track took effort but with such little time to record in those days, why this one? It's a pleasant piece at least.
     
  20. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    US
    No vote here--don't like either one.
     
  21. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I guess in 73, when this track was recorded, Richard didn't think about doing all the parts in stereo for this song. And when you listen to the piano as it starts its final big push-up to the end, you can hear the keys of the piano being started at one end and working towards the other end, which would've sounded wonderful in stereo, but unfortunately the dynamic range of the piano is greatly diminished. Just by the sound quality, it almost sounds like this song might've been recorded during the "Offering" period and left off, and then Richard just added strings to try to make it sound stereo.
     
  22. Interesting! I thought everyone liked "Top of the World"?!?
     
  23. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    The reason for this on many of the early instrumentals is because everything was record on 16-track from '70-'73. Even though there was technically "room" for a 2-track, dedicated stereo routing for the piano on the instrumentals (because they require less tracks overall since there were no vocals), it wouldn't have made sense sonically to record the piano in stereo on some tracks, and not on the others (i.e. tracks with vocals that had no room for stereo dedication on piano). What he would do is record the additional piano embellishments in mono on however many additional tracks it took, and then move them away from the center of the mix to open it up.

    The only track I'm aware of that got a stereo dedication on piano on the earlier cuts was Sometimes.
     
  24. Don Malcolm

    Don Malcolm Active Member

    "Heather" is a pleasant track, sort of a subdued update of Paul Mauriat's 1968 instrumental hit "Love Is Blue," but IMO it was a waste of a "B" side. I think Richard should have chosen "Piano Picker"--infinitely spunkier, playfully autobiographical, and featuring one of his better lead vocals.

    We've done all of the singles from Disk One now, and I'm already nostalgic about it, since we won't have quite as much great stuff coming when we move to Disks Two and Three. Of course, with the A-sides from Disk One we have the SINGLES 69-73 track lineup, plus "Merry Xmas Darling"--a virtually unbeatable album then and now. But consider an LP made up of all the B's--the "flip sides" that got routed in the voting (receiving only 16% of the vote)...it's a really nice glimpse into, well, the "flip side" of the band:

    CARPENTERS Flip Sides
    Side 1
    Your Wonderful Parade • All of My Life • Don't Be Afraid • Maybe It's You • Mr. Guder • I Kept On Loving You • Saturday
    Side 2
    Flat Baroque • Bless the Beasts and the Children • Druscilla Penny • Heather • Crystal Lullaby • Road Ode

    Clearly I've indulged in some track order shuffling, in search of the optimum sequencing...of course, YMMV. But it's really a terrific little LP all on its own, giving Richard some of his due, and Side 2 closing strongly with the unbeatable duo from A Song For You.

    Make your own playlist of it and see what you think!!
     
    Guitarmutt likes this.
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    In case anyone missed the Original, here is Pearson's 1968 Autumn Reverie (aka Heather):
    Compare and Contrast.
     
    Don Malcolm likes this.

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