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Holidays! THE OFFICIAL REVIEW: [Album] "CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT" SP-4726

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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    38 vote(s)
    79.2%
  2. ****

    9 vote(s)
    18.8%
  3. ***

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. **

    1 vote(s)
    2.1%
  5. *

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    From what I've seen of the Christmas Specials, most of the songs from Portrait were recorded for the specials, and "Carol Of The Bells" seems to have been tracked for the 1974 Perry Como Christmas Special (minus the singers). What was done in 78 seemed to be a lot of bridging material and remix of older material. But still, it is interesting how with the material coming from multiple years, Richard and Karen still managed to make an album that sounded like it had been done with a master plan of the album being like a symphonic concert, with an interlude midway through for refreshments. And it's incredible that in 1984 Richard was able to expand the Christmas Portrait album and still make it feel like you were at a symphony.

    As for "An Old-Fashioned Christmas", dvakman, when you look at side one (from "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" to "Little Altar Boy", there are only 2 songs by Karen ("Home For The Holidays" and "Little Altar Boy", with possible some vocals in the Overture), while the rest is Richard, with vocals on "It Came", "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and other Overture songs, and An Old-Fashioned Christmas. And the side 2 is Karen's side, where you sort of have a hand-off by Richard with "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and Karen finishing, and singing "He Came", "Santa Claus" "New Year's Eve" and "I Heard The Bells", with the only Richard tracks being the instrumentals "My Favorite Things" and "The Nutcracker".
     
    dvakman likes this.
  2. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    This has probably been posted on these forums before but it's new to me:

    Christmas Portrait Interview With Karen Carpenter (December 1978)
    The radio station is KIQQ in Los Angeles. Karen gives a few insights for each song before it is played. Always fascinating to hear her speak!

    Part 1:


    Part 2:


    Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J70xdSeJt6w
    Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9njv2mJEiEM
    Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBHgIWqSjf4
    Part 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asrlGBl7R7I
     
    MissK likes this.
  3. NowhereMan

    NowhereMan Member

    UT
    I first heard this album on a homemade cassette tape that had three different Christmas albums on it: Mannheim Steamroller, Julie Andrews and Carpenters. The tape wasn't quite long enough, so it cut off right before the end of "Carol of the Bells." I never knew about the rest of the album until I bought a vinyl copy later on. I don't think I'll ever tire of "Christmas Portrait." It's warm and rich, just like Christmas ought to be!
     
    dvakman likes this.
  4. NowhereMan

    NowhereMan Member

    UT
    I read this article in the Deseret News out of Salt Lake City years ago, but I've never forgotten it. Even though the author gets the date wrong for Karen's passing and the release of "Christmas Portrait: Special Edition," I appreciate the sentiments here. Karen really did produce some of her greatest work during some of the darkest times in her life. I think much great art is produced under similar circumstances.

    This is one of my favorite quotes from the article:"[Karen] suffered greatly from anorexia, as everyone knows. Her death was tragic. But her suffering didn't make it into her music. In concert, she continued to sing heart-warming songs. Some might claim that shows insincerity. I say it shows courage. She never showcased the dark side but always beamed light. She kept her personal suffering in the shadows as she encouraged and touched others. She was an inspiration."

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635171068/Carpenter-was-truly-a-woman-of-courage.html?pg=all
     
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  5. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    NowhereMan, he actually got the date wrong for the original Christmas Portrait, as Silent Night was the last song on side 1 of the original version in 1978.
     
  6. NowhereMan

    NowhereMan Member

    UT
    TomSwift, you're correct that Christmas Portrait was originally released in 1978, but I think that the author was referring to the Special Edition disc which was released in 1984. That would explain the reference to "Silent Night" being released the year after she died, even though he got the dates wrong. He didn't explicitly say which album it was, but that seemed like the most likely release that he would be referring to. :)
     
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The Inner Sleeve of 1978 Christmas Portrait
    specifically credits Richard Carpenter's Piano
    playing on Two Songs:
    Carol Of The Bells
    and,
    It's Christmas Time.
     
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    It had escaped my notice all theses years, but the beautiful illustration of Karen Carpenter--
    which can be seen on the Poster for the "Tribute To Karen Carpenter" 1983 in Long Beach
    with Richard Carpenter,John Bettis, Frank Pooler---
    was done by the same Robert Tanenbaum responsible for the cover illustrations of the Christmas Albums.
    Thus, I understand why he was, again, chosen for the Old-Fashioned Christmas artwork;
    but, it is strange that the 1978 and 1983 illustrations are so very good--- not so,in 1984.
     
  9. Someday

    Someday Active Member

    Karen during the KIQQ interview: "we cut far too many songs that didn't make the album - at least 12" ...
     
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    So, here is Part 8 of the (1984?) Japanese Special Sayonara,
    if you care to watch --and listen to--
    Ave Maria without the Choir:
     
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Coming soon to a forum near you...the complete 1983 Sayonara Carpenters and 2002 Carpenters Forever Japanese specials and the 1996 BBC TV documentary Yesterday Once More :)
     
    theninjarabbit likes this.
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Yes ! Stephen....
    I had never seen the Sayonara Specials....until today !
    And, lo and behold, from 1984 Richard Carpenter, in that Television Special,
    presents Ave Maria to the Japanese audience as "a present" for Christmas.
    Now, of course, my mind asks....exactly when did he decide to throw in the Choir ?
    I mean, wouldn't the An Old Fashioned Christmas LP already be "in the can" for USA release ?
     
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I notice the Billboard Ad for Christmas Portrait (1978)
    touts a 96-Voice Choir and 50-piece Orchestra.
    I don't recall seeing those numbers "in print" (although,obviously they may be somewhere else).
    Richard Carpenter ( Carpenter Web): ".... with an oversize studio orchestra and chorus..."
     
  14. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    In your album description for "Medium" type, you skipped 8 track. It is one of two Carpenters 8 tracks that I own. This is my favorite Christmas album in my collection. I also have it in the LP, cassette tape, "Special Edition" CD, and "Christmas Collection" CD formats as well. This also applies to the album information on the Resources page as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
    newvillefan likes this.
  15. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Thanks for pointing that out John! I've updated the thread :)
     
  16. Likewise - fixed in the Resource.
     
  17. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    It's kind of surprising that, considering that Christmas Portrait was released on so many formats, for CD release, A&M and Richard haven't used a LP or 8-track copy to release the original mixes (or even the West German CD release). Sure the release wouldn't be as good as coming from the original master tapes, but still, it would sound better than using 1/4" audio cassette.
     
  18. I’ve heard a number of fans on this forum mention how “their” Carpenters Christmas album is the horribly botched Special Edition version. That’s highly unfortunate. Beyond “the voice,” the songs and sequencing on the original LP are an important part of what make Christmas Portrait so special, by my ear (and heart).
     
    GaryAlan and Mark-T like this.
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    The other day I was listening to the 1995 3-inch CD single of "The Christmas Song/Winter Wonderland-Silver Bells-White Christmas" and I was surprised to hear just the remixed wobble-fade-out without the DX-7 piano. I'm used to hearing the 1996 CD that has the DX-7 playing over the wobble.
     
  20. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    GaryAlan, I just watched some of the Sayonara clip, and with this special it may be that, especially since Richard mentions that the clip is from the 78 special, and since TV was still, for the most part, mono in 1984, it may've been cheaper for the producers of the Sayonara special to just get a copy of the original video with the original audio, rather than having Richard and a VTR technician re-synch the 1984 version of "Ave Maria".
     
  21. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    I figure since we are all gearing up for 'holiday mode, not to mention the recent forum discussion regarding the upcoming Carpenters Christmas Memories DVD, it would be fitting to bump the Christmas album threads to the top! For those who have already contributed to this thread in previous years' discussion, feel free to continue adding new and fresh insights on this great music!
     
  22. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Listening to this today for the first time this Christmas season. Every time I hear it, I fall in love with Karen's incredible voice all over again!
     
    LondonRobert likes this.
  23. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Unexpected delight today. Upon my first listen to this album this year, I noticed a line of Richard singing that I'd never noticed before. At least I think it's him.

    It's on Santa Claus etc. . . and he comes in to harmonize with Karen on "be good for goodness sake". Love the way his vocals are sprinkled throughout the album.

    laters

    Neil
     
  24. Always a curiosity, and I’d be interested in hearing others’ theories: on the LP liner notes where the lyrics to “White Christmas” should have been, there’s a quick note, presumably from the duo, that reads, “'White Christmas' is the kind of Christmas song that should be listened to, and besides, we thought you might already know the words.”

    What on earth was that supposed to mean? I understand the song’s sentimental context related to the movie (i.e., soldiers abroad, longing for home during the holidays), but is there something more that I’m missing? It’s always been a puzzle to me.
     
  25. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    The reason for this is because composer Irving Berlin refused granting permission in the publishing of the lyrics, even to his closest colleagues. The song was never published in any major book publication, however only as an individual piece of sheet music through Hal Leonard publishing.
     

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