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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 5 6.6%
  • ****

    Votes: 19 25.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 41 53.9%
  • **

    Votes: 10 13.2%
  • *

    Votes: 1 1.3%

  • Total voters
    76

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Yes, 'Calling Occupants' had been the biggest hit in Australia since 'Only Yesterday', nearly three years before.

'Calling Occupants' peaked at Number 13 nationally but would have peaked higher if it hadn't taken off in different states at totally different times. For instance, in South Australia, (a state of Australia), it peaked at Number 5 in mid-January, 1978, whereas in Victoria, (another state), it didn't enter the charts until mid-March, 1978, eventually peaking at Number 10. In New South Wales, (where Sydney is), I think it peaked at Number 9, from memory, but I can't find anything at the moment to double-check. I'm not sure about the other states.

'Calling Occupants' hung around nationally long enough to become the 78th biggest hit of the year, eventually spending over seven months on the charts.

'Passage' had a similar story, peaking near the Top 10 in different states, but at different times.

'Very Best of The Carpenters' includes 'Beechwood' and 'Those Good Old Dreams', from 'Made in America', which was still a recent album, ('Made in America' mid-1981, 'Very Best Of' late 1982). Interestingly, no 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' on 'Very Best of The Carpenters' and no 'Want You Back in My Life Again' or 'I Believe You'. 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' only peaked at Number 78. 'Those Good Old Dreams' received some airplay, daily on some radio stations, and the video for 'Beechwood' received airings on some music shows but neither songs charted. 'Beechwood' had a picture cover, which was rare in this record market.

The TV promo for 'Very Best of The Carpenters' showed a snippet of 'Sing', from 'Live at the Budokan', in Japan, amongst snippets of a few other songs.

The promo poster was 36" x 24", showing the inner sleeve from 'Made in America', (which was the cover photo).
Beechwood hit #10 in New Zealand, so for an Oceania album it was probably included for that.

But in New Zealand it looks like they only hit the charts starting with Postman (#4) in May 1975. And TMWWD was their lowest charting at #22, otherwise the couple of other charting Singles were Top 20.
 
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Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I’m guessing he hadn’t seen or worked with them in recent months and was probably referring to Made In America.
I think you're probably right on this and Cubby was referring to 'Touch Me When We're Dancing'. The performance of the Australian greatest hits seems a bit of a stretch to fit this interpretation. Although they doubtless appreciated their overseas success, their primary focus always seemed to be on their success in the US market.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I think you're probably right on this and Cubby was referring to 'Touch Me When We're Dancing'. The performance of the Australian greatest hits seems a bit of a stretch to fit this interpretation. Although they doubtless appreciated their overseas success, their primary focus always seemed to be on their success in the US market.
Does this work out time-wise? Cubby mentions that he saw Karen 4 days before she passed. That would be early 1983, when 'Touch Me' was released in June 1981?
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Does this work out time-wise? Cubby mentions that he saw Karen 4 days before she passed. That would be early 1983, when 'Touch Me' was released in June 1981?
The problem is Cubby's comment doesn't give enough context to be clear on this. They had no record out at the time in the US. Given how much more slowly information from overseas travelled back then, they may not even have been aware of the Australian compilation at this stage.

Reading it again, it's also possible that by 'action', Cubby was referring to plans for a new album rather than any chart action.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
The problem is Cubby's comment doesn't give enough context to be clear on this. They had no record out at the time in the US. Given how much more slowly information from overseas travelled back then, they may not even have been aware of the Australian compilation at this stage.

Reading it again, it's also possible that by 'action', Cubby was referring to plans for a new album rather than any chart action.
So no one from Australia was able to make an international phone call to let the American A&M know that the Carpenters has the #1 record there in 1983?
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
So no one from Australia was able to make an international phone call to let the American A&M know that the Carpenters has the #1 record there in 1983?
It's possible but not very probable. The scenario you describe cannot have happened as the album didn't go to #1 in Australia until 21 February, over two weeks after Karen's passing.
 

Tom_P

New Member
OK People, trying to bring this thread back on topic! :)

I always felt that AKOH had a raw deal, being dismissed as a disappointment when in fact it's a pretty good album. My favourites are 'You', 'I Need To Be In Love', 'One More Time' and 'Boat To Sail', and I don't just like them, I think they're up among R&K's career-best tracks. I prefer the album version of INTBIL to the tweaked version that was used for the single. The Carpenter/Bettis compositions aren't among their very best, but they're pleasing, beautifully sung and wonderfully produced, as was the whole album. In 1976 I even liked 'Goofus' and still do, though I concede in retrospect that it's a bit corny. The only 'filler' I can see are the two oldies that bookend the album, especially the Sedaka track which seems completely redundant. Like many people I felt that 'Postman' was a blip on the otherwise sublime 'Horizon' and was a bit 'meh' about these two. I realise after having a US number one with 'Postman', there was probably pressure on R&K to produce more of the same, but in the UK, they'd had top 20 hits with 3 rather well-known oldies in the space of a couple of years, and were in danger of being dismissed simply as an oldies revival group. That's not to say they shouldn't have covered oldies, but maybe after 'Now and Then' and 'Postman' they should have focused on less well-known ones, or songs they could interpret in a completely different way.

I can remember also being impressed with the quality of detail in the 'A Kind of Hush' vinyl album sleeve and label. 'Horizon' and AKOH definitely were their best covers. I was always struck by the fact that A&M were prepared to spend a lot of money on Carpenters' album covers but somehow lacked the imagination to produce something that looked contemporary, but I think with these two they got it right.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Welcome to the boards, Tom! I, too, like AKOH album and am a big fan of the three cuts that begin side two. The art direction is beautiful.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
A snapshot from August 7, 1976, CASHBOX (page 55), International Hits:
Japan LP's: A Kind of Hush #5
UK LP's: A Kind of Hush #8
Argentina Singles: There's A Kind of Hush #18.
 

Sabar

Active Member
I'll take advantage of this thread being revived to add my two cents. I'm among those who view this album as a disappointment. Of the ten tracks, I think only three are strong: You, INTBIL, and One More Time. Boat to Sail is okay. The rest of the songs are mediocre. In the case of Breaking Up is Hard to Do and Goofus, I'd say the choices were misguided. I know Richard said he had trouble finding good material at this juncture, but were there really no better options than this?
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I learned to love this album. So many great Karen performances on it (the hidden gems). One More Time, Boat To Sail, You. Even I Have You and Sandy have their "up side". This album deserves a lot more love than it gets.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Didn't 'A Kind Of Hush' sell over 500,000 copies in the USA, though? That's a LOT of people who bought it. It's listed in Joel Whitburn's 'The Billboard Albums' as a gold record. So it did actually have mass appeal at the time.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I Have You and Breaking Up Is Hard To Do are the only two tracks I really don’t like from this album so I’m glad they’re stacked at the end of it. The rest of the album is lovely, if saccharine. I still remember the review I read in one of the UK music magazines that ran with the headline: “Cool Carpenters Only Coasting”. That summed it up for me. Passage was a great, left of field comeback. They managed to rescue the downward slide from Horizon just in time, but this album was still a step too far into the bland for me.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
This album suffers from having followed Horizon and The Singles 1969-1973, how to top those two predecessors ?
How does one top the stunning vocal beauty of Solitaire ?
How to create an album with songs comparable to: We've Only Just Begun or Superstar or Goodbye To Love ?
The threshold to top those songs is a very high bar indeed,
so I am surprised---given Karen's physical condition in 1976--that the Hush album was as strong as it was !
Granted, the title track is not as great a re-make as Please Mr. Postman was....how could it be ?
I Need To Be In Love, a lovely Carpenter/Bettis tune, still had those previous great C/B songs to compete with:
Caught Between Goodbye and I Love You, Only Yesterday, Yesterday Once More, Goodbye To Love, Top of the World.....
Happily, that one song--I Need To Be In Love-- has now sold over 500,000 copies in Japan alone (RIAJ/2020).
Then, too, we have Goofus--it's fun, it's imaginative and I have always liked it.
The expectations were high. Perhaps, too high.
It's a pleasant album. Not earth-shattering, but pleasant.
Sometimes, that is enough for me.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
This album suffers from having followed Horizon and The Singles 1969-1973, how to top those two predecessors ?
How does one top the stunning vocal beauty of Solitaire ?
How to create an album with songs comparable to: We've Only Just Begun or Superstar or Goodbye To Love ?
The threshold to top those songs is a very high bar indeed,
so I am surprised---given Karen's physical condition in 1976--that the Hush album was as strong as it was !
Granted, the title track is not as great a re-make as Please Mr. Postman was....how could it be ?
I Need To Be In Love, a lovely Carpenter/Bettis tune, still had those previous great C/B songs to compete with:
Caught Between Goodbye and I Love You, Only Yesterday, Yesterday Once More, Goodbye To Love, Top of the World.....
Happily, that one song--I Need To Be In Love-- has now sold over 500,000 copies in Japan alone (RIAJ/2020).
Then, too, we have Goofus--it's fun, it's imaginative and I have always liked it.
The expectations were high. Perhaps, too high.
It's a pleasant album. Not earth-shattering, but pleasant.
Sometimes, that is enough for me.
But still, I would’ve preferred Ordinary Fool over Sandy; that’s one cringe worthy track that should’ve been buried and burnt.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Didn't 'A Kind Of Hush' sell over 500,000 copies in the USA, though? That's a LOT of people who bought it. It's listed in Joel Whitburn's 'The Billboard Albums' as a gold record. So it did actually have mass appeal at the time.
It's all relative though. In one sense a gold record is quite an achievement, but based on the certifications, A Kind of Hush sold only half as many copies as Horizon and only a quarter as many as Now & Then. In that context, you can see why it was viewed as a commerical disappointment. Of course, that sales slide would continue with Passage and Made in America too.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Sandy, I agree, has always been a (if not "the") weakest link on the Hush album.

More disconcerting is the poor chart showing of the follow-up album, Passage.
Did the Hush album doom the prospects of Passage before it ever 'got out of the gate' ?
Did the "First Television Special" of December 1976 do anything for anyone ?
How did that 'very first special' garner such high ratings if no one cared about the duo anymore ?

It is interesting that Barry Manilow's song Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again
placed #95 for Billboard's Top Songs of 1976. Coming in at #12 for 1976 is Afternoon Delight ( Starland Vocal Band).
So, no one can really predict what is going to happen with a release !
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
When artists have their downward spiral, as they all do, there's almost always a song or album that's perceived in hindsight to be the catalyst - the one that does them in. I've maintained for a long time that the release of the very successful SINGLES 69-73 album kind of put a bookend on the duo's most successful part of their career trajectory.

After that album, there was HORIZON. It contained another Number One single in "Please Mr. Postman", and their superb "Only Yesterday", and the album sold reasonably well. But I think, in hindsight, that it really is the start of the downward spiral. Other than those two songs, the rest of HORIZON has always felt like like it was a draggy, sleepy album. The pillowy-soft "Aurora/Eventide" that bookended the rest of the songs, and the deathly slow "Desperado" and "Solitaire" that ground things to a near halt, all provided a hint that Carpenters were shifting gears a bit. The up-tempo, almost noisy affair that NOW & THEN brought to the table with the oldies medley was gone. In its place was a series of slow ballads with Karen on lead and not much else to brag about. HORIZON is also short - yet another album that felt like it needed one more song, like the tan album. And yet the tan album had the dynamic duo of "Superstar" and "Rainy Days" along with "For All We Know" that kept it afloat. HORIZON felt, particularly to me, like it was bogged down with the weight of the really slow, sleepy stuff.

I know that HORIZON is well-liked by many fans. I like it too, but if someone only gave me a choice of one Carpenters album for a desert island exercise, I know for sure that HORIZON would not be the one.

So my theory is that Carpenters still had a large number of fans - the die-hards and the casual fans - that would have supported HORIZON because it was next in line after the great SINGLES album that rather succinctly covered their best years. And because HORIZON was that generally sleepy affair, it sort of threw up a flag that said to a lot of listeners "These guys are probably done."

Next up came A KIND OF HUSH. And we open it with another of what I've called a "castanet oldie". They'd already mined that field with their past hit "Postman" - and it did really well. There was also that Oldies Medley, the old Bacharach medley, "Help!", "Hurting Each Other", - all sorts of covers of old stuff - so titling the next album after another of these seemed like a been-there done-that thing.

Then we have "I Need To Be In Love" as a single. It was yet another slower-than-slow song, and some radio stations were throwing in the towel on Carpenters at that point. The rest of HUSH is also pretty slow - mostly ballads with just Karen on lead - and the album closes with yet another castanet oldie. It's no wonder that sales slid off and the downward spiral continued.

But I maintain that it was really HORIZON that slowed down their career as much as the album slowed down the music, and that it sold well on fumes rather than its merits.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Extremely well written Harry. Honest and right on the spot. Many times when an artist or group puts out a greatest hits or best of collection, their best years are behind them. It kills the sales of their other titles. They usually don’t grab a whole bunch of new die hard fans, but sell enough new records to keep recording for the ones that love their music, even if it’s not on par with the hit years. The love affair with radio also came to an abrupt end. It happens to almost every act. They had an amazing run though. My one wish is that they still received air play in the other 11 months of the year. A few specialized stations might play a song once a week, but true oldies or 70’s stations will not play any of their records, for a number of reasons we’ve discussed before. At least we have CDs and blue tooth, subscription radio, or our own phone playlists so we can listen wherever we want too. That includes all A&M artists and other favorites.
 

Jorge

Active Member
Harry, how much influence did Richard role as producer at this point had in all the subsequent releases and success of Carpenters albums? Would the Carpenters career & sales after 1975 had been any different having someone else being the producer?

But I maintain that it was really HORIZON that slowed down their career as much as the album slowed down the music, and that it sold well on fumes rather than its merits.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Harry may be onto something regarding the Singles, but I also think there must have been very little planning when designing a strategy for radio play.

And it goes farther back to the original monster albums. After WOJB on the Close to You disc, no new single release. Superstar was it on the Tan album. Goodbye to Love on A Song for You, then nothing. YOM on Now & Then. At least one of those oldies could have been full length and ready for single release. A more radio friendly hit could have been waiting in place of Heather.

With Horizon, I wonder if anyone was paying attention. Only Yesterday is one of their very best- very contemporary sounding with incredible vocals and an innovative arrangement, but even if Solitaire did well, what was next?

Certainly, Herb expressed concerns about Hush, and he should have asked for stronger material. But when the album came out, there really seemed to be no thinking past I Need to Be in Love. When fan club members are asked what should be the next single, that signals a BIG problem. And the end result, Goofus, was an embarrassment on the charts and in the public's perception of our beloved duo. "You" would have been a much better pick.

I love Hush (see my review on my blog or my comments in Randy Schmidt's Illustrated Discography)- and I obviously love the photos and art direction (see my avatar)- but it was too soft and lost any edge we heard on earlier releases or even on Horizon. (I call Hush a "headphones album". Pop on a pair and turn it up. It's just gorgeous.) Unfortunately, listeners and radio went to sleep.

Richard's still a genius and Karen the most nuanced and incredible vocalist ever, but Management from all sides blew it in this regard.

But hindsight is 20/20.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
(1) Excellent analysis, Harry and Mark.
(2) By the way, Mark, unless folks saw the December 1976 TV special, how many folks would have heard of Goofus ?
Certainly I have never heard Goofus on the radio, from 1976 on. I believe Goofus has nothing to do with the downward spiral.

As I have detailed elsewhere, my 'hypothesis' is that the duo's career was really on a downward trend in
1974. There was nowhere to go but down. 1974's Santa Claus should be as well known as Merry Christmas Darling. It is not.
But, as of July 1974, The Singles album was still at #107, after 32 weeks on the chart.

But, no NEW album containing all-new material for the year 1974 had to have hurt.
Certainly the rate of acceleration downward increased in 1975....but, what was the true momentum spurring the downward trend ?
Only Yesterday reached only #4 and by 1979 had sold almost 600,000 copies....what explains that lack of interest ?
Not enough people/fans had purchased Horizon to be familiar with the entire album. So, I do not blame that album for the downward trend.

The tan album already had a Bacharach Medley, then a full-fledged oldies Medley on Now & Then.
The tan album has Druscilla Penny and Saturday, I rarely listen to those fillers (imho).

I choose Horizon any day over both the tan album and Now & Then, for a variety of reasons.
In my analysis, Now & Then is the true culprit for the downward slide which ensued.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I also think there must have been very little planning when designing a strategy for radio play.
I'm reminded of a moment in Herb's movie, HERB ALPERT IS..., where he admits that knowing what will be a hit is often a crapshoot. No-one knows for sure what the public will grab onto, and that explains some of the more embarrassing records that have topped the charts. And he's always said that he didn't like doing his last hit "sideways" to try to catch lightning twice with essentially the same thing. And he always has been drawn to the melody of songs - the ones that stick in his head. And that's just Herb. We're all different.
 
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