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Official Review [Album Covers]: "1969-2001"

Which Three Studio Album Covers Are Your Favorite?

  • "OFFERING"

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • "TICKET TO RIDE"

    Votes: 5 9.4%
  • "CLOSE TO YOU"

    Votes: 4 7.5%
  • "CARPENTERS"

    Votes: 4 7.5%
  • "A SONG FOR YOU"

    Votes: 5 9.4%
  • "NOW AND THEN"

    Votes: 11 20.8%
  • "HORIZON"

    Votes: 42 79.2%
  • "A KIND OF HUSH"

    Votes: 7 13.2%
  • "PASSAGE"

    Votes: 16 30.2%
  • "CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT"

    Votes: 17 32.1%
  • "MADE IN AMERICA"

    Votes: 1 1.9%
  • "VOICE OF THE HEART"

    Votes: 4 7.5%
  • "AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS"

    Votes: 1 1.9%
  • "LOVELINES"

    Votes: 9 17.0%
  • "AS TIME GOES BY"

    Votes: 17 32.1%

  • Total voters
    53

theninjarabbit

Well-Known Member
I voted for Close to You, Horizon, and Now & Then.

Horizon
is classy and mature. Enough said there.
I enjoy the bright colors on Now & Then (and staring quite lovingly at the Ferrari :D).
Close to You
is simply iconic -- love everything about it. They may be smiling on the front, but the cloudy sky, the blue/gray colors really set a sort of somber tone.

"As Time Goes By" and "A Song For You" would probably be very close after.
 

John Tkacik

Active Member
Voice of the Heart: An absolutely stunning photo of Karen from the solo album photo session in 1980.
Horizon: When they both were still young & healthy.
As Time Goes By: Most "natural" looking photo of them from all the covers.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I think I did this poll before. I'll have to go look up the old one to see if I made the same choices this time....but the following thoughts reflect how I feel in 2016.

As always, it's pretty easy to pick great Carpenters album covers because they're so few in number. The only cover up there that I think is really a great album cover is Horizon. Beautiful design, classy, great photo.

Another choice of mine was Christmas Portrait. It's probably their second best cover -- the design really evokes the music inside. I thought it was cool that they dispensed with the regular logo and went with the Saturday Evening Post-style typeface, which added to its charm.

My third choice was A Kind of Hush, not because it's an excellent cover, but because it is a clever one. The look of the "foggy" window is inventive, and LP-buyers will remember the famous logo was printed inside the jacket -- that was a cool touch. And the cover photo, although nothing special, is a good photo of the Carpenters.

Going down the rest of list, I like Offering because it's kind of an artifact of its time. The picture is nice, it seems to fit the music (much better than the Ticket cover did). But, it sure hasn't dated well...it looked dated as soon as the '70s began.

Close To You
is a terrible cover, uninspired in the extreme. It looks like the rush job it was. That cover design probably cost them some sales.

The tan album is an OK cover because it's eye-catching with its simplicity, and it introduces their logo, and it had a clever design, but it's not exactly a beautiful cover. Maybe putting the inside picture on the outside with the logo, and having the folding-mechanism built into the back would have improved it. But, it was a big seller so you can't argue with success I guess.

A Song For You is my favorite of their albums but the cover is one of my least favorites. It is as if they looked at the tan album and said, "How can we do the same thing, but slightly different, and cheaper?" And then later they re-designed it (the logo was enlarged and stretched out of shape) and made it worse. The ONLY good thing about that cover is the cool flap that covers the record slot, and the embossing of the paper (although that made it get dirty real easily), and the excellent design on the inside sleeve...but if we're only looking at the front cover, that one is a stinker.

Now and Then has long been criticized for the car pillar covering Karen's face -- but I do like the tri-fold design of it, and the portraits on the inside were nice. It's probably my favorite cover from a design standpoint, if you're considering the whole cover and not just the front.

Passage is very pretty, but it's not exactly inspired. Today it looks like it could be some kind of a gay-pride album, what with the rainbow colors.

Made In America is my other choice for "worst" cover. The picture of them is uber-cheesy, as if they said "screw it, we're going all-in with the goody-two-shoes thing." Any shred of coolness they created starting with Horizon and Passage was undone by this cover. They'd have done better to put the inside picture on the outside, although it was still one of those smiley pics that Richard hated.

Everything else came after Karen passed away, of course, so it's not exactly fair to compare them to the earlier albums, since they had no chance to get "new" pictures of her. I didn't really like Voice of the Heart just because it only had Karen on the front. That, plus the title, made it look like a solo album. It's a great picture of Karen but it shouldn't have been the front cover of a Carpenters album.

Old Fashioned Christmas
was a nice attempt to make lightning strike twice by sequel-izing the Portrait cover - I like it, but it's not too original.

Probably my favorite of all the covers that came after Karen died is Lovelines. That's a classy cover and I like the album as well.

As Time Goes By isn't a great cover but it does feature a terrific photo. I like it because it has a wistful quality, sort of an autumn feel.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
I chose Ticket to ride. Horizon.and Lovelines. I Think Their respective covers presented The Carpenters properly in their times. I think the Ticket to ride lp has held up better than the offering cover. As i never saw the offering cover until the late 90s. Lovelines is perhaps one of the classiest carpenters covers and Horizon shows a mature side of Karen and Richard.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
In no particular order, "Passage", "Horizon" and "Carpenters". "Horizon" for featuring the best photos of the duo, looking comfortable in street clothes and not forcing smiles. "Carpenters" for introducing one of the best logos ever designed. "Passage" for its bold colors and willingness to go in an unexpected direction.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Loving these posts ! Makes great reading !
Well, Horizon was first Album I ever played (Not first owned)
I still love the entire package. Inside and Outside. The duo's photo, beautiful--
although I always felt Richard appeared thin here--could be the zipper-shirt.
I probably owned one of those back in the 1970's, as I love zipper-shirts !
Passage, well, being the first Album I actually owned (Not first played)
caught my eye--I still love the colorful Outside--but, the Inside....disappointing, too wordy...who am I to talk !
(Nolan--inside--writes " Hush as superb, Horizon as sublime..." surely those are transposed descriptions !)
My third choice--Lovelines--with reservations. No inner sleeve, a busy back cover, but, still the front is great.
But, they all ---the Covers--have their moments.....even the so-called 'bad' ones.....somebody at the time had to say "that's a wrap."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I went with the following:

Horizon - one of the best pictures taken of them, ever. This was the first time A&M got their approach right when it came to the album covers and marketing. Does anyone know if they'd used a different marketing company in 1975 than they had done previously?

Lovelines - this cover perfectly reflects the overall mood of the album. Autumnal, introspective, classy and sophisticated, evocative of songs like Where Do I Go From Here, The Uninvited Guest, If We Try and Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night. The dark B&W cover enhances the feel autumn/winter feel to the album. I could just imagine listening to it on a dark, cold winter's night with a warm fire roaring.

As Time Goes By - this was an album I never thought we would see, especially as Lovelines was billed as the "final Carpenters album". The Liebowitz photo itself is superb but startling - Karen's pose reflects the fact she has passed on (sleeping peacefully) and Richard's expression is almost like he's looking back over his shoulder with regret and longing, into the past. Just perfect for this album.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Now and Then has long been criticized for the car pillar covering Karen's face -- but I do like the tri-fold design of it, and the portraits on the inside were nice. It's probably my favorite cover from a design standpoint, if you're considering the whole cover and not just the front.
Some of the newer members might enjoy the following threads, which document Richard's memories and thoughts about the creation of those early album covers - in his own words.

FAVORITE CARPENTERS ALBUM COVER? »

FAVORITE CARPENTERS ALBUM COVER? »
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I voted for "Passage", "Christmas Portrait" and "An Old-Fashioned Christmas". If I could've picked a fourth it would've been "Ticket To Ride".

With the two Christmas albums, I really like how they look like some of those old-Fashioned Christmas cards, plus the painted covers just make them stand-out in comparison to the photo covers.

"Passage" reminds me of the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Masks" and Deanna Troi's line to Data about "sculpting music", but in this case it is painted music.

As for "Ticket" I really love how it captures the Carpenters being care-free.
 
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Mark-T

Well-Known Member
My choices have slightly changed since ten years ago. "Horizon" is the best cover in my opinion. Elegant and moody, but not a touch of the lovey dove feel of earlier covers. Beautiful in the old full 12" x 12"! (The inside photo is a totally different story, however.) The new graphic icon of the duo is smart as well. I was surprised they did not continue using it.

Next, "Hush"- still overall best package- and guess what (no surprise)- the photo sessions include my very favorite shot of Karen. Love the inside photo, the label, and Carps wallpaper.

"Christmas Portrait". Essence of a classic. Perfect.
 

K.C. Jr

Well-Known Member
Christmas Portrait is my favorite of all, hands down. Absolute perfection and timelessness (art and album itself!)

I always loved the look of Now & Then because it gave a little glimpse into the Carpenters' lives. Plus, who wouldn't love the Ferrari?

Finally, Horizon is one of their best covers. Mature, mysterious, and they finally look like brother and sister! For normal albums, this is my favorite.
 

natureaker

Active Member
Passage is my personal favorite, hands down. Such beautiful art!
I also really like the cover for A Kind Of Hush. Such a great photo of the two!
Lastly, I really love the picture of Karen on Voice Of The Heart. I just really like that picture!
 

BarryT60

Well-Known Member
Thanks so much Chris, for re-posting! Already a huge turn-out at the poles! :wink:

For me - this one - again - was a tough job... The albums that didn't make it - featuring graphics that I really love - are:

  • Passage, love the contemporary feel and richness, particularly, for the year of release.
  • A Song For You - (I just love red!) - featuring that 100% perfect logo.
  • Lovelines - Love the picture, and use of the logo. Never cared for the name of this LP though.
and - one that is not mentioned may be my favorite album cover:
  • The Singles 1969 - 1973. That one was rich and striking, and evoked the quality within.

Now for my picks here...
  • Horizon - hands down, my favorite picture and concept for a cover. Also spawned my favorite graphics on a single sleeve, for "Only Yesterday".
  • Now & Then - my first album purchase... a sentimental favorite of mine... Ironically spawning my second favorite graphics on a single sleeve, for "Yesterday Once More"
  • Christmas Portrait - so unique, such a classic reference to the contents of this perfect album. I only wish today's listeners, had the chance to hold the larger vinyl album cover - it's such a joyful piece of art....
Love reading others' thoughts here!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Here in Canada its to bad that the Christmas albums are only available in the Double-CD format, since people don't get to see the lovely covers, and even compared to a lot of the newer Christmas CD's the covers still look really good. Most modern Christmas CD's have covers that look like they were done for Sears' Wishbook catalogue.
 

JBee

Active Member
My votes: Horizon, Passage and As Time Goes By. One of my all-time favorites is the Japanese release of Anthology with their picture on the front. My favorite picture of Karen.
These were my three picks as well.
Horizon - in a class by itself. If only all the early Carpenters covers were like this, they wouldn't have suffered so many "Goody FourShoes" image issues (sadly A Kind of Hush went back to the Pepsodent smiles).
Passage - experimental (like the album), different, and a piece of art in itself, something no record buyer would be embarrassed to take out of the store (or put on their wall).
As Time Goes By - exactly fits the mood of the album's name and fitting as a final image of the duo for the last official "Carpenters" album. A somber and pensive Richard looks to the side, eyes wide open while a sleeping and ever youthful Karen (looking exactly how her fans wanted to remember her, healthy and beautiful) is peacefully in the back at rest. This was the Carpenters at their height - now faded away.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
My favorites are the three that feature only logos. I love logos and Carpenters logo is a great one. So I'd pick the tan CARPENTERS album, and two that were not on this list, SINGLES 1969-1973, and SINGLES 1974-1978. In the CD era, I'm partial to all of the various "GOLD" covers for the same reason.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
Awesome logo. :) Seems odd in hindsight that it was never registered or even treated as a common law trademark. I've seen it ripped off several times.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
My favorites are the three that feature only logos. I love logos and Carpenters logo is a great one. So I'd pick the tan CARPENTERS album, and two that were not on this list, SINGLES 1969-1973, and SINGLES 1974-1978. In the CD era, I'm partial to all of the various "GOLD" covers for the same reason.
It's funny because I purposely steered away from the covers that didn't feature their picture on the front. If I'm going to buy an album I like to see some image of the artist on the front, some hint or idea of what the style of the album will be from the way they've been marketed. Granted, I wouldn't have bought Close To You on the strength of that cover though :laugh:
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
It's funny because I purposely steered away from the covers that didn't feature their picture on the front. If I'm going to buy an album I like to see some image of the artist on the front, some hint or idea of what the style of the album will be from the way they've been marketed. Granted, I wouldn't have bought Close To You on the strength of that cover though :laugh:
To me, that Carpenters logo could have been used like Chicago's logo, adorning every album cover in different colors and motifs, with pictures of the duo appearing on the back or inside gatefolds or on innersleeves. Having a picture on the early albums wasn't working, so they should have milked the logo for all it was worth on all of their subsequent albums. One of the things I DIDN'T like was on the US HORIZON album, there was no logo at all on the cover. I believe it might have been present on the shrink-wrap, which had to be removed to get into the jacket's envelope flap.

HORIZON has a great picture of the duo - but I feel it could have been used differently.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Not only does the Carpenters Logo appear on the Jacket's flap,
the smaller Carpenters' Logo is placed above the duo's profile on bottom right side of Horizon.
The other side of the Album Sleeve--the beautiful photo of Karen and Richard, there--
is absent the Logo on Original Vinyl pressings. Later pressings affix the Logo on the
side featuring the Photograph, usually above Karen's hair.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I love the logo. I think its very classy. BUT if they used it like Chicago's and it was front and center on every album, I think it would present the Carps more as a corporate entity versus two very talented and very warm human people.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I think it would present the Carps more as a corporate entity versus two very talented and very warm human people.
I would have seen it as the representation of a unified whole. From the very beginning, I thought of Carpenters as a "group" - and it was, a grouping of two siblings (plus some steady backing folks on both records and touring). The logo served to solidify that image in my mind.

Harry
 

John Tkacik

Active Member
My favorites are the three that feature only logos. I love logos and Carpenters logo is a great one. So I'd pick the tan CARPENTERS album, and two that were not on this list, SINGLES 1969-1973, and SINGLES 1974-1978. In the CD era, I'm partial to all of the various "GOLD" covers for the same reason.
I did not like the cover for SINGLES 1974-1978. I accidentally discovered it in a discount album bin and had flipped through the bin 3 times before I realized that this shiny gold cover belonged to a Carpenters album. When I got home, I decided to change it with a black ink pen and colored in the letters of the logo to make it stand out.
 
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