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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)

    11 vote(s)
  2. ****

    15 vote(s)
  3. ***

    27 vote(s)
  4. **

    20 vote(s)
  5. *

    3 vote(s)
  1. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Awfully chilly in here. LOLOLOL!!!

    Chris May and Murray like this.
  2. David A

    David A Active Member

    Now this is a fascinating list to consider. TMWWD fits in this list like the proverbial glove, as a song - and really does beg the question why it didn't make it into the top 10. I know many have offered their opinion about the state of the Carpenters 'reputation' by this time, but dang, the Moody Blues and Ronnie Milsap were hardly on any fans hot-watch list, and a number of these acts were hated by the music review crowd.

    I suspect a big part of the problem (mentioned by others here) was less with the fans and more with the radio stations and how they perceived the Carpenters at this point. Newer acts - like Juice Newton, Air Supply, and Rick Springfield - even if hated by the stations, were mandatory plays. It might even be accurately said that it is surprising TWWWD made it to #16, and shows the strength of the song in overcoming, to some extent, the bias built in at this point.
  3. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    As I and others have mentioned, it was great to hear Karen after a 3 year silence. We finally had something newer than Passage but one song on Made in America was too similar to ones in the past or they seemed to copy the current popular acts instead of the other way around as in the days of A Song For You. Even the magical voicing was not front and center, so after a few plays, these feelings seemed more real. However, it was nice, surprising and exciting to hear the Carpenters play on the radio even if it was not at the same intensity of ten years prior. The softer FM (business listening) had become a stronger alternative to the Rock FM by 1981, allowing more coverage than in 1978. Prior Top AM stations now had FM play when I lived in Atlanta in 1981, and my hometown deeper in the south were at the brink of being silenced and swallowed by big radio buyouts moving the once popular AM stations to FM for music play. So the time was more in line for radio play than just a few years prior. In the end, even all those new acts as mentioned above did not have the career sales of Karen and Richard. And presently, it seems that enough time has passed for the nostalgic focus to be back on the voice and musical value than the justified over shadowing and shocking tragedy that shook fans and friends of fans in with the early passing of Karen. A spotlight now sharing the awesome career with a reflection back to respect, recognition, and finally, air play on love format, softer format, and oldies format stations. A lot of this attention has been brought about by products and awareness of new fans of whom I am grateful for all their efforts which has brought back the adoration of the greatest brother and sister team into the hearts and minds of today! Particularly, TJL’s Complete Singles collection and Randy’s Little Girl Blue biography and Chris May’s Download interviews have brought about even more recognition with TV countdowns from England and new specials in Japan, not to mention the internet tributes. There is probably more coming! And we have the biggest resource from an original fan with Harry’s Complete Discovery and History of Carpenters music products. It too, will become deeper as he continues to make it accurately reflect their career with a balanced historic perspective and value. It is already a reference that holds more information than anyone could ever imagine and more inclusive than most artists have and still has unlimited potential and may very well serve as a formula for the industry to follow, and we have access to it here for free! So, this one hit, at a modest top 16 in the 1981 could very well have helped keep the interest in our beloved duo alive and, at the same time, encourage all these efforts. So, with all the criticism and discussion over recordings from 1978-1983, we have a more balanced and factual dissection with historic resources to accompany listening pleasure.
    It may be time for a more inclusive look into their music, not the gossip or opinions of gossip, but with facts and a deeper look with another movie or documentary.
    In other words, the love of the Carpenters still generates interest which means continued products for us to enjoy and support. Like ice skating, it looks easy, and the Carpenters made music feel easy, but to perform with accuracy is not an easy task. Karen just made it feel effortless as an ice skater does with their product. Believe it or not, as once told to me from a voice instructor from my college days, the simplist song sung well is a difficult task.
    Chris May and Harry like this.
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    As I recall...returning to 1981...
    the copy which I purchased at the retail store (in a mall)
    was the only copy of the LP in the record bin.
    Now, I begin further to wonder about the situation:
    Did the retail outlets really order so few copies ?
    If so, that would be one impediment to further chart success (?).
    Also, I started my serious LP collecting in the late 1970's....
    and, I had a terribly difficult time locating copies of each LP !
    1978's Christmas Portrait should have done much better--- in its time--it is simply awesome.
    Even given its status as a holiday offering, that Album should have been heavily stocked
    and should have sold many more copies than it did (between 1978 and 1983).
    Never have I recalled seeing a "promo" poster advertising any Carpenters LP at any retail outlet....
    Regardless of its MIA's shortcomings, then, my belief is that no matter what was released,
    (at that time--mid 1981) no Carpenters' album was going to make it.....
    very sad to come to that realization...
    Carpe diem likes this.
  5. David A

    David A Active Member

    Yes this dovetails nicely with the overall point about the C's being perceived in the music industry - less so the fans, in my opinion, although in no way am I suggesting that they were, or ever were going to be again, as popular as they were in the early 70's - as "over". Radio stations playing them less, record stores stocking fewer albums in fear of not selling, etc...

    Your longer post regarding the legacy of the C's is taken to heart. I have tried hard not to be critical in my posts, whether about Richard or even Agnes and the whole family dynamic (hard as it is, at times, to not go there, as we all feel that tug of emotion and sympathy for Karen and how her life unfolded). But if you are a fan who, 40 years later, are on a forum discussing their music and legacy, it portrays a level of commitment to, and love of, their music that inevitably leads to speculation; the what-if, if-only, what-might-have-been, where-would-they-be-now, and all other matter of opinion regarding their career. I don't personally view these things as "negative" - indeed, it speaks to the passion many of us still have to this day for their musical contribution and legacy.

    And now, to tie this back into the actual thread topic :wink: - I agree with the general assessment made by many - that this album was ultimately - for all the reasons we know - a reflection of the end of their creative heyday.
  6. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    That's how I've come to view this album, especially given the (commercially) mediocre nature of the 1982 tracks that surfaced on VOTH.
    David A likes this.
  7. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    The list of hits at that point is a total hodgepodge. There's Rock, there's R&B, there's Country-Pop, there's doo-wop/pop - all kinds of stuff. Really, nothing fits together. That was the beauty of radio back then. Anything could get airplay - as long as it was good. That Carpenters made that list isn't particularly unusual. Karen's voice certainly had a place there and could overcome the somewhat "elevator'd" production by Richard in this case. He retreated there after the failure of "Passage" and this was the result.

  8. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    The overall reluctance of closet Carpenters fans to actually go into a record store and buy one of their albums surely impeded sales somewhat. So much easier now to sit behind a keyboard and download what you want. No snarky record store clerks to deal with...

    Graeme likes this.
  9. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    Stumbled across this album when searching for other versions of Want You Back In My Life Again.

    Tony Evans: Carpenters Remembered On The Dancefloor - Music on Google Play

    'Carpenters Remembered On The Dancefloor'. Not a bad take on the song from the snippet you get to hear. Interesting listening to some of their other hits ballroomified too! Tempted to get this as my wife and I do a bit of ballroom and sequence dancing from time to time!
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Lately, listening to the UK-12 Box Set copy of this Album.
    It is as clear--maybe clearer--than other copies.

    But, my take on
    When It's Gone.....

    Absolutely a winner.
    Karen's vocals here are so very enticing.
    The arrangement is something I can really enjoy.
    A bit pop, a bit country.

    Duo should have done more country-type songs !
  11. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Touch Me may have been a bigger hit if the promo photos showed a modern view of the duo vs the airbrushed album cover.
  12. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    That might've helped Back In My Life, Those Good Old Dreams and Your Baby as those just featured the generic A&M cover which I doubt really showed up on a record store wall.
  13. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    My delight at MADE IN AMERICA'S release was not only the album ON release day (ty) but the full sized promo poster the record store manager gifted me that same day for free. I would've paid a mint. The A SONG FOR YOU full size cardboard promo I didn't obtain til months after its release but get it I did do indeedy!
    GaryAlan likes this.
  14. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Jeff, nice to read of your Promo Posters !
    This gets me to re-living those days back in 1981:
    I did hear Touch Me and Good Old Dreams on the radio.....both in Florida and in Illinois.
    Actually, I heard Touch Me in 'rotation', which is why I was surprised when it did not chart higher;
    but, given the lack of promotion (radio interviews, concerts or television) it does not now surprise me.
    Never, ever, saw a Carpenters' promo Poster hanging on any Record Store Wall,
    and I visited many of them (through 1975-1980's) in search of all of Carpenters 'products'.
    Only in 1994--with the press attention paid to the Tribute Album, If I Were A Carpenter,
    did I really see the tide turning positive.....
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  15. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I saw a promo poster for Made In America and it was colorful on the wall but cartoonish and it did not promote realism for ages of a 30 something duo. And, since it was not as experimental as Passage full of growth and substance, it was full of stylistic songs that had been done before and that is why it probably did not get much promotion. It was great, however to hear Karen singing new songs for it had been 3 years since we heard anything new, and her voice was designed to sing, sing, sing!
    GaryAlan likes this.
  16. Brian

    Brian Active Member

    'Made in America' Aussie Mag ad, Aug 7th, 1981 An advertisement for 'Made in America' in the Australian rock magazine, RAM, from August the 7th, 1981. The ad measured 17 inches by 11 and a half. The record was described in the ad as 'A sparkling, brilliant album'.

    I find it interesting that Carpenters' Australian record company, Festival Records, chose to place the ad in a rock music mag. Then again, there weren't many music magazines in Australia then, apart from the glossy teen pop mags. Probably the most reputable mags that the serious, self-respecting rock music fan would have trusted at that time were RAM, Juke and the Aussie edition of Rolling Stone. (At least, I think these were all in operation at that time... From memory, they were).

    This large ad suggests serious backing from the record company. There were also 'Made in America' pens, bumper stickers and other promo items - and I'm aware of the promo clip for 'Beechwood' being played on TV. 'Those Good Old Dreams' received considerable air play in the area where I lived. It was obviously on high rotation.

    The highest charting single from the album, 'Touch Me When We're Dancing', reached Number 78 nationally. The album itself reached Number 50.

    Carpenters were back at Number One in Australia at the beginning of 1983 with 'Very Best of The Carpenters' and scraped into the Top 15 in 1990 with 'Their Greatest Hits'.
    Chris Mills likes this.
  17. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Thank Brian for the scan, I'd never seen a promo ad that displayed the Made in America cover across the US states like this, quite different. :)
    Brian likes this.
  18. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Made In America was a clever album name, by 1981 Carpenters had gone global, and with this great California sound they had created, it really didn't matter anymore if they didn't reach no.1 in the USA, the rest of the world loved them.
    Brian and Jeff like this.
  19. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Just stumbled across topic. Time to spin the shmcd of MADE IN AMERICA from the anniversary set. Btw, Please dont give me grief of the shmcd format...again.
  20. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    The Blues Brothers released an album in December 1980 entitled Made In America
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Listening to the promo 45 vinyl (2405s) of
    Beechwood-45789 (both sides of vinyl).
    Two thing which strike me:
    (1) The actual physical feel of the vinyl is extraordinary flimsy--cheap is the word.
    (2) The drums at the beginning--sound very 'tinny' (is that a word ?).
    I guess the word is that the drums sound metallic, and thin. Not a good sound.
    ( Compare, especially, to Karen's drumming on Postman at the beginning of that song).
    Too bad, I actually almost like the song--not as a single, though.
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Speaking --or, writing--of promotion....
    I am still promoting without reservation,
    Strength Of A Woman....
    this song being one of the best selections off of this album....
    of course, this is merely my opinion !
    Jamesj75, Geographer, Mark-T and 2 others like this.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Another oddity, I've noticed, is the lack of any of these songs from
    Made In America
    making their way on to the 1997 Cd Compilation Love Songs......
    although, Make Believe It's Your First Time does appear.
    (easily the weakest song of the compilation).
    All in all, Love Songs is a favorite compilation.
  24. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I love "Strength". Always have.
  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I’ve found that Richard rarely includes the post-78 tracks on compilations.

    Although, when he does, they really contrast nicely to the pre-1978 tracks. I still get a thrill when I listen to the YOM albums and “Back In My Life” or “Beechwood” plays.

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