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A 1974 Album? What Would It Have Looked Like?

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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
The sales strength and chart time of The Singles 1969-1973 obviated any need on the part of
the record company (or the duo) to have to have an album (any album) in 1974.

Yes, don't discount the impact of SINGLES 1969-1973. It wasn't just a thrown-together greatest hits package. There was arranging to do, parts to be sung, and lots of studio work. "Ticket To Ride" got its total re-do here. The Overture needed to be arranged and recorded, and Karen's parts for the segues needed to be done. While it wasn't a full album's worth of work, it DID take time to accomplish what is now considered one of the best-ever compilation albums.

Harry
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
For me, the time between 78 (after Christmas Portrait was released) through 1981 (the time MIA was released) were really the key years that were wasted by not having any studio albums by Carpenters or Karen solo. We know now what issues were going on but from a fans perspective those were really wasted years.

It might have been a good idea to have released an album in May 1980 called Music Music Music culled from the tv show. However I guess that would have been difficult labeling it as A&M when ABC tv was involved. Still for me I'd much rather have had a new album from Carpenters in 79-80 rather than 1974. Yet another reason Karen's album should have been released if nothing else to bridge the time and keep their names in the business if only one of their names.
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
Great Topic... I had some fun researching 1973 and 1974 material that was out there - & wondered what Richard & Karen may have gravitated to - had they recorded an album in '74.... I knew some of these - & found the balance on You Tube - and the project made an otherwise boring Monday morning, kind of energized.... So here goes:

Album Title: Love Songs - Carpenters
Tracks:
Side One:
1) If You Love Me (Let Me Know) – (Olivia hit in 74)

2) Lay Me Down – (Barry Manilow album cut, Tryin’ to get the feeling again ’75)

3) A Love Song – (Anne Murray single, 1974)

4) You & Me Against The World (Helen Reddy, single 1974)

5) Love Me For What I Am – (assuming it could have been written earlier)


6) You’re Something New, Carol King

7) The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Jimmy Webb

8) Loneliness – (from a Paul Williams album in 1974. (I’m sure RC would have tweaked a lyric or two – but it is a pretty song)

9) A Kind Of Hush

10) Clouds – (from David Gates, 1973)

I "pulled" 4 singles here... And notice, Hush is an album cut here - which means the 1976 album would have been entitled: Wide Awake at 4 AM.... and maybe include Rainbow Connection or Ordinary Fool.... By the way, the replacement for Love Me For What I am - is It's Impossible...

Pretty detailed fantasy, huh? :wink:

Thanks again for the thread concept! :)
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
For me, the time between 78 (after Christmas Portrait was released) through 1981 (the time MIA was released) were really the key years that were wasted by not having any studio albums by Carpenters or Karen solo. We know now what issues were going on but from a fans perspective those were really wasted years.

It might have been a good idea to have released an album in May 1980 called Music Music Music culled from the tv show. However I guess that would have been difficult labeling it as A&M when ABC tv was involved. Still for me I'd much rather have had a new album from Carpenters in 79-80 rather than 1974. Yet another reason Karen's album should have been released if nothing else to bridge the time and keep their names in the business if only one of their names.

Oh yes. I've always believe the 1980 album should have been a version of Music, Music, Music. These were clearly songs that the C's loved (they both loved standards and one of Richard's many regrets is never getting around to record a standards album) and they spent time in the studio recording the music for the special anyway (and loved how it turned to the point they made copies of the recordings for their personal collections, something that must have meant something to Karen, since Richard has said many times she didn't have a large record collection and preferred to listen to songs on the radio). They just needed to record a full more full length songs and they could have had an album. Maybe it wouldn't have produced any top 40 hits, but then outside of "Touch Me" neither did MIA, and would have put them out of their comfort zone just a bit (at least Richard's, we know Karen was willing to do different things - she was the one who picked "Sweet Sweet Smile" which became a country hit and then there's the solo album. MIA would still have been released in 1981 (although I still don't think it was worth it by making Karen do publicity in her state) and it would have kept the Carpenters out there.

IF Karen's solo album had been released in early-mid 1980, and a MMM style album in late 1980, then by the time MIA was released they wouldn't have to answer questions on "where they had been" (two LPs in one year is the answer) or about their "squeaky clean image" (Karen's album being released in '80, AND her doing publicity for it - which she was better shape to do in '80 - would have already answered that question). But that is a lot of What If's (pretty much a lot of what could have happened to the Carpenters' career had different decisions been made AFTER 1974 is a giant What If? question).

But I still don't think even in 1980, their career on the top 40 or as huge artists would have changed that much no matter what they released (as a group, not KC solo). They were in decline, and would have had (even if Karen had to drag Richard to do it) to get away from the soft MIA formula to survive/thrive.

1974 is a very different story. They were at the top and could have released almost anything that year (well, maybe not "Goofus") and it would have hit the top 20 or even the top 10. Yet they didn't - for WHATEVER reason - and starting with "Solitaire" in mid-'75 their times on the charts when into irreversible decline with never another top 10 hit.

Great Topic... I had some fun researching 1973 and 1974 material that was out there - & wondered what Richard & Karen may have gravitated to - had they recorded an album in '74.... I knew some of these - & found the balance on You Tube - and the project made an otherwise boring Monday morning, kind of energized.... So here goes:

Album Title: Love Songs - Carpenters
Tracks:
Side One:
1) If You Love Me (Let Me Know) – (Olivia hit in 74)

2) Lay Me Down – (Barry Manilow album cut, Tryin’ to get the feeling again ’75)

3) A Love Song – (Anne Murray single, 1974)

4) You & Me Against The World (Helen Reddy, single 1974)

5) Love Me For What I Am – (assuming it could have been written earlier)


6) You’re Something New, Carol King

7) The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Jimmy Webb

8) Loneliness – (from a Paul Williams album in 1974. (I’m sure RC would have tweaked a lyric or two – but it is a pretty song)

9) A Kind Of Hush

10) Clouds – (from David Gates, 1973)

I "pulled" 4 singles here... And notice, Hush is an album cut here - which means the 1976 album would have been entitled: Wide Awake at 4 AM.... and maybe include Rainbow Connection or Ordinary Fool.... By the way, the replacement for Love Me For What I am - is It's Impossible...

Pretty detailed fantasy, huh? :wink:

Thanks again for the thread concept! :)

I like a lot of these these songs (I actually think with a slight lyric change to make the relationship different, "You and Me Against The World" sung by Karen AND Richard would have equaled the Helen Reddy version. Also, with all due respect to Richard and John Bettis, I really think Paul Williams should have been to Karen, what Bacharach was to Dionne. Pretty much her personal songwriter. Almost ALL his songs (with Nichols and without) seemed made for her. Sometimes I'll listen to his albums (especially after 1975 and the Carpenter decline) and say "why didn't Richard just have Karen re-record THAT Williams song?" Even if you just listen to Williams's Ordinary Fool LP from 1975, not only does it contain the title track (which the Carpenters recorded at least as a work lead, but never released in Karen's lifetime), but "Loneliness" (which you cite), "Lonestar", "Don't Call it Love" and most of all, "Lifeboat" (for those haven't heard that song, please do, and tell me if that doesn't just reek of a Carpenters hit). To this day, I'm still confused as to why Richard turned down "An Old-Fashioned Love Song", which Paul wrote for the Carpenters, and which Three Dog Night made into a #4 hit.
I have a whole Spotify playlist of Songs Carpenters Should Have Recorded (in KC's lifetime) and always add when I hear good suggestions. At this point I've got 57 songs already on that list of songs they never did, but would have been perfect with Karen's vocal (and RC's arrangements). Some of your songs are already on it, but I'll add the others.

For some of these however, UNLESS the Carpenters got to the song first (which I think is what you're suggesting), I'm not huge on the C's recording songs for singles that others had already made hits (that was my problem with releasing "A Kind of Hush" as a single, and even naming their album after it). For me, it will always be a Herman's Hermits song. The C's (and Richard in particular) greatest talent was in finding songs that other had previously recorded but NOT made famous (Close to You, We've Only Just Begun, Hurting Each Other, For All We Know) and making it their own, so that you come to think of those songs as Carpenter songs, and not the artists who first sang it. I think its when Richard seemed to be no longer unable to do that starting with HUSH that partially explains the decline. The Carpenters basically started to become a cover band of someone else's hit, and not making it THEIR hit.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
And, dammit, why didn't Richard let her belt more? Some people today take her lack of belting/power as a limit of her vocal talent, but listening to songs here and there and you can hear that she really could do it, it was just severely underutilized by Richard's arrangements which hemmed that in. It wasn't really a deviation from her natural, calm, easy going style, but simply another part of it. In 1977, when her voice changed even more, she said that even if she screamed she probably wouldn't be as loud as others. But listen to her even on 60's recordings like "And When I Die" or "Eve" and you can hear how her belt already felt so developed - she could of easily have matched Streisand's level of power into the 70s.

One of the reasons I LOVE the Richard Carpenter Trio version of "Dancing in the Street" they did twice on Your All-American College Show was the way 18-year old Karen practically belts that song from the drums. Even if that was her dreaded "head voice" Richard didn't like - she still sounds great (the judges on those shows they were on thought so since they won both times, and one of those judges, John Wayne was so taken with her he wanted her to be Matty in True Grit after seeing her on the show). Compare that 1968 "Dancing in the Street" to the overly arranged softer version they did in 1978 for Space Encounters. Anyone who says Karen couldn't rock - she could. Except after "Close to You" Richard really didn't let her and by MIA, the softness in their sound was at its nadir. Karen's solo album is very uneven and some of the songs aren't that great (and frankly in 79-80 she should have been in therapy, Richard is dead on about that) but it does show she was still capable of that kind of sound.

Ironically, in a way, "Please Mr. Postman" is rock song (of sorts). When they Carpenters stopped doing songs like that (I don't mean more Marvellettes covers - Beechwood showed that) - song with a toe-tapping beat, instead of ballads (which the radio DJs were tired of) the started to sink. Another reason the decisions made in 74-75 were so important.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
"All You Get From a Love Song" is so superior to "A Kind of Hush" it's not even funny. If that had been released as the first track in a '75 or '76 album it would have been a top 10 hit. But it does go to show not only the fickleness of the public (though the albums still sold well until MIA) but particularly the radio stations, and Richard could not adjust (and just like with blaming the touring as the sole reason for no '74 album, I don't think sleeping pill issues were all to blame either).
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
Great posts, fellas. No question that '74 was the year when things went off-track: Karen falling into the long, serpentine siege of her eating disorder; the lack of commensurate emotional reward relative to the level of success they'd achieved; Richard feeling snubbed and under-appreciated for his contributions to the C's commercial and artistic success--which likely contributed to his "foul mood" and what appears to be a protracted dry spell in creating new songs.

But maybe it all started when they took an expedient step and recorded all of those oldies for Now & Then. Wonderful as "Yesterday Once More" is, it seemed to spark a sad, elegiac tone in the C's music that became more prominent from that point forward. And relying on oldies may have brought them some hit singles, but the long-term effect of such an approach was not a good one.

We will always have to wonder if the C's situation could have been turned around by Terry Ellis. But Karen's first serious bout with anorexia and the end of their romantic involvement took him out of the loop, leaving them for Jerry Weintraub, who was less than the sum of his parts as a so-called "creative" manager.

Even the drop in popularity from 1976 to '77 was huge - a cute, but bland track like "A Kind of Hush" hits #12(!) and just a year later a fresh, exciting record like "AYGFLIALS" only goes to #35.

Yes, I think this point cannot be overemphasized...the change in the music scene from 1975-78, particularly the AM charts where Richard still wanted to live, was as rapid and anarchic as any time in pop music history. It goes a long way in explaining why the Passage LP is so diverse stylistically--Richard seemed to be almost frantically covering as many bases as he could in hopes that somehow he would strike commercial gold.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
Great posts, fellas. No question that '74 was the year when things went off-track: Karen falling into the long, serpentine siege of her eating disorder; the lack of commensurate emotional reward relative to the level of success they'd achieved; Richard feeling snubbed and under-appreciated for his contributions to the C's commercial and artistic success--which likely contributed to his "foul mood" and what appears to be a protracted dry spell in creating new songs.

But maybe it all started when they took an expedient step and recorded all of those oldies for Now & Then. Wonderful as "Yesterday Once More" is, it seemed to spark a sad, elegiac tone in the C's music that became more prominent from that point forward. And relying on oldies may have brought them some hit singles, but the long-term effect of such an approach was not a good one.

We will always have to wonder if the C's situation could have been turned around by Terry Ellis. But Karen's first serious bout with anorexia and the end of their romantic involvement took him out of the loop, leaving them for Jerry Weintraub, who was less than the sum of his parts as a so-called "creative" manager.

Yes, I think this point cannot be overemphasized...the change in the music scene from 1975-78, particularly the AM charts where Richard still wanted to live, was as rapid and anarchic as any time in pop music history. It goes a long way in explaining why the Passage LP is so diverse stylistically--Richard seemed to be almost frantically covering as many bases as he could in hopes that somehow he would strike commercial gold.

There a lot of ironies here.
1) For all his perceived snubbing in the mid-70s, Richard gets a ton of the credit these days for the Carpenters from the media and other music professionals. Yes, everyone still wants to talk to him about Karen (I think he expects that) but in every documentary I've seen (and in the Coleman book of course) everyone from fellow musicians, to Herb and Jerry, to (while she was alive) Karen herself always pointed to Richard as the mastermind of the Carpenters. Richard's composing, Richard's arranging, Richard's genius. Whatever snubs he felt by the press and the public in the past (and I think the way MIA is supremely a "Richard Carpenter" album in tone and in liner notes fact, rather than a "Richard and Karen Carpenter" one shows this sense of feeling the need to establish himself), he certainly gets his due today.

2) The Oldies gave the Carpenters hits in this early period (I would argue the C's were so huge in the early 70s they could have put almost anything on the top 20) and for some reason they kept going to that well. Even Postman (another song Richard now says he shouldn't have recorded!) probably gave them the false confidence they could do that again - hence we get the single releases of a "Goofus" or "Beechwood".

3) Jerry Weintraub was absolutely the wrong person at the wrong time (didn't I read somewhere that Karen was literally his only female client!). After bringing back Elvis and Sinatra to the national eye in widely regarded concert tours, he wanted to treat the Carpenters as the Sinatra of their generation (a good thought) but that also mean treating them as if they were a group in their 40s-50s making a comeback, instead of two people still in the mid to late 20s who just had a top #4 hit a year earlier. Just look at Karen as she appears on the Como Special in late 74 and then on the (highly regarded) Horizon cover. Doesn't she look young and hip and...25?

Then take a look at her in late 76 at the New London Theatre Concert (which was a replay of their Palladium and other concerts post-Weintraub). She looks like she's ten years older than 26, in a white flowing gown more suited to a grand dame, doing an act more at home in Branson or Vegas or Tahoe (the latter two being Carpenter concert staples), ending the show on a medley of Carpenter hits rather than their latest material, and the only drumming she's allowed to do is a one-number speciality act cooked up by Ken and Mitzi Welch. A far cry from the 1968-73ish Karen who was still allowed on the drums and able to dress how she wanted. Weintraub basically turned two twenty-somethings into a band that basically played only their old music and had bad jokes and schtick, instead of new original tunes. He also signed them to TV deals (which was a good idea since it kept them in the public eye and off the road constantly) that ended up so bad, Richard now loathes them. Yet..if Weintraub had become their manager in the late 80s (when their heyday was done and they needed to keep in the public eye) instead of the late 70s, all of these things that hurt their career in the 70s might have been useful.

4) Except for being too brief and a few songs (*ugh*"Man Smart, Women Smarter") Passage is much, much, better than HUSH. It has some great tunes in it and it shows the Carpenters were more than just a soft pop band. If something like it had been made in 76 instead of 77, maybe things could have been different. As it is when the duo got back together in 1980 when Richard was "healthy" again, they made HUSH 2: Electric Boogaloo (aka Made in America) as if the experimental Passage never happened, and even though Karen, at least, knew the style of music was passe (I think her album for all its faults does pick up on the music zeitgeist of 1979 when it was made).
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
There a lot of ironies here.
1) For all his perceived snubbing in the mid-70s, Richard gets a ton of the credit these days for the Carpenters from the media and other music professionals. Yes, everyone still wants to talk to him about Karen (I think he expects that) but in every documentary I've seen (and in the Coleman book of course) everyone from fellow musicians, to Herb and Jerry, to (while she was alive) Karen herself always pointed to Richard as the mastermind of the Carpenters. Richard's composing, Richard's arranging, Richard's genius. Whatever snubs he felt by the press and the public in the past (and I think the way MIA is supremely a "Richard Carpenter" album in tone and in liner notes fact, rather than a "Richard and Karen Carpenter" one shows this sense of feeling the need to establish himself), he certainly gets his due today.

2) The Oldies gave the Carpenters hits in this early period (I would argue the C's were so huge in the early 70s they could have put almost anything on the top 20) and for some reason they kept going to that well. Even Postman (another song Richard now says he shouldn't have recorded!) probably gave them the false confidence they could do that again - hence we get the single releases of a "Goofus" or "Beechwood".

3) Jerry Weintraub was absolutely the wrong person at the wrong time (didn't I read somewhere that Karen was literally his only female client!). After bringing back Elvis and Sinatra to the national eye in widely regarded concert tours, he wanted to treat the Carpenters as the Sinatra of their generation (a good thought) but that also mean treating them as if they were a group in their 40s-50s making a comeback, instead of two people still in the mid to late 20s who just had a top #4 hit a year earlier. Just look at Karen as she appears on the Como Special in late 74 and then on the (highly regarded) Horizon cover. Doesn't she look young and hip and...25?

Then take a look at her in late 76 at the New London Theatre Concert (which was a replay of their Palladium and other concerts post-Weintraub). She looks like she's ten years older than 26, in a white flowing gown more suited to a grand dame, doing an act more at home in Branson or Vegas or Tahoe (the latter two being Carpenter concert staples), ending the show on a medley of Carpenter hits rather than their latest material, and the only drumming she's allowed to do is a one-number speciality act cooked up by Ken and Mitzi Welch. A far cry from the 1968-73ish Karen who was still allowed on the drums and able to dress how she wanted. Weintraub basically turned two twenty-somethings into a band that basically played only their old music and had bad jokes and schtick, instead of new original tunes. He also signed them to TV deals (which was a good idea since it kept them in the public eye and off the road constantly) that ended up so bad, Richard now loathes them. Yet..if Weintraub had become their manager in the late 80s (when their heyday was done and they needed to keep in the public eye) instead of the late 70s, all of these things that hurt their career in the 70s might have been useful.

4) Except for being too brief and a few songs (*ugh*"Man Smart, Women Smarter") Passage is much, much, better than HUSH. It has some great tunes in it and it shows the Carpenters were more than just a soft pop band. If something like it had been made in 76 instead of 77, maybe things could have been different. As it is when the duo got back together in 1980 when Richard was "healthy" again, they made HUSH 2: Electric Boogaloo (aka Made in America) as if the experimental Passage never happened, and even though Karen, at least, knew the style of music was passe (I think her album for all its faults does pick up on the music zeitgeist of 1979 when it was made).

I think your point number 3 is fabulous. I agree whole-hardheartedly. JWs direction, leading them to some hybrid Donny and Marie, Sonny & Cher wave of TV shtick was THE absolute worst decision. I can't speak to the need for personal therapy and the timing there-of - but I will say career-wise, a special more along the lines of the Elvis 68 program - or the Streisand @ Central Park triumph is more of what they needed. Let the quality shine through. Not the schmaltz.
Likewise, the Palladium album cover - versus Horizon. What the hell happened? It's like Carol Burnett's costume closet fell open on top of Kim Carnes!

Musically, who can say? Their initial ascent came with a counter culture slant, so avoiding dance songs could still have worked, but in a year when The Hustle was the number one song of the summer, they did seem a bit out of touch with Hush as a single, & an album title. And I have never ever liked the artwork on that one.

And as much as I loved AYGFLIALS - and I truly did - I thought even as it was new and starting to climb the charts - that it was much more MOR and 'elevator-ish', (with the sax solo and the Carpette's sound), than current. To me, that song is more out of sync on Passage than Postman is on Horizon. B'Wana should have been the lead single.

Don't get me wrong... In a venue like this - it's fun to dissect the choices and the timing... but at the end of the day, I am so glad we have each and every syllable & each and every photograph that could have been captured by the duo.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Some wonderful analysis in this thread.
I'll never forget Richard Carpenter's comment,regarding Carpenters, attributed to Jerry Weintraub:
"You are the Perry Como's of your generation."
And, how they played into that !
Wrong direction to steer the duo !
And, then, on the recent Como Christmas DVD,
Richard Carpenter, again, saying :"Image is everything"
Full circle, there!
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
I think your point number 3 is fabulous. I agree whole-hardheartedly. JWs direction, leading them to some hybrid Donny and Marie, Sonny & Cher wave of TV shtick was THE absolute worst decision. I can't speak to the need for personal therapy and the timing there-of - but I will say career-wise, a special more along the lines of the Elvis 68 program - or the Streisand @ Central Park triumph is more of what they needed. Let the quality shine through. Not the schmaltz.
Likewise, the Palladium album cover - versus Horizon. What the hell happened? It's like Carol Burnett's costume closet fell open on top of Kim Carnes!

Musically, who can say? Their initial ascent came with a counter culture slant, so avoiding dance songs could still have worked, but in a year when The Hustle was the number one song of the summer, they did seem a bit out of touch with Hush as a single, & an album title. And I have never ever liked the artwork on that one.

I've always imagined that their SECOND TV Specials (the first one wasn't so bad) should have been a live performance, perhaps at the Hollywood Bowl (where the RC Trio won the Battle of the Bands). They then could have followed that up with a Christmas Special, modeled after Como's, sans Harvey Korman or Kukla or Ollie.

It's just that.. the C's went from being on the cover of Rolling Stone (in a story that didn't mock them) in '74, ending that year with two of their best recordings (Postman and Santa Claus) to less than two years later being basically an old fogey act (in their 20s!), dressing old, doing comedy schtick, removing KC from the drums for ALL songs, basically doing medleys of their old hits and putting out an album which was named after and which their first (and thus primary) single was yet another cover of an oldie that had been a hit for someone else. All in the span of two years!

I wonder if Karen had a say in any of this (and thus may have led to her feelings of powerlessness and thus the eating disorder) and Richard seems to be out of it at this time (by his own admission). Yet in interviews during this period they both seemed gung ho about the changes! The same siblings who complained in Rolling Stone in '74 and then again in People in '76 how they hated their goody two shoes image and they weren't squares. Yet what they were doing professionally was the exact opposite.

The reality is I think the Carpenters would have, in the long run, professionally and personally taken all of 1976 (rather than '79 or '80 or '81) off. What would we have missed? The first TV special? Fine. The A Kind of Hush LP? Fine. Outside of "I Need to Be in Love" and "You" there is nothing in that album that I would really miss. And they still would have gone on a 1977 Passage album (which only had 8 cuts). Richard could have dealt with his sleeping pills issues, and Karen could have completely recovered from her collapse and sought help for the reasons behind it (even if they didn't know then it was anorexia nervosa). She seemed willing to do so in '76 at least, acknowledging in interviews that she had lost too much weight and gaining some back in '76. I think a Passage like album would have been better received in '77 if here hadn't been the blandest of bland MOR Hush album before it.

Some wonderful analysis in this thread.
I'll never forget Richard Carpenter's comment,regarding Carpenters, attributed to Jerry Weintraub:
"You are the Perry Como's of your generation."
And, how they played into that !
Wrong direction to steer the duo !
And, then, on the recent Como Christmas DVD,
Richard Carpenter, again, saying :"Image is everything"
Full circle, there!

There's a quote somewhere, I think in the biography of Sinatra by one of his daughters (Nancy?), that if Frank hadn't been so pugnacious, nervous, angry, excitable, striking out out at everything and anyone he would have been...Perry Como. Sinatra is now a titan and an icon, Como mostly remembered only by true music lovers. Perry was a great singer and by all accounts an even greater man personally, devoted to his family and faith over his career. Generally, he was liked by everyone. And one could argue that personality wise the Carpenter siblings were more like Como than Sinatra BUT that's not who they wanted to be. Como could care less what the media/music press thought of him. The Carpenters, up until MIA, seemed desperate to shed their image and get, to use the common parlance, "street cred", among the music and media press and professionals. That's why Richard complained about it in every single interview. It's partly why Karen tried to change up her image with the solo album. Even if they were "Comos" at heart, they wanted to be "Sinatras" - but under Weintraub they weren't.

It would've been interesting to have seen the Carpenters record an album based on the "Grease" stage play.

An album LIKE Grease - a concept album perhaps - but not "Grease". The Grease medley they did in concert is cringe-inducing (though it enabled Karen to play the comic) and just played up the idea that these twenty-something siblings were an oldies band. They should have been singing new material, even if they hadn't recorded it yet, as they did in the early days of their career.

Although I have to admit, I would have loved to see Karen and her real-life bestie, ONJ, do a Grease number on a special, with Karen doing her Rizzo and ONJ being Sandy. The idea they never dueted together at all is criminal.
 

Eyewire

Well-Known Member
One of the reasons I LOVE the Richard Carpenter Trio version of "Dancing in the Street" they did twice on Your All-American College Show was the way 18-year old Karen practically belts that song from the drums. Even if that was her dreaded "head voice" Richard didn't like - she still sounds great (the judges on those shows they were on thought so since they won both times, and one of those judges, John Wayne was so taken with her he wanted her to be Matty in True Grit after seeing her on the show). Compare that 1968 "Dancing in the Street" to the overly arranged softer version they did in 1978 for Space Encounters. Anyone who says Karen couldn't rock - she could. Except after "Close to You" Richard really didn't let her and by MIA, the softness in their sound was at its nadir. Karen's solo album is very uneven and some of the songs aren't that great (and frankly in 79-80 she should have been in therapy, Richard is dead on about that) but it does show she was still capable of that kind of sound.

Ironically, in a way, "Please Mr. Postman" is rock song (of sorts). When they Carpenters stopped doing songs like that (I don't mean more Marvellettes covers - Beechwood showed that) - song with a toe-tapping beat, instead of ballads (which the radio DJs were tired of) the started to sink. Another reason the decisions made in 74-75 were so important.

Yes, I also prefer the Richard Carpenter Trio version of Dancing in the Street to the later version they did. It's more spontaneous and full of life.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
I guess I'm in thee minority here as I prefer the more polished disco version.

Same here. Richard explained in the "As Time Goes By" liner notes that he deliberately wanted to retain the sound of the original Martha & the Vandellas version, so hired its arranger, Paul Riser. Given that he went to such trouble, it's extra-strange that they didn't do a full length version and just edit it for "Space Encounters".
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
Same here. Richard explained in the "As Time Goes By" liner notes that he deliberately wanted to retain the sound of the original Martha & the Vandellas version, so hired its arranger, Paul Riser. Given that he went to such trouble, it's extra-strange that they didn't do a full length version and just edit it for "Space Encounters".
I think I got a note from the Fan Club somewhere around this time that Dancing was "possibly" going to be a single. That - clearly, never happened. Maybe it was potentially from the infamous never released 1979 Decade album...???
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I think I got a note from the Fan Club somewhere around this time that Dancing was "possibly" going to be a single. That - clearly, never happened. Maybe it was potentially from the infamous never released 1979 Decade album...???

I'm glad the supposed 1979 album never happened. It would have been a total flop.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Some 1974 Statistics:
The Fan Club Itinerary lists a tentative schedule of 133 tour dates ( February 1st to December 1st).
The Decade Book:
Three Released Singles (I Won't Last A Day, Postman & Santa)
No Released Album
Three 1974 Television Appearances ( Grammy, Pops, Como)
Seven Awards from Japan in 1974
Two Platinum Netherlands Awards in 1974
Four Gold Awards UK in 1974
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
You know, I bet the release of a '74 album is near the top of Richard's "if only" list.

To me, Karen's vocals on the redo of Top of the World and Ticket to Ride recorded in the fall of '73 are her best ever. As gorgeous as she always sounded, especially on Horizon and Portrait, her vocals on the above 2 are just like cream. Had she recorded an album 6 months later we'd have 10 songs with STUNNINGLY consistent perfection.

Richard was still bubbling with the raw creativity of AS4U and just before the sophisticated arrangements he fashioned for Horizon - the tracks would have likely been his best. What's more, had they made the descision to cut out a large segment of that years touring he'd have had the time to fashion a masterwork, something he didn't have the luxury of doing with Now and Then.

With regards to what songs would've been on there? I don't have a clue. I doubt he would have visited anything they'd tackled previously, as lovely as a Bacharach medley would've been. No, I think we'd have the usual selection of good songs, mostly contemporary, some familiar, most not, with a couple of original compositions on there. . .again, he and Bettis would've had time to create without deadline restrictions.

How would it have performed? Critically, I think it would've gone down well. Horizon was well-received shortly thereafter. Commercially, most likely their most successful album in the States. As others have stated, a 2 year old song almost went top 10, and an oldie rocketed to number 1 in Jan '75. The public WANTED Carpenters product in mid-'74 and Radio stations had not yet turned against them (according to fellow members who lived through it all). Had they released an album in June of '74 it most likely would've got to No 1.

In my home country of the UK, the Carpenters were Gods in '74. On July 6th 1974 The Singles '69-'73 gave up the No1 spot on our charts for the last time, after 17 WEEKS at the top. What's more, it wouldn't drop out of the UK Album Top 20 until 18th October 1975. It was the 3rd Biggest album of the DECADE. Imagine if a new album had come out in June '74. They'd most likely have had the No1 and No2 albums in the country for weeks on end. 1 year later Horizon got to No1 for a month. Even Hush got to No. 3.

Would it have altered their decline. No. But it most likely would have slowed it. But perhaps more significant to their psyches would have been NOT touring like mad people for a year. Richard's stated that he was in a depressive funk from late '74 through the Horizon sessions. It's quite possible this funk was kick-started by the incessant globe-trotting. . .not having a place to call home. Karen's problems were complex and deep-seated, but that years touring couldn't have helped her mind-set either. Had both had this year to record, to create, to relax, then maybe the 'ludes wouldn't have sucked him in as much, maybe Hush would have been a much better Album, maybe the first 4 specials would've been MMM calibre.

That's alot of "maybes" but then, with the Carpenters cut off in their prime, "maybes" will always haunt this forum.

BUT. . .we still got lots of great music from the duo for the following 8 years so let's focus on that.

Laters, Guys

Neil
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
How about a few snippets from....
Coleman, 1994, Carpenters Untold Story:
Tour Itinerary (Page 137) (per Richard Carpenter):
1971 (145 concerts)
1972 (174)
1973 (174)
1974 (203)
1975 (118).
Also, this (my underlining):
(1) Page 137: "Richard agrees that neither he nor Karen contested their schedules."
(2) Ibid, "He believes they were overbooked rather than overworked."
(3) Ibid,P.138, Richard..."Travelling to Japan and Britain,well, that was necessary, but to have been flogging around the U.S. like that..."
(4) Ibid,P.138 Richard..."I would have been much happier working on records than out on the road.
We would have had a lot more records out there, and we would have made a lot more money."
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I sure wish the general public---at least in America-- would realize all of the great Music which
came after 1973 ( excepting Christmas Songs) ....UK was blessed with The Single 1974-1978,
I found my LP in the 'Import' section here....
Also, Passage and Made In America were resounding successes in the UK, not so in America....
My point in all of this--and the A&M Press Kit from 1981 substantiates this---the differences between how
the duo were perceived and appreciated overseas is at variance with what was happening in America (at that time).
1974....for whatever the "maybe's" there are....does mark a definite turning point in America.
The Boston Pops performance as visual and sonic proof, the duo certainly seemed to be in fine form mid-1974.
(So, for instance, why was Look To Your Dreams not recorded at the time ?)
And, of the singles in 1974, only Postman was brand new. (The other two had tracks laid in 1972).
However, I still remain skeptical in placing the blame in the duo's downturn on excess touring resulting in a
decrease in product or creativity. Other factors were at play.
I do note that (IMHO):
firing Jack Daugherty, firing Sherwin Bash,firing Neil Sedaka created circumstances that eventually snow-balled into negativity.
There are simply more things going on behind the scenes than we will ever be privy to.
The music, luckily, remains--and, is easy to focus upon---which is the primary reason we remain ardent fans after so many years.
However, I do not feel that an analysis of those other factors---unless completely unwarranted---is necessarily detrimental
to the lasting Carpenters' legacy. (After all, this is why Biographies are written.....people are interested in people as people...)
1974 makes for a very interesting partition !
 

Superstar

Rainy Day and Monday Specialist
How about a few snippets from....
Coleman, 1994, Carpenters Untold Story:
Tour Itinerary (Page 137) (per Richard Carpenter):
1971 (145 concerts)
1972 (174)
1973 (174)
1974 (203)
1975 (118).
Also, this (my underlining):
(1) Page 137: "Richard agrees that neither he nor Karen contested their schedules."
(2) Ibid, "He believes they were overbooked rather than overworked."
(3) Ibid,P.138, Richard..."Travelling to Japan and Britain,well, that was necessary, but to have been flogging around the U.S. like that..."
(4) Ibid,P.138 Richard..."I would have been much happier working on records than out on the road.
We would have had a lot more records out there, and we would have made a lot more money."

Wow... thanks for this post. Stunning to see the numbers like that. No time to live one's life when you're traveling like that. Truly exhausting just thinking about it!
 

Superstar

Rainy Day and Monday Specialist
Interesting analysis. One thing that always confounds me is that, with or without Karen, Richard is a creative musician. I would think that, even without his sister and professional partner, he would still find fulfillment in producing, creating, and recording new music either by himself or with others. It makes me crazy that all that talent sits silent after all these years. I can understand time off, a decade or so, to raise the family; however, I did think that after a while he would long for the creative processes again. I miss him. I miss his music. That's almost as sad to me as Karen's passing in a way. He's still with us. Where is the music?
Maybe he feels like he's done all he wanted to do? Maybe he feels like 'What's the point? I'll never get to that level of success again?' Maybe he feels like he's already attempted a solo career and there was no real market for it? Or, maybe, simply, there are no artists with whom he cares to work? He might produce if asked... but can you see Richard producing some of today's music acts? Unless someone of his generation or a singer like (maybe) Adele or Rumer wanted him, I just don't see the market for his skills. I am sure he has some conflictions and strong feelings about it either way.
 
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