• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

⭐ Official Review [Album] "KAREN CARPENTER" (SP-4804/CD-0588)

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 9 17.3%
  • ****

    Votes: 13 25.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 19 36.5%
  • **

    Votes: 9 17.3%
  • *

    Votes: 2 3.8%

  • Total voters
    52
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Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
“KAREN CARPENTER”

karencarpenter.jpg

Catalogue Number: A&M SP-4804 (Unreleased)/CD-0588 (1996)
Date of Release: 10/8/96
Format: CD

Track Listing:

1.) Lovelines 5:06 (Temperton)
2.) All Because Of You 3:31 (Javors)
3.) If I Had You 3:31 (Dorff/Harju/Herbstritt)
4.) Making Love In The Afternoon 3:54 (Cetera)
5.) If We Try 3:47 (Temperton)
6.) Remember When Lovin' Took All Night 3:50 (Farrar/Leikin)
7.) Still In Love With You 3:15 (James)
8.) My Body Keeps Changing My Mind 3:46 (Pearl)
9.) Make Believe It's Your First Time 3:12 (Morrison/Wilson)
10.) Guess I Just Lost My Head 3:36 (Mounsey)
11.) Still Crazy After All These Years 4:17 (Simon)
12.) Last One Singin' The Blues 3:24 (McCann)

Album Credits:

RECORDED BY (guest musicians):
Guitar: Ray Brown, Russell Javors, Eric Johns-Rasmussen & David Williams
Bass: Doug Stegmeyer & Louis Johnson
Drums: Liberty DeVitto, John Robinson, Steve Gadd
Percussion: Ralph McDonald & Airto Moreira
Keyboards: Bob James, Greg Phillinganes, Rob Mounsey, Richard Tee
Other notables: Peter Cetera, Michael Brecker & John Robinson

Special thanks to: Roberta Klein, Nancy Sorkow, David Alley, Billy Jones & Ardel Travel

Produced by Phil Ramone
Vocal acrobatics by Rob Temperton
Engineered by Jim Boyer, Glenn Berger, James Guthrie & Ray Gerhardt
Engineering Associates – Bradshaw Lee, Chaz Clifton, Dave Iveland, Ralph Osborne, Randy Pipes & David Crowther

Production associates – Ed Sulzer, Michele Slagter, Laura Lonchteaux & Karen Ichiuji
Recorded at A&R Studios, New York, N.Y., A&M Studios, Los Angeles, C.A., & Kendun Recorders, Burbank, C.A.

Remixed by Phil Ramone & Jim Boyer
Originally Mastered at Sterling Sound by Ted Jensen
Mastered at A&M Mastering Studios by Dave Collins
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
LOVE this album. Aside from one or two weak cuts, its a refreshing change of pace from her musical history with Richard. Lots more to say later...
 

PJW

Member
I have 12 tracks upon this. Was this originally released without "All Because of You"? :confused:
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
I have 12 tracks upon this. Was this originally released without "All Because of You"? :confused:

Wooops!! I thought something looked a little "off"! All fixed now :wink:
 
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PJW

Member
Wooops!! I thought something looked a little "off"! All fixed now :wink:
Oh Good, thought I had lost it there....
While I agree that this album was a new direction for KC, I believe that it has some great songs and vocals on it. While Karen's "Basement" vocals were her best, I especially like "All Because of You". It's rather gritty and shows that she was expanding her range and talent, I think it's beautiful. The album to me has too many different genres, it does seem to go in different directions. No matter what you do, you can never appeal to all people. But otherwise, I like it. It's not great, but it's not bad either.. :banjo:
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Once the ball gets rollin on this topic I'll chime in. I'm fascinated by the potential. Don't know how many more ways we can cut, dice-n-slice this solo effort but sumpthin tells me it can be done. On pins and needles here. All bets off...

Go Karen mongers!!!

Jeff
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I love it, and always will. It's not 'Sgt. Pepper', but it's damned good. 'All Because Of You' (though rather odd) is mind blowing. Sounds like a different singer entirely. Karen was so versatile, it's scary. 'Last One Singin' The Blues' is perfection from start to finish. 'If I Had You'...awesome (though I like Richard's ending better). Lastly, 'Make Believe It's Your First Time' is hands down one of the best things Karen ever cut.
 

aaflyer98

Well-Known Member
I love it! Not a Carpenters album. If that's what you were expecting, then this is not it! BUT a great solo album by a great singer trying so hard to establish her own identity. My only thought would have been for her to include "Love Making Love To You" and let that be the first single. That would have shook things up back then! Of course, she would have needed A&M's support, which she just did not have. More later, it's only just begun...
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Can I add some pretty photos? I really like Chris Tassin's solo album cover and these other solo photos and especially the last one...my Karen Carpenter solo poster graciously given to me by Jeff (djn) it hangs in my gallery and I love it.

ChrisTassinColorVersionStudioCDsize2.jpg~original

Karensoloposeclose.jpg~original

KarenSoloGatefoldBWchair.jpg~original

KarenSoloPosterfromJeff.jpg~original
 

Tapdancer

Well-Known Member
I especially like "All Because of You"....The album to me has too many different genres, it does seem to go in different directions....

All Because Of You, basically stripped back to voice and guitar, is a fine track.

Three others (My Body Keeps Changing My Mind, Make Believe It's Your First Time, Still Crazy After All These Years), if only more thought had been given to their orchestration and arrangement, may possibly have been made worthy of inclusion on a Karen Carpenter album.

The rest are below par, making the album on the whole unconvincing. In some numbers, the quality of the songwriting is poor; in most others there is nothing engaging whatsoever in the arrangements; the production is also an obvious letdown.

Some songs have interesting chord sequences, but the music, where it modulates, is inexplicably amateurish. Too much of the accompaniment is homophonic, so my ears were almost screaming for some musical counterpoint to Karen's vocal line! Simply put, there is hardly anything to speak of in the relationship between the two, and this is where I believe things fall apart the most.

I find Karen trying to be intimate, but ultimately her singing is sexless. She appears to have given most songs the adolescent vocal treatment. It's as if I'm hearing a different person altogether, a one-dimensional human being lacking that astounding maturity of vocal expression we hear in her singing going back as far as the early 70s. Those moments where she plays to her strengths are few and far between.

No wonder Herb Alpert, Gerry Moss and Richard were stunned and disappointed when listening to these tracks. Theirs was the right decision to shelve the project. If they'd fully appreciated Karen's need for moral support at the time, then maybe they could have suggested some necessary alternative ideas, thus giving her a second chance before making a final decision.

Sorry, but one and a half stars from me.
 
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Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Poor material, poor production, poor vocal range for Karen. I gave it a two * rating.

Let the hate begin!
No hate from me! That's what I so appreciate about these boards. No one gets nasty here. I like hearing everyone's opinions.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
This was Karen's one and only solo album so for me it has to be "Best" for there are no others to compare it against and we all know had this been released she would have had more solo albums under her catalog. When I play this album...it's Karen...live at that very moment singing into her mic, in that recording studio, she is there, alive and it's real....she is doing what she believes in and pouring her heart out into this music. I believe to get the most understanding of where Karen was going with her solo album one must watch those interviews from Phil Ramone who explains why she wanted to make this solo album and that it was her desire for it to be released.

Since it was ultimately Karen's decision in which songs she would sing, I have always considered this a bold move from Karen and it shows she was willing to take risks with her music...this is the marking of a true artist. (she would later speak somewhat about this on Good Morning America years later) I said it before but even if she had only 1 or 2 hits and got airplay, I could see her now jumping up and down saying look, look at what I did. Olivia Newton-John is a prime example of a willingness to take risks, when she released Physical she was scared to death about how the public would take the album and almost called it off before the single was released, thank goodness she didn't. Olivia did not stay into 1 mold, she has done country, pop, rock, childrens/lullabys, movie soundtracks going so far as to finding a label that would release her work that she believed in (Warm & Tender) Geffen Records was that label.

I give Karen credit for recording a solo album, it tells a lot about her as a person and artist and I hear this as I listen to her singing these tracks. The album has merit. I think that when Lovelines was released and Richard decided to include some of Karen's solo tracks...that really spoke volumes. It seemed little by little we got sprinkled with some of her solo tracks on From The Top then on Lovelines. I'm just glad we finally got it and that Phil got to see it happen before he passed away. For me...it's an album I cherish and listen to often, it was Karen's choice to make the album.

....few are the choices we are given...the sands of time pass quickly by....
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I must concur that Karen's solo effort , when placed alongside anything/anyone else at that time, is at least as good
and often better than , her contemporaries.
I do not feel a comparison to her previous work with Richard is an apt methodology for judging its merits.
The album should have been released at that time.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Well, gotta love this forum--I re-listened to the entire solo album today.
First, too bad there is not a vinyl version of the entire album (I think there is a 45 single of If I Had You (?)).
But, all in all, I give it a thumbs UP.
Keep in mind, I am not saying it's Horizon or Song For You.
But, it was never intended to be.
Richard in rehab, Carpenters sales in decline, it seemed natural for Karen to want to 'spread her wings vocally'.
I love some of it, I like some of it, a few songs flop--but, overall (and especially with those few still ' in the can')
as a 1979 or 1980 vinyl release, it stands on its own.
No matter what, it is Karen and her unique vocal interpretations.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
3 stars from me. I'm pleased she did it and wish it'd been released in the spring of '80.

So much of it just has a great late '70's/early '80's New York feel to it. . .kind of like the opening theme tune to Kate and Allie, or the soundtrack to "Tootsie".

Some duds (Still in Love With You), but some delights (Make Believe, If I Had You).

Happy Birthday, Karen. . .and well done. Think I'll pop it on now.

Neil
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
So much of it just has a great late '70's/early '80's New York feel to it. . .kind of like the opening theme tune to Kate and Allie.

The theme tune to that show really reminds me of 'Guess I Just Lost My Head'. so in that respect you're spot on Neil!
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Is this part two of the Richard Carpenter Interview thread?

I think the fascination with Karen's album(among some people) has more to do with the politics of the album-rather than the music itself. Some people like the idea of Karen being on her own-independent of Richard.And,they like the idea of Karen receiving complete recognition for her work-rather than having to acknowledge Richard's vast contributions.

This was Karen's one and only solo album so for me it has to be "Best" for there are no others to compare it against and we all know had this been released she would have had more solo albums under her catalog. When I play this album...it's Karen...live at that very moment singing into her mic, in that recording studio, she is there, alive and it's real....she is doing what she believes in and pouring her heart out into this music. I believe to get the most understanding of where Karen was going with her solo album one must watch those interviews from Phil Ramone who explains why she wanted to make this solo album and that it was her desire for it to be released.

Since it was ultimately Karen's decision in which songs she would sing, I have always considered this a bold move from Karen and it shows she was willing to take risks with her music...this is the marking of a true artist. (she would later speak somewhat about this on Good Morning America years later) I said it before but even if she had only 1 or 2 hits and got airplay, I could see her now jumping up and down saying look, look at what I did. Olivia Newton-John is a prime example of a willingness to take risks, when she released Physical she was scared to death about how the public would take the album and almost called it off before the single was released, thank goodness she didn't. Olivia did not stay into 1 mold, she has done country, pop, rock, childrens/lullabys, movie soundtracks going so far as to finding a label that would release her work that she believed in (Warm & Tender) Geffen Records was that label.

I give Karen credit for recording a solo album, it tells a lot about her as a person and artist and I hear this as I listen to her singing these tracks. The album has merit. I think that when Lovelines was released and Richard decided to include some of Karen's solo tracks...that really spoke volumes. It seemed little by little we got sprinkled with some of her solo tracks on From The Top then on Lovelines. I'm just glad we finally got it and that Phil got to see it happen before he passed away. For me...it's an album I cherish and listen to often, it was Karen's choice to make the album.

....few are the choices we are given...the sands of time pass quickly by....

I remember how big "Physical" was back in 1982-it turned out to be the biggest hit single of all time.Ironicly,within two years,that song completely disappeared from radio airplay.(By 1984,that punk-rock sound was totally gone.)By the end of the 80's,"Physical" was a source of ridicule in the music industry and among radio programmers.

Olivia had her fifteen minutes of fame with Physical-she got her big hit-single.But,what good is that today? That songs is now a faded memory-a dated product of it's time,and totally forgotten by top-40 radio.Her Physical album has been out-of-print for twenty years.Today,Olivia's music career is over.

Karen,by contrast,is a legend in the music industry today-regarded as one of the world's greatest vocalists.Many of her albums are classics today-and perennial bestsellers.

This is why the decision to shelve Karen's album was best for everyone involved.What if Karen turned out like Olivia?
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
I too voted *BEST*. It is the singular "solo" album. To what do we compare? Her brothers solo achievement? While I find some trax on TIME engaging, contemporary for the time, replete with marvelous studio wizardry I can't help but wonder if it didn't garner a place on the 'shelf''? But that's another topic. I've reviewed a few posts where my opinion regarding KAREN CARPENTER has been duly noted. Still tossing a thought or two, 3 or more...The statement above that politically "they like the idea of Karen receiving complete recognition for her work-rather than acknowledging Richard's vast contributions" strikes me curious. As the story now goes, it was made good damn and clear to Karen who was the artiste in the state of dysfunction. Over the years those savvy enough to read liner notes or notice Richard with 3 Grammys and several nominations imbibe him with due credit. Where credit is deficient Richard is quick to refer RICHARD and Karen Carpenter. This is everywhere. All that complexity, lead to our end result. Okey dokey on to Karen's supreme and oft dismissed creativity. Mix or match producer, song choice, recording technique or even CarpenterS 'sound-alike' (which I find an intolerable comment. How the hell is Karen with or w/o overdubs not gonna sound-alike)? Rod Temperton given credit in the liner notes of KC for vocal acrobatics were just that. Sophisticated, technically superb! Taken as a whole I clearly distinguish the creative risk and the innate uniqueness therein. It's a gas to hear Karen jumping, leaping through vocal hoops that only she could master. #1 best seller or not making the top #100 who cares? In hindsight we have the shining moment that Karen tried to pull it together by fancy or professional conquest. $400,000 1980 dollars on the shelf at Karen's behest? Regardless, the music made it to my long anxious ears and I appreciate it on its own merit. Politics aside, it's a fun departure, now a cherished listen. I must admit there is melancholia here but thankfully Karen herself asserted that she made a F****** great album!!! I speculate, but knowing that alone may have provided some solace to the rape.

Jeff
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Is this part two of the Richard Carpenter Interview thread?

I think the fascination with Karen's album(among some people) has more to do with the politics of the album-rather than the music itself. Some people like the idea of Karen being on her own-independent of Richard.And,they like the idea of Karen receiving complete recognition for her work-rather than having to acknowledge Richard's vast contributions.



I remember how big "Physical" was back in 1982-it turned out to be the biggest hit single of all time.Ironicly,within two years,that song completely disappeared from radio airplay.(By 1984,that punk-rock sound was totally gone.)By the end of the 80's,"Physical" was a source of ridicule in the music industry and among radio programmers.

Olivia had her fifteen minutes of fame with Physical-she got her big hit-single.But,what good is that today? That songs is now a faded memory-a dated product of it's time,and totally forgotten by top-40 radio.Her Physical album has been out-of-print for twenty years.Today,Olivia's music career is over.

Karen,by contrast,is a legend in the music industry today-regarded as one of the world's greatest vocalists.Many of her albums are classics today-and perennial bestsellers.

This is why the decision to shelve Karen's album was best for everyone involved.What if Karen turned out like Olivia?
Partially, only partially, I think Karen's legendary status was enhanced by her death. I really don't see Karen having a "Physical" style hit- good and bad result- as a long term detriment to her legend. It seems to me that every enduring artist has musical skeletons in their closet that they'd rather forget. Rod Stewart's foray into disco comes to mind. And certainly, the same could be said for "Sing" and "Beechwood" at the very least.
I think it is more in vogue for those of us still here to rally by Richard in his choice to pressure the solo disc to remain shelved. At times, we all make poor choices under stress. I certainly want to give him the grace to be wrong.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Over the years those savvy enough to read liner notes or notice Richard with 3 Grammys and several nominations imbibe him with due credit.

Billboard didn't... to them he was "the piano player with the Carpenters". And that was in 1975, when his reputation should have been well entrenched.

Where credit is deficient Richard is quick to refer RICHARD and Karen Carpenter. This is everywhere.

I honestly don't think it's the case that Richard "switched the credits" just to prove a point and in the process overshadow his sister. If anything, by the time it became 'Richard and Karen Carpenter', he (and the public) knew fine well she was the star of the show. They were introduced that way many times on TV shows. It evolved that way and he has acknowledged this many times in interviews.

If you think about it, it's actually one of the best straplines their marketing team ever came up with - put his name first (as a subtle indicator that he was a driving force behind the duo) and leave her name intact on the subtitle. Even the Carpenter Performing Arts Center reads this way. Read it back to yourself if it was the other way around on an album cover (such as the UK's 1990 'Only Yesterday' hits collection for example):

"Karen and Richard Carpenter's Greatest Hits"

It immediately relegates her and if anything would have been perceived by the fans as much more big-headed of him if he'd done that. Plus it just doesn't roll off the tongue right either! He got 'Carpenters Perform Carpenter' to satisfy his ego if that's what he wanted. Otherwise I think they got it right first time :)
 
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Tapdancer

Well-Known Member
The question posed is "How would you rate this album?"

Now, I can't sing for peanuts. But if I were to get into a recording studio and lay down a dozen tracks, post it on this forum, give everybody my background, discuss the personal issues I'm going through, and state the reasons why I've courageously embarked on this musical endeavour, then what do you think the ratings would look like?

Some here would give it 5 stars. After all, it's my only album. Some would rate it 3 stars. For someone who can't sing, and considering all those family, health and work-related problems I have, kudos are definitely in order.

Yes, under the circumstances, there's some justification, so thank you! But it's ultimately meaningless. And so the album needs to be measured aside from circumstance, more along the lines of "How does the album stand on its own?" In Karen's case, that would mean putting to one side our partiality to the great lady, and comparing it against the quality of all her pre-existing output, against the competition that was prevalent in the market at the time, and in an absolute sense judging as to whether it's one of the great albums that will stand the test of time.
 
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