• The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available. Use this link to order, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 15.6%
  • ****

    Votes: 20 22.2%
  • ***

    Votes: 30 33.3%
  • **

    Votes: 22 24.4%
  • *

    Votes: 4 4.4%

  • Total voters
    90

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Neither project contained Karen's best vocals, but she did the best she could with what resources her voice had to work with. I think MIA would of benefited from some (Karen Carpenter) solo cuts, and some of Karen's solo album would of benefited from Richard's production.
That’s how they should have been looking at it going into the 1980’s. In my opinion there are about 4 tracks that should not have appeared on MIA: Strength, Lyin’, Beechwood and Wedding. What were they thinking releasing Beechwood in the 80’s and Wedding while I like it could have been more suited as a rare B side only on a single from Album.

Your right when you said MIA could have benefited from some of Karen’s solo cuts, like If I Had You and If We Try maybe even Lovelines. The evidence is what Richard did with some of these on the Lovelines LP.

Neither album is perfect but the direction to be going in 81’ was not MIA. If there was any time that she should have been forced to seek help for her condition it was during the MIA timeframe and should never have been allowed to travel overseas with that rigorous schedule.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
I have not seen the article on Rolling Stone magazine back in the Summer of 1981 but did they do a report on "Made In America"?? Did "Rolling Stone" magazine gave it 2 stars or 1 star out of 5 stars?? Matt Clark Sanford, MI
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I have not seen the article on Rolling Stone magazine back in the Summer of 1981 but did they do a report on "Made In America"?? Did "Rolling Stone" magazine gave it 2 stars or 1 star out of 5 stars?? Matt Clark Sanford, MI
Sadly, I’m pretty sure they didn’t review MIA at all in RS.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I have not seen the article on Rolling Stone magazine back in the Summer of 1981 but did they do a report on "Made In America"?? Did "Rolling Stone" magazine gave it 2 stars or 1 star out of 5 stars?? Matt Clark Sanford, MI
I’m not sure, AM Matt. I know that ‘Cashbox’ had a short blurb about it, but that was a different type of magazine.

The reviews that I was looking at yesterday from Rolling Stone for different Carpenters albums, right up to ‘Lovelines’, didn’t give stars. Actually, I’m not sure whether it was the US, UK or Aust edition that I got the reviews from.

Rolling Stone did review ‘Lovelines’, by the way.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
I read "Rolling Stone" magazine for the very first time back in December of 1980 featuring the Year End issue. I did not read the magazine again until the cover featuring Yoko Ono (with the blindfold) in September of 1981 when I went to the library at Sanford Meridian high school in Sanford, Michigan when I started as a Freshman at 16 years old. Matt Clark Sanford, MI
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I bought a couple of copies around 1978 - one with Linda Ronstadt on the cover and one with Fleetwood Mac. For the next few years after that, I used to surreptitiously take a glance at the US albums charts in the shop so I wouldn’t have to buy the magazines, because there were other things I wanted to spend my pocket money on, (like records!)
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I actually don't like the sound of her voice on sections on most of the lead vocal tracks on the solo album. A lot of the lower-pitched background vocals sound OK.
I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy tracks like Remember When Lovin’ Took All Night, which is a pure pop summer song. It’s great. The string arrangement is just beautiful and the backing vocals in the choruses are some of Karen’s best overdubbed work. She uses every part of her range - right down to the basement - to create that sound. It drives me crazy sometimes to think that her fans were robbed of the chance to hear the fruits of all her hard labour back in 1980.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy tracks like Remember When Lovin’ Took All Night, which is a pure pop summer song. It’s great. The string arrangement is just beautiful and the backing vocals in the choruses are some of Karen’s best overdubbed work. She uses every part of her range - right down to the basement - to create that sound. It drives me crazy sometimes to think that her fans were robbed of the chance to hear the fruits of all her hard labour back in 1980.
Yes, I do love the backing vocals for ‘Remember When Loving Took All Night’. They’re quite amazing. I also like the ‘feel’ of the song - the rhythm. Bossanova influenced... maybe not....not sure how you’d name it.....someone else would know the name of the style. I also love the Fender Rhodes. Similarly, I like the background vocals for ‘Still Crazy’, the electric guitar, drums and the slightly heavier feel than usual. I love the piano arrangement on ‘Make Believe’ and the concept - just piano and voice, for part of it. I also like the simple arrangement of ‘All Because Of You’ - I think acoustic guitar features, which I like, and is unusual in that guitars don’t feature much on Carpenters recordings. (I like Karen’s voice with simple guitar when it WAS used, on the German version of ‘Silent Night’, from the Christmas special, too). I love the keyboards on ‘Lovelines’, as well as the...flute and brass. ... I’m fairly sure it has brass. (Going by memory). So there is a lot to like, if I were re-assessing. I was thinking earlier that because Karen was perfect a lot of the time in terms of sound and performance, maybe I expect her to be perfect ALL the time, whereas you wouldn’t expect so much of someone who wasn’t as good. In any case, there are so many recordings that feature her that tick ALL the boxes for me. And there are a lot of good sounds on the solo album.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
After talking about Touch Me When We’re Dancing in the RPO thread, I couldn’t help but revisit the song. This clip is the rarest of the rare because it features Karen singing live on camera for the last time. I remember seeing this for the first time and being delirious that a clip from their European trip had surfaced and then also thinking - during her opening notes - that it was lip-synched because it was so like the studio version.

 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
After talking about Touch Me When We’re Dancing in the RPO thread, I couldn’t help but revisit the song. This clip is the rarest of the rare because it features Karen singing live on camera for the last time. I remember seeing this for the first time and being delirious that a clip from their European trip had surfaced and then also thinking - during her opening notes - that it was lip-synched because it was so like the studio version.

So was this live version the last live performance by Karen before her death? Or was it the Top of the World live version from the Julio Iglesias show in France? I know she sang at the school in 82 but not counting that as it's never surfaced so we don't know if that was live or pre recorded from the school.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
For an album that gets lackluster reviews from fans on this board, I'm a bit surprised it's still the topic of so much discussion almost 40 years later. I've always enjoyed this album, and as the years go by I start thinking that we place too much responsibility on Richard for MIA.
We forget that KC was his "partner in crime" when it came to the oldies selections. If not equal share, in this project, she certainly came very close in deciding material and probably sat in on mixing/mastering sessions too. Karen had been credited for producing as well for almost 10 years.

MIA was literally just to say "we're back" and nothing much more than that. If you read into it of course you're going to find issues despite there being good songs on this album. In those days an album wasn't expected to have every single be a hit. Very few artists can accomplish having 2-5 hits off one album... Lucky if you have just one hit. The fact that they had 12 top ten hits up to this point in their career was remarkable.

It's easy for us to look back in retrospect and say what we think MIA shoulda, coulda, woulda been. I don't think the intention was to make another "Close to you." I said before this was more like "Ticket to Ride." They made music because they enjoyed it. The worst thing an artist can do is to get into analysis-paralysis, doubt or people pleasing because then nothing gets done. So, good thing we have this album at all.

I hold to my opinion that had Karen lived (and maintained her recovery) their 1983-84 follow up would have been great, and their later output would make more sense to everybody. Perhaps moving onto other solo works while coming together once in a while for a Carpenters album. In the context of their life circumstances, of course the material is all over the place. MIA is a potpourri of material like Passage was. Had they both felt grounded and healthier we'd have seen different results... even KC's solo album would probably make more sense too. Art mimics life, you know? The artists state of being shows in their work.
 
Last edited:

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
If MIA was only to say we’re back then why didn’t radio embrace the album? Didn’t Richard’s dad even call all the local radio stations to ask why are they not playing the album. I don’t think the problem was it’s a comeback album or it’s an album to say we’re back but the problem was the material and it was the same and not different and they needed some change not to go back to the oldies. I still think a jazz type album might have been better. Or maybe let Karen go solo and then then come back to Carpenters later as a group.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
It's probable that Radio didn't embrace them because it was known within the industry that The Carpenters were not well.
Who's to say that Karen's solo album would work and be the right thing for her at the time? You read what the critics said about MIA? Now imagine what they'd have done to her when she's solo and they didn't like it. "Disco sucks" movement already happened 2 years earlier.

This MIA material that is the "problem" all these years was also a decision that Karen was in agreement with. It was a safe choice, yeah.

When I see footage of Karen performing these songs it's still her livelihood, and it's really her who has the last laugh at the end of the day.
She was having fun and it's us who takes it all so seriously and Richard too. She's singing Beechwood and Touch me when we're Dayncin' gleefully and more than anything she wants people to be happy and enjoy it as she does. Albeit she wanted more control in her life, and would have discovered that at a later time.

I agree the solo album, the impulsive marriage, the OTC pills, prescription medicine and the Eating Disorder complicates everything. That's my main point. The more we try to make sense of MIA and this whole period of 79-81 we'll continue to fail. Underneath the surface she was suffering more than we'll ever know.
 
Last edited:

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Another way for them to have looked at going into this comeback album would have been for Richard or A&M to have contacted the movie industry and say we’d like to score a song off our new album to be featured in a movie released at the same time as our album MIA. Disney would have been a great choice. Now that would have been a nice path to take...Karen was on to something with this idea and Richard was the perfect arranger for a track like that. Think of the promotion. The public would have saw the movie bought the album or even got more royalties by featuring the song on the movies soundtrack.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
That's not a bad idea! yeah they both knew each other so well. There is something Disney-esque about MIA.

They were missing opportunities in the early 80s. Remember how they discussed taking things easy in the GMA interview...
That had to do with early experience of being mismanaged and overworked.

Sadly it comes down to Karen not being well and there not being enough resources or information to help her. We know so much more now, but her case is on the rare side. It was the pills and syrup did her in. There's people alive today that have had anorexia and lived to tell the tale... and not all that medicine was even part of their disorder.

I wish she knew what she was doing to herself. Had she known how dangerous this was she probably wouldn't have done it.

Anyways, the easiest thing to do was to play the game smart and stay on the safe side. Probably by the 90s they'd be focused solely on family life and making appearances here and there. She'd have been a fantastic advocate for women's rights and mental health care too... not just a songstress.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
To add, I don't think release of her solo album would have been helpful for her Eating Disorder.
Let's say it did well in the charts... that could have prolonged her from getting treatment while riding on high on its success.
Let's say it did poorly in the charts... that could have made her esteem worse with critics going hog wild.

With Richard fronting the negative criticism with her it wouldn't affect her as much as opposed to being a solo act at this time.
So, going back to Carpenters was a form of protection for her.

Yes, having the solo project shelved and receiving negative feedback was painful. Coming back to a sense of familiarity and consistency with MIA and its planned follow up was probably better for her to realize what she had to do by 1982 (even though it was a bit of a halfhearted attempt).

The point is she needed help by this period no matter which professional choice she made.
 
Last edited:

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
While MIA may be a potpourri, as in the vein of Passage, the two albums are like night and day.
Nothing on MIA affects me like Two Sides, or I Just Fall In Love Again.
Calling Occupants and Argentina

soar creatively above anything on MIA.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
With MIA, they should’ve maybe released a bunch of test singles before doing the album. They should’ve been putting out singles in 1980 to tie into “Music, Music, Music” in May 1980 like “I’ve Got Rhythm/Leave Yesterday Behind”, “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind/You’re JUst In Love” or to test the waters and issue non-standard Carpenters songs. Instead nothing is released to tie-into MMM And The next single was “Touch Me” on June 9. 1981 (same day as MIA).
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
So was this live version the last live performance by Karen before her death? Or was it the Top of the World live version from the Julio Iglesias show in France? I know she sang at the school in 82 but not counting that as it's never surfaced so we don't know if that was live or pre recorded from the school.
It would seem this was her last televised performance singing live. This and the Julio Iglesias appearance were only a day apart. All TV performances subsequent to this were lip-synched. As far as I'm aware, the performance at Sherman Oaks school in December 1982 was Karen sitting on stage singing to children over the top of their Christmas Portrait album tracks. Not a recorded performance at all, visual or audio.

I dug out the timeline for the 1981 Made In America promotional tour that I compiled years ago, after researching multiple sources online that detailed their 1981 activities, and thought I'd repost here. I've never heard the BBC Radio London Interview with Tony Blackburn or the Capital Radio Interview with Michael Aspel. Both of these guys were - and still are - very well known and respected broadcasters and presenters in the UK so I'm sure they were great interviews.

This timeline reveals that Karen was on this promotional tour in one unbroken spell, keeping up a relentless schedule, from 17th October to 7th November 1981. Absolutely crazy, considering the state of her health at that point and the fact that this album wasn't even selling all that well.

United States
22nd August - Japanese Telethon, live from Los Angeles
1st September - filming Merv Griffin Show, Los Angeles (aired October 2, 1981)
9th October - Good Morning America Interview, New York

Mid October - Europe
17th October - Palmares Show, Paris France (Touch Me When We're Dancing)
18th October - Sightseeing only
19th October - Numero Un, Paris, France (Sing, Top Of The World)
20th October - Top Pop and Mies Shows, Amsterdam, Holland

Late October - UK (London)

22nd October - Nationwide Interview with Sue Lawley
24th October - Multi-coloured Swap Shop interview (without Richard), album signing at Harrods Store
25th October - Dinner with Peter & Barbara Knight
(Dates Unknown during UK trip):
- BBC Radio 2 Interview with John Dunn
- BBC Radio London Interview with Tony Blackburn
- Capital Radio Interview with Michael Aspel

Germany
27th-29th Oct - filming Show Express, Germany (Top Of The World, Beechwood 4-5789), sightseeing then return to Paris for connecting flight to Brazil.

Brazil
November 1st - Arrive Brazil
November 2nd - Press interviews
November 3rd - Radio interviews, Generation 80s Show (Close To You, Begun, Back In My Life Again medley), Golden Globe (Touch Me When We're Dancing)
November 4th - Radio interviews, Sao Paulo
November 5th - filming Fantastico Show @ Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil (Touch Me When We're Dancing), Sendas Shopping Mall Concert (Close To You, Back In My Life Again)
November 6th - Press interviews
November 7th - Radio interview/appearance, depart Brazil

Carpenters, Touch Me When We're Dancing, 1981 Live, Dutch TV
 
Last edited:

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
It would seem this was her last televised performance singing live. This and the Julio Iglesias appearance were only a day apart. All TV performances subsequent to this were lip-synched. As far as I'm aware, the performance at Sherman Oaks school in December 1982 was Karen sitting on stage singing to children over the top of their Christmas Portrait album tracks. Not a recorded performance at all, visual or audio.

I dug out the timeline for the 1981 Made In America promotional tour that I compiled years ago, after researching multiple sources online that detailed their 1981 activities, and thought I'd repost here. I've never heard the BBC Radio London Interview with Tony Blackburn or the Capital Radio Interview with Michael Aspel. Both of these guys were - and still are - very well known and respected broadcasters and presenters in the UK so I'm sure they were great interviews.

This timeline reveals that Karen was on this promotional tour in one unbroken spell, keeping up a relentless schedule, from 17th October to 7th November 1981. Absolutely crazy, considering the state of her health at that point and the fact that this album wasn't even selling all that well.

United States
22nd August - Japanese Telethon, live from Los Angeles
1st September - filming Merv Griffin Show, Los Angeles (aired October 2, 1981)
9th October - Good Morning America Interview, New York

Mid October - Europe
17th October - Palmares Show, Paris France (Touch Me When We're Dancing)
18th October - Sightseeing only
19th October - Numero Un, Paris, France (Sing, Top Of The World)
20th October - Top Pop and Mies Shows, Amsterdam, Holland

Late October - UK (London)

22nd October - Nationwide Interview with Sue Lawley
24th October - Multi-coloured Swap Shop interview (without Richard), album signing at Harrods Store
25th October - Dinner with Peter & Barbara Knight
(Dates Unknown during UK trip):
- BBC Radio 2 Interview with John Dunn
- BBC Radio London Interview with Tony Blackburn
- Capital Radio Interview with Michael Aspel

Germany
27th-29th Oct - filming Show Express, Germany (Top Of The World, Beechwood 4-5789), sightseeing then return to Paris for connecting flight to Brazil.

Brazil
November 1st - Arrive Brazil
November 2nd - Press interviews
November 3rd - Radio interviews, Generation 80s Show (Close To You, Begun, Back In My Life Again medley), Golden Globe (Touch Me When We're Dancing)
November 4th - Radio interviews, Sao Paulo
November 5th - filming Fantastico Show @ Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil (Touch Me When We're Dancing), Sendas Shopping Mall Concert (Close To You, Back In My Life Again)
November 6th - Press interviews
November 7th - Radio interview/appearance, depart Brazil

Carpenters, Touch Me When We're Dancing, 1981 Live, Dutch TV
Has video ever surfaced of them on Julio's show?
 
Top Bottom