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Holidays! THE OFFICIAL REVIEW: [Album] "AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS" SP-9107

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Dec 1, 2014.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    6 vote(s)
    16.7%
  2. ****

    20 vote(s)
    55.6%
  3. ***

    8 vote(s)
    22.2%
  4. **

    1 vote(s)
    2.8%
  5. *

    1 vote(s)
    2.8%
  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I surely understand Richard Carpenter's consternation regarding A&M 's approach to this album:
    a "midline product" placement, with no inner-sleeve and less than satisfactory Cover-Art.
    After (re)listening to the original Vinyl, it is obvious that he put much work into this album.
    Many--No, all--of Karen Carpenter's vocals are fantastic on this album.
    The instrumental cuts, while lengthy, are actually worth hearing ! (as I did this early morn.)
    The album --at the time of release--should have gotten a much better reception.
    As I commented upon earlier, my 20-something year old niece was so taken with Karen's vocals on this vinyl album,
    that she is collecting her own Vinyl Carpenters' 'library'.
     
  2. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Just a heads up, but according to the "From The Top" compilation booklet, we just passed the 31st anniversary of "An Old-Fashioned Christmas"'s release, since it was released on October 26, 1984.
     
    GaryAlan likes this.
  3. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    An Old Fashioned Christmas was a top-line release.I remember when it hit the stores in 1984-it was top-line priced and was displayed prominently in the New Release section at Record World.

    The album got a very good reception upon it's release-it sold a half-million copies within three years,and cumulative Vinyl/Cassette sales totaled 700,000+ copies. The album in CD format has also sold approximately 500,000 copies(as part of Christmas Collection). Total cumulative sales are about 1.2 million-making An Old Fashioned Christmas K&R's best-selling 1980's album.

    Absolutely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
    goodjeans likes this.
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the perusal , and subsequent comment, of my post regarding this album !
    It should be noted, for accuracy:
    (1) The words " midline product " are not mine, as I quoted directly from Richard Carpenter from the
    40th Anniversary Liner Notes for this Album. Thus, "midline product" is his description--not mine.
    (2) As for "reception": Richard Carpenter, again, "no promotion at all was planned." (ibid.)
    (3) December 1985: The album ranked #15 on the Holiday Charts, Christmas Portrait#8.
    (4) The album is #190 for One Week. (Billboard Magazine)
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  5. My memory matches Richard's.
    1. The album was a midline release with a 5.98 list price (other new albums at this time were 8.98 or 9.98).
    2. The only reason I knew this album was released was by reading Billboard. Otherwise, I would have known nothing about it.

    The album ultimately sold well because it is a phenomenal album. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's one of the best albums released after 1980 by any artist in any genre. And I should mention that I am a huge fan of music in general, not just the Carpenters. I have been a music critic for since writing album reviews for my high school paper in the 70's. I have a massive music collection that spans from country to rock to r&b, & even rap. When I noticed 8 people rated this album under 4 stars, it was the most disturbing thing I have encountered on this board.
     
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Also, as Billboard Magazine shows (chart Christmas Hits), December 1984 and 1985,
    Christmas Portrait had a SMRP of $5.98. (#2 and #8 for 1984 and 1985, respectively).
    An Old Fashioned Christmas is absent The Hits Chart. (1984 & 1985)
    A&M: The First 25 Years Publication contains a list--up to July 1987--of Gold Albums,
    that is, if issued after 1976 had sold 500,000 units.
    An Old Fashioned Christmas is absent from this list.
    Christmas Portrait was Certified Gold, according to this list, January 16,1981.

    Thus, I would be quite interested to learn of the documentation which supports (Mr.J, above) :
    "..the album (An Old Fashioned Christmas) sold half a million copies within three years...",
    as the A&M Records' publication does not provide such documentation.
     
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    Are you saying you think An Old Fashioned Christmas is one of the best albums released after 80 by any artist? Are you referring to Christmas music only?
     
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Aside:
    Official Carpenter web page has no separate listing for this recording, until it details The Christmas Collection,
    release 9/22/1998 (sic.,should be,of course-1996?),
    saying " In the early ‘90 s, the first (Portrait) album was remixed and both were digitally remastered."
    RIAA database Certifies Old Fashioned Christmas Gold on August 11, 1998.
    According to Fan Club Newsletter#82, November 1984:
    the Vinyl Album was released worldwide October 27th, 1984.

    Newsletter#90, Final undated (early 1989, as Movie had just aired but Lovelines was being announced for Fall release)
    from the Fan Club states (and, I quote):
    "The entire Catalog is now available on compact disc. Certain record stores are reluctant to Special Order,
    but, if you want these recording, Stand Firm."
     
  9. adam

    adam Active Member

    Hi
    So is An olf fashioned christmas, carpenters best selling Album of the 1980s.What about Voice of the Heart Album.And has Old fashioned christmas sold more than Christmas Portrait?
     
  10. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I was just listening to the album this morning, and "Do You Hear What I Hear" is the stand-out track on the album, but the rest are very good as well.

    But here in North America, its to bad that "An Old-Fashioned Christmas" wasn't available on CD by itself, or even featured in it's own "Special Edition" version. Really AOFC hasn't been available by its own in 15-18 years, whenever the cassette version was last in print. Really it is only available as part of the "Christmas Collection" or in pieces on the "Christmas Portrait Special Edition" CD (which I think is probably the version that makes it into the Christmas charts every year, as I don't see "Christmas Collection" hitting the charts).
     
  11. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    That's true, but if someone really wanted to get it on CD, they could always check eBay. I found one here:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Carpenters-...039553?hash=item1ea6895f41:g:nlYAAOSwYHxWIRm2

    It's a SHM-CD (2009 A&M/Universal Japan) Mini LP.

     
  12. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Yeah it's available online from Japan, but here in Canada there is no way that sotres are able to display it by itself.
     
  13. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    All the stores that sell CDs around here have all closed. The nearby Best Buy no longer stock music CDs. It's the sign of the times.

    I've obtained all of my OOP Carpenters CDs via eBay or Amazon.
     
  14. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    In my area it is mostly Legend Records that stocks CD's, although Wal-mart does stock a few. But even at Wal-mart when they get their Christmas CD's in for down the aisle, I'm more likely to see the single disc Christmas Portrait than the double disc Christmas Collection. So for marketing having Old-Fashioned Christmas in just a set really limits its availability.
     
  15. Not limited to Christmas music only. This is one of the best albums released in the past 35 years by any artist. This is a clear-cut 5 star album through and through. This is the album Richard should be most proud of for so many reasons.
     
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I would disagree, I reckon it was one of the most frustrating for him, despite being well executed. He had to work with only a limited amount of KC vocals, forcing him to pad out the album with instrumentals. Then, the opening line on one of the leads was found to be flawed so he had to make do with the second best option of carrying the first line of the song himself. Then to top it all off, it's released by the label with cut price packaging and marketed as a mid line product. The jacket contained no inner sleeve, no lyrics and the cover art had Karen pictured at the same height as Richard despite being several inches shorter, which really annoyed him. Richard himself said in the 35th anniversary box set liner notes that had he known A&M were going to take the marketing approach they did, he'd never have compiled and released it. Aside from all that, his crowning Christmas glory is Christmas Portrait, not this one.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
    GaryAlan likes this.
  17. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I would have to side with Stephen on this one. I can also think of tons of albums by different artists that trump this one. Olivia Newton-John's Physical album being one :love:
     
    newvillefan and GaryAlan like this.
  18. The challenges you mention Richard faced with this album are exactly why he should be most proud of it. It stretched his creativity and the results were stunning. Being proud of his work has nothing to do with how it was promoted, sleeved, or any of that other nonsense. Richard's duty was the music and from that perspective, he achieved the greatest accomplishment of his career. His disappointment with the promotion is an indication of just how much effort he put into this album and how he felt it deserved better treatment.

    As was discussed in another thread, Richard had much more limited contributions to Christmas Portrait. So I doubt he considers it is crowning Christmas glory.
     
    Guitarmutt and Geographer like this.
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Some Background (as I listen to the lovely 1984 offering on Vinyl):
    1994 Coleman, Page 236:
    Christmas Portrait : "...Yet there was a curious attitude toward its commercial prospects at A&M.
    It received scant attention...Karen was baffled when she was not asked to help promote it."
    40TH Anniversary Liner Notes(Richard Carpenter):
    An Old-Fashioned Christmas :
    "....No promotion at all was planned. If I had known this, the Album (1984) would not have been made.
    "Oh well, out it came, underwhelming most people who bought it..."
    "Certainly the most expensive, lavishly produced mid-line album ever produced."
     
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Early this morning I listened to three incarnations of this Album:
    (1) The 1984 A&M Vinyl
    (2) The 1984 Cassette Tape
    (3) The 40th Anniversary SHM-cd
    By way of comparison #2 far surpasses, via the sonics, the Vinyl and the SHM.
    Also, (re-) reading the Back Cover Sleeve:
    Richard Carpenter arranged (Two):
    It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
    Santa Claus Is Coming To Town


    Peter Knight arranged (Eleven):
    The Overture
    An Old-Fashioned Christmas
    O Holy Night
    Home For the Holidays
    Medley
    Little Altar Boy
    Do You Hear What I Hear
    My Favorite Things
    Selections from Nutcracker
    What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
    I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day


    Billy May arranged(One):
    He Came Here For Me


    Query:

    (1) Is there any indication which songs featured Pete Jolly on Keyboards (or, did he play on all of them) ?
    (2) Which songs feature:
    The OK Chorale (conducted by Dick Bolks)
    The English Choral (conducted by Robert Howes)
    (3) Which songs feature drumming of :

    Ron Tutt
    Barry Morgan
    (4) Which songs feature harpist:
    Gayle Levant
    Skiala Kanga
    (5) Why was Bob Messenger not used for Tenor Sax ?
    Tenor Sax was played by John Phillips.
     
  21. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    If you listen to Richard in interviews about the Close To You or the Now And Then albums, you'll find out he considers promotion and the sleeve covers anything but "nonsense". That's predominantly what sells an album and to be let down by the marketing team after all that hard work creating what you think is a great piece of work is (to him I think) nothing less than a cardinal sin. He still goes on about the "crappy cover" on the Close To You album to this day.
     
  22. I never said lack of promotion is nonsense. But if someone doesn't buy an album because they have x-ray vision and can see there is no inner sleeve with lyrics, or they are motivated not to buy an album because Karen is pictured at the same height as Richard....well... you get my drift. Richard is a perfectionist and if he doesn't have control over something, 9 times out of 10 you will hear about it. But that doesn't diminish what he should be proud of concerning that album: The music! That's how I rate an album.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The (promo?) Single
    Little Altar Boy/Do You Hear What I Hear
    is one I've been searching forever to find (and own !).

    Too bad about the A&M marketing. The album deserved much better by A&M.
    (1) I wonder how Richard Carpenter was kept from knowing A&M's marketing intentions
    until after the album was complete?
    (2) Why couldn't the Artwork be altered before release ?
    (3) Why were the arrangements for Richard's instrumentals turned over to Peter Knight?

    Another for which my views have changed throughout the intervening years.
    As a 22 year old in 1984, I was little impressed with the instrumental cuts.
    Now, I can see where Richard Carpenter was going when he weaved those
    fine instrumentals throughout--enveloping those fantastic Karen Carpenter vocals.
    Amusingly, I have at least five copies--as it was received as a Christmas gift that year from multiple sources.
     
  24. I also believe some of Richard's best vocal work is presented in this album as he sounds very similar to Art Garfunkel. His vocals on the title song are the best of his career.
     
  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    If Richard isn't happy with the artwork for this album, I wonder what he thinks of the cover for Christmas Collection! A&M could've reused the artwork for Old-Fashioned Christmas.
     

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