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Official Review [Album]: "MADE IN AMERICA" (SP-3723)

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 15.7%
  • ****

    Votes: 20 22.5%
  • ***

    Votes: 30 33.7%
  • **

    Votes: 22 24.7%
  • *

    Votes: 3 3.4%

  • Total voters
    89

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I don’t think Richard (or Karen for that matter) has ever gone on record about his thoughts on the chart performance of their singles from the album. It’s almost as if they kept putting out song after song, hoping the next one would do something and the chart listings got progressively worse. Putting Beechwood out in March 1982 was just a waste of time and money. The album was nearly a year old by that point and they weren’t even a functioning unit able to promote it. I also wonder why no video was made for (Want You) Back In My Life Again when all the other singles had one.
I seem to recall that there was a discussion about the lack of a video for 'Back in My Life Again' a few years ago. I can't remember what the upshot was, but I'd suspect it had something to do with which singles were being picked for markets outside the US.

I'd have to double-check, but I think 'Back in My Life Again' wasn't released as a single in many other markets - maybe only Brazil? - whereas 'Touch Me', 'Those Good Old Dreams' and 'Beechwood' all saw release in a number of countries. As such, they were given the video treatment so that these could be used in those various markets.

This does of course rasie the question of why 'Back in My Life Again' was largely overlooked as a single outside the US when it was supposedly one of the more forward-looking tracks with single potential.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Billboard Magazine, September 5, 1981:
Top Single Picks,
CARPENTERS -
(Want You) Back In My Life Again (3:39);
producer: Richard Carpenter; writers: Kerry Chater, Chris
Christianson; publisher: Duchess, MCA, Home Sweet Home,
ASCAP; A &M, 2370. "Karen Carpenter's smooth vocal fits the crafty arrangement like a glove on this followup to
"Touch Me When We're Dancing." A tasty sax break midway through is particularly effective
."

Hot 100 Singles, New Entry, September 12,1981:
#88, Want You Back In My Life Again, Carpenters.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Billboard Magazine, September 5, 1981: Top Single Picks, CARPENTERS - (Want You) Back In My Life Again (3:39);
producer: Richard Carpenter; writers: Kerry Chater, Chris
Christianson; publisher: Duchess, MCA, Home Sweet Home,
ASCAP; A &M, 2370. "Karen Carpenter's smooth vocal fits the crafty arrangement like a glove on this followup to
"Touch Me When We're Dancing." A tasty sax break midway through is particularly effective
."

Hot 100 Singles, New Entry, September 12,1981:
#88, Want You Back In My Life Again, Carpenters.
I think it’s a very dull, formulaic, play-by-numbers song and recording and doesn’t demonstrate Karen’s vocal abilities. It’s a lifeless performance by her. Then again, there was a lot of other terrible stuff on the charts at the time, so it wasn’t that out of place. It was never going to be a hit, though.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I think it’s a very dull, formulaic, play-by-numbers song and recording and doesn’t demonstrate Karen’s vocal abilities. It’s a lifeless performance by her. Then again, there was a lot of other terrible stuff on the charts at the time, so it wasn’t that out of place. It was never going to be a hit, though.
Billboard generally always gave positive reviews for singles (it was very rare that they'd say something bad about a track). I think the moderate success of 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' meant hopes for the follow-up were raised, even if this overlooked the fact that none of the other tracks on the album were going to get any real traction with radio.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
While I am not a big fan of the song, Want You Back In My Life Again,
it is surely not that bad. I would like to hear the initial (only ?) lead vocal, isolated.
Besides, the song does show up on the Reader's Digest compilation
Their Greatest Hits And Finest Performances....
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
While I am not a big fan of the song, Want You Back In My Life Again,
it is surely not that bad. I would like to hear the initial (only ?) lead vocal, isolated.
Besides, the song does show up on the Reader's Digest compilation
Their Greatest Hits And Finest Performances....
(Want You) Back In My Life Again was also the first 80’s track to appear on their 1985 Yesterday Once More LP.

The first time I heard the song was when I got the 1985 YOM CD in January 1998 (bought it with Christmas money after waiting a few weeks for the store to get it in) and I was thrilled with it. I found it was easily the BEST of the 80’s tracks that were on YOM.

Really, MIA should’ve had more tracks in the vein of WYBIMLA to introduce the Carpenters to the 80s.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
In the process of re-assessing this album.
But, one question immediately springs to mind:
Strength of A Woman
credits two drummers...Larrie Londin and Ron Tutt.
It credits two (electric) guitars...Tony Peluso and Tim May.

So, my question (regarding a song favorite of mine):
How to delineate who is doing what, and when ?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Listening to the cd Interpretations (Canada, 21-trax).
Is there reverb added to
When It's Gone ?

Anyway, great song, great vocals, excellent arrangement.
Another MIA favorite.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Listening to the cd Interpretations (Canada, 21-trax). Is there reverb added to When It's Gone ?

Anyway, great song, great vocals, excellent arrangement. Another MIA favorite.
It’s probably my favourite song from the entire album, if I discount Touch Me When We’re Dancing. The arrangement is exquisite, quintessential Richard Carpenter when he’s let loose with his creative talents on a song. When I listen to this, I always try and filter out everything but the acoustic guitars from the rest of the busy arrangement. If you can do that, you can hear how they underpin the entire song and are so intricate in the playing. I wish we could get an acoustic version of this with just Karen those guitars. Add to that her mournful, heartfelt, intimate vocal and it’s a 10/10 from me.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I'm a big fan lately of When It's Gone. Another song from the duo that I appreciate more with every play. Mature, big girl lyrics that Karen delivers beautifully and also a nice arrangement. As with newvillefan, I love the acoustic guitar accompaniment. The polar opposite to the sophomoric I Believe You, IMHO.
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
File this under "Things I didn't notice for decades...."

For me, one of the finest moments in Made in America is "Sailing on the Tide." I have included it in a few of my own personal compilations. And yet, just today I noticed that there is so much going on in that fade-out. And that fade-out lasts a full minute. Quite the enjoyable song. It gets your hands clapping --- at least, it does for me!
 

Song4uman

Well-Known Member
File this under "Things I didn't notice for decades...."

For me, one of the finest moments in Made in America is "Sailing on the Tide." I have included it in a few of my own personal compilations. And yet, just today I noticed that there is so much going on in that fade-out. And that fade-out lasts a full minute. Quite the enjoyable song. It gets your hands clapping --- at least, it does for me!
I love that song also.
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
I’m not sure if you realised but that song isn’t part of the MIA album...it was an outtake from Passage (1977) and didn’t surface until the VOTH album.
Yikes!! File this under "Things I get confused about from time to time..." or "Damn! I'm getting old..."

Stephen, thanks for pointing that out to me. Yes, I remember it was on Voice of the Heart. So, now, I can definitively say that it's probably my favorite from Voice of the Heart --- that and "Crystal Lullaby!" :)

I love that song also.
Thanks for the backup, Jonathan! Part of the allure is the escapism lyrics.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
It is interesting hearing Richard say that it is his favorite album. In many ways, I agree. Though I feel that The Wedding Song doesn't really fit on it very well.
As time's gone by his opinion on MIA has changed. . .as late as 2004 and the 35th anniversary boxed set he was calling it a favourite, but in last years Graham Norton Radio A-Z he stated about the album:

"when I look back there are things I would have left off it. . .it's all too teeny, but I like a whole lot of it, I actually like that album, plus it sounds great . . ." he then champions TMWWD

My guess is he had objective blinkers on about the album for many years. . .it was the first time he'd worked with Karen in over a year and the first time he'd loved being back in the studio since '73. He was gagging to get back to work by '80. And it was the last time he'd ever work with his sister (outside of 2 weeks in '82). And, like many of us, we think the latest thing we've done is the best thing until years go by and we look back and go "actually it wasn't that great".

Of course there are great songs on MIA (I'm a fan), arguably some of their best work, so he probably looked at those and forgot some of the filler. So to me it sounds like MIA has slightly dropped down Richard's top 10.

Neil
 
I like this album, as it gives us a glimpse of where the duo might have gone, especially "WYBIMLA", I like this one better than "Passage". I played my cassette version way more because my original LP is mint. I dig out the CD once in a while when I get into a "missing Karen" mode. The one song that bothers me is "BWAIL", especially after finding out how abusive and opportunistic her husband was. I love anything Karen sings, but there are albums I prefer over others....
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I had to take another listen. My view diverges quite a bit from others' pertaining to this album:
Strength of a Woman is still a winner for me. Karen sings this song marvelously.
Also, Because We Are In Love, has those highs and lows of Karen's vocals weaving throughout.
I believe had the choir had been toned down a bit I would like the song even more than I do.
Of course, my opinion of these songs is based primarily on Karen's vocal nuances,
she is simply exhibiting fine vocal prowess on these two songs (imho).
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I too gave MADE IN AMERICA a full listen yesterday. It's rare these days when I sit down to listen to a full Carpenters album, but given all of the recent discussion, I decided to give it a spin.

Over the years, I've not been overly fond of the album, and on page one of this thread you can read my appraisal as I wrote it in 2006 on another thread. As I mention there, the individual songs' reputation has grown in my estimation, while others have fallen by the wayside. But my listening yesterday was the full album - a different listening experience than just a single here and there.

The album flowed a lot better than I remembered. I think it's well-constructed as an album. Some of the little delights I re-discovered came in those tracks that are not among my favorites. Since I don't play them very often, it was a bit of a treat to hear things like:

- "Strength Of A Woman" - the swell at about the two minute mark with doubled-lead and overdubbed harmonies, though I don't care for the other voices intruding. I do like the "Herb Alpert-like" trumpet as a call-back to "Close To You".

- "When You've Got What It Takes" - again, the swell of overdubbed harmonies help this song, but unfortunately, it still sounds like a Geritol jingle to me.

- "Somebody's Been Lyin'" - I never liked the song, but again the overdubbed harmony sections improve it a bit in the middle.

- "When It's Gone, It's Just Gone" - this song annoys me a bit, mostly with its length. It's problem is it's not "gone" soon enough. It's the same length as the more "epic" "Wedding Song". It would have been better cut down.

- "Because We Are In Love" - a great lead from Karen on a song that also goes nowhere for me. Hate the backing choir, always did. The song needed to be better, but it is what it is. It seems to be a fitting ending to the album - a show-stopper that doesn't quite deliver.

The singles and familiar tracks seemed like they belonged together in this album's flow. So it was a sort-of happy reunion with the full album.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
- "Strength Of A Woman" - the swell at about the two minute mark with doubled-lead and overdubbed harmonies, though I don't care for the other voices intruding. I do like the "Herb Alpert-like" trumpet as a call-back to "Close To You".

- "When You've Got What It Takes" - again, the swell of overdubbed harmonies help this song, but unfortunately, it still sounds like a Geritol jingle to me.

- "Somebody's Been Lyin'" - I never liked the song, but again the overdubbed harmony sections improve it a bit in the middle.

- "When It's Gone, It's Just Gone" - this song annoys me a bit, mostly with its length. It's problem is it's not "gone" soon enough. It's the same length as the more "epic" "Wedding Song". It would have been better cut down.

- "Because We Are In Love" - a great lead from Karen on a song that also goes nowhere for me. Hate the backing choir, always did. The song needed to be better, but it is what it is. It seems to be a fitting ending to the album - a show-stopper that doesn't quite deliver.
Out of this bunch Somebody’s Been Lyin’ is the one that feels the most complete and satisfying to me, from beginning to end. I know it’s not popular and it sounds crazy old fashioned for a 1981 pop album, but it exudes class, an edge of darkness, and their signature sound. It couldn’t have been a single but that’s what LP’s are for.

I’ll go into more detail later (if I haven’t enough already); but I find it interesting that you too are left with a bad aftertaste hearing When It’s Gone. I hate that I’m not unconditionally taken with it because it has Karen singing a signature rueful ballad and she sounds into those words, but something about the arrangement or the length bugs me too. I think it doesn’t move and build to anything much and it drags onto nothing.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Great to read of diverging opinions.
Myself, When It's Gone
is a fantastic listen.
It does go on for a bit, no doubt,
yet, Karen's vocals are haunting.

Interestingly enough, I rarely listen to individual songs,
I try to sit down and listen to an entire Carpenters' album in one sitting.
While Made In America is not a favorite album of mine,
it does have its moments and
When It's Gone is one of those moments for me.
 
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