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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 41 48.8%
  • ****

    Votes: 30 35.7%
  • ***

    Votes: 9 10.7%
  • **

    Votes: 2 2.4%
  • *

    Votes: 2 2.4%

  • Total voters
    84

Greg

Member
I have listened to 'Horizon' a lot this year and the phrase that comes to mind is 'beautifully languid'.

The production is gorgeous and intricate. Karen's tone, vocal control and the intimacy of her readings are almost startling in their clarity and sheer beauty. And the album possesses numerous tracks worthy of the greatness they have since acquired (Only Yesterday and Solitaire especially).

I suppose the only problem is that the sheer sonic quality of the album promises so much, and yet some of the material simply does not feel worthy. While 'Love Me For What I Am' and 'Caught Between Goodbye' are solid tracks they essentially lack the greatness worthy of elevation to classic Carpenters.

However, this does not detract from the sheer brilliance of ‘Horizon’. The duo are at the peak of their musical and technical powers. Richards fatigued melancholia merged with Karen’s burgeoning depression creates possibly their most intimate, fragile and reflective album.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I have listened to 'Horizon' a lot this year and the phrase that comes to mind is 'beautifully languid'.

The production is gorgeous and intricate. Karen's tone, vocal control and the intimacy of her readings are almost startling in their clarity and sheer beauty. And the album possesses numerous tracks worthy of the greatness they have since acquired (Only Yesterday and Solitaire especially).

I suppose the only problem is that the sheer sonic quality of the album promises so much, and yet some of the material simply does not feel worthy. While 'Love Me For What I Am' and 'Caught Between Goodbye' are solid tracks they essentially lack the greatness worthy of elevation to classic Carpenters.

However, this does not detract from the sheer brilliance of ‘Horizon’. The duo are at the peak of their musical and technical powers. Richards fatigued melancholia merged with Karen’s burgeoning depression creates possibly their most intimate, fragile and reflective album.
Interesting perspective. I don't rate Horizon as highly as some fans do as I think it is too ballad-heavy and there is a 'draggy' element to it, but I'd agree that there is a more sophisticated and reflective feel to it than was evident on their earlier albums.

Personally I rate 'Love Me for What I Am' as one of the standouts on the album, but I think it fell victim to the sequencing issues on Horizon, appearing straight after the similar-sounding 'Goodbye and I Love You', and so its beauty is somewhat diluted in that setting. The sequencing problem is furtheraccentuated by the CD era, which means the slowest two songs - 'I Can Dream Can't I?' and 'Solitaire' - now appear next to each other in the tracklisting on the CD, which doesn't work well either.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Personally I rate 'Love Me for What I Am' as one of the standouts on the album, but I think it fell victim to the sequencing issues on Horizon, appearing straight after the similar-sounding 'Goodbye and I Love You', and so its beauty is somewhat diluted in that setting. The sequencing problem is further accentuated by the CD era, which means the slowest two songs - 'I Can Dream Can't I?' and 'Solitaire' - now appear next to each other in the tracklisting on the CD, which doesn't work well either.
The fundamental problem (if you can call it that with an album as beautiful as Horizon) is that there are just too many ballads on it. Bookending the album with two more just makes it even worse. If they'd replaced the bookends and had the album open with an uptempo number and one more uptempo track in the running order, the album would have had an altogether different feel.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I enjoy reading all the perspective that others have regarding Horizon Album.
Now, I do note:
(1) As of January 1975, when the album was 85 % completed, Richard Carpenter
had no words whatsoever about being tired during the making of this album.
He 'sounded' fine. Karen was equally exuberant.
(2) He also felt that Caught Between Goodbye And I Love You
was the best song--to that point--that he and John had written.
He also felt each song on Horizon was worthy-enough to be released as a Single.
He did say that the album was 'ballad-heavy.' So, that was intentional.
Now, my continuing, if non-wavering opinion:
(1) Taken as an "LP," not a "cd" (i.e., you will need to physically flip the vinyl to listen to Side Two),
the album is top-notch, from beginning to end.
(2) Karen's vocals, throughout, are absolutely stunning.
(3) Richard's arrangements are skillful and mature.
(4) The album's artwork (envelope-style, colors, photos,lyric sleeve), is the best to that point in time.
(5) Please Mr. Postman is still a great piece of pop music.
(6) Karen's reading of Solitaire is as stunning as any song ever was.
(7) Jim Gordon's drumming, Tony Peluso's guitars, Richard's keyboards: all outstanding.

Oh, we all get the picture, my favorite album !
I have listened to the album at least 1000 times.
I never tire of its beauty.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I enjoy reading all the perspective that others have regarding Horizon Album.
Now, I do note:...
(1) Taken as an "LP," not a "cd" (i.e., you will need to physically flip the vinyl to listen to Side Two), the album is top-notch, from beginning to end.
You make an interesting point. LP and cassette both had to be flipped over - thus forcing a break in the listening experience. When CD became the format of choice, that break was eliminated. This lack of break does intensify the monotonous "not another ballad" feeling and I didn't realize that before.

(2) Karen's vocals, throughout, are absolutely stunning.
They are good as they'd ever get. I completely agree. She wasn't yet so truly ill that her voice became weakened. Heck, even weakened, she was still great but she was at the height of her powers here and it was breathtaking.

(3) Richard's arrangements are skillful and mature.
This was really their first bid at musical maturity and it worked. It wasn't cool but it wasn't painfully uncool as it would become on the next record and "MIA".

(4) The album's artwork (envelope-style, colors, photos,lyric sleeve), is the best to that point in time.[/quote]

I couldn't agree more. Nice that the marketing department at A&M had finally figured out what worked for them. The artwork is perfection. Of course, they would get corny again with the next record, do better with "Passage", and completely go off the rails with "MIA".

(5) Please Mr. Postman
is still a great piece of pop music.
Agreed that the song is great. This version? Well... They took the Marvelettes original, stripped it of all of its energy and fun, and homogenized it until it sounded completely whitewashed. I don't believe for two seconds that Karen is waiting for a letter from her man. I believe she's waiting for the tune to be over...just like I am whenever it comes on and I can't shut it off. Rarely did Karen blow a vocal but she did here for me.

(6) Karen's reading of Solitaire is as stunning as any song ever was.
I agree that she did this well but she clearly wasn't a fan of the tune. I'm not either, really. It mercilessly plods and comes off like a funeral dirge. The arrangement just loses me. Again, though, maybe it wouldn't have had I first enjoyed the album as an LP or cassette. I didn't hear it until I got the CD back in the mid 90's.

(7) Jim Gordon's drumming, Tony Peluso's guitars, Richard's keyboards: all outstanding.
The playing is exceptional throughout. To me, that was always the case - no matter what they did or with whom. Richard's and Karen's standards in that regard would have insisted on it.

It really is one heck of a record - not perfect, but really solid.

Ed
 

Jarred

Active Member
Agreed that the song is great. This version? Well... They took the Marvelettes original, stripped it of all of its energy and fun, and homogenized it until it sounded completely whitewashed. I don't believe for two seconds that Karen is waiting for a letter from her man. I believe she's waiting for the tune to be over...just like I am whenever it comes on and I can't shut it off. Rarely did Karen blow a vocal but she did here for me.
It's a fun, upbeat vocal, I don't really think we're supposed to hear too much overt sadness or anguish in her voice.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
It's a fun, upbeat vocal, I don't really think we're supposed to hear too much overt sadness or anguish in her voice.
I'm not looking for anguish. I'm only looking to believe that she's waiting for a letter from her lover. My thinking is that the writer intended excitement, not anguish. In either case, I don't believe Karen at all on this one. A rarity but it happened a few times for me.

Ed
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I'm not looking for anguish. I'm only looking to believe that she's waiting for a letter from her lover. My thinking is that the writer intended excitement, not anguish. In either case, I don't believe Karen at all on this one. A rarity but it happened a few times for me.
Beechwood 4-5789 is another one. Both fall into the same category, that of being simultaneously buoyant but anodyne.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Beechwood 4-5789 is another one. Both fall into the same category, that of being simultaneously buoyant but anodyne.
There is is. She was supposed to be playful there and it just doesn't translate for me, though that does work better than "Postman" does for me.

Ed
 

Jarred

Active Member
I totally hear a playfulness and connection in her voice on Postman. Beechwood is just a mess in every way, though.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
(4) The album's artwork (envelope-style, colors, photos,lyric sleeve), is the best to that point in time.

I couldn't agree more. Nice that the marketing department at A&M had finally figured out what worked for them. The artwork is perfection. Of course, they would get corny again with the next record, do better with "Passage", and completely go off the rails with "MIA".
The album cover used a great photo and they clearly put some thought into the design of the album sleeve. But those horrible matching jumpers in the photo on the inner sleeve - that pic falls into the same 'goody fourshoes' category as the photos on the Close to You and Carpenters album covers. I suppose the only saving grace is that it didn't make it on to the front cover...

Agreed that the song is great. This version? Well... They took the Marvelettes original, stripped it of all of its energy and fun, and homogenized it until it sounded completely whitewashed. I don't believe for two seconds that Karen is waiting for a letter from her man. I believe she's waiting for the tune to be over...just like I am whenever it comes on and I can't shut it off. Rarely did Karen blow a vocal but she did here for me.
I don't really have a problem believing Karen's delivery in 'Postman'. Many girl group lyrics from the early 1960s were all overblown teen angst and I'm not sure that they sounded all that sincere as such in their original versions - the main thing was that they sounded fun, which 'Postman' (both by the Marvelettes and by Carpenters) does.

I agree that she did this well but she clearly wasn't a fan of the tune. I'm not either, really. It mercilessly plods and comes off like a funeral dirge. The arrangement just loses me. Again, though, maybe it wouldn't have had I first enjoyed the album as an LP or cassette. I didn't hear it until I got the CD back in the mid 90's.
I have the same problem with 'Solitaire' and, even on LP, I think it was a mistake to use it as a side-opening track. Given its plodding nature and lengthy running time, it hardly encourages you to stick with playing all of Side 2...
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
But those horrible matching jumpers in the photo on the inner sleeve - that pic falls into the same 'goody fourshoes' category as the photos on the Close to You and Carpenters album covers. I suppose the only saving grace is that it didn't make it on to the front cover...
Can you imagine if it had??
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, when I look at the photo from the inside sleeve,
all I really notice is Karen's awesome appearance !
Had not actually concentrated on the duos' outfits,
although, Karen's favorite color was yellow.....
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
In fact, they (or Universal) *did* use it on the 40/40 compilation cover. Age clearly doesn't always bring wisdom, it seems ...
Surely A&M’s marketing department would have been long since jettisoned for Carpenters releases by this point. Not that it showed in this case...
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
If there had been 2 more additional songs on the album that were more upbeat everyone’s issues would be met. However, in that same vein, if you take away songs, what is left is still perfect, just less of it. Although I understand all points it does not take away the value of these songs. It just creates a feeling after listening to a group of songs that become a matter of taste or an aftertaste to the palette as a fine wine. Yet, I still yearn for 2 more upbeat songs, yet it is still my favorite album. I can’t do without any of these gems!

Craig
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
If there had been 2 more additional songs on the album that were more upbeat everyone’s issues would be met. However, in that same vein, if you take away songs, what is left is still perfect, just less of it. Although I understand all points it does not take away the value of these songs. It just creates a feeling after listening to a group of songs that become a matter of taste or an aftertaste to the palette as a fine wine. Yet, I still yearn for 2 more upbeat songs, yet it is still my favorite album. I can’t do without any of these gems!
They could have added two more tracks to the existing tracklist and left the bookends in place. Something like the below would have made for a less draggy album and split up the two similar ballads on side B.

Side A
  1. Aurora
  2. Only Yesterday
  3. Desperado
  4. Please Mr Postman
  5. I Can Dream Can't I
  6. Uptempo Song #1
Side B
  1. Solitaire
  2. Happy
  3. (I'm Caught Between) Goodbye And I Love You
  4. Uptempo Song #2
  5. Love Me For What I Am
  6. Eventide
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
That was always my dream for this album. I always felt it was too short. I blamed it on my desire to hear more of Karen. Since she was so perfect on ballads maybe other options were just more ballads? Based on Postman and Only Yesterday, I thought the album was going to be more uptempo and was surprised to find it different, but excellent, nonetheless.

Karen was the perfect ballad singer.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I have probably brought this one up previously,
it is of some interest to me that the Quad LP apparently
utilizes the Single mix for its version of Solitaire.
So, when did Richard record the instruments for the single mix ?
How did it end up on this Quad album ?
Who, among us, has this Quad Horizon LP ?
I would love to find a copy !

Hear:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJNzBd1UWyY
 
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