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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.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    5 vote(s)
    7.6%
  2. ****

    14 vote(s)
    21.2%
  3. ***

    38 vote(s)
    57.6%
  4. **

    8 vote(s)
    12.1%
  5. *

    1 vote(s)
    1.5%
  1. Dutch

    Dutch Member

    UK
    A kind of hush always had a special place in my heart because it takes me back in 1976, but I can see the problems with the album now. The arrangement of 'Can't smile without you' is dull. 'I have you' and 'Boat to sail' are album fillers, 'Breaking up is hard to do' is by far the worst thing they ever did. And how could Richard lose 'Ordinary fool', it shows you what was going on with both of them at the time. Not to notice a brilliant recording and to add quite dull one's to the final product. I think I remember reading somewhere that A&M asked Richard if he was sure the album was ready to be released when submitted. That said, it's not their weakest album!!!!
     
  2. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I find Made in America much weaker than Hush.
     
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Is there a 'cow-bell' (?) heard in Breaking Up Is Hard To Do? (1m23s to 1m33s)
    The album credits do not clue me in as to what instrument I am hearing.
     
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Listening to the incredible
    "One More Time"
    and, even with (my) misgivings regarding Hush LP,
    this song, as well as " I Need to be in Love",
    are sumptuous.
    Again, demonstrative of Carpenters' best creations.
     
    byline likes this.
  5. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    "One More Time" is one of my favorite tracks and an underrated gem, never made it to that many compilations. It's so soft that it's best with headphones or in quite surroundings to hear every thing.
     
    byline and Mark-T like this.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Yes, Chris,
    I will confess that, at first (many years ago), I was not taken with the song--"One More Time''.
    Now, I confess a totally different appreciation, admiration, for it.
    Especially on Treasures Compilation (Japan) it seems much clearer, vocals more pronounced.
    It's one of those sparse arrangements-- forgive me, like the solo Make Believe It's Your First Time---
    wherein the arrangement does not over-power Karen's vocals. (or, even, I Can't Make Music,Wow)
    Really, almost brings me to tears, now. (oops)
    Richard Carpenter 'nailed it' One More Time!
     
    byline likes this.
  7. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    One more Time - I find Karen's reading of that to be so melancholy yet seemingly effortless. I wonder sometimes if she wouldn't have been as convincing with lines as an actress as well.
     
    byline likes this.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Year-End 1976 Billboard Chart, December 25,1976:
    (Forgot to list this in a previous posting)
    Easy Listening Singles Top 100
    There's A Kind of Hush#10
    I Need To Be In Love#43
    East Listening Artists Top 50
    Carpenters#4
     
  9. Dutch

    Dutch Member

    UK
    A Kind of hush did suffer because of their health, I wonder what Richard really thinks of the album. I wish he would be more blunt and give an honest opinion rather than beating around the bush or giving a diplomatic response. The fact that the title track hardly ever appears on compilation albums is telling, or that 'Goofus' is hardly ever reissued. 'One more time' is a wonderful performance by Karen, and 'I need to be in love' is now a Carpenters classic and a huge hit thanks to the Japanese. I remember listening to the radio in 1976 and hearing 'I need to be in love' being played and the DJ stopping the record half way through saying he wouldn't play that 'bleep' (can't use the word hear). Then months later I heard the same thing with 'Breaking up is hard to do'. Apart from the fans noone liked them in 1976. 'You' is the other standard track on the album, huge mistake by A&M not releasing it as a single in Britain.
     
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Well, Britain loved them at The Palladium in 1976. As did Japan and Netherlands. (Seems that Americans threw in the towel in 1976.)
    And, I had quite a losing battle with the local (Florida) radio station to get them to spin " I Need To Be In Love".
    That song, if it had been recorded as Karen performed it in December 1978 could have been a bigger USA hit. (i.e., sans chorale).
     
  11. Dutch

    Dutch Member

    UK
    Britain didn't love the Palladium concert in 1976 that much. I remember, I saw them in '76. The press was very bad for them that year. And the album sold badly and was critised by the music press. It wasn't until the album was re-issued in the 1980's on Pickwick that it went on to go Gold in the UK. Most people weren't impressed with the 'show', they wanted a 'concert'. The 'Warsaw concerto' went down very badly, and Karen's drum medley might work well on a TV show, but not at a live concert. And don't get me started on the projected images of them as children and their parents. It wasn't very rock and roll! It gave the A&M staff in the UK alot more reasons to hate them, especially as punk was just starting. It wasn't until they released 'Calling Occupants' that the Brits took interest again.
     
    byline likes this.
  12. byline

    byline Active Member

    Interesting perspective, Dutch. I feel like sometimes we don't remember things very clearly. Time and events change our perception. I just remember an increasing antipathy toward the Carpenters as the '70s wore on. It was tough being a fan! I wish events had been kinder to them, but it was their career, and they and others didn't make the best decisions. Easy to see in hindsight, but it must have been terribly frustrating for them.
     
  13. Dutch

    Dutch Member

    UK
    I remember very well how the Carpenters were taken it the 70's. I was a huge fan from 1973 onwards. As I stated before, I saw them in 1976 in concert. I also remember arguing with my classmates at school about the Carpenters, how good they were and how their music would outlast all the rubbish the other kids were listening too. Guess who was right!
     
    CraigGA likes this.
  14. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Of course, I empathize with the lack of Carpenters' sentiment in the late 1970's--I went through the same with my peers.
    Dutch, I must say, though, if you peruse the Billboard review of the 1976 Palladium concerts, there is no mention of dismay for Carpenters
    in those articles.
    But, you saw them in 1976! Nice!
    Your firsthand account adds personal perspective, thanks!

    Billboard Magazine
    December 18,1976
    :
    "...Carpenters' sell-out concerts at London Palladium recently were recorded by A&M for a rush release live album.
    Three of the shows were taped, edited and mixed during the duo's week at the theater,...,no plans to release anywhere except the UK.
    The new package features material not previously recorded by the duo." (page 54)
    And,
    October 23,1976 (page 4):
    "Carpenters show to be taped at Drury Lane Theater,here, for BBC -TV Screening."

    LP: Live at Palladium #28 on August 8,1977.
     
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Timeline, as constructed from Carpenters Fan Club Newsletters (#45 through #49)
    pertaining to Hush LP:
    #45 October 1975: "..I am more concerned with Karen's health and writing new songs." (Richard Carpenter regarding Sedaka incident)
    #46 December 1975: Karen has responded well to rest. Richard and John have been working on some new material and a new single
    is in the making
    , album to follow in Spring. Richard and Karen preparing a new show for the Road. Also, planning TV Shows.
    #47 February 1976: New single released February 12th. Album should be released in April. Duo will 'do' the Dinah Shore Show.
    #48 May 1976: New Album released June 11th. New single, "I Need to be in Love", released May 21st. They videotaped one of their Japan
    concerts for later viewing.
    #49 August 1976: Presently working on another single.
     
  16. Dutch

    Dutch Member

    UK
    I must state again as it seams some are either not remembering how things were in 1976 or looking back in hindsight with rose-tinted glasses. And also not taking into account that the Carpenters popularity didn't really return until the 1990's and beyond. But in 1976 they mostly got bad press, certainly in the UK and I've also read in the US too'. Probably Japan was the only place they were still on a high. I remember having to ignore lots of it bad things being written or said. I know they toured the UK and did a TV show, and a live album, the shows did sell out, but then they only played small venues and only did a few concerts, not arenas like Celine Dion. But apart from 'A Kind of hush' going gold in the UK, nothing else did well until 'Calling occupants' gave them some credibility again. DJ's refused to play the Carpenters in 1976 as i stated before, I have never heard a DJ remove a song whilst being played and scratching the record as happened twice with them in 76. And their show was seen as old-fashioned and not in line with the punk era dominating the UK in 1976, then came disco! Also 'Live at the Palladium' making No.28 was no achievment. I have a fond memory of the 'Hush' album but like Richard, now I can see all wasn't good with them that year! Even prior to 76 the Carpenters got alot of critism, but they were huge and there music propped up A&M. But after Karen collapsed in 75 things started to unravel, the image had been broken. Their music did suffer, I think alot of their music after 1975 is not up to the standard of the early 70's. The good records were the exceptions not the rule. And I didn't even mention how dreadful Karen looked when she walked on stage, I was there, everyone DID gasp! But Richard & Karen were such profesionals and talented that even their not-up-to-our-high-standards music was still better than alot of other people.
     
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    As I was transcribing Richard Carpenter's Notes from this album, from the 40th Anniversary Box Set,
    I ,also, had the album playing---
    It strikes me how differently I perceive this album--- as contrasted with Richard's recollections.
    My primary concern was the softness of the overall product, primarily due to Karen's softer vocal interpretations.
    My inclination was that Karen was simply not in good health, thus a less forceful delivery.
    Richard, on the other hand, places the lackluster performance of the music on his pill-addiction.
    If Goofus was such a disappointment to him , why include the song on the 1978 Space Encounters Television Show?
    For that matter, why release it as a single?
    I feel that Sandy is not as good as You, or, I Have You---his notes did not touch upon the later two songs.
    As for-- Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, well ---why was that not the slow, jazzed-up version?
    Or, how about talk regarding the 'misplacing' of Ordinary Fool---How was that kept off of this album?
    I always enjoyed There's A Kind of Hush, obviously he does not think much of the song. Why,then, record it?

    (NB: InsightsandSoundsBlogspot sums it all up beautifully.)

    Released June 11, 1976
    July 14 ,1976 Certified Gold by RIAA. (500,000 units sold)


     
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  18. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Thanks GaryAlan! The direct link to the Insights and Sounds album review is here.
     
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  19. byline

    byline Active Member

    Gary, I think part of their problem is that they were searching not necessarily for material they were wild about, but material they thought would be commercially successful. Why "Goofus"? In their defense, it was a novelty song, and they had long endured the criticism that they took themselves too seriously. So why not respond with a lighthearted novelty song ... and, to top it off, release that as a single? As I recall, Karen was the "Goofus" fan. Her idea was probably something along the lines of, "It's fun ... and we need some fun to lighten up our image." That's a pretty fair assessment, but given the musical and comedic landscape at the time, it turned out to be not a great choice.

    I think many of the mistakes they made can be traced back to the tremendous pressure they both felt to keep their commercial momentum going ... which unfortunately was the tail wagging the dog, and (IMO) negatively affected their choice of material after Horizon. Had they sought material that really appealed to them, rather than what they felt would appeal to radio programmers, then I think their overall body of work would have been vastly improved. It's still a great body of work, but by this time you could really see how their choices were suffering due to the never-ending pressure of trying to keep that machine running. And then this was exacerbated by the health situations Richard and Karen were dealing with.
     
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your interesting observations, Byline!
    Your commentary rings true in many particulars.
    As the 1975 A&M Compendium interview makes clear, Richard was focused more on "the single" , or, in
    Richard's case, hit singles, as promotional material(s) for the album. However, a glance at A-Sides and B-Sides of their "singles" output
    paints a rather different story. In many instances the 'flip' side of a single was often- times a Richard Carpenter composition, and
    not a "better" selected song (from another composer) from the requisite album. He also made the comment that "you make money from album
    sales, not singles." However, once again, his choices reflected the opposite . Carpenters' sold something like 10 million singles from 1970 to
    1974 (in America, at least), and I think the over-riding desire was to generate the next "hit" single, and less attention to the album as a whole.
    When his affinity for 'picking' that next 'hit' single fell short, it affected the entire output.
    (Although, I like Goofus very much, it is not a 'hit' single---
    but, where could Richard go for singles after A Kind of Hush and I Need To Be In Love?)
     
  21. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Byline, I'd probably agree with you over the logic behind releasing 'Goofus' as a single, but to me A Kind of Hush doesn't sound like an album that was made with the aim of chasing radio play - in fact, it sounds completely adrift from paying attention to what was being played at the time (unless that radio station was playing only the Captain & Tennille). Aside from the general aura of sleepiness in the production, to my ears none of the tracks sounds like a smash hit single. Of course, 'There's a Kind of Hush' did OK in chart terms, but it was clearly trading on past glories. It was only by the time of Passage that it appears they were deliberately trying to catch radio play with releases like 'Calling Occupants' and 'Sweet Sweet Smile', and that aim was partly compromised by the problems caused for them by A Kind of Hush and its singles.

    However, I think your general point is true - they'd have been much better off recording what they wanted to rather than feeling pressured to try and catch the attention of radio again - as long as that didn't mean a drift ever closer to the middle of the road that A Kind of Hush hinted at!
     
  22. byline

    byline Active Member

    I certainly agree with you now ... and would have agreed with you then. It was a "sleepy" production that was not at all in keeping with pop music at that time. But I think part of the problem around this time, aside from the health issues Karen and Richard were dealing with, was that they had less of an "ear" for what was working in pop music at the time. And let's face it, it's a crap shoot. For every song that's a hit, there must be hundreds and hundreds that are not. That's not based solely on talent. Sometimes it's just catching lightning in a bottle. I think part of Karen and Richard's success had to do with their particular sound coming at just the right time, when people were ready to hear it. By the time this album was being recorded, musical tastes – and pop music, itself – had moved on. So I think they took a sort of "cookie cutter" approach to this album, trying to cobble together the bits and pieces that had been successful before. As a result, to me this sounds less like an album than any of their previous works. It really does sound to me like a lazily cobbled-together collection of songs (even though I'm sure the work in the studio was anything but lazy). But I think what was driving them, as errant as their "ear" might have been, was trying to keep their popularity alive.
     
  23. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Funny, byline, your feelings on Hush are almost exactly what I think about Made in America. Particularly,
    "So I think they took a sort of "cookie cutter" approach to this album, trying to cobble together the bits and pieces that had been successful before. As a result, to me this sounds less like an album than any of their previous works. It really does sound to me like a lazily cobbled-together collection of songs (even though I'm sure the work in the studio was anything but lazy). But I think what was driving them, as errant as their "ear" might have been, was trying to keep their popularity alive."
     
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  24. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Byline, you make a good point about getting a hit single. It's always worth highlighting what an achievement in was for Karen and Richard to place *all* of their singles in the Top 12 between 'Close to You' and 'Only Yesterday'. Very few artists are guaranteed a hit at every point in their career and most go through a slump, either because what they're putting out isn't in tune with the market anymore or because the market has consciously moved on (or both). The slightly dip in the chart success of Horizon and 'Solitaire' pointed that this difficult period might already be starting for them by 1976.

    The unfortunate thing is that the point at which it looked like the market might be moving on and proving more resistant to their output was the exact time at which they released an album that had less spark and veered even further away from what the market was looking for than anything they'd released before, which just compounded the problem that they were facing. And, unlike many other artists with long-running careers, for whatever reason, they were unable to overcome the blip and make up the ground they'd lost commercially.

    Mstaft, I'd probably agree with you about comparing A Kind of Hush with Made in America. The former just sounds somewhat directionless, as if there was no one looking at the big picture of what it was trying to say as a collection of songs, whereas Made in America doesn't have that feel, it's just that the plan behind it seem to have been to try and re-create a past formula at the expense of doing something more contemporary and creative.
     
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interview October 30,1978:
    There's A Kind of Hush:

    Karen Carpenter
    :
    "I like that song. It didn't do what we thought it would, but I like it anyway."
    Richard Carpenter:
    "I just heard it one day as an oldie and wanted to do it. Not much of a story behind that one, really."
    I Need To Be In Love:
    Karen: "..that's one of the most beautiful things we ever cut. That's a really important song, even today.It's my favorite."

    Richard Carpenter, Treasures,1987:
    "Sandy"...is an original tune and has a relaxing, warm, feel that works very well for Karen.
    "One More Time"...one of the more beautiful pieces I've ever heard. It caught my ear the first time I heard it performed, and
    I knew it would be perfect for Karen.
     
    byline and Jamesj75 like this.

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