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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)

    41 vote(s)
  2. ****

    30 vote(s)
  3. ***

    9 vote(s)
  4. **

    2 vote(s)
  5. *

    2 vote(s)
  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Another fascinating aspect of
    I Can Dream Can't I ,
    is Pete Jolly's excellent keyboard performance.
    Quite memorable.
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    The opening notes, coupled with Karen’s first line and the orchestration, are sublime. Definite goosebump moment. The whole song is exquisite.

    This song is what they would have specialised in, had they made it big in the fifties. Of course it wouldn’t have sounded quite as good given the limited technology back then, but I can definitely imagine this kind of style and arrangement being their bread and butter as a fifties act.
  3. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Pete Jolly did three albums for A&M as an artist in his own right. They were:

    Herb Alpert Presents Pete Jolly (SP 4145). Possibly the best of the three, with Pete in control of a small jazz combo that sounds like something you'd hear in a piano lounge. A Bacharach tune here, a little Jobim, and a Roger Nichols song too.

    GIVE A DAMN (SP 4184). A followup to the first with longish tracks and a live setting that may or may not have been recreated or augmented. More Bacharach to enjoy.

    SEASONS, a more experimental album where Pete went into a studio and noodles around with mostly electric keyboards. The best of the session formed this album.
    Bobberman and Don Malcolm like this.
  4. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. They made the same mistake on The Singles 1974-1978 album. 'Solitaire' just isn't a suitable side opener. It's made even worse on the CD, where 'I Can Dream Can't I?' runs straight into 'Solitaire'.

    There's another bad bit of sequencing on Side 2, where 'Goodbye and I Love You' is followed by the similar-sounding 'Love Me For What I Am'. I think really they needed at least one more uptempo (and possibly two) to break up the slow songs or ballads - that's probably what makes the album a bit 'draggy'.
    newvillefan likes this.
  5. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    'I Can Dream Can't I?' is a gorgeous song and I'd agree it's one of the highlights on Horizon - and probably the best 'standard'-style song they ever recorded. However, it's hardly ever appeared on compilations, so perhaps it's unsurprising that it's rather overlooked. It could have easily been included on, say, From the Top or The Essential Collection - the fact that it wasn't, when other more obscure songs in the same vein like 'Little Girl Blue' were, always suggested to me that Richard himself never rated it all that highly.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I do not believe that anything about Horizon was a mistake (or, accidental).
    This was an album which took longer (greater than three months) than average to complete.
    As the late March 1975 Compendium interview makes clear, Richard spent a lot of time
    trying to get all things just right for this album, thus I have to believe he also
    considered the sequencing of songs. And, Jerry Moss highlighted this LP (Coleman bio).
    The outside Cover, the inner Sleeve, the colors (grays and blues) signify to me a "darker" album.
    In short, Horizon was intended to deliver exactly what was delivered.
    So what, it's slow....who cares ?...the songs fit together almost seamlessly.
  7. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Agreed. It doesn't feel like a "summertime fun album", so my bet is the timing was a piece of its relative lack of commercial success.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    If only we’d had two or three more songs that were of the calibre of Only Yesterday, this album would have been in a different league. I don’t consider it to be their defining album. It was too full of sleepy ballads and the bookend tracks were poor excuses for full album tracks.
  9. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I never did think that “Horizon” was their best album. Sure “Desperado” and “Solitaire” and “Aurora/Eventide” were nice, but they just made the album move to slowly. It would’ve been nice had they recorded as album filler something like “Shuboom” from the LIJ album.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Perhaps insightful to turn to the pages of Coleman:
    Only Yesterday .....
    "was their most manufactured work." (Coleman, page 181)
    "was a manipulated, positive song." (John Bettis, page 181).
    "I turned on the technique button, it was a construct song" and,
    "I want this song to appeal to the average American dollar holder.(Richard Carpenter, page 181),
    "That song sent chills up and down our spines when we had just the bass,piano, drums and working vocal--
    before the strings went on." (Engineer Roger Young)

    I remember the first time I heard this entire album.
    That was early 1976, on Vinyl.
    I was floored.
    I felt it was an astounding sonic experience (visually, too---a great looking album !)
    I still feel that way, obviously.
    Mark-T likes this.
  11. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    I bought HORIZON on release day, but that presented a problem for listening to it.

    I've mentioned that my family had a summer cottage on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. We'd go there every weekend in anything close to nice weather, so from about mid-March through late October or early November, we were there, every Friday night through Sunday afternoon.

    Though I was in my early twenties at the time, I was still a homebody and tagged along on most of those weekends. Release date for HORIZON was June 6th, 1975, which was a Friday, and I likely grabbed my copy of the LP on my way home from work that day. As we were always in a hurry to get on the road, while packing for the weekend, I started dubbing a copy of HORIZON onto a cassette. There was no turntable of any kind at the cottage, so my cassette recorder would have to suffice for early listening to the album. With time tight, I was only able to dub Side One onto that cassette, so all weekend all I heard was:
    *Only Yesterday
    *Please Mr. Postman
    I Can Dream, Can't I?

    *Those two were already familiar from singles released earlier in the year.

    I brought the LP along with me so I could follow along with the liner notes and credits as I listened - a normal activity for me with a new album. Since two of the tracks were previously released as singles, there were only really three new tracks for me to listen to. I could only theorize as to what the contents of Side Two sounded like.

    Looking at the song titles and composers, I had to guess at what was waiting in store for me when I got back home. "Solitaire" was a Neil Sedaka song - I liked a lot of his uptempo hits with his own overdubbed harmonies from the 60s, so I figured this might be another up-tempo toe-tapper.

    The next three were all home-grown songs with familiar named composers of Bettis, Carpenter, and Peluso. I just figured these would all be typical Carpenters songs.

    Turned out I was wrong about Side Two. The most uptempo thing on it was "Happy" and that was really only mid-tempo.
  12. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Herb Alpert has said in several interviews that he liked R&K early on because they were making "the music that was coming out of them." In other words, they were doing what they felt, not just gunning for singles. Given their circumstances at the time Horizon showed up -- they were overworked, Richard was burned out, and Karen was beginning to feel that solo-album itch -- it's no wonder that there's a "darkness" to the Horizon album. Plus it contains several short-cuts -- two instrumentals, two previously-released singles (one of which came out LONG ahead of the album and should have remained a standalone single) and so on.

    As Mark-T says above, it doesn't feel like a summertime-fun album, but the problems with it are deeper than that to me -- it just draaags. This comment has nothing to do with the sound quality of the record -- it's probably one of the finest-produced albums of that time or any time. The problem is the choice of material, and just as importantly, the lack of material. In that era, a lot of artists were putting out albums that were 45 and 50 minutes long, or longer, and here comes this one at 34 minutes? And over 3 minutes were taken up by muzak-y instrumentals?

    Simply put, as fine as "Only Yesterday" is (not my favorite song, but a stellar piece of music), and as much as I love the cover, they did themselves no favors with Horizon, because they were a pop act and when you get right down to it, Horizon is really not a pop album.
    newvillefan likes this.
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^What are the "muzak-y instrumentals" you refer to, on Horizon ?
    Aurora and Eventide ? These "Bookends" designed to open and close the album.
    I suppose one could make the case that Horizon is not strictly-speaking a "pop" album.
    One could also make the case that many Carpenters' albums were not "pop" albums.
    It's brevity should hardly matter--The tan album was a huge seller,clocking-in at 29m26s.
    (Horizon album, 32m12s). And, two songs on the Tan album are throwaways(imho):
    Druscilla Penny 2m18s, and Saturday 1m20s.

    Whereas, the entirety of the Horizon album makes musical "sense" (and visual) to me,
    the entirety of the hugely-selling, Grammy-nominated Tan album does not (imho).
    Horizon "feels" like an album, not simply a sequence of songs sandwiched between hit singles.

    Perhaps, Horizon is too "sophisticated" to appeal to the majority of music consumers ?
    And, yes, a summer June release was perhaps a big mistake in timing.
  14. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I'd say that the Tan album is by and large a great album despite its brevity (and I'd also agree that it contains those two throwaway tracks), but it doesn't suffer from the same running order problem as Horizon, even though it too contains a lot of ballads.

    By definition, the 'Aurora' and 'Eventide' bookends, lovely as they are, have to go at the start and the end of the album, and they're both slow songs. That leaves only three uptempos ('Postman', 'Only Yesterday' and 'Happy') to punctuate eight songs, several of which ('Solitaire', 'Desperado' and 'I Can Dream...') are unusually slow ballads, even by their standards. The balance is out and that's what hampers the flow and creates a draggy feel.

    Just as A Kind of Hush contained too many sleepy songs, Horizon contained too many slow and really slow songs. That's what prevents it from being a real top-drawer album. Most of the songs themselves are perfectly sound, but the combination of them together just didn't gel as well as it could have.

    They didn't always get the running order right on their albums - the first side of A Song for You is frontloaded with too many singles or possible singles, making Side 2 seem noticeably weaker in comparison - but there was usually enough variety to prevent this from affecting the overall feel.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^I love reading your analysis.
    I forgot to add--and, it might be relevant in my instance--
    Horizon was the first entire Carpenters' album I ever heard.
    I did not hear the entire "Tan" album until much later.
    Also, in my opinion,
    The Singles 1969-1973 LP (basically, an album of "hit singles")
    placed a standard upon the Horizon album which was impossible to "live up to".....
    As for the Tan album, to this very day, I feel it is over-rated !
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Here is someone else's viewpoint:
    ...Why I love the Carpenters...
    "Still, no other Carpenters album touched me inside like the watershed moment that was 1975’s “Horizon.”
    Emotional, cerebral and complex in its simplicity, “Horizon” is perfect from start to finish. From the sun of “Aurora” to the moon of “Eventide,” the songs collated here find the siblings bringing across happiness and sadness with equally potent emotional resonance for the first time. It’s this that gives the album a maturity missing from its predecessors. On “Only Yesterday,” “Happy,” “Love Me for What I Am,” The Eagles’ “Desperado” and Neil Sedaka’s “Solitaire,” all of the elements of the Carpenters sound came together into a portrait that was as solemn as it was serene. And on the Billy May-orchestrated “I Can Dream Can’t I,” Karen proves she could have easily graced the biggest stages in the world during the big band era. To this day, when I listen to this album I give it my undivided attention, much like I did the first few times I played it."

    More here:
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  17. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Well said!
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    June 21, 1975 CashBox Magazine(page 24): "POP PICKS" album review.
    " The Carpenters — A&M SP 4530 -Producer: Richard Carpenter
    The natural vocals of Karen and the arranging genius of Richard have combined to make the
    Carpenters' sound a classic in the easy listening market. This successful musical formula continues
    on "Horizon” as the Carpenters turn their finely toned talents to proven outings on "Only Yesterday”
    and "Love Me For What I Am " Also highlighted is a thoroughly laidback cover of
    "Desperado. " Other top cuts include "Eventide," "Happy” and "I Can Dream Can't I."
    The Carpenters once again prove themselves the listen of the century."

    CashBox Top 50 Albums of Year 1975: Carpenters' Horizon #7

    British Respond
    To Carpenter LP
    HOLLYWOOD — "Horizon,”
    the Carpenters new album which has been shipped
    this past week, has the biggest-ever advance British sales of any Carpenters LP,
    according to A&M sales manager Bill Groves.
    The group's "Singles 1969-1973,” on the British charts for 72 weeks and recently back to number 3,
    has become their biggest album seller to date with 1 3 million units.
    "Horizon,” Richard and Karen Carpenter's first new studio album in two years,
    contains their current single "Only Yesterday” and their recent world wide hit "Please Mr. Postman.”
    According to Groves, A&M will be promoting "Horizon" via 30-second television spots throughout the United Kingdom, plus extensive retail store displays. The Carpenters make their return to Britain on Nov 14 with a tour already scheduled."
    (Cashbox, June 21, 1975).
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  19. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I must apologize here as I mistakenly called them "instrumentals." This is what I get for writing something up while doing other things. Even so, while they're not instrumental they're still not exactly what would normally be used for an opener on an album. And, the two are basically the same song with different lyrics, so that's why it seems like a bit of a ripoff to have such a short album to start off with, and then have the same thing repeat itself at the end. I realize it's supposed to be an "album" i.e. a cohesive work as opposed to a group of singles surrounded by album cuts, but if they were going for THAT, they would have left out "Please Mr. Postman" which sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of the rest of the record.

    I consider the Carpenters albums (all of them) a cut above your typical pop albums, but they all still had a pop sensibility -- well, except maybe for Passage which was all over the map. Horizon pretty much stepped away from what was "pop" at that time in history. Look at what else was on the charts at that time and you'll see what I mean -- the trend was toward spare production, less heavy orchestration; more artist-written songs as opposed to covers; in short, pretty much everything this album isn't. I'm not saying this album is BAD, mind you -- it's a decent album, it's just not what was passing for pop music at that time in history.

    It does matter, because by the time this album came out, albums were getting longer. In the 1960s, 25 minutes was considered a typical length for an album. By the mid '70s, there were albums coming out that had 25 minutes on each SIDE. It's the same thing that happened when CDs got to be the norm -- you were expected to deliver 60 to 80 minutes of music, and if you went with 30 to 40, that was just too short, especially with the prices CDs were commanding. (Note that not all 80-minute albums SHOULD be 80 minutes long -- I happen to think 35 to 45 minutes is about the ideal length for a typical record.)

    By the way I don't consider "Drucilla Penny" and "Saturday" as "throwaways." They were more like "intermissions" between Karen vocals. Songs like those put forth the "group" feel of the Carpenters records. My personal opinion has always been that Richard should have sprinkled a few more of his vocal turns in those later albums to spice things up. Look how well it worked on A Song For You and Close To You.

    And that's as it should be. Nobody ever said the tan album was a concept album, but Horizon is often thought of that way, "Please Mr. Postman" notwithstanding.

    Mmm, maybe, but I don't think it's sophistication was the problem - as I mentioned above, I think it was the choice of material. The arrangements and etc on all Carpenters albums are pretty darn sophisticated.

    I think we are coming at this from two different points of view: You are looking at it from a "fan" standpoint, I'm looking at it from a "music retailer who happens to like the Carpenters" standpoint. So we're going to have different opinions on why and how they did what they did.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  20. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    There are 3 Carpenters albums that stand apart from the others. They are Horizon, A Song For You and Close To You. These 3 alone could summarize their career. Horizon is the best for Karen sings the best and could even stand the talent test of Karen's vocal quality over any popular artist. better than anyone. A Song For You for its chosen material and artistry. Close To You for it begins the pattern that continues through their career with 2 of the most important songs of their career with overdubs and harmonies unlike any of the others. All the others fit in between them. Noteworthy is Passage for its guest artists that play on it and the Christmas Portrait for its generational and lasting signature appeal. Now and Then comes next for its Oldies signature and the others are outlined according to individual taste. All of this is to outline the musical signifance of Horizon. Without it, the Carpenters would have disappeared with the early 70's. Horizon still stands the test of time with jewels unlike any other and these jewels can even play today as a testament to the best example of musical style with I Can Dream, Can't I, Please Mr. Postman, Solitaire and Only Yesterday as songs that will never be performed better. Then add the originals as examples of fine music. The only thing it lacks are two more uptempo songs, but that in no way takes away from the presence made by the ones I just mentioned. No album outperforms them to the generational appeal of those songs in any other album. Then add Love Me For What I Am and you include a song that talks about the heart of relations that is even based in today's somgs. So whatever reason of critique, the individual songs that stand out are not on any other project to the significance of this project. The tan album is only good for its singles and the Bacharach medley and Let Me Be The One. The rest is filler, peasant filler, but filler. Nothing on Horizon is filler, all songs are single worthy.

    That's my stand on Horizon! I guess anyone can see its my favorite!
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
    MorningOpensQuietly and Jamesj75 like this.
  21. Paul Simon's '75 album, Still Crazy After All These Years is only a minute and a half longer; and although it was more award-winning and charted higher, it was, on the whole, a very mellow affair. The Carpenters were tired from years of touring, that's true; yet they managed to make an incredibly polished album that deserved to chart higher than it did (and it would have, if the single releases were timed better to coincide with the release of the album).
    CraigGA and Mark-T like this.
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I have read and re-read the March 1975 A&M Records Compendium Interview with Richard and Karen.
    (1) This interview took place late March 1975, Richard saying roughly 85% of the album completed.
    Also, problems with the song Solitaire stemmed from computer "timing" problems, as they were
    having difficulty with mixing/completing the song. Also, Richard felt that every song on Horizon was "hit-worthy."
    Nothing, as Richard put it, was "filler." ( Desperado was being contemplated as a single release).
    He even mentioned "timing" the singles to further sell the albums.
    (2) March 1975 makes no mention of: overbooking, overtouring, feeling burned-out, tiredness, draggy songs, etc.
    Richard does state that the album would be "ballad-heavy." So, that song choice is intentional.
    (3) The fact that Only Yesterday (in the USA) reached (only) #4 for (only) a week, then dropped like a bomb down
    the charts, says more to me than does the timing of the Horizon album release in June.
    May 1975, Japan: "Japanese retailers report that the best selling international single during the first two weeks of
    this month was the Carpenters' "Only Yesterday." (Billboard).

    Only in the American market was there any indication of poorer selling, poorer chart action.
    (In the USA, Only Yesterday went on to sell only 600,000 copies).
    As we know , the UK and Japan markets were still devouring their product.
  23. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    I believe that "Only Yesterday", as a single, occurred just as Carpenters star was beginning to fall. "Please Mr. Postman" had been a number one hit and was all over hit radio, and I believe that "radio" was getting tired of the duo. We know of their image problem, and that was accelerated by the hipster radio programmers and DJs of the time. They were latching onto more soulful records, early disco-type stuff in 1975, and Carpenters just didn't fit that image.

    So while "Only Yesterday" got played - and got played quite often as a #4 record, the singular moment that it began to drop in the charts, was an instantaneous signal for those hit radio stations to drop it from their playlists. "Solitaire" didn't get a lot of play on hit stations, but was picked up by soft-rock, adult-contemporary radio that summer. Hit radio took a break from Carpenters that summer.

    By the time "A Kind Of Hush" was issued, Carpenters were no longer a fixture on hit radio and were pretty much relegated from then on to soft-rock stations.
  24. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    There might be some truth in that, although it probably didn't help that they followed up 'Only Yesterday' with 'Solitaire', a song that drifted even further away from the mainstream pop radio sound and wasn't going to do anything to make up the ground they'd lost. They also had the Neil Sedaka bust-up image problem to contend with that summer, which probably didn't help either.

    I still don't think the commerical slide was completely unstoppable though. What cemented it was the bad song choice and singles selection from A Kind of Hush. Had the first single from the album been 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song' instead, I suspect they could have scored another Top 10 in 1976.
    jaredjohnfisher likes this.
  25. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with Harry! He described perfectly what happened in my home town area and I suspect everywhere in the U. S. Since the Carpenters had a huge loyal fan base that kept everything bubbling some, we were all hopeful but it was not to be. It's the regular ebb and flo always mentioned in any career. Then add their own issues on top of these, it would have been hard for anything to peep through. Even though they fared better than most easy listening artists, it was beginning to happen as Harry described. They continued to have great import success and we know they are still celebrated around the world and that speaks volumes. When concerts become more of a past hit celebration more than a current hit celebration, it should send a message of reality that the catalog is now more important.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018

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