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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)
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    9 vote(s)
  4. **

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  5. *

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  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    The slide for them seemed to coincide with a drop in the quality and calibre of the material and I can't help but think the two are related. If they'd been putting out albums of the calibre of A Song For You in 1976, I think their star would have shone brighter for longer. Of course, we all know it's just not possible to keep up that standard for years on end.
  2. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Yep. The slide happened when they walked into the elevator in 1976. They rarely peeked their heads out of it after that and as a result, radio and the public had very little interest anymore.

    newvillefan likes this.
  3. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Who was to blame for pop radio to abandon the duo in 1976?

    By 1981 we even had Harold calling the radio stations about why they were not playing their MIA singles.
  4. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Nothing says desperate like having Mom and Dad call the radio station. :sad:
  5. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Album length aside, I would say there's more of a range of styles on Still Crazy than there is on Horizon, and it has 10 unique songs - and all the songs are full-length affairs, where on Horizon you have two sub-two-minute songs that are the same melody. It just "seems" short, for lack of a better description.

    Radio always moves on. There is a long list of favorite artists of mine who have put out really good quality new releases in the past few years, but radio won't ever play those new songs because they weren't "hits" -- they just keep beating the classics further into the dust. What's particularly maddening is, it doesn't matter how good an artist's new material is -- it won't get played, no matter what, because the artist is "old," so "hit" status is pretty much impossible. So it's very likely that even if Karen was still living, their hit-singles career would have followed pretty much the same trajectory it did.

    I remember when "I Need To Be In Love" came out.... I thought sure that was going to be a big hit and return the Carpenters to their chart-topping glory, but it was not to be.*

    Some readers might remember when Cher put out her "comeback" song "Believe," back in 1998. The record company, figuring that radio would never play the tune "because it was Cher," released the song with no artist name on it. The fact that her voice was sort of concealed by the processing used in the recording added to the intrigue. Some stations began to play it because it was a good upbeat tune, and it caught on. Only then was it made known who the artist was. A similar tactic was done with a Donny and Marie Osmond song -- (I forget the title) -- it was released with just "D&M" as an artist name.

    I've always wanted to have a radio program where I'd program it just by the artists, not the songs. Therefore if I was running a 70s show, and the Doobie Brothers were on the playlist, you might hear one of their classics, or you might hear a tune from their fine 2010 album World Gone Crazy, or any place else in their career.

    *Edit: I just looked up "I Need to Be In Love" on the Wikipedia and it states that Richard says the song went "quadruple platinum," but I wonder how that happened when it only made the middle 20s on the charts?
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Certainly the Wikipedia entry is using the Japan figures for their cd-single, I Need To Be In Love.
    And, the Donny Osmond (no Marie) song--he being uncredited as artist-- was Soldier Of Love.

    Interesting to read that you felt I Need To Be In Love was going to be a big hit.
    I remember my feeling back then, I felt it would never make it as a "big hit".

    I always felt that the music, the artist, should not be categorized.
    It always confounded me--when looking in the old record stores, then cd shops,
    that Carpenters were either in pop, or easy listening, or vocal, or soft rock, or....you-name--it.
    Point being, their material was more difficult to locate ! But, you had to search each category.
  7. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    That largely is down to the person selecting the material for the album. If it’s not commercial, it won’t get played.
  8. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    The elevator comment about 1976 hit it head in for me. They did have a cool side in 1971 or they would not have been asked for a summer special. I used to think Richard used just enough orchestra to be different but in 1976 it all turned. It probably began with the 1974 Boston Pops but took 2 more years to cement. If only Passage had come one year sooner the lack of hits may have slowed some. The 1977 Close Encounters TV Special was awful. So no one tuned into Music Music Music as no one tuned into Passage. Why does it take so long for the message to take hold? Why did Hush have to be exactly that. If they took a break in 1976 lack of sales would have been blamed on that. I think it was just time. We as fans have the advantage for over the years we have learned of great songs recorded. And there are still more. I am looking forward to what 50 year of celebration will bring. After all these years, the clarity of LSO in Carpenters recordings will be welcome as long as Karen is heard with the clarity deserved!
  9. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    That is true, but there was an earlier Donny and Marie single that just had "D&M" on the label. I sold a few of them. I'll probably think of the title someday when I forget why I was thinking about it!
  10. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    The "D&M" single was "On The Shelf", a disco track from 1978.

    :b-boogie: :carrot: :cuke: :pineapple: :b-elvis:
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  11. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    That's referring to when 'I Need to Be in Love' was reissued on CD single in Japan in the mid-1990s after being used as a theme song for a TV show.
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    It is interesting to read two separate People Magazine articles:
    October, 27 1975... Neil Sedaka:
    "He and the Carpenters worked together for five weeks as the hottest concert package of the summer, but they recently fired him as their opening act in Vegas. He was getting the notices and the crowds. But he returns next month to the Riviera Hotel as the headliner."
    Neil Sedaka Rebounds Thanks to a Fan Named Elton John
    August 2, 1976...Carpenters:
    "when they got back into business, the Carpenters fell into another hassle and their first bad press (except from the rock critics) ever. Seems they fired their opening act at Vegas, Neil Sedaka, who was upstaging them. Lately they’ve made peace—putting Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard to Do on their last LP. And this year the Carpenters have also gotten their own live act together."
    Brother & Sister Act

    Then, return to the July 1974 Rolling Stone feature:
    "The Carpenters have real pressures and problems, hard feelings and confusions which few would associate with the image of the group. Richard and Karen themselves are far from fully acknowledging these feelings. They suffer under strains which even they only dimly comprehend."

    All three articles...1974, 1975, 1976....provide interesting material.
    Note, too, neither Carpenters' article (RS 1974 & P 1976) mentions
    Magic Lamp Karen Carpenter.
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I find this discussion of Solitaire quite interesting.
    What is also interesting is to compare two songs-as they run, one after the other, on the
    Interpretations cd:
    4.This Masquerade (4:53)
    5.Solitaire (4:40)

    So, song #5 is considered too slow, plodding ?
    Song #4 is held up by many to be superior, it is not plodding ?
    It is very interesting, they are almost identical in running time--that is, longer than usual.

    I have adored Solitaire for as long as I can remember.
    Not so, for This Masquerade. In my mind, the arrangement is inferior to arrangement of Solitaire.

    By the way--of course--Karen sings both songs beautifully,
    --in that sense--I love them both.
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    This Masquerade is faster in tempo and has a beat to it all the way through. I think that’s what sets it apart. Solitaire really only comes alive in the choruses and then goes back to the sleepy pace of the verses. It’s a magnificent vocal performance but as a song it’s at odds with itself.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  15. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    This thread reminds me of the annual ‘US’ magazine review of ‘Who’s Hot & Who’s Not’ issue from late ‘76.

    Carpenters were listed under ‘Who’s Not’ with this given as the reason: ‘The Carpenters got so mellow that everyone fell asleep’.
    newvillefan likes this.
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    That really does sum it up. People temporarily woke from their slumber with Passage and then promptly fell asleep again when the schmaltz-laden, but brilliant, Christmas Portrait was released a year later.

    I remember reading a review somewhere which described the title song from the Hush album as “vapid”. In other words, “offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging; bland“. That really stuck with me and I thought it was an apt description for much of the 1976 album and beyond.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Even if allowing for the softer Hush album (I despise the word "bland")
    where were all these critics when Passage came along, it hardly being sleepy ?
    Also, I have found very few Reviews of LP Horizon (that is, reviews during that year 1975).
  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    There was at least some buzz around the Passage album, the press were present for the recording of Argentina to capture the spectacular event on A&M’s soundstage. That hadn’t happened with any Carpenters album previously. I still wonder if there’s any footage of that day, none has surfaced online.
    goodjeans likes this.
  19. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    It was too late by then. They'd already stepped into the elevator and radio had pretty much moved on.

  20. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    That's it. It also has far more interesting chord changes and the arrangement is vastly superior to my ears. Better yet, Karen's vocal is far better too. She clearly liked the song. It's also quite clear that Karen didn't like "Solitaire".

  21. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Another thing that This Masquerade has going for it is that it follows the more classic song structure i.e. verse/chorus, verse/chorus, bridge/instrumental, final chorus.

    is just verse/chorus, verse/chorus, chorus. There’s no guitar solo or other instrumental section to break the song up and bring something more interesting to the listening experience.
    Rumbahbah and ThaFunkyFakeTation like this.
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Solitaire...the strings....the guitars....the "high-hat" crashes, the drums, adding to the gravitas....
    No flute solo....these are the parts of the arrangement which I love.
    Concluding with piano and oboe, followed by the strings and pipe organ,
    How is this arrangement not anything but heart-wrenching ?
  23. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Yes, that is true. There were Program Managers that forbid the Carpenters to be played by the time Passage rolled around. Hush is a two edged sword. It’s lack of hits make it unfriendly for radio but fans still liked it some for Karen sounds good singing anything. In fact, I think it’s time for Boat To Sail and Two Sides.
  24. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Aside from my slight surprise at seeing 'This Masquerade' being compared with 'Solitaire' (to my ears they're not even remotely similar in style), I think you've hit on something re the problem with 'Solitaire' - it doesn't build to anything and at 4:41 in length seems to go on for far too long. Given the hesitation they later had about releasing 'I Just Fall in Love Again' as a single because it was just over 4 minutes long, the length of 'Solitaire' if nothing else should have alerted them to the fact that it wasn't a good choice for a single.

    The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that 'Love Me for What I Am' should have been the single instead - better song structure, a more contemporary subject matter, a ballad but nowhere near as slow as 'Solitaire' and over a minute shorter.
    CraigGA likes this.
  25. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    It is a great arrangement and song. It’s just not single territory. If This Masquerade was a single we would hear flack about it too.

    Honestly, I’d rather hear Solitaire over Masquerade but the interlude to Masquerade is incredible, and Karen’s Vocals are matched by her drumming. They are actually two entirely different songs.

    The sad thing, that I think we are all trying to say is that the chart demise rested on their own decisions as much as it did the radio public.

    Most MOR pop from the early 70’s tanked ny ‘75 and the rest by ‘78. Some of the decision was on the dance floor.

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