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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

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
My main gripe with the solo MBIYFT is that Karen sounds so weak. Or rather she’s using her voice in a way that she’s trying to emulate ONJ, a far inferior vocalist. I understand that she wanted something new but it didn’t work. Her vocal on Richard’s version sounds wispy and not as robust like we know she can, but it still sounds much richer. Also, I prefer Richard’s arrangement even though the choir was all wrong but doesn’t bother me too much.
Different strokes - big time in this case for me. I think she sounds AMAZING on the solo version. I really feel the yearning in that one.

Ed
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Quite frankly, neither version of “Make Believe” impressed me. It’s a weak album cut that at most should’ve stayed an album cut.

But “When It’s Gone”, it was a very weak and forgettable song. I don’t really get what the lyrics are talking about and really I don’t care because the arrangement doesn’t capture my attention.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Quite frankly, neither version of “Make Believe” impressed me. It’s a weak album cut that at most should’ve stayed an album cut.

But “When It’s Gone”, it was a very weak and forgettable song. I don’t really get what the lyrics are talking about and really I don’t care because the arrangement doesn’t capture my attention.
I agree totally on "When It's Gone". It's like most of the tracks on MIA - forgettable. It's amazing to me that the outtakes were SO much better than the stuff that made the record.

Ed
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I agree totally on "When It's Gone". It's like most of the tracks on MIA - forgettable. It's amazing to me that the outtakes were SO much better than the stuff that made the record.

Ed
It’s crazy how much stronger an album like Lovelines is. It’s like Richard knew somehow he could pull them out for some special occasion later on.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Can the moderators confirm where the other Made In America thread has gone (“An Expensive Luxury”)?
 
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ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
That thread was horribly degraded and I, myself am partly to blame, with the posts about TIME. But really folks, skeleton pictures?

If we can get the thread cleaned up, it may be back, but that's not what we're about here.
Agreed completely. We also had the pleasure of listening to a truly one-of-a-kind voice in Karen and incredible vocal arrangements courtesy of Richard. That's what we should remember about her - even if we complain about this album not being as good as it could have been. :wink:

Ed
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Richard has been criticised by some for misfiring in his attempt at a come-back in 1981 with ‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’, with some people saying the recording wasn’t contemporary, trendy or heavy enough to be a hit but I think, sometimes, we forget just how light, middle-of-the-road and easy listening the American charts were back then. The following songs were all on the Top 40 in the same week earlier that year - and you couldn’t get any lighter or old-fashioned than some of these:- LOVE ON THE ROCKS –•– Neil Diamond EVERY WOMAN IN THE WORLD –•– Air Supply LADY –•– Kenny Rogers IT’S MY TURN –•– Diana Ross I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN –•– Barry Manilow SUDDENLY –•– Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard EVERYBODY’S GOT TO LEARN SOMETIME –•– The Korgis and I BELIEVE IN YOU –•– Don Williams - and there were others.
While I agree that ‘Touch Me’ was nowhere near Carpenters’ finest moment, it wasn’t very different from many songs that were hitting the top every week in America that year. In fact, it was more modern-sounding than quite a few of the big smashes.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Touch Me When We're Dancing had already been released by group Bama in October 1979 (peaked #86 on Top 100).
If you listen to their version, then listen to Richard Carpenters' arrangement, you will hear the similarities.
It's a great single from Karen and Richard, I am not sure that it was different enough from Bama's 1979
version to elicit excitement from radio programmers. The two subsequent singles off of MIA charted worse and worse,
erasing possibility that TMWWD could achieve memorability in the public consumer's ear.
Still, I would opine that the "image" issues would have prevented any release from achieving top 5 status--at that time.
Paul Grein's favorable review of the album (Billboard, July 1981) apparently helped little (MIA was #78 after 12 weeks).
Here is Bama (1979):
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Touch Me When We're Dancing had already been released by group Bama in October 1979 (peaked #86 on Top 100).
If you listen to their version, then listen to Richard Carpenters' arrangement, you will hear the similarities.
It's a great single from Karen and Richard, I am not sure that it was different enough from Bama's 1979
version to elicit excitement from radio programmers. The two subsequent singles off of MIA charted worse and worse,
erasing possibility that TMWWD could achieve memorability in the public consumer's ear.
Still, I would opine that the "image" issues would have prevented any release from achieving top 5 status--at that time.
Paul Grein's favorable review of the album (Billboard, July 1981) apparently helped little (MIA was #78 after 12 weeks).
Here is Bama (1979):
It's always interesting to hear these other versions of songs the Carpenters recorded in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Like you say, as was often the case during this time period, the Bama version contains a number of elements that were carried over into the Carpenters' version. Although the electronic sound effect used in the Bama version is horrid, the more upfront vocal works well - if Karen's vocal had been less buried on their version (particularly on the chorus), it might have given their take on it a little more contemporary edge and made it sound less 'soft'.

It's worth remembering that it would have been much easier back then than it would be now to cover a song that hadn't really been a hit even shortly beforehand without people recalling that it had already been released as a single by someone else. I'm sure Bama's version had been long forgotten by radio programmers by the time the Carpenters released their version (if they'd ever heard it to start with).

I disagree to an extent on the 'image problem' preventing any kind of big success happening in 1981 for them. Sure, they had some baggage on this front to contend with, but the bigger problem was that Made in America in large part did nothing to challenge that preconceived image. So, while 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' was given some leeway by radio programmers, the album and the following singles just fed back into the 'goody fourshoes' stereotype and radio (and the public) reacted accordingly. They didn't do enough different with this album to justify the audience giving them a sustained second chance.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Great points, to be sure.
However, I firmly believe that Goodbye To Love would have charted much higher (and longer)
had it not been for their so-called "image" ....there is no other explanation for that song not to hit #1 at the time.
here is Richard Carpenter, Rolling Stone July 1974:
He was openly angry about the Carpenters’ image, about the wholesome halo made to hover over the two of them from the very first.
The problem, he thought, began and was perpetuated by the publicity pictures and album covers prepared by their record company.
“The pictures, the album covers, the eight-by-ten glossies.” He sighed in disgust. “There had been no brother-sister act since Fred and Adele Astaire. They just hadn’t known what to do in a photography session. You can’t be embracing. And yet . . . they wanted that
."

So, getting back to the cover of Made In America.....who wanted that ?
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
^^Great points, to be sure.
However, I firmly believe that Goodbye To Love would have charted much higher (and longer)
had it not been for their so-called "image" ....there is no other explanation for that song not to hit #1 at the time.
here is Richard Carpenter, Rolling Stone July 1974:
He was openly angry about the Carpenters’ image, about the wholesome halo made to hover over the two of them from the very first.
The problem, he thought, began and was perpetuated by the publicity pictures and album covers prepared by their record company.
“The pictures, the album covers, the eight-by-ten glossies.” He sighed in disgust. “There had been no brother-sister act since Fred and Adele Astaire. They just hadn’t known what to do in a photography session. You can’t be embracing. And yet . . . they wanted that
."

So, getting back to the cover of Made In America.....who wanted that ?
Oh, I quite agree re 'Goodbye to Love' - for whatever reason, people weren't prepared to accept an electric fuzz guitar solo in a single by them in 1972. Perhaps it's little wonder that they retreated to the safer territory of singles like 'Sing' and 'Yesterday Once More afterwards. From a hit-making perspective, that was surely the right way forward. But perhaps they should have followed 'Goodbye to Love' with singles that also challenged their perceived image - in the long run, that might have help prevent 'the image problem' gaining as much traction as it did. 'Goodbye to Love' still made the Top 10, so it wasn't a flop, and if they could have created a mind shift in the audience's perception of them, they could have started scoring bigger hits again without having to play it so safe.

Re the Made in America cover, I can sort of see what they were going for - a positive, smiley, almost airbrushed look that says 'hey, everything's great with us!', even if that was pretty ironic given what had been going on in their lives and career in the previous few years. Using an illustration also avoided the need to use a photo and thus drawing attention to Karen's state of health. I don't much like the image, but I can see why it would have been used.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Re the Made in America cover...........Using an illustration also avoided the need to use a photo and thus drawing attention to Karen's state of health. I don't much like the image, but I can see why it would have been used.
Yup! But on the other hand, photos were not always used on their album covers, and on their single sleeves...........

“The pictures, the album covers, the eight-by-ten glossies.” He sighed in disgust. “There had been no brother-sister act since Fred and Adele Astaire. They just hadn’t known what to do in a photography session. You can’t be embracing. And yet . . . they wanted that."
...........Maybe just because of the "image" they didn't want to project.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ STARTED OFF great guns on the charts and everybody probably thought it was going to be a smash. It was the highest debuting song of the week on June 20th, 1981, entering the Hot 100 at Number 76. Within two weeks it had moved up THIRTY-EIGHT places to Number 38, then up eleven to 27, then up four to 23, (I bet Carpenters were disappointed that week!), then up four to 19 and then, finally, up three to its peak at Number 16. It really petered out quickly after an explosive start. Particularly the jump of eleven places within the Top 40 was especially impressive and unheard of except amongst the biggest smashes. Still, ‘Calling Occupants’ had a similar journey, debuting high on the Top 100 and rising with huge jumps....except it lost its momentum even earlier, peaking at Number 32 - so perhaps K&R were prepared for ‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ to suddenly stall.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
The initial airplay was there, but the sales weren’t backing them up, so they stalled. We sold very little of any Carpenters singles from 1977-81, except Sweet Sweet Smile did ok being a country hit. Short chart life there too, as most country songs do. It was disappointing and depressing to say the least. Their fan base had matured and didn’t buy many singles anymore. Just lp s, 8-tracks and cassettes. We stocked them, but little sales even with AirPlay.
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ STARTED OFF great guns on the charts and everybody probably thought it was going to be a smash. It was the highest debuting song of the week on June 20th, 1981, entering the Hot 100 at Number 76. Within two weeks it had moved up THIRTY-EIGHT places to Number 38, then up eleven to 27, then up four to 23, (I bet Carpenters were disappointed that week!), then up four to 19 and then, finally, up three to its peak at Number 16. It really petered out quickly after an explosive start.
I think the number one reason for that is they didn’t perform it once on any US TV show that summer. They only surfaced in August and September for Good Morning America and The Merv Griffin Show...two months after the single was released and for interviews only. They were craving another US hit so why they avoided any performances and headed off to Brazil and Europe, where the song, album and subsequent singles fared hardly any better, is beyond me.
 
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Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Let Go...Let God (ONJ)
I think the number one reason for that is they didn’t perform it once on any US TV show that summer. They only surfaced in August and September for Good Morning America and The Merv Griffin Show...two months after the single was released and for interviews only. They were craving another US hit so why they avoided any performances and headed off to Brazil and Europe, where the song, album and subsequent singles fared hardly any better, is beyond me.
I agree, they spent way too much time outside the US for an album titled MIA, then wondering why they didn’t have airplay in the US. I can’t even believe they allowed her to tour all those countries in her condition.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
^^Great points, to be sure.
However, I firmly believe that Goodbye To Love would have charted much higher (and longer)
had it not been for their so-called "image" ....there is no other explanation for that song not to hit #1 at the time.
here is Richard Carpenter, Rolling Stone July 1974:
He was openly angry about the Carpenters’ image, about the wholesome halo made to hover over the two of them from the very first.
The problem, he thought, began and was perpetuated by the publicity pictures and album covers prepared by their record company.
“The pictures, the album covers, the eight-by-ten glossies.” He sighed in disgust. “There had been no brother-sister act since Fred and Adele Astaire. They just hadn’t known what to do in a photography session. You can’t be embracing. And yet . . . they wanted that
."

So, getting back to the cover of Made In America.....who wanted that ?
I remember the day in June of ‘81 that I first heard of the album and rushing to buy it the same day. I was beyond shocked and thrilled.

BUT, my first reaction at seeing that cover was a huge eye roll. That cover did them zero favors. The inside photo should have been the front cover, and the back cover was just a waste of good space that could have been used to present them properly!
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I remember the day in June of ‘81 that I first heard of the album and rushing to buy it the same day. I was beyond shocked and thrilled.

BUT, my first reaction at seeing that cover was a huge eye roll. That cover did them zero favors. The inside photo should have been the front cover, and the back cover was just a waste of good space that could have been used to present them properly!
Agreed. DREADFUL cover art. The inside photo is better (almost anything would have been) but it's the same old "smiley face" thing that wouldn't have done them any favors in 1981.

Ed
 
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