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Official Review [Album]: "HORIZON" (SP-4530)

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


  1. ***** (BEST)

    37 vote(s)
  2. ****

    26 vote(s)
  3. ***

    8 vote(s)
  4. **

    1 vote(s)
  5. *

    2 vote(s)
  1. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Interestingly, "Trying' to Get the Feeling" popped on my iPod this morning while working out. The song hasn't grown on me over the years, although I love hearing something fairly fresh from Karen. I'm glad it never made it to Horizon. I think it would have made a slow paced (though much loved!) album even more so.
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    As is well-known, Karen performs drumming duties on
    Please Mr. Postman,
    Now, we have the Single version---differing in lead vocals--
    from the Album version.
    My question:
    Did Karen drum and sing the lead all at once ?
    If so, how was the Single and Album versions
    of the song tracked in order to have the same drums,
    yet, a different lead by Karen ?
  3. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Wasn't aware there was a different lead on the single? Where did you hear that @GaryAlan?!
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Chris May,
    Yikes ! Perhaps I am stretching.....
    Seems to me that there is a huge difference (i.e., audibly perceptible) difference
    in the leads between the Single and the Album versions of the song Please Mr. Postman.
    So, there are not two different lead vocal cuts by Karen ?
    I always assumed such was the case.....:)
  5. I always thought that the difference between the single and album version of "Postman" was simply that the single was EQ'ed to sound like an old 45 on radio and the album version was full fidelity.
  6. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    My ears haven't heard anything different. However, because the lead is double-tracked, often times if one track is mixed or EQd differently, on one mix vs. another, it can give a little more emphasis to the first vocal take vs. second or vice versa if that makes sense? In other words, in order for the vocals to be 'doubled', there are (2) very distinct vocal performances on separate tracks played side by side on the tape. Generally they would be tracked and mixed given the same mic placement, EQ and level on the fader during the playback. However, depending on the gear, mixing engineer etc, something ever so slight can be (and most likely WILL be) different from mix 'A' vs. mix 'B'. This is probably what you're hearing.

    If you want a little better example, listen to a couple of variations of We've Only Just Begun. Listen to Richard's line 'And yes we've just begun...' at the end of verse 2, first on the '70 mix from the album, then listen to it on the '85 mix, then again on the SACD. You'll hear the '85 mix almost sounds like he's a little 'sharp' from the original, then the SACD fold mix sounds thinner, simply because of where the (2) leads are placed in the mix. They are no longer phasing in the same manner because he and Al Schmitt added separation in the mix.

    To give a better breakdown with the same tune, in the The Karen Carpenter Story, go to the scene where they're down at A&M tracking. Karen's lead vocal on the bridge 'Sharin' horizons that are new to us...' is mixed to represent what's taking place in the scene. You'll see there is one of Karen (obviously), therefore Richard pulled the second vocal out of the mix stripping it down to one. You can hear certain nuances and patterns with her first vocal take that get buried when the second vocal is present in the full mix, almost making it sound like a completely different lead altogether.

    Apply the concept to Postman, and I think it will make better sense! :)
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Wow ! I learn so very much !
    Okay, thanks Harry and Chris for the information !
    Okay, what does a different "EQ" actually mean ?
    But, even allowing for mixing variations, as I play and listen to the 45 vs. the Album,
    it always seemed to me that they were different vocal takes !
  8. EQ is equalization. The tonal balance. Boosting highs or lows or midranges for varying sound qualities.

    The Postman single has a rather pinched sound. Not a lot of highs or lows, sort-of emulating the sound of a 45 played on an AM radio station.
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    After listening to the 40th Anniversary SHM-CD of Horizon,
    I must say this remains (still !) my favorite Carpenters' Album.
    On this particular cd pressing,
    I Can Dream Can't I
    sounds particularly clear and fresh.
    The harp & the piano clearly discerned.
    And, those lead vocals ! Simply ethereal.
  10. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    The first two lines of 'Please Mr. Postman' are definitely from different vocal takes. The single version sounds like Karen is singing 'harder'. The album version she uses her Matt Monro thing with the 'O' sounding like 'eeuu', and she's singing much more softly.
    It used to bug me when I was DJ'ing back in college, so I made a special edit from the first two lines of the single and then picked up the album version. It was a pretty good editing job, I must say, because nobody knew but me. :)
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I've always thought the same. In the single version it's "whoah-u yes", whereas it's a softer, straighter "whoa yes" on the album version.
  12. I think it's the difference in reverb levels that you guys are hearing.
  13. natureaker

    natureaker Active Member

    Horizon is definitely a great album! Though I still have quite a few songs to listen to from this certain album, I absolutely love what I've heard so far. Especially adore Love Me For What I Am, Desperado, Only Yesterday and Please Mr. Postman.
  14. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I wish I could understand Karen's dislike of the song Solitaire !
    And, apparently , Richard has grown to dislike the song, as well.
    Now, compare that to my feelings regarding the song:
    As the years progress it sounds even more intimate and emotive,
    captivating, dark, stark and stunningly sung.
    The song--along with Little Altar Boy--may rank as my Top Two
    Carpenters' songs. Or, at the least,top Karen Carpenter lead vocals.
  15. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Perhaps its subconsciously tied to the "Sedaka incident".
  16. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    It's so-o-o-o slo-o-o-o-o-w, even compared to their other ballads, so I think that sort of makes it not sound like Carpenters, which might be why both of them didn't like it so much. I've thought about running that tune through one of those programs that can speed it up without altering the pitch and see if that makes it more Carpenters-y.

    Almost 100% chance the answer is "no" on this. Most singer/drummers don't do their very best vocals WHILE drumming (especially on a fast song), but aside from that, you wouldn't want the vocal microphone picking up the drum sounds.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interesting thoughts in regards to Solitaire.
    I had not believed that the 'speed' of the song tied into Karen's dislike;
    this because she loved Rainy Days And Mondays, I Can Dream Can't I,
    and (the later) I Need To Be In Love. (All slower tunes).
    Now, there is an interview where Richard expresses some antagonism to
    Rainy Days and Mondays--because of its being too slow.
    I always attributed that antagonism to his propensity to play faster on keyboards,
    thus, Solitaire would really pose issues with him.

    Regarding the Sedaka incident playing into Karen's dislike of the song Solitaire,
    I believe Solitaire was finished by March 1975 (per the A&M Compendium interview)
    and, thus, its completion/recording would have predated the entire fiasco.
    (And, she apparently never cared for the song at any point in time.)

    Reading Coleman (Page 183) is of little utility, as it appears to place even greater emphasis
    on Richard's arrangement for Solitaire which, as he writes:
    "rounded out the chill factor for Solitaire."

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  18. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    From what I can tell, Karen's dislike of 'Solitaire' was pretty much instant - in an interview with Ray Coleman from 1975 that's in Randy Schmidt's Yesterday Once More collection, Richard mentions that she didn't like it.

    Conversely, Richard has often commented over the years that he thinks 'Solitaire' is one of Karen's finest performances (as mentioned in the notes to the Gold and From the Top compilations), which would be a strange thing to say if he didn't rate the song very highly. As such, I would imagine his own conclusion that it's not that great a song is another opinion that's been revised in more recent years.

    I would say it's certainly a good performance by Karen (although not one of her best in my opinion) - she performs it as well as it can be performed - but the song is so leaden and slow that it's not enough to save the track.
  19. LondonRobert

    LondonRobert Active Member

    i feel it could just lose the chorus being repeated AGAIN at the end..
    Mary Beth likes this.
  20. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    When I met Karen in 1976, I mntioned " Solitaire" as being one of my favorites.
    K.C. Jr, Jamesj75 and GaryAlan like this.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I usually compare the tempo of Solitaire to the tempo of
    You're The One.
    Perhaps the reason that You're The One was (apparently)
    never considered as a Single release in its time--it being much like Solitaire.
    For some reason, the inherent slowness of both songs--to my ears--play to their strength !
  22. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I hadn't made that connection but you're right - the tempos are similar. I've never been that keen on 'You're the One' either, so maybe it is the slowness that I have the problem with - it only comes to life briefly on the bridge when Karen sings 'Only you could move me enough...'.
  23. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    As I've stated here (probably ad nauseum), "Solitaire" quickly became my favorite Carpenters' song! I am partial to the single version, and I'm thrilled with the PBS collection of all singles versions. I have enjoyed reading the varied views on this stellar song. Yes, it is slow, but most would concede that it's one of Karen's finest moments vocally.

    GaryAlan, I think you're on to something in comparing "You're the One" with "Solitaire." They are similar. Perhaps for some, the slow tempo is a turnoff. When I first heard "You're the One" in its entirety (and originally a brief snippet in "The Karen Carpenter Story"), I fell in love with it instantly, and it rocketed up Jamesj75's charts of personal Carpenters favorites. "You're the One" is also a great vocal performance by Karen. For me and others, the final line in "You're the One" ("You're the one I love") and the final line in "Solitaire" ("He's playing solitaire") are chill factor moments!

    Yet, when it comes to great vocal performances by Karen, we have an abundance of riches...
    GaryAlan likes this.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested to hear Horizon--as a complete Album--with the two
    Single versions (of Solitaire and Postman) substituted therein , simply to see
    if that eliminates any of the so-called "drag" which some have commented
    on regarding this album.

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