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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. ****

    15 vote(s)
  3. ***

    29 vote(s)
  4. **

    22 vote(s)
  5. *

    3 vote(s)
  1. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Tru dat, Harry
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interestingly enough, in the Liner Notes to JP Treasures,
    Richard Carpenter writes of
    When You've Got What It Takes:
    "Catchy Roger Nichols' melody that is reminiscent of
    I Kept On Loving You..."

    It had not registered with me that this song was reminiscent of the earlier song,
    until I reread the notes.

    So, on Made In America:
    WYGWIT is reminiscent of... IKOLY
    Those Good Old Dreams is reminiscent of... Top Of The World
    Beechwood 4-5789 is reminiscent of... Please Mr. Postman
    Because We Are In Love is eerily similar to... Someday (imho).
  3. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I read this years ago and I just don’t hear it. The two songs are nothing like each other.
    Geographer and Mark-T like this.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    I had to take a look at those notes again...
    I like how he writes on WYGWIT "the arrangement calls for many overdubbed vocals."
    I mean, basically what that means is "I wanted to produce the heck out of the album."

    I don't hear that it has any relation to IKOLY either.

    No doubt MIA's like a call back album.

    TGODs - Yesterday Once More or Top of the World
    When you've got what it takes - Sing
    I believe you - Close to you
    Beechwood 4-5789 - Postman
    The Wedding Song - We've only just begun

    Although, the other tracks are harder to compare exactly.
    It's like comparing apples and oranges; however, a lot of similar themes over their career.
    Cheaters, Lovers, Breakups...etc.
    And fun times too with Karen crunching her elbows in the promo video. Lol

    I don't mind that Richard thought that way.

    I wonder though, if he thought differently, instead of comparing himself to himself or other writers; we'd see different results? At the end of the day, comparison is a nightmare.

    He went on about how "Your baby" reminded him of "Hurting."
    I don't really get that one either. They're separate sounds and ideas.

    For years we entertained the comparing game right along with both of them.
    Probably ingrained by their upbringing and a competitive industry.

    Why couldn't they feel as though they could be who they were?
    No apologies or trying to be anything else.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I'd add that I think Strength of a Woman opens similarly to Superstar.
  6. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Same here. Maybe if Richard had done the vocals on When You've Got What It Takes, and sped up the melody, but I just listened to I Kept On Loving You the other day, and it is much more upbeat and brighter.
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    It's a shame they were getting this kind of review on what was to be their comeback album.

    Made In America
    Stereo Review Oct 1981

    Jeff likes this.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It doesn’t surprise me. It’s largely down to Richard’s intransigence at the time to widen their appeal to a new 1980s audience. As they went into the late 1970s they slid into an easy listening, schmaltz genre of material that they never really got away from.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Can't argue with calling it "schmaltz."
    By definition this album is exactly that: "excessive sentimentality."
    Lyrically, Musically, Production-wise... it is excessive.

    I didn't see it as a bad thing or something you could shame as much.
    And now, the more I hear about the meaning of "Strength" the more I don't want to listen. :sad:

    Man, critics were pretty harsh.
    I'd be interested to see other reviews for this album from '81.
    newvillefan likes this.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, after reading that review --Stereo Review--the Album is rated:
    "Very Good" and performance as "Cheery".....
    So, that review--I don't get it--either the recording is rated "very good,"
    and the reviewer proceeds to "tells me Why"......or, as I was expecting...after reading it,
    a more negative rating.
    The reviewer does NOT, in his/her review, substantiate the rating as given: Very Good.

    Actually, what I consider to be "negatives" for this album are not even approached.
    As for Strength Of A Woman.....it is an excellent song. I am in the minority, I don't care.
    I love how Karen performs the song. Whether I agree with the lyric--or, nor--is secondary.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I’ll be honest - until I’d read reviews on this forum about the lyrical content, I'd only ever taken it at face value for what it is: a soulful ballad with some great backing harmonies. It’s a nice album track but it was never single material, as it was potentially planned to be in 1981.
    Jeff likes this.
  12. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Had it become a single- the controversy over lyrics maybe would have helped the success of the song- in a very strange way.
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I enjoyed
    Those Good Old Dreams
    when I first heard it on the radio, 1981.
    Too bad it pretty-much bombed on the charts.
    What is wrong with an uplifting tune ?

    I noticed the reviewer--Stereo Review--
    failed to mention ....When It's Gone.
    IMHO that is a great song, sung beautifully.

    So, I took another listen to the LP.
    I Believe You....getting better with each listen.
    (love the use of congas, harp, drums).
    Carpe diem likes this.
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    As the years have gone by, I’ve come to love this song more and more and I appreciate, now more than ever, what a flawless lead vocal Karen laid down and just how stunning and haunting Richard’s arrangement is. I bet he was really in his element when putting this song together in the studio. If you listen to it with really good headphones, you can hear how “busy” the backing instrumentation is, but it never gets in the way of the song. As he has said himself in the past, it really is “an arranger’s dream”.
    Carpe diem likes this.
  15. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Based on the last couple of comments, just an observation...How many times have we glanced over their songs only later to come across a hidden nuance in Karen's vocal or the painstaking detail in the arrangement? And it suddenly becomes one of our favorites! I'm sure I will eventually replay Man Smart, Woman Smarter and find some gem in it that will reverse my opinion completely. Anyway, Gary & Newvillefan, based on your comments, I took the time to give the song a good listen (When It's Gone), and I cannot disagree with your conclusions.
    newvillefan likes this.
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    There are some gorgeous acoustic multi-tracked guitar parts that are played constantly throughout the track but which are unfortunately too buried to be really appreciated once the song starts to build. I’d love to hear the track stripped back. Overlay the orchestra on top of those guitar parts and it starts to really take shape. The other thing I love about it is the little “pop-pop-pop” sounds that you hear at 1:32, 2:47 and 3:08. Just sublime. Karen’s last, lingering “gone” is absolutely gorgeous, reminiscent of the ending of Two Sides. I have this track on my Spotify “Sleep” playlist and it instantly sends me into a slumber if I’ve had a stressful day. Pure Carpenters heaven.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  17. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Love this track...and as her final word drifts off into that echo chamber a swell of violins materialize and take the melody line.

    Gorgeous track. And it's preceded and followed by 2 favourites as well. . .yes I'm taking Beechwood, people.
  18. BINGO!
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interestingly enough, I really have never warmed up to
    When You've Got What It Takes....the arrangement, that is....
    the harmonies are fine (especially the conclusion), the lead vocal is nice enough,
    the arrangement is (imho) terrible (flute intro ?).
    Lyrically, the song is alright, but, again, nothing special--
    I suppose it is "cheery" as might be referred to in the Stereo Review above.
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Record Town 1981 Promo....
    Strength Of A Woman:
    Richard: "....the first time I heard, I knew it was made for Karen and me to record...."
    When It's Gone:
    Karen: "...one of the first recorded for the album, we couldn't wait to get to it...."
    WYBIMLA likes this.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Looking at an alternative track listing, from the 1980-81 sessions (Plus “Now”), this is fairly interchangeable or similar concept to the original album.
    Does this make for a better or on-par album?
    I wonder why it is that artists have so many outtakes they think aren't strong... meanwhile fans are loving it.

    1 The Rainbow Connection
    2 Two Lives
    3 Prime Time Love
    4 Make believe it’s your first time
    5 The Uninvited Guest
    6 Honolulu City Lights
    7 Kiss me the way you did last night
    8 At the end of a song
    9 Your baby doesn’t love you anymore
    10 Now
  22. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    The "Recording" is rated Very Good, not the "album." That means the quality of the recording technique itself, not the content.

    "Cheery" is meant to be a one-word summary of the sound of the album as a whole. Which given a lot of the tunes (especially "Those Good Old Dreams") is hard to argue with.

    I subscribed to Stereo Review for about 25 years so I got fairly used to their tongue-in-cheek summaries of the reviews. They were usually spot-on, but the reviews themselves often got me stirred up!
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The reviewer--Stereo Review-- also uses the word "bland."
    And, if I recall correctly, many reviewers in many reviews, used that same description: bland.
    I, for one, never subscribed to that description for Carpenters' albums.
    Here are the synonyms for bland (thesaurus): "flattering, general, moderate, suave, vacant, weak."

    Carpenters' albums are simply "different" !
    Karen Carpenters' voice--always unique: Why didn't the reviewer write about that voice ?
  24. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Made In America is such a weak album I almost wish it was not released. Karen's solo album had more promise in my opinion. In later years we learn of the jems that were recorded during this project that would have made this album so much better. I will always be puzzled as to why these final the selections were made and why these arrangements copied other songs while making them more generic in nature instead of creating something new. The album is bland. I was excited to finally hear Karen singing again, but the songs contained within were certainly not the days of A Song For You even though the same number of singles were released from it. A highlight is Karen's reading of Strength Of A Woman in the verses and the bridge but the BeeGees like chorus kills it along with the carpet woman meaning lyrics. It is the pattern in this album: each song has an attribute that is killed by something else in the song. Outside of Touch Me When We're Dancing and most of Somebody's Been Lying, this album should have stayed on the shelf. The cartoon like cover certainly gives an indication of what's inside. All the ballads and rhythm and blues influenced light jazz tunes from Karen's solo would have fared much better. And the promotion of this album were just karaoke style tracked recordings. I think this album is an embarrassment to their musicianship. They are so much better than this product.
  25. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I agree her solo album would have been a better choice. If only it had been released when it was originally planned!
    newvillefan and CraigGA like this.

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