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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 14.9%
  • ****

    Votes: 21 22.3%
  • ***

    Votes: 33 35.1%
  • **

    Votes: 22 23.4%
  • *

    Votes: 4 4.3%

  • Total voters
    94

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, as many here are aware, one of my favorites off the album is
Because We Are In Love....I love how karen's vocal weaves in and out of the song.
That being said, it is another off of this album that I have completely re-arranged in my head.
I have it as a "cold" start (as with Goodbye To Love): "Children, it was more fun to be children..."
The instrumental break--I shorten it while omitting the later choir (at 4:15).
Lots of other little things I would like to do.
But, it is a wedding song, so I understand why Richard went the way he did with the arrangement--
but, I would arrange it to be less show-tuney and more "pop."
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I wish I could love When It’s Gone like you guys do. It’s my least favorite of all. I do like Somebody’s Been Lying as a favorite and most of you don’t.
I’m a big fan of it, I love how there’s darkness intertwined with the grandness of the sound and the lyric is intriguing and thought-provoking. No, it doesn’t have the “guts” of an early era track but I think it’s a compelling arrangement and I do really like the orchestral flourish at the end; it’s like that’s part of the fantasy Karen desires but it ends with the strings(?) skipping around at the end like they did at the beginning, mirroring a partner tip toeing around the truth as quietly as possible.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I’m a big fan of it, I love how there’s darkness intertwined with the grandness of the sound and the lyric is intriguing and thought-provoking. No, it doesn’t have the “guts” of an early era track but I think it’s a compelling arrangement and I do really like the orchestral flourish at the end; it’s like that’s part of the fantasy Karen desires but it ends with the strings(?) skipping around at the end like they did at the beginning, mirroring a partner tip toeing around the truth as quietly as possible.
I like from the middle to the end. The song is too long and it drags on and on and on. Same arrangement throughout. It’s just boring to me. When It’s Gone I’m glad it’s over. It’s the only song that I feel that way. I’ll try to take another listen just to see if I can see any of the stuff people like in it. Honestly, I was shocked when I found out people like it. I’m glad people enjoy it for the Carpenters are high up on my scale of good music and anything people enjoy excites me.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I like from the middle to the end. The song is too long and it drags on and on and on. Same arrangement throughout. It’s just boring to me. When It’s Gone I’m glad it’s over. It’s the only song that I feel that way. I’ll try to take another listen just to see if I can see any of the stuff people like in it. Honestly, I was shocked when I found out people like it. I’m glad people enjoy it for the Carpenters are high up on my scale of good music and anything people enjoy excites me.
It’s one of those Carpenter songs where it’s length and pacing feels justified because it feels like it tells the outline of a full story/journey through the lyric and music. It works for me.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
When It's Gone....this is an oddly-structured song, not the usual structure for a "pop" song.
There is no lengthy instrumental bridge, for example, between stanzas. There are no background vocals.
Also, the instrumental startup is about 20 seconds long--then Karen begins.
There is a lot happening, arrangement-wise, in the song, though: steel/pedal guitars, for instance
But, the drums--or at least the drum beat--is sorta hidden underneath the song (except at 1:23 and again at 2:38),
the congas (?) begin (after 1:23) in earnest.
Because of its structure, I can see how the song would not appeal to everyone.
Karen, however, sings the entire song beautifully.



Lyrics:
Where's the word for the sadness
Where's the poetry in the pain
Where's the color in the stain where the tears fallen
It's gone, it's just gone.

Where's the method to this madness
As we create the suffering
And we do each other in and we still hold on
But it's gone, it's just gone

[Bridge:]
He says it's gone
And he can't go on living a memory
Mulling it over endlessly
Whey is that so hear for me to see
He says it's gone
And he can't go on trying to live a lie
And when he cries, I know it's over
But I may never know why.

There's no face in the locket
There's no play for the past
I'll put it back in my pocket
It was never meant to last
It's just gone.

[repeat bridge]

There's no word for the sadness
There's no poetry in the pain
There's no color in the stain where the tears have fallen
It's gone, it's just gone
It's gone, it's just gone
Well, it's gone
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^ Gee, Stephen, I either forgot about your previous assessment of the song--or, I did not read that post.
In any event, you are quite right in your description !
Another thing I noticed, the instrumental start of Those Good Old Dreams is also 20 seconds long,
and sorta has the same general sound as When It's Gone (analogous, but not exactly the same).
There may be more similarities, but I have not compared the two songs side-to-side, lately.
 
I will give my own opinion regarding ''When It's Gone'':
Richard's arrangement is really tender and subtle, explosive only in very few moments (when going to the 'B' section), most of the time is 'subdued'.
Like GaryAlan and newvillefan say, the song's structure is unusual, and even the so-called chorus is not as extrovert as most chorus are.
Also, there's no background vocals, solo Karen.
A side-point: I never thought the 'B' sections of the song to be a chorus, but more of a bridge between the verses. Like I said, it certainly doesn't sound like your typical chorus, even though it does have a bit of more pronounced rhythm due to the percussion making an appearance.
Perhaps it's very atypical structure and arrangement is what makes it to stand-out for me. I do like the ending instrumental section, it doesn't drag like other songs of this album like ''Somebody's Been Lyin''', and hearing all the embellishments each instrument play on this last section is just beautiful. Somebody mentioned in another thread the chime-like 6-notes (I think it's a vibraphone or glockenspiel) starting at around 4:26 (4:29 in the video I posted); that's what I mean with subtle touches that make the song that beautiful.


I think the songs in this album could benefit by bringing the vocals a bit up and reducing the reverb slightly. I also think that several songs had their pitch altered to be a bit up, but I feel they overdid it (Those Good Old Dreams is 3/4 of a semitone up for example), hence making Karen sound somewhat tinny in her timbre. I have lowered the pitch on the songs I have posted of the album.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I will go on record as saying that my favorite song from this album is....
Strength of a Woman.

In any event, this has been my listening "album of the week."
Okay, I'll say it...the album has some interesting things going on.
Most of the songs have bits-and-pieces that intrigue me (example: I do not really like the arrangement for the song
When You've Got What It Takes-- hate the first 12 seconds of it and it should end at 3:13,
but the parts that include background harmonies are great).
Touch Me When We're Dancing sounds incredible on the RPO album.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I will go on record as saying that my favorite song from this album is....
Strength of a Woman.

In any event, this has been my listening "album of the week."
Okay, I'll say it...the album has some interesting things going on.
Most of the songs have bits-and-pieces that intrigue me (example: I do not really like the arrangement for the song
When You've Got What It Takes-- hate the first 12 seconds of it and it should end at 3:13,
but the parts that include background harmonies are great).
Touch Me When We're Dancing sounds incredible on the RPO album.
I love this! Both "When It's Gone" and "Strength of a Woman" are two of my favorites off this album. In fact, both songs are in my "Top 21" of all their songs!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
By the way, we all remember the August 22, 1981 japanese telehon on A&M records lot ?
The Carpenters' fan club newsletter (#71) reports a temperature of 102 F,
but, the best record I have located places the temperature nearer 91 F,
so--that explains the decision to lip-sync, I suppose !
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I will give my own opinion regarding ''When It's Gone'':
Richard's arrangement is really tender and subtle, explosive only in very few moments (when going to the 'B' section), most of the time is 'subdued'.
Like GaryAlan and newvillefan say, the song's structure is unusual, and even the so-called chorus is not as extrovert as most chorus are.
Also, there's no background vocals, solo Karen.
A side-point: I never thought the 'B' sections of the song to be a chorus, but more of a bridge between the verses. Like I said, it certainly doesn't sound like your typical chorus, even though it does have a bit of more pronounced rhythm due to the percussion making an appearance.
Perhaps it's very atypical structure and arrangement is what makes it to stand-out for me. I do like the ending instrumental section, it doesn't drag like other songs of this album like ''Somebody's Been Lyin''', and hearing all the embellishments each instrument play on this last section is just beautiful. Somebody mentioned in another thread the chime-like 6-notes (I think it's a vibraphone or glockenspiel) starting at around 4:26 (4:29 in the video I posted); that's what I mean with subtle touches that make the song that beautiful.


I think the songs in this album could benefit by bringing the vocals a bit up and reducing the reverb slightly. I also think that several songs had their pitch altered to be a bit up, but I feel they overdid it (Those Good Old Dreams is 3/4 of a semitone up for example), hence making Karen sound somewhat tinny in her timbre. I have lowered the pitch on the songs I have posted of the album.
Agreed. On most of "MIA", Karen sounds like a part of the production, not its star. She was what we were listening for, by and large, and Richard didn't treat her like she was on this album. That along with the really weak song selection, bizarre arrangements at times, and over-production killed the album for me almost entirely.

Ed
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I listened to Chris Christian's original of Want You Back In My Life Again,
then compared it to Carpenters' version. IMHO Carpenters' arrangement is superior,
that being said--Karen's lead vocal sure seems buried in the mix.
Also, IMHO the song is not a particularly good choice.
However, it is sorta "catchy."
I actually like the cover Beechwood 4-5789 much better !
I simply feel neither of these two songs is "single-worthy."
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Here's Chris version of "Back in My Life Again".


In respectful disagreement, I have to say I think Chris' is better, though it's not good. It's not really a case of Richard either unearthing a diamond in the rough or Richard hearing something that was perfectly good already and blowing it. Carpenters' version is pretty terrible and over-produced. His inability to sound current hurt the tune and his insistence on orchestration cheeses things out completely. Karen sounds fine on it but it's hardly a vehicle for her; she's just part of the production and not a very big part of it either. When one has a vocalist of Karen's caliber at their disposal, that approach is bordering on criminal, IMHO. I think there is a decent song here but neither Chris nor Richard got there, though Chris got closer.

It is somewhat interesting to note that Richard added lyrics in the first verse and the way he went about elongating the tune. To prove that even the worst of Richard's arrangements offer something, I do like the way the tune ends. Very unusual and it works well.

Ed
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Thanks, Ed.
I certainly recalled your view on this song--that is one of the reasons I gave it another listen this morning (both versions).
It is interesting how we have different takes on those two versions:
I felt Chris Christian sounded like an unfinished Karaoke track, or a demo;
whereas, Carpenters' version gave it more than enough pizzazz.
So, even after listening to the two versions, again, early this morning, I was unable to gravitate to enjoying Chris Christian's version !
Another aspect of the song, Karen is singing in a higher key for most of the song.
I like it when Karen sings "meeeee....ooooooh..." (2:08-2:14). The ending is really nice.
So, I listened again...and again...and it is an infectious (pardon the word) song !
Ultimately, I like Carpenters' version.
 
Ooh, ''(Want You) Back In My Life Again'' has been growing on me for the past months, and it is a pretty underrated tune. Yeah, probably they're trying a bit too hard, but it is a really catchy tune, and the arrangement is pretty fun and it does make me want to dance a bit (and I don't like dancing, very rarely I have done so).
Here's a special mix I did, pitch tuning it down slightly, reducing the overall reverb and boosting the vocals. It's not perfect, but it's what I can do with what it's available.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Ooh, ''(Want You) Back In My Life Again'' has been growing on me for the past months, and it is a pretty underrated tune. Yeah, probably they're trying a bit too hard, but it is a really catchy tune, and the arrangement is pretty fun and it does make me want to dance a bit (and I don't like dancing, very rarely I have done so).
Here's a special mix I did, pitch tuning it down slightly, reducing the overall reverb and boosting the vocals. It's not perfect, but it's what I can do with what it's available.
This is definite improvement. At least it places Karen further forward (the whole album should have been this way). The whole tune sounds less smothered. You can't get the "double" off of Karen's vocal, of course, and it's just totally unnecessary. I think a single vocal would have been fine throughout. Just my take. 'Course, for me, this doesn't help the weakness of the arrangement. You nailed it when it says it tries too hard. Then, in the same breath, it undermines itself with strings it doesn't need. I just feel it's overproduced. Never a dull moment, really.

Ed
 
This is definite improvement. At least it places Karen further forward (the whole album should have been this way). The whole tune sounds less smothered. You can't get the "double" off of Karen's vocal, of course, and it's just totally unnecessary. I think a single vocal would have been fine throughout. Just my take. 'Course, for me, this doesn't help the weakness of the arrangement. You nailed it when it says it tries too hard. Then, in the same breath, it undermines itself with strings it doesn't need. I just feel it's overproduced. Never a dull moment, really.

Ed
Yeah, probably double-tracked Karen in verses was not a good idea; on the choruses do work but sounds a bit odd on the rest. I do dig the strings harmonic accompaniment that complements the other instruments lines, but yeah it is a little too in-your-face; I did tried to subdue it here. It is still a fun listening despite the somewhat overproduction of the track. I really dig it.

I feel that due to the strings being used that prominently in every song of this album, pretty much each one tend to sound the same, kind of like blending one another. Even the uptempo ones have it in the foreground like ''(Want You)...'' or ''Beechwood...''. I'm trying to think on the uptempo songs of their past and how prominent the strings were, such as Mr. Postman, which, has them, but not that up-front even in their loudest parts.
 

cam89

Active Member
I listened to Chris Christian's original of Want You Back In My Life Again,
then compared it to Carpenters' version. IMHO Carpenters' arrangement is superior,
that being said--Karen's lead vocal sure seems buried in the mix.
Also, IMHO the song is not a particularly good choice.
However, it is sorta "catchy."
I actually like the cover Beechwood 4-5789 much better !
I simply feel neither of these two songs is "single-worthy."
Chris Christian's wife also battled anorexia and she wrote in her book that she saw Karen with her mother, I believe at Hamburger Hamlet right before she died....Chris Christian also dusted with Debby and Cherry Boone along with Laura and Lindy Boone on their album....
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I located a definition of "concertmaster" :
"The concertmaster leads the orchestra in its tuning prior to the concert, and customarily plays all of the violin solos within pieces.
In addition, the concertmaster marks the orchestra’s scores with the appropriate bowings –
so all the violinists are moving and playing in unison."

On this album, we have two concertmasters who appear on the ten selections:
Jimmy Getzoff (eight songs) and Jerry Vinci (two songs: Somebody's Been Lyin' and Because We Are In Love).

For a comparison, on
Voice of the Heart album, Jimmy Getzoff is concertmaster for "Look To Your Dreams." (one of my all-time favorites).

Made In America was my go-to-album for the week.
I gave it more than one spin and tried to listen with open ears.
I have to say, the album grows on me.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I located a definition of "concertmaster" :
"The concertmaster leads the orchestra in its tuning prior to the concert, and customarily plays all of the violin solos within pieces.
In addition, the concertmaster marks the orchestra’s scores with the appropriate bowings –
so all the violinists are moving and playing in unison."

On this album, we have two concertmasters who appear on the ten selections:
Jimmy Getzoff (eight songs) and Jerry Vinci (two songs: Somebody's Been Lyin' and Because We Are In Love).

For a comparison, on
Voice of the Heart album, Jimmy Getzoff is concertmaster for "Look To Your Dreams." (one of my all-time favorites).
Again...great minds! Until I looked it up I hadn’t know what a concertmaster was either, even though I’d seen many orchestral concerts and witnessed the first violinist lead the orchestra before the introduction of the orchestrator.

RARE / INTERESTING STUFF.
 
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