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Official Review [Album]: "MADE IN AMERICA" (SP-3723)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 1, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    10 vote(s)
  2. ****

    14 vote(s)
  3. ***

    27 vote(s)
  4. **

    20 vote(s)
  5. *

    2 vote(s)
  1. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Yeah, but that's the thing with PACC, Richard could've had some instrumentals, but then he could've had tracks like All Those Years Ago where he actually recorded vocals.
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Lately, I have developed a fondness for
    Somebody's Been Lyin'
    At the 2 minute mark--and, lasting ten seconds--
    is my favorite part of the song:
    that is, the overdubbing ("I'd be wiser to go....").
    That being said, Karen sings this song almost achingly.
    That being said, the song's arrangement plods on for a minute longer than necessary (IMHO).
    But, here is a song which --again, off of MIA--which has the potential to be much more than it is !
    I like it, I almost love it, but, it is being held back by the arrangement.
    theninjarabbit likes this.
  3. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I can see your point. I think the orchestral ending is about a minute long. And after Karen's last word "scared", if the song was cut to the final few measures to eliminate the good feeling but not necessary orchestral insert, the song might have the impact it deserves.

    This is by far, the best song on Made In America to me. It captures their essence in a tasteful presentation classic to their style, as in 'Horizon', without the 'bee gees' influenced harmonies or other borrowed contemporary sounds of the period. (It's the piano punch at the end of the piano run in the song toward the end that looses it for me. If it was played in with a softer dynamic instead of all an of a sudden final chord punch played super loud, and not abruptly it would have fit better, but still just filler).
  4. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Both 'Somebody's Been Lyin'' and 'Because We Are In Love' are beautifully performed and arranged. But they're both snoozers for me. I wasn't into either song in '81 and I've never included either on custom compilations since they were released. I'm glad we have them, but they're the two songs that really drag down each side of the album.
  5. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Couldn't agree more on both counts. Karen has no apologies to make on either but both are really sleepy.

    toeknee4bz likes this.
  6. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I think SBL is far superior in every way to BWAIL however.
  7. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    SBL is, IMHO, hopelessly old-fashioned and out-of-step with what was happening on the radio in 1980/1981. There's nothing remotely contemporary about it. It just sounds old. SBL is all about the arrangement. Karen is just a part of it; she's not really the center of it. It symbolizes the entire issue with MIA. It's all about Richard's arrangements and production. Karen is just a tool he's using.

    BWAIL is a different thing in that it was written for Karen's wedding. It sounds as it does because of the occasion for which it was written.
  8. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    I think that 'Because We Are in Love' is one of the most impressive songs on 'Made in America'. Karen's vocals are magnificent. The range she covers is incredible and disproves the recent statement published in the UK that she has one of the more limited ranges in popular music. I also have always been very taken with 'Somebody's Been Lying', another album highlight. Other special recordings on the album include 'When You've Got What it Takes' and 'When It's Gone, (It's Just Gone), (although I didn't particularly like either of these when I first heard them back in '81). 'I Believe You' was a favourite from '78 onwards and I still like it, although probably not as much as in times past. The song that I have probably been most fond of down through the years is 'Those Good Old Dreams'. The warmth of Karen's vocals and the sentiment of the lyrics has always touched me, although when I first heard it, I thought that it sounded like an attempt to recreate 'Top of the World', just as 'Beechwood' sounded like an attempt to re-capture the success of 'Please Mr. Postman'. The fact that three of the least appealing songs on the album, 'Touch Me When We're Dancing', 'Beechwood' and especially 'Want You Back in my Life Again', were singles, doesn't speak well of the commerciality of the album. Probably why it only sold 75,000, or whatever it was, in the US. I guess 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' does have some things going for it and isn't too bad. I would say the same of 'Strength of a Woman'. So, for me, there are six particularly good songs on the album, three of them extra- special, (TGOD, SBL and BWAIL).
  9. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    I don't mind either 'Somebody's Been Lyin' or 'Because We Are in Love' (although neither is a standout), but it was definitely a mistake to include both of them on a 10-track album. Having two ornate 'show tune' songs at the end of each side weighs the album down and makes it even less contemporary than it already was.
    jaredjohnfisher and goodjeans like this.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    As I watched the relatively new Japanese Documentary--recently posted on the forum--
    it struck me anew that---once again-- comparisons to Perry Como (and the like) were
    made explicit in the documentary. And, again, I thought of this Album.
    If the intent of the duo, from Weintraub onwards (1976: "....you are the Perry Como's of today..."),
    was to become decidedly less-pop oriented and concurrently more easy-listening oriented,
    then Richard Carpenter was certainly aiming for that market with this LP. Unfortunately,
    the earlier material--jazz influence, more drums--was so much better and creative.
    Which, I suppose explains my affinity to Passage. While it may have had its "mistakes"
    (however we define that), at least it was a step in the right direction (as was the Karen solo LP--IMHO).
    However, with Made In America (Richard is what-- 34/35 years old and Peter Knight 64 years old.)
    the intent seems to be a purposeful move away from a pop-audience to a much older demographic.
    And, in fact, as I get older, I like the album better than I did in 1981 !
    That being said, almost every song on the LP could use a complete re-write of arrangement.
    And, that is how I listen to the album---I jettison the arrangements for my own !
    (Not to mention, the SACD version of I Believe You is far superior to the usual version).
  11. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I am guessing that MIA masters were destroyed in the fire. If they were not, it would be interesting to hear these re arranged with more vocal presence and the musical arrangements enhanced with today's sound, but simpler. We don't easily hear all the luscious vocal harmonies as they seem hidden in the current and dated sounding arrangements. It's actually the only album that sounds dated. As their last studio album it would be interesting to revisit the entire project with songs left from the '78 sessions and reassemble them into a 50th Anniversary Special. The years 78-83 could be the focus and call it The Studio Cuts 78-83. Even have some of the cuts with just the vocals as they were when originally tracked. And as a bonus, use the work lead for I'll Just Fall In Love Again, if there is one, and make an alternate arrangement. And remove the OK Chorale from every song.
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    The difference between the material they produced for Music, Music, Music and what the ended up putting on Made In America still astounds me. The two couldn't be any more different. The TV special material is ambitious, sophisticated, jazzy and something quite special, whereas the 1981 album is old fashioned and syrupy for the most part. They definitely should have returned to their jazz roots for the 1981 album instead of listening to Jerry Moss urging them to go back to their "bread and butter" material. If I'd watched the TV special in 1980 and then bought the album a year later, I'd have been really disappointed. The TV special made it seem like they'd embarked on a new musical direction but this was sadly short lived.
    goodjeans, CraigGA and Mark-T like this.
  13. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    I don't know if I'd agree with that completely. Although it's very nicely done, the 1980 Medley is quite 'sweet' in terms of its production and arrangement. Just listen to the difference in the sound between the 1980 versions of 'We've Only Just Begun' or 'Knowing When to Leave' compared to the original versions of the songs from 1970 and 1971 - they're much lusher and sweeter (and any elements of jazz in the original of the latter are completely absent from the remake). That 'sweetness' certainly became even more pronounced on much of Made in America, but I think the signs were there in terms of the direction the music was going in the TV special.
  14. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I actually never thought about it in that direction but it does have sound logic behind it. I would have loved an album of full orchestrated standards. I always thought standards and torch songs showcased Karen's strength in song. Richard did a good job of showcasing their talent while celebrating in the songbooks. I think I had friends that preferred listening to the cassette tape I recorded from the MMM program than Made in America. MMM made music come alive!
    newvillefan likes this.
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I was thinking more of the other tracks rather than the medley that closed the special. Songs like I Got Rhythm and Without A Song are a joy to listen to compared to most of the tracks from Made In America. Even Dizzy Fingers is great to listen to. I do agree the closing medley is a bit syrupy.

    The single biggest mistake Richard ever made on their posthumous releases was not including You'll Never Know on ATGB. That was sheer class and a revelation to hear that he could pull off a lead vocal like that.

    Many years ago I copied the 1980 special onto DVD for a friend who is really into musicals and amateur dramatics and she fell in love with the whole special. For years afterwards she told me she never knew the Carpenters had produced music like this. I guess she was only used to hearing the hits collections.
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  16. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    "The single biggest mistake Richard ever made on their posthumous releases was not including You'll Never Know on ATGB. That was sheer class and a revelation to hear that he could pull off a lead vocal like that."

    I'd say an even bigger mistake was including Dizzy Fingers vs. Slaughter on 10th Ave. Richard's playing is magnificent on that number!
    Geographer likes this.
  17. David A

    David A Active Member

    Back to Somebodys Been Lyin'...I can't decide if that song sounds more like something from an unfinished musical, or a television theme song. Not suggesting Richard was working on one, just saying that - kind of like ABBA's 'Thank you for the Music' it has that "air" to me.
  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It's just too "heavy" for me as a side closer, especially with the wedding song in the same slot on the other side. They would have been better going with The Uninvited Guest.
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Both Somebody's Been Lyin' and Because We Are In Love
    end on the Lyric 'love.'
    "Were we just too much in love"
    "You and I, because We are in love,"

    Both were orchestrated by Peter Knight
    (I wonder how much of the arrangement can be credited to him ?).
    Both had Concertmaster Jerry Vinci.
    (Concertmaster Jimmy Getzoff credited on every other song on the LP).

    What is a "Concertmaster" ? What exactly does this person do ?
  20. A concertmaster is the lead violinist in an orchestra.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Regarding the SACD, we can find this remark by Richard Carpenter:
    ..... 'I Believe You',
    .... I feel it is one of our stronger tracks and a perfect vehicle for Karen."
    - Richard Carpenter, January 2005

    Now, I must admit I am a real fan of the SACD-version of this song.
    (The lyric used in this version is much more effective,as are Karen's nuances)
    And, I am a real fan of the mono-45 Single of this song.
    However, the LP version---for some reason--fails to overwhelm me.

    Anyone else have the same feeling about this song ?
    Is it, as Richard states, "one of our stronger tracks" ?
  22. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I like Karen's vocals and I prefer the album version. Besides that is sounds like tinker bell is going to bless the land of the willing with idiot husbands. In 1978 the words sounded different to me, but now it just sounds silly. It reminds me of The Beach Boys lyrics to Wouldn't It Be Nice. Years and years ago it was cute but now our culture has dramatically moved from those words but the innocence of a first kiss is still at play on both of them.
  23. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Yeah, totally. It's such a great tune and it really shows Karen off. It's the last tune she recorded that really shows how good she truly was. When she hits that "and that for-ever isn't long enough to love ME", it just kills me. Such a great vocal. I also love how she handles the choruses. The string arrangement (by Paul Riser) is total perfection as well.

    Rumbahbah likes this.
  24. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Musically, I Believe You is solid. It's the words that make it unbelievable. Yet, only Karen can give them an emotion or reality. So, if you are a fan, you love the song since you love Karen. The song, apart from Karen singing it has weak lyrics. The only phrase I like is "you'll fill my body with your soul", but what comes before and after it takes from it. But, it has that 'Never My Love' feeling but not its beautiful lyrics.
  25. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    It's funny, though most of us think of this album as one of their worst, if not the worst (not me, I hastened to add), it is far and away the most popular album discussion thread.

    I guess it's just that album you love to hate.

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