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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. ****

    16 vote(s)
  3. ***

    30 vote(s)
  4. **

    22 vote(s)
  5. *

    3 vote(s)
  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Newvillefan, I watched the 40th DVD a couple of days ago, along with the audio commentary provided by Richard Carpenter.
    Certainly, I agree Karen looks different in each song, but Richard does 'say' they were filmed on the same day.
    However, I will take another listen to the commentary, maybe I missed something!
  2. Joeyesterday

    Joeyesterday Active Member

    I was just listening to Casey's AT 40 the 70's. it was from Sept. 1977 and heard Dorothy Moore's original version of "I Believe You". I didn't know this existed and I was listening to radio in the 70's. Pretty good recording, but Carpenters version was better. Makes me wonder what other covers they may have had on their "short list".
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I double-checked the audio commentary by Richard Carpenter on the 40th Gold DVD,
    at the beginning of Touch Me When We're Dancing,
    he states that three songs were filmed on the same day.
    (Touch Me When We're Dancing, Those Good Old Dreams and Beechwood 4-5789).
  4. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    For some reason I had the song "When You've Got What it Takes" in my head today. Hadn't listened to it in a long time; now I remember why. It's a great song and Karen sings it believably/beautifully. But it makes me wish she had really felt that way about herself, as we now know she had such low self esteem. :cry:
    A&M Retro, GaryAlan and Jeff like this.
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I really am torn with how to hammer out an accurate opinion regarding this album.
    If memory serves, Richard Carpenter had to prune their CSULB performance in (December 1978)
    due to his inability to carry through with the songs (at the time, he says, he blamed others for this).
    And, even though Richard Carpenter states that his time (in early 1979) for detox was
    relatively short, he still took all of 1979 off.
    So, from the time of the last Richard Carpenter/John Bettis composition (early 1976: "I Need To Be In Love")
    until Made In America , where we finally get "Those Good Old Dreams" and "Because We Are In Love",
    why, oh why,
    (given the stated observation (by both) that Karen Carpenter had "The Voice of a Generation")
    was not more time spent on creating new songs for Karen to sing?
    If, as we now read and hear, both men, Richard and John, considered Karen Carpenter to be the
    greatest vocalist of her time, why did they not offer up many, many more songs?
    (Of course, we do have At the End of A Song, You're Enough, and--- Look To Your Dreams --the last written 1974).
    But,from 1976 ,1977, 1978, 1979, 1980......seems as if Karen Carpenter
    could have precipitated a much more expansive selection of Carpenter/Bettis compositions.
    Oh well, again, I may be the only one with this viewpoint.
  6. FreddieB

    FreddieB Member

    I did a little bit of research and found that this album went to number 12 in the UK and it was awarded a Silver certification. Maybe this is why Ray Coleman gave it such praise in his book. I had this on again today, so many of the songs just seem to relate to what happened a short while after it was made. Good album!!!

  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Also, in the UK, it was on the charts for 10 weeks.
    Promotional appearances definitely help the success of an album.
    I recall scant appearances in the USA to give the album the impetus it needed.
    (The syndicated Merv Griffin Show, Oct.2,1981 ,
    and the ABC interview , August 10,1981, are the only two television appearances that spring to mind.
    And, the Merv Griffin show , edited out the performance of "Those Good Old Dreams"--if memory serves correct.)
  8. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Made in America did make #12 in the UK (as did Passage, although they hadn't done any personal promotion in the UK for that album like they did for Made in America) - their fall-off on the album charts wasn't so steep in the UK as in the US. However, it only lasted 10 weeks on the Top 75 and all three of its singles ('Touch Me When We're Dancing', 'Those Good Old Dreams' and 'Beechwood') failed to chart. To put it into some context, A Kind of Hush made #3 (with two charting singles) and Voice of the Heart made #6 (with one charting single) - the latter lasted twice as long on the charts as Made in America. So, it wasn't a disaster of a commercial performance, but it was still slightly below par compared to their usual UK chart performance around that time.
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I really try to like "I Believe you".
    Gave it a whirl yesterday.
    But, to no avail.
    This song does nothing for me.
    I have tried...since 1978...to enjoy this song, but, I
    find the arrangement (to my tastes) dull (except Larrie Londin on drums).
    Yes, Karen sings the song beautifully. Can't ever argue with that.
    But, the arrangement, as a whole,
    and the (mis-) overdubbed background vocals are not to my liking.
    So , sorry, Richard Carpenter, but I just don't see it.(or, rather, hear it) .
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2014
    A&Mguyfromwayback likes this.
  10. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I listened to 'Made In America' and 'A Kind Of Hush' this week to see if my overall opinion has changed. It hasn't. While I liked both albums very much upon their release, they haven't held up as well as others have through the years.

    'A Kind Of Hush', to me at least, sounds like the moment the Carpenters went from a pop band to an easy listening/'beautiful music' band. The 'edge' was gone both production-wise and performance-wise. 'Passage' was indeed a breath of fresh air, but 'When You've Got What It Takes', 'Somebody's Been Lyin', and 'The Wedding Song' continue the 'beautiful music' trend.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    With hindsight, we might have forgiven Richard the blandness of 'Hush' because he as producer was in such a slump personally at that time. Then a year later, he comes back with an eclectic album that contained gems such as 'B'Wana' and 'Occupants'. This proves he was still capable of producing an album with an edge if he wanted. But then three years later, all refreshed and batteries recharged, we're back to quasi-elevator music again. His seeming insistence on syrupy love songs and sleeper tracks got worse towards the end, not better. Even the song 'Now', for all its beauty, is not what they should have been recording by that time. I think something contemporary for the early 1980s or more left of field like a jazz/duets/standards album would have given them a much needed boost. Something to confound and surprise the critics and garner them some new fans. But no - from interviews with them even as late as 1981, Richard makes it very clear he's not interested in doing anything 'outside the box' and that it's business as usual. I have always said - and still firmly believe - that had Karen lived beyond 1983, they would have ended up as one of those acts that used to be great, one that still releases albums which don't chart but sell enough to keep them treading water. And that would have been the biggest disservice to Karen of them all.

    Here's a question. If Karen had lived and they'd become what I describe above, what would have happened to them as an act? With Herb and Jerry around, A&M would never have dropped them but what about when A&M was sold in 1990 - with Herb gone, would Universal have been so kind to them? Most labels nowadays will drop an artist after one or two albums if they don't sell well enough to chart consistently.
    A&M Retro and byline like this.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Labels will drop you now if a single fails. You won't even get the chance to see the album it came from get released. Karen and Richard likely would have been dropped by A&M at some point and picked up by a smaller label with lower sales expectations.

  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I must say, lately I've felt somewhat guilty regarding my negative commentary regarding this album.
    After all, I still hold Richard Carpenter responsible for creating some of the finest pop music of the modern pop era.
    Even so, after, yet, another complete listen to this album I come away from the experience with (still) waning enthusiasm.
    Oh, how I try! I really do!
    There are some shining moments, to be sure:
    Four of those moments being--
    1). Touch Me When We're Dancing (Drums and Tenor Sax are excellent, Great Song),
    2). When It's Gone
    ( Great Arrangement over-all, and nice use of Steel Guitar),
    3). When You've Got What it Takes (
    Traditional Overdubbed harmonies are excellent, drums at just the right mix)
    4). Strength of A Woman (over-all very good arrangement, excellent drums)

    I tend to some distracting moments ( for me ):
    As much as I love Those Good Old Dreams, I feel the drums are too far back in the mix and the instrumental bridge needs to be strengthened somewhat.
    As much as I love Strength of A Woman, that flute/oboe in the very beginning is just too soft for such a powerful tune, cymbals could have been utilized
    to better effect.
    As much as I love Back In My Life Again, Ron Tutt's drumming almost takes over the entire arrangement, with Karen's vocals too far back in the mix.
    As much as I love When You've Got What It Takes, again, too much flute beginning and ending the tune, simply doesn't give enough of a boost, mix louder trumpets.
    Somebody's Been Lying, this is a tough one: I love the song, but it should be more sparse in it's arrangement, and the piano near the end should have
    been 'the end'...instead, the song drags on with the overblown strings and flute/oboe at the very end.
    Excellent drums on I Believe You (Larrie Londin, again), but, otherwise I give up on the arrangement over-all.
    And, I do not know what to think of Because We Are In Love: Half the song I like, half the song I hate. Not much else I can say on that one!

    Well, my sole reason for this posting is to flesh out the good and the not so good, as far as I can hear on this album.
    I do not want to unfairly criticize Richard Carpenter, because he really did create some superb music, and I do not want to forget that!

    Chris Mills likes this.
  14. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    MIA was produced with one sole aim, to prove to the music world, Carpenters were up and running on all four cylinders, but it failed miserably. No one bought this false kind of image anymore, it was all just too wholesome, we wanted a bit of grit from the duo, they were capable of recording an album to make you feel energised, but played safe by sticking to the formula......and everyone yawned.
    goodjeans likes this.
  15. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    I'm really surprised that I'm the (almost) sole defender of MIA. I totally appreciate what all you guys say, I understand where you're all coming from, but I'm still surprised.

    I re-listened to the whole album again the other day, thinking I may have sub-consciously been defending something due to it being their final work together. I mean, we all wanted them to go out on high, right?

    But, no, I objectively stand by most of the material on there.

    I do feel that Somebody's been Lyin and Because We Are in Love., relatively speaking, are poison. And unfortunately together they make up a 1/4 of the album. I also think Strength of a Woman is bad. . . .it's strange, it really isn't that far from Touch Me, but the latter nails it and the former. . .sheesh. Sorry guys, I know a few of you like "Strength".

    I Believe You also doesn't fit. . .Paul Riser just doesn't gel with Richard's arrangements. I like the song, just not on this album.

    So that leaves us with 6 tracks. My opinions vary from adore to like on each. I can't say that about 6 songs on some of their other albums.

    BUT. . . I agree that the album needs more material that showcases the yearning/melancholia that was the best part of Karen. As is, we have When It's Gone and, in a different way, TGOD (a conversational and scarily autobiographical reading from Karen. . .both in lyric and in ironic delivery of those hopeful words.) When it's used in "Lyin'" and "Because" it doesn't hit because the songs don't hit.

    Of course. . . .we have those yearning songs. For me. . .Uninvited Guest and At The End of a Song (sans choir) slip into the "Strength" and "Believe" gaps. And Rainbow Connection screams to be "The Wedding Song". "Kiss Me" was the 3rd single, that never was, from the album (to replace TGOD). I love the BG vocals as we hear them on Lovelines. . .but imagine if Karen had been around to record her parts. . .that would have been a great single.

    Maybe this is why MIA is such a dilemma. . . . .with all the other albums we have NO outtakes. . .or very few.

    HORIZON. . . .1. . . .Trying to Get the feeling"
    KOH. . . . . .. . . . .1. . . Ordinary Fool
    PASSAGE. . . . . . 2. . . You're The One, and Sailing on the tide

    BUT with MIA we have 8. In effect I look at the tracks recorded in 1980, all 17 that we've heard, and pick the best 10(to me). I use this album as my barometer of where Richard and Karen were in mid-80 (excusing the fact that Richard orchestrated those additional 8 in 83 and 89). Personally, I think it's some of their most powerful stuff since Now and Then.

    WOW, I really rambled. To those that got though it. . . .cheers.

    Neil (never to talk about MIA again).
    A&M Retro, Jeff, aaflyer98 and 2 others like this.
  16. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    I love the Made In America album for many reasons, as I have stated here before. After the long radio drought the Carpenters were back in the air! I love "Touch Me When We're Dancing" and thankfully that song gave the Carpenters a top 20 hit after 4 years of no AirPlay other than Christmas music. That is something I am very grateful for. "When It's Gone (It's Just Gone") is by far one of the duos best recordings ever. Single wise, I was hoping for Strength Of A Woman at the time as the follow up single to Touch Me. Weak points for me were Beachwood and The Wedding Song. But I cherish this album and always will. So Neal, and anyone else, feel free to talk about Made In America all you want!
    Jamesj75, Jeff and Mark-T like this.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    This quote taken from the book:
    Burt Bacharach: Song by Song: The Ultimate Burt Bacharach 2003
    Page 263, Google Books Preview:

    "Somebody's Been Lying"
    "...The built-in heart-ache in Karen's calm low register is all the sales pitch this song requires.
    Richard, back at full strength, outdoes himself with a stylish orchestral arrangement in the vein of
    Nelson Riddle..and an a cappella section where the double-tracked siblings sound like the Four Freshmen."
    Chris Mills and song4u like this.
  18. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    Yea,Burt was spot-on about "Somebody's Been Lyin". Karen's exquisite vocal,Richard's dazzling arrangement,Peter Knight's lush orchestration and those overdubbed vocals-the best track on MIA,next to "I Believe You".
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I actually listened to the song this morning, it is one of the very best.
    In fact, I thought about my previous post, wherin I was a bit harsh regarding Richard's arrangement on the song.
    I really think Richard 'hit the ball out of the ballpark' with this song's arrangement. (Is that a harp at the very end?).
    And, of course, Karen's reading is timeless.
  20. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Actually Gary, Knight arranged and orchestrated "Lyin'". Richard did the vocal arrangement and nothing else.
  21. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Always been a bit confused by Karen's vocal interpretation on "Somebody's Been Lyin". Can't make up my mind if it's sensual or whimpering. But a great song regardless of my opinion.
  22. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

  23. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    ^^^ Which is what makes it so good!
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I did not have source material handy, but I am glad you pointed that out.
    Much appreciated, as I strive for an accurate appreciation of who did what on the songs.
    And, just this morning, anew,
    I was wondering about the various songs that Billy May and/or Peter Knight, Paul Riser,
    played a part in; that is, with respect to arrangements and orchestrations.
    If you notice, various liner notes on various cd compilations when/if compared to credits on
    vinyl/album sleeves, give varying degrees of credit.
    Thus, I do, indeed, get confused!
  25. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know what happen to the Carpenters performance of "Those Good Old Dreams" that the Carpenters performed on The Merv Griffin Show in 1981?

    The fan club newsletter Spring/Summer 1994 says they
    performed this song.

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