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A 1974 Album? What Would It Have Looked Like?

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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
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.

Couldn't agree more Neil. To have an album full of songs with the vocal quality heard on Yesterday Once More, Ticket To Ride (Remix), Our Day Will Come, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, End Of The World and others would be absolute heaven.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
Couldn't agree more Neil. To have an album full of songs with the vocal quality heard on Yesterday Once More, Ticket To Ride (Remix), Our Day Will Come, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, End Of The World and others would be absolute heaven.

I know. . .they're criminally indulgent aren't they.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Couldn't agree more Neil. To have an album full of songs with the vocal quality heard on Yesterday Once More, Ticket To Ride (Remix), Our Day Will Come, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, End Of The World and others would be absolute heaven.
I know others would disagree but I have always believed that Karen's vocal quality was always there. It was the latter part of their career that the songs changed, for instance the tracks in MIA are mostly in a much higher key and Karen is singing much higher. I strongly feel had the songs from MIA been in the same key range as Yesterday Once More, Ticket to Ride, Santa Claus etc..MIA would have given off a whole different feel to the listeners. Karen really can't be faulted for songs that were written and produced in a higher range.

I know this is where I disagree with everyone but I firmly believe Karen could have recorded an album in 1981 in which she sounded vocally just like she sounded on the album Horizon. I think Karen was so gifted not just vocally but she could take a moment before a song and she put herself into a certain mood and then outcomes these incredible feelings and emotions expressed in her actions within the lyrics. Her lower basement vocals were always there.

Check out Karen before she sings the live version of I Need To Be In Love on The Bruce Forsyth Show, she literally takes a few seconds and she is 110% into the song emotionally and vocally. It was even easier for her to do this in the studio.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I know others would disagree but I have always believed that Karen's vocal quality was always there. It was the latter part of their career that the songs changed, for instance the tracks in MIA are mostly in a much higher key and Karen is singing much higher. I strongly feel had the songs from MIA been in the same key range as Yesterday Once More, Ticket to Ride, Santa Claus etc..MIA would have given off a whole different feel to the listeners. Karen really can't be faulted for songs that were written and produced in a higher range.

Ironically, the single richest moment for me on the MIA album is on the track it's usually most panned for, that first time Karen sings the line "because you are in love". Just sublime. She did still have it in later years but it was at its richest for me in 1973/1974. She had lost the occasional 'shouty' tendency that was present in some songs on the first two albums and had really gotten comfortable in her own vocal skin.
 

K.C. Jr

Well-Known Member
I know others would disagree but I have always believed that Karen's vocal quality was always there. It was the latter part of their career that the songs changed, for instance the tracks in MIA are mostly in a much higher key and Karen is singing much higher. I strongly feel had the songs from MIA been in the same key range as Yesterday Once More, Ticket to Ride, Santa Claus etc..MIA would have given off a whole different feel to the listeners. Karen really can't be faulted for songs that were written and produced in a higher range.

I know this is where I disagree with everyone but I firmly believe Karen could have recorded an album in 1981 in which she sounded vocally just like she sounded on the album Horizon. I think Karen was so gifted not just vocally but she could take a moment before a song and she put herself into a certain mood and then outcomes these incredible feelings and emotions expressed in her actions within the lyrics. Her lower basement vocals were always there.

Check out Karen before she sings the live version of I Need To Be In Love on The Bruce Forsyth Show, she literally takes a few seconds and she is 110% into the song emotionally and vocally. It was even easier for her to do this in the studio.
Actually, I agree with everything you said here. Perfectly summed up, Rick (who I don't believe is a fool at all!) :thumbsup:
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
My observations on this topic- I have always thought that maybe Richard's main focus post Karen was preserving the legacy of the duo. Perhaps wanting to have more of a normal life than in the past limited his available time or interest in other projects. I have no doubt Karen was disappointed and maybe even angry about the shelving of her solo project, (I don't think anyone would work that hard on a disc just for fun instead of wanting it released), but she had a choice to remain part of Carpenters as well as possibly legal obligations. Perhaps these are the parts I disagree with you on, Charlie.

Re: MIA, I think Richard wanted Karen to sing higher and softer based on the songs he picked. At the time of recording, she could still hit the money notes in the basement (Ella Medley and Make It Easy on Yourself from MMM and those songs released later from the same sessions). Yet I do think her energy/strength was missing as evidenced by Touch Me live.

I find the Streisand/Karen comparison interesting. While they both sing with precision, Barbra never can- in least in my ears- come across as warm, tender, or vulnerable. That's something which made Karen unique and endearing to her fans. Because of the lack of perceived toughness, it's unfortunate so many in the industry did not treat Karen with the respect Streisand achieved.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
I know others would disagree but I have always believed that Karen's vocal quality was always there. It was the latter part of their career that the songs changed, for instance the tracks in MIA are mostly in a much higher key and Karen is singing much higher. I strongly feel had the songs from MIA been in the same key range as Yesterday Once More, Ticket to Ride, Santa Claus etc..MIA would have given off a whole different feel to the listeners. Karen really can't be faulted for songs that were written and produced in a higher range.

I know this is where I disagree with everyone but I firmly believe Karen could have recorded an album in 1981 in which she sounded vocally just like she sounded on the album Horizon. I think Karen was so gifted not just vocally but she could take a moment before a song and she put herself into a certain mood and then outcomes these incredible feelings and emotions expressed in her actions within the lyrics. Her lower basement vocals were always there.

Check out Karen before she sings the live version of I Need To Be In Love on The Bruce Forsyth Show, she literally takes a few seconds and she is 110% into the song emotionally and vocally. It was even easier for her to do this in the studio.

Oh, don't get me wrong, Rick. If you look at my older posts you'll see I'm a staunch supporter of Karen's vocals in '80/'82. It's just those '73 vocals. . .how they're mixed, recorded, sweetened. . .everything. . .they just sound perfect.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
To this day I have never understood why Richard chose to record with comparative nobodies instead of with some of the great artists of the 1980s. Maybe he was too fussy himself when it came to associating himself with another big name or maybe the big stars were too much in awe of (or put off by) his reputation for perfection and control.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
A lot of stuff I missed to comment on. But first:
To this day I have never understood why Richard chose to record with comparative nobodies instead of with some of the great artists of the 1980s. Maybe he was too fussy himself when it came to associating himself with another big name or maybe the big stars were too much in awe of (or put off by) his reputation for perfection and control.

Well, that's the answer to your question. I don't think a perfectionist who needs to be in charge of every iota of the process like Richard would have been willing to just "produce" for a big-name like Streisand, or someone else, on their album who would have final say on the material and sound. So he restricted himself to largely unknowns who he could "discover" and get the kind of sound he wanted.

We obviously can't get into the mind of RC and shouldn't. But he 's left us enough in his interview history (before and after KC's death) and the Coleman book to come to some conclusions. Richard has always had two things he cares more than anything else about - his family and his music (with cars and philanthropy a distant third). Until her death, Karen was the epicenter of both. After her death, he started a family of his own and he has concentrated on that. Yes, he still makes music (including the still waited for Christmas album) and produces it (though given his 2014 interview with Chris May it sounds like he's fed up with current music industry, with the pirating and the Universal fire and such). Bettis has said that he and Richard still write songs together. But a necessary part of that equation for him is missing. Karen is not there.

I don't think Richard ever contemplated being a solo artist. I don't think he wanted to when it was thrust upon him (which maybe why his solo stuff is somewhat lackluster). From the moment he discovered Karen's voice when she was 15-16, she has been the center of his musical thinking. With the RC Trio, Spectrum and the finally, Carpenters, he and KC were the constants. The two of them together. After Close to You's success he pretty much stopped doing vocal leads himself and concentrated everything on finding songs for Karen's voice, writing songs for Karen's voice, arranging songs for Karen's voice. Even Karen's love of drumming had to be jettisoned to this vision, not only did she cease to drum in the concerts (except for a novelty number), but on the recordings as well. Richard's worst moments (to us as KC and Carpenter fans) aka his behavior towards the solo album (and even today still following the line that she disliked it and it was her decision alone to shelve it) and demanding KC get back into recording the sub-par (though he loves it) MIA, when Karen had already moved away from that passe sound and knew they needed a more contemporary top 40 beat, can be partially explained possibly by his fear that Karen was moving away from Carpenters. Even Richard's friends have said that he felt threatened by the solo album (though Karen ALWAYS insisted that whatever she did solo, she was still committed to them as a team).

The publicity for MIA just showed this. When Karen was asked about doing things apart, she had ideas (that she was in no physical shape to do, but still..) to do movies/musicals/etc. and suggested Richard score films (and he did have offers for that like "The Rescuers") but he was was having none of it. Even Richard's many regrets that they should have done more Christmas songs, or that they should have done a country album, or that they should have done a standards album are all centered on Karen being there. Richard himself could have done a country album (Bettis has worked in Nashville, no?), and he could have done an album of standards with other singers (or even his own vocals), but without Karen he just doesn't want to do it. So he goes back and does upteen number of remixes and compilations and keeps the Carpenters music current (which is a good thing) by continually creating new releases (with slightly different sounds from the originals), because ultimately the Carpenters sound is the music he wanted to create - and would still be doing so if that missing key ingredient, KC, was there.

In the years since Richard has worked with a number of great singers - Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Dionne. He could have made new partnerships with them, but as great as they are, they are not Karen, so he doesn't. Sometimes we have to take a man's word on it: when RC said in the 1990s documentary that he believed that he and Karen were put on this Earth to make music together, he really DOES believe that and without Karen, while he still loves music and creating it, all in all it seems he's just not as interested. I really think it may be as simple as that.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
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

Great thoughts, Neil. That was partly why I started this topic. It's not only myself as a Carpenter fan who would have loved a 1974 album, but I have heard Richard outright say how ridiculous it is in retrospect that there wasn't one.

1974 WAS the year. Barring Goofus level of bad, they could have put out almost anything and had a top 20 or even top 10 hit. After that, starting in late 1975, both personally (we know what happened to KC) and professionally (with Solitaire only going to #17, a sign of things to come) it was the start of decline they couldn't get out of. But in 1974, I do think they would have had one of the top albums of the year had it been released then, and it would have given Horizon more time - something Richard now says it could have used - since it could have been pushed back if there had been a 1974 album. And if Horizon was pushed back to say...late '75, then we probably would not have gotten HUSH (which even Herb Alpert had doubts about) in its present form - which may not have been a bad thing. A 1974 album would have created a lot of dominoes for the rest of the 70s. And it would have given us at least 10 more great Carpenters tunes with RC at his peak of arranging and KC at her very peak of vocal virtuosity.

Would they have declined? Certainly. The changes to music tastes (and radio airplay) in the later '70s would have done them in to an extent no matter what. Especially since Richard was having problems picking the right songs and by the end of the 70s wasn't even writing any more. Even had Karen lived and recovered, there was never going to be the kind of intense, otherwordly radio and chart success they had from 1970-1975 ever again. Sure, they still could have had a hit here and there, another Touch Me somehow breaks into the top 20 and gets played on the radio, or a breakout ballad hits the musical zeitgeist at the right moment, or Karen has a song from a Disney movie that becomes an earworm for a whole generation, that sort of thing. But the last big opportunity was 1974 and what listeners got was...nothing (except Postman, which seems to be the only song actually RECORDED that entire year). It's mind-boggling.

Yes, I'm sure its on the list of Richard's many regrets, but I regret it too as a listener. I just wondered what such a 1974 album would look and sound like and wanted to hear everyone's else's thoughts on it (since I'm positive others have had the same thoughts).
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
Most likely the thing I would have to ponder is packaging! In a photo spread, as though there weren't enough snapshots of the CarpenterS duo... Would there be some good, neat & not so good & neat candid shots? Are we talking two albums or three, or just the quickie one LP job...

There's sound quality & capturing whatever was that quintessential Live gig--somehow Joan Baez could capture this sort of thing with From Every Stage (w/a longer career being most-helpful, too)...

Somehow Karen, Richard and A&M altogether just took an easier & safer route w/ a well-packaged Singles collection... No doubt this would sell, although extravagantly packaged may have been too out-of-budget, while plain packaging wouldn't have presented the right ticket...

So, good thing a Live souvenir was something most-likely thought of, than executed at this sort of period, as many highlights that the group had to offer...

We're probably talking a lot of over-dubbing if anyone were to have to cover any fatal flaws... A documentary like Running On Empty, not just any one could do...


-- Dave
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
My first thought was that if they got around to it, it would have been rushed. But that may not be a bad thing. They still would make it work. I mean I think how "Superstar" was a work lead. My guess is you'd have instances of things like that on there. Of course Karen was a one take wonder so it wouldn't matter. I heard "Bless the beasts" was done in about three days which is pretty amazing. Luckily we have recordings of all the things mentioned in one form or another, but sure studio quality would be much preferred.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
My first thought was that if they got around to it, it would have been rushed. But that may not be a bad thing. They still would make it work. I mean I think how "Superstar" was a work lead. My guess is you'd have instances of things like that on there. Of course Karen was a one take wonder so it wouldn't matter. I heard "Bless the beasts" was done in about three days which is pretty amazing. Luckily we have recordings of all the things mentioned in one form or another, but sure studio quality would be much preferred.

The worst thing is (1974-wise) that no one appreciated or knew the value of Karen's voice better than Richard. She pretty much could sing ANYTHING (well almost, nothing could have saved "Man Smart, Women Smarter") and at times Richard wouldn't even bother telling her what she was singing till she showed up (which was one of the few things she complained about, apparently). If you listen to HUSH or MIA or even some of the outtakes that have appeared since her death or some of the rumored stuff in the vaults (some of which have full vocal leads, but apparently some don't because for some reason RC didn't want to follow up on the song) Karen was singing some mediocre stuff. It sounds good coming from her with all of Richard's arrangements but its still not great (the solo album also qualifies as this - she sounds good, the songs? So-so.)

So there were a lot of great songs out there in '74 (and like I said RC could have just raided Paul William's catalog or had Paul write her some original songs - ala "An Old Fashioned Love Song" written for the Carpenters and rejected by Richard - since his stuff was made for Karen and PW was at A&M) that they COULD have recorded just to put an album out there for the public. Even if it just had cuts of songs they did in concerts that for some reason just never recorded (like "Any Day Now" or "And When He Smiles" or "Cinderella Rockafella"). Richard has also said he wished he had more time on Horizon. A 1974 album would have given him that time. When they are putting album cuts from two years earlier and a Marvelettes song from the 60s at the top of charts, I'm pretty sure even cuts from a "rushed" album (which would have included at least #1 hit in Postman) would have been a success.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
It's been said KC could sing the phonebook, yet there are certain songs where let's be honest you have to be real...
"Man, Smart" is a great example. Perhaps if some of the production elements where taken out...yeah Idk there's not much you can do to save that one as you said. And perhaps did not need attention drawn to it in "Space encounters" either.

I don't want to be pointing out all the wrong things. Half the time there's things I would never have noticed if it weren't for Richard himself having mentioned it. Minuscule things. From the liner notes in the "Treasures" compilation he talked about having to fix "Tumtimes" in "Crystal Lullaby"... I thought "What the heck is he talking about?" So, I listened to the original and it's true Karen did not punch in on time and does not say the "S" on the phrase "Sometimes when I listen to..." I've read through the online "Fans ask" section of the official website and someone mentioned a creaking noise in "You", and he acknowledges it and apologizes. I'm thinking don't sweat the small stuff, you know.

If you had a stinker or a creak or something (maybe an RC lead) I guess who cares at this point. Majority of a '74 album would have been great. You're right it would have been successful. It was the golden era of Carpenters. They wouldn't have reached the dragginess of "Horizon" quite yet. A '74 album probably would have had a different flow. A bit more upbeat by the sounds of what's been suggested.

Anyways, I have to say there's this idea that singers should be able to sing 'everything' and sound great. That's perpetuated in televised singing competitions. No, not everyone can sing everything. It comes down to style, but even still... some material is "ash tray" material and may not work.

I've read Richard saying that there were a lot of material that just wasn't for them (that's why he left stuff in the 'vault'... if indeed there even is much left in there). After they cut songs they then realized they shouldn't put it out. I don't know how they gaged it. I guess sometimes you got to bring it to the forefront before you can really decide. For some of it, it was literally the flip of a coin that says what they should release. Maybe since they were all over the map where music is concerned they didn't always know what would work (although that's not always represented in your general compilation). Sadly it seems leaving material behind happened a few times during their career, but at least a lot of it has surfaced posthumously.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I'd also add that Karen had this same issue about choosing songs that may not have been the best song for her voice so it wasn't just Richard. For instance she choose Jimmy Mack as an outtake from her solo album. I understand the oldies concept that both Karen and Richard were tied to but good grief that are so many other oldies tracks to pick from why on earth did she pick JM, thank goodness it was never chosen.

I think if Richard and John Bettis were having a lull in writing new songs it would have been a great time to record a jazz album or something like Interpretations, recording other people's songs while making them their own at the same time. For me, Hush was the start of how they really needed a change in music direction. A movie score for Karen or a movie, look at the chances Olivia took in 1978 with the musical Grease.
 

Superstar

Rainy Day and Monday Specialist
Two questions: If all of the songs left in the vault were of the "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" ilk, would you all want to hear them anyway?

Also (and this might not be a popular thought), is it possible there really wasn't a vehicle for Karen by way of a movie/musical? If someone wanted her, certainly she would have been approached. Also, I think that maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part or something that she'd entertain "in the future," because if she'd wanted to go that route, she certainly could have gotten an agent to promote her for TV/Movies if her heart was really in it. I think that at that time a lot of people crossed over (hence their TV appearances as they were) and that maybe it would happen for her, but at the time, she also knew she wasn't in the space or healthy enough for that kind of work.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
Also (and this might not be a popular thought), is it possible there really wasn't a vehicle for Karen by way of a movie/musical? If someone wanted her, certainly she would have been approached. Also, I think that maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part or something that she'd entertain "in the future," because if she'd wanted to go that route, she certainly could have gotten an agent to promote her for TV/Movies if her heart was really in it. I think that at that time a lot of people crossed over (hence their TV appearances as they were) and that maybe it would happen for her, but at the time, she also knew she wasn't in the space or healthy enough for that kind of work.
I don't know. I remember reading that she would consider it if a "suitable script" was submitted. But if she was serious about it in the 81-82 area, I don't see it happening. She would have been a risk, despite her 70's popularity. And especially with the state of her health. But I have no doubt that she had the desire, from what she said in interviews.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Two questions: If all of the songs left in the vault were of the "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" ilk, would you all want to hear them anyway?

Also (and this might not be a popular thought), is it possible there really wasn't a vehicle for Karen by way of a movie/musical? If someone wanted her, certainly she would have been approached. Also, I think that maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part or something that she'd entertain "in the future," because if she'd wanted to go that route, she certainly could have gotten an agent to promote her for TV/Movies if her heart was really in it. I think that at that time a lot of people crossed over (hence their TV appearances as they were) and that maybe it would happen for her, but at the time, she also knew she wasn't in the space or healthy enough for that kind of work.

Yes, absolutely! Even if Man Smart is one of my least favorite, I love the sound of her voice.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
I don't know. I remember reading that she would consider it if a "suitable script" was submitted. But if she was serious about it in the 81-82 area, I don't see it happening. She would have been a risk, despite her 70's popularity. And especially with the state of her health. But I have no doubt that she had the desire, from what she said in interviews.

Well she was supposedly looking for scripts in 1978 and was contemplating doing Love Boat and Fantasy Island (what wonders that would have done for their image!). But nothing came of it. Weintraub could have gotten her something (particular on TV) if she really wanted to do it. She also read for True Grit remember (and I would have loved to see her in that, even if Kim Darby was good as Matty) in '68. She also apparently loved doing the schtick filled TV specials (the opposite of Richard). Clearly, she had some acting bug, but she never really pursued it to any great extent. Talking about the differences between the Carpenters and icons like Sinatra or Streisand. The latter branched out successfully in other media. The Carpenters really didn't (I'm not sure if the 76-80 TV specials and Make Your Own Kind of Music, both of which Richard loathes, count as successful).

Then there was Karen's expectations of what kind of role she wanted- she talked about doing movie musicals and school/college musicals in '81 - when she was 31 and clearly in no shape to do ANYTHING, and the only successful "college/school musical" this side of Good News from the 40s was Grease (and even musicals were out - ONJ's Xanadu tanked at the box office). And that's the kind of movie, frankly Karen would not have been good at (despite her Grease comic skit in concert). She was not Olivia Newton John, who looked younger than her years and could become a sex symbol. She was in her late 20s-early 30s, but thanks to Weintraub's management and the disease looked and dressed older than that.

On the other hand, I actually think Karen could have made a good comic actress on TV and film if she wanted. She was a perfectionist and I would expect nothing less if she applied herself, as she did with her music, singing and drums. But they key phrase here is "if she wanted". I don't know how much she really did.

I definitely think in any case she should have been doing TV appearances WITHOUT Richard. He seems to have hated the whole process (and in his own words was a "behind the scenes guy") while she loved doing comic bits and even interviews. She always seemed really animated and into all her TV appearances (even if wasn't true).
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
Two questions: If all of the songs left in the vault were of the "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" ilk, would you all want to hear them anyway?

Honestly? No. I also think that if "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" had been left off of Passage as an outtake, that today it would be one of those songs that Richard never lets see the light of day.


Also (and this might not be a popular thought), is it possible there really wasn't a vehicle for Karen by way of a movie/musical? If someone wanted her, certainly she would have been approached. Also, I think that maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part or something that she'd entertain "in the future," because if she'd wanted to go that route, she certainly could have gotten an agent to promote her for TV/Movies if her heart was really in it. I think that at that time a lot of people crossed over (hence their TV appearances as they were) and that maybe it would happen for her, but at the time, she also knew she wasn't in the space or healthy enough for that kind of work.

I think Karen could have done very well in Television at least. On her own. It does lead to the question again of exactly what Weintraub (who was basically the equivalent of her agent) did for the duo outside of the ABC Specials. She clearly expressed enough interest to do TV and movies at several points over the years and yet, was rarely seen anywhere in any medium without Richard. Even in 1981, interviewers didn't acknowledge that she had been working on a solo product even though it was hardly a secret and had even been talked about in the trade papers and Carpenter fan club newsletters. Richard had no real interest in doing TV or movies (even scoring movies) and it seems management didn't look that hard for anything KC could do in those mediums without him.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
On the other hand, I actually think Karen could have made a good comic actress on TV and film if she wanted.

In many ways Karen reminds me of Celine Dion, who in interviews and documentaries comes across as a quirky comedienne with a natural knack for mimicry and self deprecation. Karen seemed to come across like this in some of their TV specials and interviews.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I think that we see through this that the material was not there for an album in 1974. Looking back, actually, all that was needed was a summer single and Only Yesterday would have fit in 1974. I think Horizon is Karen's best showcase album, it just needed 2 more songs written by Richard and John. And, on the other hand, if Horizon would have come out with Only Yesterday, upon its 1975 release, Horizon would have done better. It appeared that the new album in 1975 would have more upbeat songs, but it did not. But, I still love it and regard it as one for anyone to hear who has not heard Karen Carpenter before. Then, for the magic of the Carpenters sound one has to hear A Song For You. I will always believe that Love Me For What I Am should have been the single in 1975 instead of Solitaire. Love Me For What I Am had subject matter that the Summer of 1975 songs wore. It was the weak material from A Kind of Hush in 1976 that hurt them. There were three songs on it and Hush hid them: Boat To Sail, You, and One More Time. Maybe, this should be another topic, but I always thought I Have You sounds like it was recorded in 1974.
 

JBee

Active Member
Thread Starter
Just bringing this back because doing a little digging and remembered "Look to Your Dreams" was written at Karen's request in 1974 by Richard and John (though not recorded till 78 and released in 83). I think it's a beautiful song and would have served as great album filler for the '74 album that never was. Also..it proves that Carpenter/Bettis were indeed writing songs in 1974 (and probably more than just that).

So if you could fill an entire A-side with - "Please Mr. Postman", "And When He Smiles", "Look to Your Dreams", "Cinderella Rockerfella" or "Dancing in the Streets" (RC Trio arrangement), and "Any Day Now". A second side - if Richard was really reaching for material - could easily have been another concept medley (like the Zodiac medley) like Now and Then, or any full versions of the oldies that we know the duo were fans of (or even the Como songs they performed at the end of '74 - both C's were fans of Como and prior to 74 he had covered THREE of their songs in his albums). I understand Richard may have had a shortage of new original material (though I'm sure A&M and Herb could have directed him to stuff as they had done previously), but I think it would have been a mistake to say there was a shortage of material to record previously.

I'm still puzzled. At the time Richard said he neither had the time "nor was he in the mood" but in more recent documentaries he says that "at the time" he realized it made no sense to be touring all over the place (apparently in smaller venues to boot) and not recording. So...which was it? Or is RC misremembering things in retrospect?
 

natureaker

Active Member
^ It could possibly be a bit of both not being in the mood or having time, or just touring and not recording. I wouldn't be too sure, but my educated guess is that he's misremembering things and some stuff seems out of order
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I have been thinking about 1974 ironically- so I wanted to address the initial very interesting post. My thoughts following each song...

1. Please Mr. Postman
(LOVE the song, but it came so late in '74. Perhaps a later single from an album released in Summer '74?)

2. And When He Smiles (which should have been an album cut at some point and RC said they were going record it all the way back in the '71 BBC Concert)
(I think its a nice song but nothing special. Sounds like 1970 or 1971 to me.)

3. Dancing in the Street (the original jazzy RC Trio version with Karen on drums, they really should have recorded THIS rather than the version they did for the '78 TV Special with its everybody else does it like this style).
(I like the disco version of '78 better, and I wouldn't want this on an album in '74. I don't think it shows off her amazing vocals at their peak.)

4. Any Day Now, the version they did in concert during this period as part of a Bacharach medley that was included in the Anthology collection. KC sounds great and RC's arrangement is terrific. I actually think this one is single material even though its another oldie, it's that good.
( Love this one, too. A full length song would have been great.)

5. A longer edition of Zodiac Medley from MYKOM (Richard was an expert at medley making and this was obviously one they had in the pocket.) So Good Day Sunshine, Wishin' and Hopin', A House is Not a Home, Trains and Boats and Planes, I Wanna Be Free, New World Coming.
(Terrific idea!)

6. Carpenter/Bettis song that would segue into the Zodiac medley ala Yesterday Once More. Another single material song.
(OK.)

7. Cinderella Rockefella - why not? It's another short song that already part of their concert staple. Album filler basically. It's short and they could use either Doug Strawn or a big name guest singer to duet with Karen (it would be weird for Richard to do it).
(Another song that gladly stayed a concert cut. Pretty dorky and would be so out of touch for '74.)

8. Another Carpenter/Bettis original.

9. Santa Claus is Coming To Town - hear me out on this. Yes, it is a Christmas song, but its one they are very confident in (the arrangement and the vocal are some of the best work they ever did) and I personally believe it is much BETTER than mere seasonal music. It's fantastic. It should have been an album cut somewhere (and never was until after Karen's death, and Old Fashioned Christmas).
(Hmm. Interesting thought, but I don't think it would fit.)

10. ????? - mystery uptempo song that could be a third or fourth single cut from the album.

I also believe Karen should have recorded Perry Como's It's Impossible as an album cut (either in 74 or 75). The shortened version she does on the Christmas special is incredible. It could have been put in as a tribute to Como (a singer both Carpenters obviously admired and RC still does) who had recorded not one, not two, but THREE Carpenters songs on his 71/72 albums.
(PRETTY PLEASE- Give us a full length version.)

Overall, even though I respect your opinions and would have loved an album that year, I think this line-up would have been a very weak album compared to all before it. Thematically and musically it jumps all over the place. I 'd call it 7 out of 11. Not great. Not awful, but nothing comparable to what came before it or "Horizon" after.
 
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