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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)

    13 vote(s)
  2. ****

    16 vote(s)
  3. ***

    30 vote(s)
  4. **

    22 vote(s)
  5. *

    3 vote(s)
  1. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

    I pretty much consider this a "New Testament Carpenters-era"... A new decade, but still the same approach, w/ some good, original songwriting, a few hits, and yes, whatever suitable oldies remakes were appropriate & expreiment-able at the time...

    Not to get off on any religeous-bent, either, even though there was the Christmas album, in-between...

    Just a good, fresh, but familiar, and new approach to the wonders of Karen & Richard's talents, if it fell between criticism, and otherwise unjustly ignored...!

    -- Dave
    Must Hear This Album likes this.
  2. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    I'm wondering if Karen was bound by contract to record MIA in 1981? Did KAREN CARPENTER 1980 fulfill any obligations? Seems that Karen reeeeeeeally wanted to record after the solo mess or some studio legal strings gripped her. Glad to have her back yet watching the '81 videos she appears to be robbed of enthusiasm in spite of the health hazard. Maybe just a case of lemme fake it. Quite a bit of acting to produce vocals on cue. Sing Karen...no no not like that...like this...hence MIA.

    GaryAlan likes this.
  3. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    Jeff (DJN), your post is thought provoking! I wonder if that magic was zapped out of her after the solo/Richard/A&M rejection. Brings to mind an ABBA song, "I'm A Marionette".
    Jeff, GaryAlan and LondonRobert like this.
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Again, today, I listened to the 45 single of Those Good Old Dreams/When It's Gone ,
    and was impressed with all that went into these two songs. WIG in particular sounds even darker on vinyl.
    I recall some airplay for Touch Me When We're Dancing and Dreams , but, quite frankly they both should have
    charted higher.
    Have I repeated myself,yet?
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I listened to this album again today. It was the third to be played after A Kind of Hush, then Voice of the Heart. I was reminded what a perfect comeback summer song Touch Me When We're Dancing was for them. It should have been placed as the first song on the album. Maybe then followed by Those Good Old Dreams, creating a very warm, familiar return. After all these years, I still can't stand The Wedding Song, and Beechwood doesn't fare much better. Someone mentioned Richard had Karen mixed too far in the background, and I agree.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I , too, very rarely listen to The Wedding Song--it is only the second song out of their entire output that I can not tolerate.
    I do like Beechwood 4-5789 , only because it is rather catchy and playful.
    Amalgamate the best of those three albums (Hush,Heart,America) and then you've got a hit album!
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Took another spin of Made In America, today.
    Here's my take on the album, as of today.
    There are some songs I feel capture pop music brilliance: Those Good Old Dreams (always loved it), Strength of A Woman, When It's Gone (lovely)
    Then, there are the very good songs: Touch Me When We're Dancing, Want You Back in My Life Again, Somebody's Been Lyin' (that ending: "were
    we just too much in....l.o..v..e.."
    that great drawn out last vocal by Karen)
    Then, the average songs: Beechwood 45789 (catchy), When You've Got What It Takes (great overdubs, though)
    Finally, the "I still do not like" songs: I Believe You (hate the lyrics and instrumental beginning), Wedding Song ( Karen gives it her best, though)
    I must say, though, I do not normally listen to MIA all the way through in one sitting.
    And, my opinion today is only slightly different from where it was in 1981, and each subsequent listen.
    As a whole, it is not a bad album by any means. At least, in my instance, I simply feel it lacks something.
    Energy? Overdubs? Weak material? I can not honestly pinpoint the issue, but it has always been an issue with me,
    ever since my first listen in 1981.
    Their remains a stark contrast between this album(1981) and Karen's solo album(1979-80).
    I have grown to love the solo material, and I know this is partly because it does deviate from MIA.
    But, of course, in 1981, I had no such comparison to make--between solo and MIA.
    My only comparison in 1981 was MIA's predecessor, Passage (obviously, I exclude Christmas Portrait--nothing compares to that!).
    And, no matter its faults, Passage is far superior to Made In America.
    And, thus, with the solo album, Karen Carpenter, is far superior to Made in America.
    And, so , I am left wondering, what happened?
    Enough of my meanderings, thanks for taking time to read this long post.
    And, as always, this is only my personal opinion.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Spinning the Made in America vinyl, this morning.
    I can go so far as to change a few opinions from my previous posting regarding the album.
    Firstly, I am altering my assessment of I Believe You: No longer in the category of "I do not like",
    as I will concede that Karen's vocals are lovely on this tune.
    Next up: When You've Got What it Takes, I'll give it a better than average--many good things going on in this song--
    from the upbeat lyric and arrangement, to the harmonious overdubs.
    Not much else to change.
    So, overall, MIA moves up the (my) scale,
    and perhaps those technical glitches with the vinyl pressings, etc.,
    (as detailed in the 1981 CFC Newsletter) really did impact
    the total sonic quality/clarity of this album.

    While on the topic of overdubs:
    In one of the tour booklets (1973--which duplicates the Billboard Carpenters Special Article)
    Richard Carpenter mentions buying a machine (the name of which eludes me)
    which allowed Carpenters to employ overdubbing in concert.
    I know many here have seen the duo in concert.
    What were your perceptions, then, regarding the overdubs?

    Thanks for your indulgence in reading my post!
  9. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    You're probably referring to a Vocoder, probably a machine similar to this: http://www.ehx.com/products/voice-box

    I don't recall the interview you mention though and surely they wouldn't have used one in their concerts - they had up to 6 backing band members on stage with them, most of whom sang the harmonies to help recreate the studio sound in a live setting?
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input, Stephen.
    I have since located the name of that above-mentioned machine: the Eventide-D.
    Richard refers to it as a pseudo-overdubber.
    It was apparently purchased (1973) to enhance the concert performances.
    The interview, where Richard mentions purchasing this machine, appears in the UK 1973 Tour Program Book.
    The interview also appeared in a special supplement to Billboard Magazine.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Wow, interesting stuff! I never would have thought they'd use something like that. So does this mean the amazing sound reported by many who saw them live in the 70s wasn't actually 100% produced by the guys on stage?? That's an interesting thought...
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Stephen, I have the complete quote, now:

    "...Explains Richard:... recently we bought an Eventide Digital Delay, which turns the voices sung into it
    into a pseudo-dubbed sound.The unit has an instant on-off switch and is activated by a Carpenters' sound technician when
    a sustained multi-harmony phrase comes up.
    There's a slight lag between the voices put into it, and the sound coming out, but it's really a remarkably clean effect."

    This interview (page C-20-22) can be read entirely online (google-books-search Carpenters):
    Billboard November 17, 1973
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    That's an amazing read GaryAlan, thanks so much for pointing that out, I'd never read it before! Here's the link for anyone struggling to find it. In the search results, there are also a couple of really good reviews of 'Made In America' - here. Look for the 1981 dates to find them :)
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  14. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    My three CarpenterS concerts in '72, '74 & '78 I didn't detect any K&R backup vocals. The band provided all ooh's -n-ahh's. Which my ear felt were lacking reproduction. Much preferred simply Richard backing sis. The band has always thrown me ala not so OK Chorale. Honestly, the backups featuring moi with subtle silky and complimentary vocals would've faired better even as a young sprout. On the YOM video Rainy Days chorus at 'hangin' around (hangin arooooound) Doug Strawn's awkward attempt at backup is much like live stage. I've always held that save Christmas Portrait and very few select trax, K&R or RC anyway, should've stayed true to original odubs or none at all. While I can't hardly tolerate spin of VOTH's Make Believe and its subsequent chorus the listening public at large relegated to sleepy elevator. Question: where did the muse go? Perhaps personal issues to blame. Fact remains stellar productions are in tow.
    oh ya topic MIA....Strength of a Woman, Because We AREN'T In Love hold what sounds like similar shortcuts. The inclusion of 78's I Believe You oofda and The Wedding /Divorce Song sound filler trax. Wherein sooo many other choices recorded in those sessions. Sublime harmony moment could be in Somebody's Been Lyin. Lovely and reminiscent of the previous years Without a Song magic. Interesting note that K's '79 solo vocal and 81's MIA are similar where the 1980 MMM sessions have a depth of production and vocal presence unlike the latter. I adored opening album with Those Good old Dreams yet hated whispery Touch Me verse and Crappettes. I very much appreciate the chorus help of whatshername on Kiss Me The Way ah ya Siedah Garrett at MIA studio outing. Wouldve appreciated gospel backings somewhere afoot. Painfully admit Richard missed the boat on above critique.

    How magnificent a new album featuring all stripped down takes of aforementioned plus?
    This lord's child would rejoice!

    GaryAlan likes this.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Love it (your posting), Jeff, "Crapettes" !
    Definitely prefer the Siedah Garrett backing vocals: "Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night", an awesome recording.
    All who were fortunate enough to hear, and see, Carpenters in Concert.....I am truly envious !
  16. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Y'know, even Karen in bangs circa way back when, she was pretty in that she had a unique look all her own. So happy was I to see the SING cover sleeve with that awful wig thang come and go and then on to HORIZON photo sessions. UM Um UM that's some good stuff! This to say in concert particularly at the '74 and certainly 78's venture she was stunningly beautiful. So small (NOT SKINNY) petite, delicate, elegant and then that voice. This demure girl of slight stature brings home this voice giving double take to the listener. How in the world did that little thing produce that sound? I'll always remember her hands as soft to the touch. Not what you'd expect from a drummer. However here in 78 I think the drumming was ltd to concerts and studio days to hand cream. Her wrist dainty. Slender fingers, immaculate manicure, gentle yet confidant, sincere handshake driven straight to the heart with BIG brown eyes. I mean BIG brown eyes. Not like she was wired, just a stunning first note feature not readily present in photograph. This has nothing to do with MIA...forgive. Relating a little memory to any friend listening.

  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The details, Jeff, and your memories, of being so near to Karen Carpenter are rather beautiful to read.
    I savor those types of reminiscence from anyone whoever had the great fortune to meet her.
    To know that a real person created those beautiful sounds, and that she truly enriched the lives of all who met her.
    She lives on , in a manner of speaking, in just these types of detailed memories that are shared with the world.
    byline and Rick-An Ordinary Fool like this.
  18. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Jeff: You are a lucky man indeed!! I saw Carps in April, 1973, and had 6th row seats. So I'm not complaining. :) She was healthy, vibrant and played the hell out of the drums. Her hair was all over the place! And she was much more beautiful in person than in the pictures. And, of course, that voice....
  19. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    A vocoder doesn't do that. You may be thinking of an emulator. Groups used those heavily to add harmonies live that otherwise couldn't be replicated in a concert setting.

  20. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Jeff, the detail with which you recall your Close Encounters Of The Karen Kind is nothing short of amazing! :bowdown2: Geez, we're the same age, and I can't even remember what I ate for lunch two days ago, or where I put my car keys! :laugh: But then, if I'd been so fortunate as to touch Karen's hand, and look into her eyes, I'd imagine that memory would be so deeply burned into my heart, mind and soul that even Alzheimer's couldn't erase it!
  21. Someday

    Someday Active Member

    Re: the cover art. Although most seem to think negatively, I like it. Sure it doesn't do the image any favours but the illustration is kinda accurate and well-realised (even if KC's eyebrows hark back to the dodgy '77 phase) ... RC is portrayed almost as a redhead, but the idea of having them 'mirroring' each other, like twins, is a little different. I wonder if they ever posed for it? Re: the inner sleeve - Richard's broad shoulders seem very emphasised ... looks like the Hulk!
  22. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    My 3'x4' MIA promo poster ( lp cover) is whimsical and colorful, bright. Didn't mind the cover however I've seen numerous other photos from this time frame that would've been more complimentary than the inner sleeve. Karen's eyes had dark circles and something was hmmmm. Little did I know what hmmmm entailed. Wish I didn't know now.

  23. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Next on my list of handshakes and soulful gazes is the ever angelic OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN! I see Vegas has a meet-n-greet for $300 something but I trust one day I'll get a snuggle on the house.
    Ms. NJ has always been my 2nd in command. Learning of her health issue 22 years ago devastated me as tho all my loves were being annihilated one by one. REJOICE!!! REBOUND!!! All is well in Livvy town and my adoration continues.
    So what'd she say?
    Don't Stop Believing

    Nothing to do w/ MIA I know
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    What I find rather interesting is how often "Because We Are In Love"
    finds its way onto the compilations.
    In at least one set, it is coupled with "We've Only Just Begun",
    and the differences between the two are as night and day.
    I wonder if it (BWAIL) is ever played at other weddings.
    ("other" , as in ,outside of its original first hear at Karen's wedding).
  25. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    I think it's two reasons. Karen obviously loved the song (she stated it was her favourite from MIA in an interview) and so Richard wants to honour her. Second, he composed it, so more royalties.

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