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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)

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    It's been a polarizing topic among fans for many years...
    I've always loved this album. As time went on we got to hear what a good session this was for them creatively.
    E.I. Uninvited Guest, Kiss me, Your Baby, Prime Time Love, Two Lives, Rainbow Connection...

    There's many ways we can look at it/critique.
    Considering how they were having trouble coming up with material or the "hits" as it were...
    I was never as disappointed as others, nor was this ever intended as a "goodbye" piece. They were just getting started up again and taking things at the pace that was comfortable for them.

    I've always thought it was a worthy addition to their catalogue.

    Maybe less about the material or lyric per se...
    Just the fact that it was Karen (who could sing the phonebook and we know we'd buy it or at least sample it)...
    Looking at it now, almost 50 years since they signed, I can't poo-poo MIA any longer.

    I'm not sure how Rich created the sort of ambient or ethereal feel to this album.
    It's like a dream sequence... I find it very cool since I havn't heard sound quality like this on their previous albums or any other artist(s) for that matter. Compared to other sounds at the time it's quite unique in a good way.

    I'm more interested in the technical parts of this album; opposed to what should have been sung or not at this point.
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
    Geographer and Jeff like this.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Someday will there be a visual summary of these official, fan album/single reviews?
    That'd be pretty cool. :uhhuh:
  3. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member

    I've said this before too, that the album sounds like a lush dreamscape. It's the flow of the tracks but also the air brushed yet highly orchestrated production of each track. Karen's mixed in back, sounding like a ghost of the past slipping away... The only thing that doesn't sound dreamlike about the album is that it doesn't have a variety of moods, or shifts in tone that a dream does; everything largely sounds very samey. That and the material was rather weak makes this not a favorite for many.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have a copy of this album from the "New" LP- collection batch ?
    How does it sound when compared to the 1981 Vinyl LP ?

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Interesting way to put it. I think Touch me, Back in my life, and Beechwood hit harder than some of the other stuff on there. It's subtle, nuanced... I guess that's the the thing.

    Like it feels as if you weren't "grabbed" by it?

    I can't argue Beechwood was the best choice, for example. (I know that's been discussed more in-depth). It's fun though, imo... because KC and RC were weird like that. haha

    To my ears "When you've got what it takes" has a lot going on in it. The way the instruments play within the chorus is rather nice and the vocal arrangement... maybe isn't as intricate as "If I had you"... but there's more going on in there than you'd get from one listen.

    "Somebody's been lyin" seems like it's just one of those offbeat selections that kinda slipped under the radar of A&M execs. I like it because Karen was not your cookie-cutter pop star. She sells emotion so well, do it effortlessly and be vulnerable. It's different. Kinda of a cross-between "Without a song" with the orchestral experimentation of "Occupants."
    I wouldn't get the complexities of what the character is going through by anyone else; but that's, in part,
    what Karen's gift was.

    Perhaps the arrangement and stacked vocals is something fans have come accustomed to.
    Maybe wouldn't be our first choice when introducing someone to The Carpenters, but still enjoyable I find.
    Definitely made in the tradition of KC and RC.
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  6. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    1981 LP jumps out of the speakers when I put it on. The new pressing doesn't have quite the same clarity and oomph (how's that for a technical response?). Also, as I mentioned on another thread a while back, there's a synth bit in TGOD on the original vinyl that's not on the new LP's track. Raises questions about the mastering source for the new vinyl MIA.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  7. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Upon further review of this album...It was MIA that should've been shelved. Two of the "highlights"; Touch Me When We're Dancing and (Want You) Back In My Life Again, are the exact same kind of songs that got such a cold shoulder during the infamous playback of Karen's solo work. What made it all OK a year later? If I had to choose between the two, I would select "Karen Carpenter" every day of the week. Karen spread her wings and flew on that album. Was it her version of "Off The Wall", no, not even close, but it was better that MIA, IMHO.
    Jamesj75 and newvillefan like this.
  8. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I'd pick her solo over MIA as well! I do think it was her version of my favorite MJ disc.
    goodjeans likes this.
  9. Oh Lordy! Karen's solo over MIA? Not in a million years. Karen's solo was an abomination on all fronts: poor material, poor performance, and poor production. Just a mess all around.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Here is an interesting exercise--the Marvellettes re-makes--
    (I've highlighted the differences in performers)
    Please Mr. Postman
    Beechwood 4-5789

    Karen Carpenter, drums
    Richard carpenter, keyboards
    Tony Peluso, guitar
    Joe Osborn, bass
    Bob Messenger, tenor sax

    Ron Tutt, drums
    Richard Carpenter, keyboards
    Tim May, guitar
    Gayle Levant, Harp.......wow, I had forgotten this song had a harp in it......
    Joe Osborn, bass
    Tom Scott, tenor sax
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I can’t recall hearing any harp in the song and it honestly doesn’t need it. Another example of over-orchestration.
  12. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    Perhaps you are displaying a "Richard wasn't involved so I hate it" bias here; to call her solo album an "abomination" seems extreme, real extreme. It is flawed and has some poor material but also has a couple gems and, most importantly, reflects Karen's attempt to give herself an identity outside the Carpenters milieu - which doesn't make the album good, but makes it deserving of some artistic respect.
    Jeff and Carpe diem like this.
  13. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    [Moderator friendly reminder here: the topic in this thread is MADE IN AMERICA. Comparisons are valid, as are all opinions. Please respect that - and carry on.]
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I’d put them on a par: they’re both average in different ways. MIA is overproduced, over orchestrated and features weak material. The solo album is poorly produced, lacks cohesion and also features weak material.

    The common denominator that rescues them both from a worse rating is Karen’s God-given voice.
    Carpe diem and David A like this.
  15. Well someone's got to say it. Thank goodness Richard "fixed" some of the songs for the Lovelines release. And of course I have a "Richard" bias. Her solo attempt doesn't come near anything they did together. The solo album was a curiosity (oddity?) and not much more. MIA is part of the spectacular canon gifted to us during their active recording years together. I'll take MIA over the "attempt to give herself identity outside the Carpenters" any day. Honestly, she should have stuck with her identity "inside" the Carpenters milieu after hearing what the solo album turned into.
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I think that's what suffocated her the most.
    Rudy, Carpe diem and David A like this.
  17. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    MIA should’ve been shelved. Really, as it was released it should’ve been called “Missing In Action”.

    Unfortunately it sounds like what the 1978 album probably was going to sound like, if “I Believe You” is any indication.

    The early-80’s did offer wonderful ballads as recorded by Air Supply and Lionel Richie & Diana Ross—-unfortunately, Richard thought it was the best to go with a lot of old 70’s ballad arrangements.
    Carpe diem and newvillefan like this.
  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    100% agree with this.

    By 1981, Richard was stuck in the late 1970s when he should have been listening to all the trends around him, instead of being encouraged by Jerry Moss to make a "bread and butter album". The Carpenters didn't have to be "trendy" to move with the times. They needed to listen to what was going on and evolve with a new sound. That's the mistake he made. Karen said in the GMA interview that their sound was "new and updated". I beg to differ. It was a step back.
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I think that’s what makes Karen’s solo album and Richard’s “Time” so interesting. They leap forward and move their music into the 80’s. With MIA, “(Want You) Back In My Life Again” really has that leap forward that should’ve been on the album.
    Geographer likes this.
  20. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    OH MAN, Are you serious?!! Harry, I know you are biting your fingernails to the cuticle just about now but give me this please. It was the smothering characteristic of "The Carpenters" that she was trying to break free of to establish her OWN identity as an artist. Maybe something deep inside her alerted her to the fact that more of the same was not the way to go. The solo project was a HUGE move for her to take emotionally and it was healthy for her. The fact that she had to wait for her brother to be checked into a rehab facility in the middle of the country before she made this move, must give you a clue at how stifling this environment was for her. The solo album is a disappointment to many, but she loved that album quite literally until the day she died. I love the duo's music and I know they were partners in creating this beautiful/timeless sound, but I am a Karen fanatic and that album was important to her, therefore it is important to me as a fan. And it's just a better record than MIA.
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Murray and David A like this.
  21. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    I agree with most who say that MIA is at the end of the day a weak album, overall. If it wasn't for "Touch me" I wouldn't listen to anything on this album on any regular basis.
  22. Album vs. Album, rationally and in all aspects, MIA is a far superior album than is Karen's solo album. Just because Karen loved it, doesn't mean I have to. Good for her. But because it represents some sort of emotional healing for her back then doesn't mean it is a good album. Save for one or two songs, it's not. And to pretend it is doesn't do Karen any favors (either then or now).
  23. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    Is it your opinion that "Touch Me" isn't an 80's-sounding song? I think it's very much an early-80's sounding song. As for the rest of the album...yeah.
    Geographer likes this.
  24. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    You know what? I like the way you "bring it"! You're passionate and I like that. That is what I love about this forum. If I wanted just a Carpenter's photo slideshow and how Richard had a taco and cake on his 27th birthday, I would go to the many "Facebook" Carpenter sites. But this forum is unique and entertaining and these members have soooo much to give. It is fun! I guess what I am trying to say is: we agree to disagree. And we'll go on from there...
  25. I'm not saying you have to dislike Karen's solo effort...or like MIA. I have great memories of listening to, and enjoying very much, MIA...and still do. The same can not be said the first time I heard Karen's solo album. It answered all the questions I had about "why wouldn't they have released it?" I completely "get" what Herb, Jerry, Richard, and everybody else involved "got" upon their first listen....and I KNOW I'm not alone in this assessment even here (just some might not be brave enough to say it).

    But you are correct! This forum is far superior to all others Carpenters related. It's THE place to go to get news and information! I do wish there were more passionate discussions, though. That's where I learn the most and would be persuaded to "give another listen" to something I might have not appreciated before in their music.
    Jamesj75 likes this.

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