• 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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Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Paul Grein described her album as a horror? How would he know, he'd never even heard it in 1981 :hmmm:

I'm sure he'd heard it. I mean, I had a track leaked to me, a mere mortal not in the industry, in 1989. And btw- I've met the man. Paul Grein is very nice and quite a knowledgable fan.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
When looking through Billboard magazines trying to find all these Carpenters Promo Ads, I noticed that if it wasn't for Paul Grein...very little would have been printed of the Carpenters...I gather he was a huge fan and took every opportunity he could to put in a plug for Carpenters and Karen. I think he loved their music.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Paul Grein was indeed a big cheerleader of the Carpenters' music in Billboard. He also wrote the perceptive article 'There is No KC without RC' in 1991 which is strongly supportive of the solo album, so I think it's clear that he didn't regard it as a 'horror'.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Back in those days every artist wanted a "disco" refresh and "solo" efforts as well. I believe Paul was referring to those and separated Karen's from the pack as a piece of gold on a shelf. From all the articles I have read by Paul, he makes you feel Karen is still alive and that her legacy will sing forever and that there could have even been more!

Personally, I believe Karen did not just do a disco version of songs, they were songs that had a current influence written and created from the mold of an artist and personified by the best: Karen - and with a different team of artists and industry specialists assembled by Phil Ramone were brought to life. As I mentioned in prior posts, of all the songs recorded for it, I can easily put my arms around 8 of them that I treasure to this day.

Craig
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I'm sure he'd heard it. I mean, I had a track leaked to me, a mere mortal not in the industry, in 1989.

There's a big difference between 1981 and 1989. I don't think Paul Grein, as respected as he was as a critic, had any access to Karen's solo tracks in 1981. Nobody did. They'd been locked away as soon as the project was shelved and didn't start seeing the light of day on bootlegs until the late 80s, once the sale of A&M had started going through.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
There's a big difference between 1981 and 1989. I don't think Paul Grein, as respected as he was as a critic, had any access to Karen's solo tracks in 1981. Nobody did. They'd been locked away as soon as the project was shelved and didn't start seeing the light of day on bootlegs until the late 80s, once the sale of A&M had started going through.

I think you're probably right about no one having access to the solo tracks in 1981 (although presumably Karen had her own copy of it so it's not inconceivable that she might have played it to someone?). Paul Grein had definitely heard it by 1991 though, as his Goldmine article from March of that year refers to both 'Still Crazy After All These Years' and the solo version of 'Make Believe It's Your First Time', neither of which had been released by that point.

The Rolling Stone review of Lovelines in early 1990 also mentions 'Still in Love with You', so as you say, copies of it must have been in circulation already by the late 1980s.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
A brief article about Karen's album appeared in PEOPLE on March 14,1983. Here's the text:


MEMORIES
Following Karen Carpenter's untimely death,record industry people are wondering what A&M Records will do with a never-released solo album she recorded. It was made during 1979 and 1980,while brother Richard took a break from showbiz. "Karen couldn't be that way",says the album's producer,Phil Ramone. "She had to work". So she and Billy Joel's backup band cut 15 to 18 songs: country ballads,rock,disco-a change from her mellow sound. By the time the untitled recording was finished,though,Richard and Karen were working together again. So,Karen's only solo effort was shelved. Ramone opposes releasing it now. "That would be destructive," He says. "The image of the Carpenters should be left specifically the way Richard and Karen were-She shouldn't be remembered as solo." A&M execs refuse to say what they'll do with it.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
A brief article about Karen's album appeared in PEOPLE on March 14,1983. Here's the text:


MEMORIES
Following Karen Carpenter's untimely death,record industry people are wondering what A&M Records will do with a never-released solo album she recorded. It was made during 1979 and 1980,while brother Richard took a break from showbiz. "Karen couldn't be that way",says the album's producer,Phil Ramone. "She had to work". So she and Billy Joel's backup band cut 15 to 18 songs: country ballads,rock,disco-a change from her mellow sound. By the time the untitled recording was finished,though,Richard and Karen were working together again. So,Karen's only solo effort was shelved. Ramone opposes releasing it now. "That would be destructive," He says. "The image of the Carpenters should be left specifically the way Richard and Karen were-She shouldn't be remembered as solo." A&M execs refuse to say what they'll do with it.
How very big of Ramone. Had the solo come out immediately following her death it would have left an indelible collective memory in the public that she'd "left" Richard. They'd assume the Ramone Album was recorded in '82/'83 and that the Carpenters were no more. I don't think Karen would have liked that, nor do I think Richard, on top of everything else, could have dealt with it. No, the album should have come out May '80, or years later (though maybe not quite the 16 years it ultimately took).

The more I hear of the late Ramone and Itchy the more I like them.

Neil
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Mr. J., for the text of the People March 1983 'Memories'.
I would love to have read that comment from Phil Ramone back in 1983 !
(I knew nothing about the solo album until 1985, at earliest.)

Seems to me, however, since the solo was shelved in 1980, nothing
would ever have compelled its release in 1983, regardless of circumstances.
I wonder if , by Ramone's use of the word "now", he was subtly implying..."hopefully later, though."?

Here is late 1977 interview (Schmidt Reader, page 225) :
Q: Is your image hurting you as far as top 40?
Karen: "I'm getting sick and tired of this image thing."
Q: Are artists forced to stay in a mold?
Richard:"There are some things that I think have to keep changing and want to change,
and there are others that I don't think will ever change. I don't think one thing applies to all artists
."

My point being, the reason for withholding release, then, stemmed more from 'image' issues than any perception
of Carpenters' dissolving as a duo. Nothing--not even Karen's solo album-- would ever have made that split in the public's mind.
Especially, given the manipulative press releases and photos which served to reinforce in the public's mind
that the Carpenters were one entity ( tour books: ".. A Musical Entity..")..and for all time, at that.
(I don't think it's release would have been appropriate for 1983, but certainly previous to 1996 ! And, definitely released 1980).

And, yet, thankfully, it is the Photograph of Karen...taken for her solo album...
gracing the album Cover of Voice of The Heart.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Update! Recently, KAREN CARPENTER and HORIZON have achieved my fave status. Never before have I really ultimately singled out an album. But here and now these are my class acts. Plenty of runners-up. Lovin TICKET lately and natch CLOSE TO YOU. The superb HORIZON and KAREN's astounding achievement bring me pleasure, peace n joy. Oh yeah...CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT is in there too. Along with...Oh hell what am I talking about I really love em all.

Jeff
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
From 1989, Herb Alpert:
"...I hate to be the judge of somebody else's music."
"The creative door--it's still open here at A&M--I think that's what people respond to when they think of our company.
I hope that we never lose that spirit."

Where does Karen Carpenter's efforts for her solo album fit into these remarks?

I tend to Jeff's assessment:
Horizon and the Solo Album --both, for different, and various, reasons--
are two of my favorites.
I won't use expletives--but, I'm glad Karen did when referring to the album.
She may not have been prone to the use of such language (neither am I),
but, in this instance Karen Carpenter is absolutely correct.
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
I hope that the usage of "expletives" doesn't translate (for some) to the usage of expletives (!&[email protected]%*+#^$)!
Just making my minor contribution here to get us closer to 1000 posts in the thread on Karen's solo album... :)
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Bass, Louis Johnson....
is this the same fellow in the News today ?
RIP.
Kudos for working with Karen Carpenter !
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
After a bit of research, I am still unable to ascertain the song, or songs,
that Louis Johnson participated in--- regarding Karen's album.
Nothing on the cd Liner Notes specifies which performers were attached to
individual tunes.
Any information would be appreciated.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the information, Mr.J !
Another question:
I read where the Bass in If I Had You, was replaced by Joe Osborn:
Richard Carpenter..." I asked Joe Osborn to replace the original Bass part
and remixed the song for inclusion in Lovelines..."(Essential Collection Liner Notes).

Thus, it was Louis Johnson's Bass playing that was replaced with Joe Osborn's for the 1989 version of the song ?
What is the original intent for doing such a thing ?
Did this substitution have a greater impact on this song ?
On the original Karen Carpenter Liner Notes, the session artists are not listed along with each song,
thus, it is difficult to ascertain who played on individual songs.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Thanks for the information, Mr.J !
Another question:
I read where the Bass in If I Had You, was replaced by Joe Osborn:
Richard Carpenter..." I asked Joe Osborn to replace the original Bass part
and remixed the song for inclusion in Lovelines..."(Essential Collection Liner Notes).

Thus, it was Louis Johnson's Bass playing that was replaced with Joe Osborn's for the 1989 version of the song ?
What is the original intent for doing such a thing ?
Did this substitution have a greater impact on this song ?
On the original Karen Carpenter Liner Notes, the session artists are not listed along with each song,
thus, it is difficult to ascertain who played on individual songs.

Louis was one of Phil's guys back in New York and played the original bass track that you hear on Karen's solo album. When Richard decided to release some of these on Lovelines, all of the tracks he selected he felt needed further remixing (the originals are quite dry and Karen's leads are somewhat buried in the mixes). He asked Joe to play a revised bass line on "If I Had You" in the style Joe played to give it more of a Carpenter-esque feel. So to sum it up, Louis played bass on the original, Joe played bass on the remix in '89. I'm sure this was just Richard's way of making it all fit more seamlessly, since this was a Carpenters album at this point.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Again, many thanks for the elaboration, Chris !
I had not noticed, before this time, that the Liner Notes to album Lovelines
includes details:
Selection 1 and 11 remixed by Robert De La Garza (Lovelines and If I Had You)
Selections 4 and 7 remixed by Phil Ramone and Jim Boyer. (If We Try and Remember When Lovin' Took All Night)
Also, these four selections from the solo album--in the Lovelines Liner Notes--- attach each session player with each song.
It appears--as per these Lovelines Notes-- that Joe Osborn's Bass playing was substituted on only the one song "If I Had You".
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Noticing that the (scanned) Billboard Article, salute to Phil Ramone,
posted in the Lovelines album thread,
states that Karen recorded the song Lovelines in May 1980.
I recall reading same on Phil Ramone's site, quite a while back.
What struck me then, as now, is that "on May 5 Karen decided to shelve the album." ( Richard Carpenter Liner Notes 1996).
So, exactly which day was this song recorded...May 1,2,3,4,....or did Karen record on each of those days ?
After all, this is a rather intricate song, background vocals and all.
How could session musicians, engineers, etc. complete this song in such a short time span, when
the (remainder of) entire album was taking a year of time to record ?
Am I missing information?
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
"Lovelines" was recorded in January,1980. The Billboard article is inaccurate.

The album took about nine months to complete(May 1979-February 1980).
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Comparing two differing sources:

Coleman Biography,1994,page 272:

"...She went home to think through her formal response. She returned to A&M with a surprise;
she said she wanted to continue the idea of a solo album and asked if they would pick some new songs for her.
But, it was not to happen."

Orange Coast Magazine, November 1991, Page 155
:
"..It (solo album) was nearly completed by 1980, but the record company wasn't satisfied.
Studio Executives wanted her and producer Phil Ramone to return to New York to
record additional tracks, but she refused."
Source:https://books.google.com/books?id=YBEEAAAAMBAJ
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Comparing two differing sources:

Coleman Biography,1994,page 272:

"...She went home to think through her formal response. She returned to A&M with a surprise;
she said she wanted to continue the idea of a solo album and asked if they would pick some new songs for her.
But, it was not to happen."

Orange Coast Magazine, November 1991, Page 155
:
"..It (solo album) was nearly completed by 1980, but the record company wasn't satisfied.
Studio Executives wanted her and producer Phil Ramone to return to New York to
record additional tracks, but she refused."
Source:https://books.google.com/books?id=YBEEAAAAMBAJ

From all I've heard and read, the Orange Coast magazine take on it is definitely wrong. There's no way the label encouraged Karen to go back and continue. If anyone stepped in and continued to flog what many thought was a dead horse, that person was Quincy Jones. I'd love to hear his take on events and more about his involvement at that very late stage in the game. I don't recall him ever speaking about his part in this during interviews I've seen or read with him.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Formally call to Quincy for the official 20th anniversary remix coming next year hopefully to commemorate with new release and promo I know dream dream dream stranger things have happened thoughif there's anything left of caring the inheritance maybe they could hire Quincy universal style and surprise the masses at least the masses who would buy whatever number sales
 
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