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Official Review [Single]: 4. "MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING"/"MR. GUDER" (1236-S)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, May 14, 2016.

Which side is your favorite:

  1. Side A: "MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING"

    22 vote(s)
    88.0%
  2. Side B: "MR. GUDER"

    3 vote(s)
    12.0%
  1. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING”/"MR. GUDER"

    MCD.png MCDsingle.jpg Guder.png

    Side A: Merry Christmas Darling 3:02 (Carpenter/Pooler)

    Side B: Mr. Guder 2:35 (Carpenter/Bettis)

    Catalogue Number: A&M 1236-S
    Monarch Δ83240 / Δ83240-X
    Date of Release: 11/20/70
    Format: 7" Single
    Speed: 45 RPM
    Country: US
    Chart Position: N/A

    Arranged by Richard Carpenter
    Produced by Jack Daugherty
    Side B Taken from A&M SP-4271 album "Close To You"
    "This recording employs the Haeco CSG system and can be played either stereo or monaurally"

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

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I voted for the A side this time. Just the most beautiful of Christmas songs and a great reading from Karen. Love the rawness of the 1970 vocal, hate that awful 1992 'Time Life' remix with the distortion in it. Richard should have left well alone after the revisions made in 1978.
     
    Chris May likes this.
  3. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Completely agree Stephen. This one is almost up there with the remix of Top from '91. I just loathe that thing and cannot understand how Richard couldn't hear that. I guess it all came down to the time period in which these things were done and the reasons in which they were done in the first place. Unfortunately several of these tweaks were either unnecessary altogether, or just didn't stand the test of time well - like with a few of the late '80s remixes found on Anthology.

    The other issue (aside from the distortion) on the remix of Merry Christmas Darling from the '92 Time Life release, is that the stereo/re-recorded piano track I believe was meant to "brighten" up the mix a bit. In reality, I think it actually took away from the intimacy of the song and recording itself, making more for distraction. And all in all, for as much as I appreciate Karen's earlier reading of the lyric for the original single release in '70, the 1978 re-take is my favorite and showcases their talents and marketability best IMHO.
     
    byline likes this.
  4. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    US
    I love this version! The raw vocal really adds something and makes it stand out as a single. (The '78 mix was great for album inclusion, though.) I voted "A", but I really enjoy Mr. Guder. It's just so fun with the flute and drums! Although the reason behind it is a little unkind, in my opinion.
     
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I love the song, and particularly, the 1978 version. I might be in the minority here, but I think the softer vocal style is a better match for the whistful lyrics.
     
  6. No-one spent their money on this 45 so they could get "Mr. Guder", that's for sure! :D

    When this came out, and "Merry Christmas Darling" started getting airplay on the radio, it was like a cherry on top of a delicious sundae. All year long we were treated first to the early sample of "Ticket To Ride", then the smash-hits "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" - the latter two played incessantly on every radio station in town, and then it was turning toward the colder weather and here comes those Carpenters again with a sentimental Christmas song that fit the season. Just an amazing year.

    I far prefer this 1970 single version to the sweeter update in 1978 and was happy to hold onto that 45 for all of those years that the song wasn't available anywhere else.

    Oh - but if anyone DID buy the record for "Mr. Guder" they got the rarer shorter version of it!

    Harry
     
    byline and Chris May like this.
  7. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Never been that enamored with MCD, though it's still a lovely piece of Christmas music. I prefer Guder. . .I just think everything about is inventive, fresh, musically sophisticated, and some of their best overdubs.
     
  8. One of the top 5 best Christmas recordings of all-time made this an easy vote for me. :)
     
  9. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    "Mr. Guder" has incredible sentiment -- it's my mother's favorite at the moment. Besides that, it's a great song! The arrangement is fresh, clever, and I love the overdubs on the line "roll out the door at fiiiiive" and (my favorite bit) the "babadas" at the end. With Karen on drums, wonderful talent on display for both her and Richard. Playing this single for the first time, I was surprised - and admittedly a little disappointed - to discover the shortened version! (And if you ask Mr. Lubinsky, I specifically requested the album version on his show :D)

    "Merry Christmas Darling" -- I vacillate on 1970 vs. 1978. If you asked me right now, 1970 -- love that vocal and its sound. I actually discovered the 1978 version first, when I heard the original over the airwaves, it really got my attention... The song as whole is very intimate and really embodies the strong feelings of the holidays. Speaking of overdubs, that last "Darling" at the end always sends it straight home for me.

    Hard choice!
     
  10. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I like this version best. Karen's interpretation captures the raw emotion needed to make it a Christmas classic. The SACD version on the Singles 1969-1981 uses the 1978 vocals, but this version sounds remarkable as well.
     
  11. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    This was an easy choice, Merry Christmas Darling!! The 70 version is the definitive one for me. I still like the re-recorded version as her vocals are silky smooth and it sounds more contemporary.

    It would have been cool had they recorded another Christmas song to back it with MCD instead of using Mr Guder.
     
  12. goodjeans

    goodjeans Active Member

    ...what a beautifully worded statement.
     
  13. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I always found it odd that most all of the early Carpenters singles were released in a mono version on 45, yet Merry Christmas Darling was never released in a mono version. It was also the perfect time period because 1970 exhibited many mono 45's for radio stations. Then to top it all off they had to incorporate that terrible Haeco CSG processing, even the white label promo 45 has this strange sounding CSG processing. Why didn't they also release a pure mono version of this single?
     
  14. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    My guess would be cost. After reading about this process it was created so that mono copies were not required for radio stations. And, since it was seasonal, playing only a few weeks, maybe cost was the reason. And, if it was applied to the master, it may have been all there was? All of these are just guesses. Do you know of any seasonal tunes that year in mono? From what I read, Atlantic/Warner Bros also used this A&M engineer developed system. We all know the downside of this system, especially the center clarity clouded and the deep sounding bass and drums muddied.
     
  15. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    This one was tough, but I voted for Merry Christmas Darling. Mr. Guder is fun and cheeky, but MCD is an enduring classic. I hear it every Christmas. I prefer the '70 version over the '78, but I can see why some would prefer the latter one.
     
    goodjeans likes this.
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Merry Christmas Darling is one of my all-time favorite songs, period.
    Right up there with We've Only Just Begun. A perfect Carpenters' Song.

    Ask me to flip the 45 to play Mr.Guder and you'll get a resounding 'No' !
    (Mr. Guder ranks near the bottom of my song list.)
     
  17. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I went with "Merry Christmas Darling". I've actually got a Japanese 3-inch CD single where Darling is misspelt on the actual disc label, so it reads "Merry Christmas Daring".

    But with this single its to bad that the Carpenters went with "Mr. Guder". I know they weren't going for a full Christmas album, but it would've been nice if the B-Side had been another Christmas song, or even a Christmas EP 45 where Darling was the headliner with a few other Christmas standards.

    But I'm also not to impressed with the cover art for the single. Did A&M not have any fake Christmas trees on the lot, or did no one have one at home or even a few Santa hats? Even if they had done a picture like "The Beach Boys Christmas Album" where you could see that it was a a Christmas Tree being decorated on a photo background, I think it would've looked better. Personally I prefer the cover for "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" over this cover.
     
  18. byline

    byline Active Member

    I do love the inventiveness of the "Mr. Guder" arrangement, but "Merry Christmas Darling" (especially the 1970 original recording) is my sentimental favorite. Karen's young voice is so exquisite, perfectly capturing the yearning of this beautiful song.
     
  19. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I'm surprised that Karen and Richard were not asked to sing MCD on other peoples tv specials as guests, is Karen on the Bruce Forsyth Show the only time it was sung on any tv special? I mean from 1970 to 1982 were they not approached to sing this classic tune around the holidays? Or did their schedules conflict and had to say no? It seems odd considering how popular the song is with the public.
     
  20. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I've always had a love/hate relationship with "Merry Christmas Darling." As a Christmas song I love it, it's perfect for the season. But I hate the way it's shoehorned onto just about every Carpenters collection. Those collections (except the box sets) are meant for casual fans, and I would guess most casual fans aren't in the mood to hear a Christmas song outside of that time of year.

    I remember when I first heard the song -- it was after I had already enjoyed "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun" of course, but then I kept hearing this unfamiliar Christmas song on the radio featuring a very familiar sound and voice.

    The only things I don't like about the song are a couple of the lyrics (sorry, Mr. Pooler!). Specifically, "But I can dream, and in my dream / I'm Christmasing with you." Christmasing?! There are lots of other words they could have used there. The other one is the line "Logs on the fire, fill me with desire to see you..." which makes no sense. "Warmth of the fire" would have been better, although it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily.

    But, those nitpicks aside it's still a 9 on a 10 scale.
     
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Quick question regarding
    Mr. Guder....
    I know this flip-side is the "edited" version.
    But, I have wondered Why? this edited version exists (at all) on this 45,
    this, instead of the full-length version.
    This Single 11/20/1970 release date.
    The Close To You album, 8/28/1970 release date.

    So, I fail to understand why the full-length Mr.Guder was not utilized on this Single release ?
     
  22. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    US
    The only thing I can figure is due to the fadeout of the album version leading into the next song ("I Kept on Loving You", as if anyone wouldn't know :rolleyes:). Maybe time didn't allow for much editing, so it was kept down at a shorter, more definite ending instead of a fade.
     
  23. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Not that it was an "edit" as such, but I Kept On Loving You also appeared in "clean" format when it was a B-side, so you wouldn't hear the segue from the previous song (as featured on the album).
     
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The 45-issued Forget-Me-Not ,
    Merry Christmas Darling,
    which I am listening to as I type,
    sounds incredibly good.
    That sax interlude is perfect.
    The record on this side reads P. 1974,
    the flip-side reads 1977 (It being Christmas Song).
    Thus, as much as I adore the later vocals, for the Portrait album,
    I have to go with the original vocals.
     
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I see where Mr. Guder was given the "remix" treatment in 1990.
    I am listening to that remix on Carpenters Perform Carpenter and I rather like this 1990 remix.
    Now, the song does not appear on From The Top, but the remix does appear on Essential Collection.

    Thus, I do wonder why it was tinkered with in 1990--
    had it been slated for From The Top ?

     

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