Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 1, 2013.
"Want You Back In My Life Again" was an 80's-sounding song. "Touch Me" is timeless!
Lovelines, Making Love, If I Had You, If We Try, Guess I Just Lost My Head, Make Believe, Still Crazy- and the list goes on. It's a really good disc! Compared to MIA, it's far superior. But others are free to disagree. - That is one of the things I too appreciate.
Wonder which sold more… MIA or Karen Carpenter
If Richard had modified Karen Carpenter, the way he did with Lovelines album, her solo album would have been seen as "brilliant" with RC's mixing.
As I grow older I'm starting to understand just how important the mix is. It transforms a song. Sometimes it seems an arrangement or vocal is inferior then an alternate mix makes them shine.
I also realise that as lovely as Richard's arrangements are, Karen is 90% of every song, and every song where her vocal isn't right up in that mix, it suffers.
I guess I make allowances for some of their mixing choices in this album (it was just another album in what they thought would be followed by many more). But her vocals should be more up front on TGOD, WYBIMLA, WYGWIT, and Beechwood (and I still either love or like all of these selections).
I'm always a bit suspicious when I hear the 'Karen's solo album was a disaster from start to finish filled with bad songs performed badly' argument being made. I can see why it's not to everyone's tastes, but to write it off in one broad stroke, as A&M and Ray Coleman's book attempted to do, seems to imply more than just a dislike of the music on there, but also of the idea of the album as an entity.
I'd say Made in America is definitely their weakest album, but although I think most of the songs are sub-par, I do like 'I Believe You' and 'Touch Me When We're Dancing'. The good points and few and far between (as it happens, they're both at the start of Side 2!), but it's not completely without any merit. In my view the Carpenters never produced a perfect studio album from start to finish, but even though there are a couple of noticeably weaker links in their catalogue, they also never produced an album without even one good song on it.
Even if you're not a fan of the solo album's style, given that there's a fair range of styles on it, if you enjoy Karen's voice, the idea that there's not a single song that you think sounds OK seems very strange to me.
Again, may I simply point out that the song...
has some incredible vocal prowess (check out Karen's control, from time 2m49s to 2m57s)
worthy of any song occurring on Made In America LP.
Also, let us not forget
Make Believe It's Your First Time:
Obviously, Richard thought highly of the song.
Still Crazy After All These Years....
Sales figures between the two are irrelevant in this case. I'm surprised you don't see that.
I highly doubt that.
He wouldn’t have done it. Alpert, Moss, and Richard didn’t want it out there.
I think he meant had Richard subjected the entire solo album to the facelift he did on previous albums. I do think he has a point.
That is how I understood it, too. Richard was able to take the "best" of the thin, weak, material of the solo album and at least bring them up to "album cut" respectability on LOVELINES. He really took the only single-worth song from the solo album, "If I Had You," and actually made it single-worthy; at least as good as anything on MIA. The only song where Richard "got it wrong" was on "Make Believe Its Your First Time." In that case, Karen and Phil had it right: less is more!
Although of course he only remixed two out of the four solo cuts that appeared on Lovelines. He didn't do anything to 'If We Try' or 'Remember When Lovin..'.
Geographer, as you're a self-confessed fan of Made in America, I'm interested to know whether you think the final track selection for the album was the right one or whether you feel, as a number of fans do, that some of the many outtakes from the sessions should have been included instead?
But, looking at this another way,
Why....after all of these years...
hasn't Made In America gotten a 'facelift' ?
(imho MIA is much, much, weaker than the solo album.)
And, with the remark made in the Coleman biography regarding the solo songs appearing on album
Lovelines..."these inferior tracks proved the wisdom of the earlier decision to stop the solo album." (page 329).
(Coleman is writing that these solo songs are inferior tracks to the other songs on Lovelines album !).
By the way, Lovelines album gets a footnote in the Biography (page 329).
Made In America gets five pages in the Biography (pages 285-290),thus:
"...a remarkably powerful album...a robust pointer to what might have followed."
I actually AGREE that there were some better out-takes sitting in the vaults; however, my beef with that goes more toward the weak VOTH LP. Now THAT'S a weak Carpenters album. The outtakes that appeared on LOVELINES should have first appeared on VOTH. To Leave "Kiss Me...," "Where Do I Go From Here," and "You're The One" languishing in the vaults while we got an over-produced "Make Believe...,"Sailing on the Tide," and "Primetime Love," and the OK Chorale. The only really quality song worthy of Karen and Richard on VOTH was "Only a Fool."
Just imagine an album with Now, Only a Fool, You're The One, Where Do I Go From Here, Uninvited Guest, Kiss Me..., Leave Yesterday Behind, Two Lives, Your'e Baby..., and Honolulu City Lights (not necessarily in that order) coming out in 1983 rather than what we ended up getting on VOTH. Now THAT would have been one helluvan album!
^^And, yet, Richard Carpenter's view is that the only real quality song on Voice Of The Heart
"though I still feel that Ordinary Fool is a good vehicle for Karen and a good piece of arranging and production on my part, had Karen lived, we would have turned our attention to the new songs (along with some standards, no doubt) and not thought of these tracks again. Out of the two recorded in 1982, only
'Now' would have made any bona fide follow-up to "Made In America".
Carpenters: Voice Of The Heart album 1983
I don’t think he is saying that. I think he was saying they were inferior to Carpenters songs in general.
^^Initially, I read it that way, also.
But, he had already made that point long earlier in the book, and the footnote (page 329)
is specific to the album Lovelines--"an average batch," in his words (!).
(which is why I re-interpreted his writing).
In other words, if Lovelines (album) is considered mostly an "average batch"
and the previous Carpenters' albums are held in higher esteem (e.g., Made In America),
then even the solo album songs included on Lovelines were considered far under-par.
(e.g., worse than an "average batch"--which is how Coleman refers to most of the other Lovelines songs )!
Now I think should've remained in the vault. It is extremely weak. Prime Time Love is a lot stronger than Now.
Plus I think the solo album had a second single in My Body Keeps Changing My Mind---even in 1990 had that been released as a Dance Single, I think it could burned up the Dance charts.
Can we keep in mind that for a long time the music industry was a singles driven market?
It wasn't until "Thriller" really that it changed (and today it's swung back the other way). Mind you "Saturday Night Fever" was a huge success (being the best selling album until MJ broke that record).
So, saying "we only got Only a Fool" or "we only got Touch me" or "We only got Lovelines"... I mean that's how it was back then.
Try to name ten albums right now where you like every single song from start to finish. That's a standard very few artists can uphold.
I think it's fascinating how (even for us fans) there's songs where you either love it or you hate it despite how sweet their sound can be. That was the case with The Carpenters version of "Ticket to Ride." Some people really can't stand what they did with it, and others love it.
I think this gets down to the fact that people have different experiences with music--each of us being wired differently.
I'm not sure what it is that makes some of us like MIA and others not so much. It be an interesting study to understand either the physiology or psychological influences.
But, I digress...
Regardless whether I'm replied to or not... I still very much enjoy reading others opinions here.
I haven't swayed my thoughts on it and would love, love, love to hear a mix where KC is more front and centre in the mix.
I've heard it said before that it was a decision on her part to sing more softly... and from reading LGB she wasn't a belter. Her voice was a whisper almost.
Yet, I've seen DVDs of The C's Live cira '76 where KC sounded very dynamic and strong. So, I think the answer is we don't really know whether it was Richard or Karen responsible for the low volume. Probably both.
^^How right you are !
(1) I like Voice Of The Heart much more than Made In America--others do not.
(2) Early on in the career, it seems as if Karen did sing more forcefully (ie.e., And When I die, California Dreamin').
But, even the song Leave Yesterday Behind--by 1978--is quite soft, vocally, if not monotone.
A more thorough analysis might inquire whether the paucity of later concert performances swayed
this decision to sing on the softer side.(Since I never attended a concert, I have no idea there....).
(3) If all you do is "sing" "in the studio" and not "on the road" there is, then, no need to sing forcefully.
You have, too, that Karen--when drumming in the studio--might have needed to sing more forcefully.
Hal Blaine, in one of the interviews stated that Karen's drumming was "too strong" for the studio,
perhaps someone--along the way, at some time--suggested she drum softly and sing softer (more feminine).
Hal Blaine: "She doesn’t have the studio experience. Playing in the studio is completely different.”
Hal also states: "She rushed a bit, but that’s because she didn’t have that kind of training."
Hal Blaine on Karen Carpenter
An Interview with Hal Blaine | Modern Drummer Magazine
I can’t begin to mention how many inaccuracies there are from Hal Blaine’s mouth in this interview. He claims that he is the one who discovered Karen’s basement voice, that Herb Alpert played trumpet solo on all of their recordings and that Karen sang the lead vocals live in the studio alongside the musicians. All complete rubbish.
I think perhaps the reason that the orchestrations are so busy in MIA is because the album had such a long gestation period.
Most of their albums tended to take around 3/4 months but MIA was in the works for almost a year. Vocals and rhythm tracks were laid down June-November then there was a sizable hiatus, I think, until Feb/March of '81 when strings and additional instruments were recorded.
Now we know Richard to be a tinkerer and perfectionist and I can absolutely see him sitting at the piano during the considerable downtime and going. . ."hey Karen, don't you think this motif would work great in When You've got what it takes" . . "and how about this in the opening to Strength of a Woman", then 6 months later we've got an album chockablock with instrumentation. Add to this he was itching to get a new album out after his '79 hiatus and you can see how we ended up with the album we got.
A year? It was in the works for almost 3 years, since it's first single was released in 78.
Good point Tom, but I BELIEVE YOU was recorded for their proposed spring '79 album so I never include it. . .at least in my mind I think of the MIA sessions beginning on June 12th 1980 (I think that Karen stated that's when they commenced).