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Official Review [Album]: "A KIND OF HUSH" (SP-4581)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Jul 1, 2013.


  1. ***** (BEST)

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  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^I do agree that many factors were involved.
    But, I also believe that the "Sedaka-incident" has been purposely downplayed. In other words,
    American DJ's stopped playing their singles. For instance, Please Mr. Postman sold over a million copies,
    (that's around January 1975), Only Yesterday sold approx. 600,000 copies (as of late 1977),
    and Solitaire might have made it to 150,000 copies. These are huge declines from previous Singles.
    But, the real signal (USA) is that Horizon only went Gold, and only much much later (1998) reached Platinum status.
    Of course, I do not know the actual impact of Sedaka, but whether (or not) the single released was Goofus,
    I believe at that juncture, American dj's were not going to play any Carpenters' single.
    I can only speak for USA, as we know Internationally their career reached new heights.
    And, yes, it was only American Newspapers that were on Google-scanned archives,
    so, I can not speak for the impact elsewhere.

    The People Magazine (August 2nd, 1976) article is more insightful than I:
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  2. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    One comment I read once from a (assumingly) non-die hard fan said "after 1975 they just started repeating themselves". For us big fans we know that the later 70s and early 80s were sprinkled with gems but for others they just became tepid when looking at the singles. In terms of glistening, widely appealing hit singles 1975 was the end. And that's an incredible five year run at the very top. I don't know what the hell was going through their minds with Goofus as an A-side (I like the song and the two of them almost give it a strange shaded eerieness which makes it bizarrely compelling). They may have already been going down but that 45 sealed their fate in terms of dropping popularity and it's even a bit astonishing that TAKOH went to number 12, given that it's appealing enough but so thin and tepid. 1976's drop kept a gorgeous, fresh song like All You Get From Love...stalled at #35. I mean, that's way too low for that song, a song that eons better than the two singles I mentioned.

    And then you have Goofus being mimed on their special in 1978! It really is fascinating as it is haunting to try and explore what was going on in their psyches at this stage, and of course any time in their lives - examining how their personal lives informed their art and vice Versa.

    Someone once said that they followed closely to the late 70s zeitgeist of over the top camp, whereas the front half of the decade they were low-key and more measured in style and performance. Interestingly as much their on screen stuff followed suit, their music still stayed resolutely as belonging to previous eras, meaning they never strayed far from their classic, early 70s sound which hurt them commercially.
    no1kandrfan and newvillefan like this.
  3. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Let's look at the chronology.
    Carpenters had finished up 1975 with "Solitaire" as their final (3rd) single from HORIZON. It reached #17 in the latter half of 75. It was time for new stuff.

    So a single of "There's A Kind Of Hush" is released in February of 1976 and it attains a height of #12. That's more successful chart-wise than "Solitaire" and gives the duo and the label a clue that maybe the public really likes Carpenters doing oldies. "Please Mr. Postman" had been huge and now "...Hush" nearly followed suit.

    A second single is released with the A KIND OF HUSH album. It's "I Need To Be In Love". Like the slow "Solitaire" it wasn't quite up to topping the charts, and didn't even do as well, climbing only to #25.

    So, when choosing the next song to be a single, which track on HUSH could be chosen. There are only a few logical choices. "You" is another slow song, so not a good choice. "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" might have been an OK choice as a fast-ish oldie, but they already had "...Hush" earlier in the year, and the Sedaka thing probably ruled that out.

    I think "Can't Smile Without You" might have been under consideration as it actually got a single mix. But I recall playing the HUSH album through a number of times, and the song that stood out for me was "Goofus". Yes, it was corny, but as GaryAlan describes, it had great harmonies. That's the hook that drove me to be a Carpenters fan. So I was happy when "Goofus" chosen as single. But it certainly didn't get much airplay, if it got any at all.

    It probably didn't sell as a single because most folks who were into Carpenters already had it on the album, and radio had begun its abandonment of playing Carpenters records. It probably was a bad choice for a single, but I don't think anything else on the album had much potential either - maybe "Can't Smile..."
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  4. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Also “Goofus” apparently was not issued in the UK, as it was not on the 74-78 album
  5. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    at the time of the sedaka incident, I read one tiny blurb in the newspaper. as best I recall. people magazine much later included the information in a cover story. the incident may have had ramifications IN the industry, but it did not stop people from buying records.
    newvillefan likes this.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Yet, I ask, then, what did stop people (in USA) from buying their records ?
    Radio had definitely abandoned the duo.
    DJ's were definitely turned away from radio-play.
    The drop from: Postman being #1, Singles 69-73 LP selling millions....to
    Horizon barely going Gold (USA) and Solitaire barely hitting top 20.
    The drop in sales and radio play was staggering.
    Goofus simply could not be that catalyst (imho) simply because the timing is off.
    Geographer likes this.
  7. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    i'm sure a bazillion people have asked the same questions about the other gazillion people who fell from favor.
  8. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    In 1976, I was avidly following anything Carpenters-related. I only remember reading about the Sedaka firing in ‘Song Hits’ magazine. Rona Barrett (I discovered years later) also did an article in a Hollywood magazine. It really wasn’t much of a news maker outside of the industry.
    Regarding their decline, ‘Goofus’ played a role. It turned people off. The ‘Hush’ album just wasn’t up to their regular high standards. While I love a few tracks from the album, my then 14-year old ears clearly detected that the Carpenters ‘magic’ was missing.
    Finally, as I’ve mentioned before, US Magazine did their year-end roundup of ‘Who’s Hot & Who’s Not’ late that year. Carpenters were in the ‘Who’s Not’ list. I distinctly remember the writer saying, ‘The Carpenters got so mellow that everyone fell asleep’. I was not happy, but it did make sense.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  9. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Also Japan pulled “Breaking Up” as the third single from AKOH and left “Goofus” an album track. Although BUIHTD only hit #71 in Japan.

    But “Goofus” did hit #4 on the AC charts.
    no1kandrfan likes this.
  10. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    That pretty much sums up how much of the record-buying public, influential writers and reviewers probably saw them by this point in their career. That crucial magic, so clearly evident on tracks like Goodbye To Love was missing for the first time.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Of course, my liking the song Goofus does not imply that I felt it appropriate as a single release,
    nor was it at all appropriate for the late 1978 Space Encounters TV Special.
    However, I notice it appears on the Billboard Easy Listening Chart, November 6, 1976 at #36--
    that was after eleven weeks on the chart. (On the hot 100 it peaked at #54.)
    With those chart numbers, it could hardly have sold up to 50,000 copies (if that).
    Quite frankly, I am not sure enough people would have heard the song on radio,
    or, would have known of its availability as a purchasable Single, to have any further impact on their career.
    The career was already in freefall mode.
    The poor chart/radio play was not the cause of their decline,
    it was the symptom of an already-declining career.
  12. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Clearly 'Goofus' didn't cause their decline - as has been said before, 'Solitaire' marked the start of that quite steep decline in their chart fortunes on the Hot 100. However, it was still a disastrous choice of single at the point that it was released - it just confirmed all the negative points that critics and radio were saying about them.

    I'm not sure I agree with Harry about the 'success' of 'There's a Kind of Hush' giving them and A&M hope that oldies could be the way to go. Whilst the single did OK, it still fell short of the Top 10, whereas the lead singles for all their last four albums had hit #3 or higher. That in itself should have set some alarm bells ringing that they needed to be really careful at this juncture in terms of single choices, but instead they seem to have thought they could just carry on picking any old song without looking at how it might be received by radio and the public. They did start paying more attention to this by the time of Passage, but by then the damage had already been done.
    no1kandrfan and newvillefan like this.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    It's a shame, because I think they came back really strong with All You Get From Love Is A Love Song which I think had great single potential, but ended up being a casualty of their already declining chart success. It seems that by this stage, the conclusion reached by at least one person in their inner circle that "nothing else was working" couldn't have been more true.
  14. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I agree. It's interesting to think about what might have happened if they'd released Passage (or something in that vein) in place of A Kind of Hush in 1976. The change of direction might have been just in time to stop (or at least significantly slow down) the rot and I too think that 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song' would have been a shoo-in for the Top 10 (and maybe Top 5) had it come out in early 1976 before radio programmers had become largely resistant to their singles.

    Unfortunately, they took their eye off the creative ball at just the wrong time and it then made Passage look a bit like a desperate attempt to break the mould by the time it came out, rather than a true artistically creative endeavour.
    Greg, John Adam, Geographer and 2 others like this.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    October 1975, Carpenters Fan Club Newsletter:
    "The following is a statement from Richard Carpenter concerning the Sedaka/Las Vegas Affair.
    When the Carpenters play concerts, they invite someone to be their opening act. In the case of
    our last Summer tour and Las Vegas engagements, we asked Neil Sedaka to open the show.
    It often happens in our business ...that the choice of opening acr proves to be unsuitable...Please
    be assured that we did not fire Neil Sedaka for doing too well...it is a disappointment to us that he
    has found it necessary to make statement to the press...this issue is an old matter."

    It is telling--at least, I believe it is telling--that this was still being reported upon in this October issue.
    The ramifications reverberated for quite a while regarding this "incident."
    Keep in mind, in late 1974 Karen looked incredibly healthy. The photo in the March 1975 interview,
    in contrast, is drastically different (or, compare videos: Postman to Only Yesterday).
    Of course, by mid 1976 (People Mag) Weintraub had been hired as manager, the stage-show revamped.
    None of this explains Goofus culled as a single off of the 1976 Hush LP,
    but, it is clear that its release had almost nothing to do with accelerating the decline--
    that occurred long before.
    If anything, I keep asking: Why did the song show up on the Space Encounters TV Special ?
    That is more perplexing !
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    The only reason for that is the fan club newsletters were usually issued three, sometimes four months apart. By October it would already have been old news.
  17. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    40 years on, no one has an answer, miss cleo is dead, let it go.
    newvillefan likes this.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^I do not understand that sentiment, although you--and, anyone else--is welcome to it.
    As a "card-carrying" physicist and a "card-carrying" Carpenters' fan club member (Yes ! I have
    a number of fan club membership cards w/my name on them--signed by Harold Carpenter)
    it is all-too apparent that there are NO permanent answers to any of my questions.
    That, however, is NOT an incentive to keep me from searching !
    Carpenters Career is NOW part-and-parcel of HISTORY !
    Therefore, I feel compelled to continue my search for answers (if only to my questions).
    So, your point is well-noted, and I respect it.
    But, I continue my quest,
    regardless (or not) of "permanence" in ultimate answers.
    Jarred and Jeff like this.
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if Goofus was released because A&M had asked for a non-album single to maybe support the first TV special (like maybe the Spike Jones-inspired Close To You), but Richard wasn't willing to release any songs from the special so Goofus was pulled. A year later we would see The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) issued as a single in support of The Carpenters At Christmas (the Christmas Portrait album would not be released till 1978, so in 1977, The Christmas Song would've been a non-album single that, based on the artwork for the single, was issued to promote the Christmas special).
  20. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Ok, let’s put it this way. If you were a hip radio programmer of a cool Top 40 station (where image is everything), would you jump at the chance to play a single called ‘GOOFUS’? I think not. It only hit #56 for a reason. Great album track, but bad single choice.

    As for the use of ‘Goofus’ in the May, 1978, special, I’m sure A&M producers were eager for a more fun, ‘lively’ track to showcase another side of them. And they picked that one.

    I was in high school when it aired, and I asked a friend (not a fan) the next day if he watched it. He said, ‘I watched it until they started singing something about a ‘Goofus’’.
    John Adam, Geographer and newvillefan like this.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Executive producer for all Carpenters' specials was Jerry Weintraub.
    A&M records--to my knowledge--had no input as "producer" for any of those television specials.

    I rarely listen to It's Going To Take Some Time, not caring much for the arrangement.
    Contrast that to how often I listen to Goofus: this is an inspired arrangement !
    It is interesting, how musical tastes and opinions vary !
    I high-schooled from 1976 to 1980: To my knowledge, I was the sole Carpenters' fanatic.

    Were there ever any "hip" programmers who ever played Carpenters on a "hip" station ?
    Goofus--as a single choice--is missing my point--hip programmers would play NO Carpenters,
    regardless of the single they released in-- 1976.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
    Jarred likes this.
  22. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I don't think I would go that far. There were two processes at work as I see it:

    1) The market/radio had started to cool in relation to their output, which had started in mid/late 1975, so they had that factor to deal with in 1976 too.


    2) In 1976 they released an album that was light on strong cuts and strong choices for singles. They then compounded the issue by issuing three singles that weren't really inspired or current enough to challenge the market resistance issue noted in point 1) above. And I would rate 'Goofus' as the most unwise of those three single choices, both artistically and commerically.

    I don't think that things had gotten so bad that radio would not play any single they put out in 1976 - as I said above, had 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song' been a single in mid-1976 rather than 1977, I think it would have attracted more support. They were just facing a tougher marketplace, which required better singles choices than they made at this stage.
    Mark-T and John Adam like this.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Nice analysis !
    I do note, I never heard Goofus played over the radio (at that time, or since).
    I had a terribly difficult time to get the local dj to play--just once-- I Need To Be In Love.
    So, if the dj's/programmers did not bother to play the song, did they even bother to
    listen to the promo copy (if that is what they received) ?
    In other words, the second a new Single was delivered--I would be willing to bet--
    the dj did not even bother to listen, just tossing it aside because it was--after all--

    All You Get From Love Is A Love Song had been covered previously,
    in 1975 , by The Righteous Brothers. I wonder how it charted. It is pretty good.
  24. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    I have read with interest this particular thread as A Kind of Hush is one of my top 2 Carpenters' albums (the other being Horizon). I know I risk playing the role of broken record on this point, and I apologize for that: But I absolutely LOVE this album --- for several reasons, in part because I enjoy all the musical gems therein and in part given the formative time in my life when this album was released. And I do enjoy the speculation and opinion we share here, 40+ years after this album was released. As we have seen, there is a stark variation in opinion on favorites (or least favorites) regarding albums, singles, and album cuts. I have my own preferences for songs I feel should have been released as singles as well as questionable choices.

    I wouldn't blame a specific single release, or nonrelease, for thwarting the Carpenters' success. Radio airplay was --- pardon the pun --- instrumental, vital, in fact, in achieving success or continued success. I think it's simply a matter of the fickleness of DJs as well as the buying public. As others have mentioned, successful musical artists typically face a downslide in popularity. There is a natural trajectory from success/popularity to --- for lack of a better, noncritical word --- nonsuccess.

    Let's consider a few examples who were contemporaries of the Carpenters: Gilbert O'Sullivan was widely heralded and vaulted to fame with his monster hits "Alone Again (Naturally)" and "Claire." But after those 2 singles, his airplay dropped precipitously. Gladys Knight & the Pips and Helen Reddy were hugely successful in the 1970s, but after a number of years, their songs were no longer played on the radio, and their popularity (as a top 40 act) waned. I don't think there was a career misstep that brought this about. I think it was simply a natural progression.

    I am happy to be a part of this great community. That we are here discussing A Kind of Hush (among so many others) in 2018 is quite the legacy... And we actually have an upcoming release (RPO) to stoke our interest and enthusiasm!
    GaryAlan likes this.
  25. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    My local AM station in Connecticut WICC 600 played Carpenters singles on a regular basis back in the 70's. The first time I heard Goofus was when it was played on the radio. A few days later, I went to the local record store and purchased the 45. Goofus is just as much a novelty song as Muskrat Love was in the Fall of 1976 and that one cracked the Billboard top 5.
    GaryAlan likes this.

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