• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 13.3%
  • ****

    Votes: 24 22.9%
  • ***

    Votes: 40 38.1%
  • **

    Votes: 22 21.0%
  • *

    Votes: 5 4.8%

  • Total voters
    105

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
^^Contrariwise, I am a big fan of the album Lovelines.
Now, I re-listened yesterday to
Somebody's Been Lyin'
and, I must say, this is an underrated gem (imho).
Karen's nuances are incredible. The song is mature.
It is a rather interesting Carpenters' interpretation.
In short, I love it.
I would love this entire album if the sibilance were fixed--including "Somebody's Been Lyin'." I don't think the song is bad by any means, and Karen's rendition is not bad by any means. On the contrary, I think is has the potential to be stellar, if these little sonic oddities were fixed. (And the sibilance issue is not just on "Somebody's Been Lyin'"--I was listening to "When You've Got What It Takes" and "Because We Are in Love" and I hear the sibilance there as well. They're all great songs imho, just not done justice in the engineering.)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Hi all,,

Listening to my flat-sided "MIA" disc. Last two tracks are unreadable; my computer is currently working diligently to keep scanning the damaged parts to rip the music.

Thankfully, tracks 1-8 are still intact (the damaged errors start on track 7), which means that at least all of A side was totally salvageable! (Yay!)

Although Karen's S sounds on "Somebody's Been Lyin'" still sound a little broken/fractured, I have to say that the sound is very, very balanced on this CD. Some subsequent "MIA" releases sound very heavy on the treble or heavy on the bass (or both). This mid-1980s CD release may end up sounding devoid of bass to someone who has suboptimal speakers or headphones, but someone who has a higher-end setup would be very pleased to listen to this album. Imho, the 1980s CD release does this album the most justice (although sorry, "Those Good Old Dreams" is the single version here, not the original LP version).
 

Jorge

Well-Known Member
^^Contrariwise, I am a big fan of the album Lovelines.
Now, I re-listened yesterday to
Somebody's Been Lyin'
and, I must say, this is an underrated gem (imho).
Karen's nuances are incredible. The song is mature.
It is a rather interesting Carpenters' interpretation.
In short, I love it.
That song is great. It is the arrangement that spoils the whole song in my opinion. Listen to Carole Bayer Sager, so much better.

Of course Richard had to go over the top. I like Made in America, well, because it is the Carpenters. But it is such a lame album. If A&M thought Karen Carpenter album was unfit to be released, I don't know what were they thinking giving green light to MIA.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^I respect differing opinions...be that as it may....
Carpenters' version of the song is far and away better,
Karen nails the vocals with perfection.
Richard's arrangement does justice to the song.
Oh well, my two cents worth.
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Hi all,,

Listening to my flat-sided "MIA" disc. Last two tracks are unreadable; my computer is currently working diligently to keep scanning the damaged parts to rip the music.

Thankfully, tracks 1-8 are still intact (the damaged errors start on track 7), which means that at least all of A side was totally salvageable! (Yay!)

Although Karen's S sounds on "Somebody's Been Lyin'" still sound a little broken/fractured, I have to say that the sound is very, very balanced on this CD. Some subsequent "MIA" releases sound very heavy on the treble or heavy on the bass (or both). This mid-1980s CD release may end up sounding devoid of bass to someone who has suboptimal speakers or headphones, but someone who has a higher-end setup would be very pleased to listen to this album. Imho, the 1980s CD release does this album the most justice (although sorry, "Those Good Old Dreams" is the single version here, not the original LP version).
She sings very quietly on MIA. Could it be she was so close to the mic it picked up more sound from the “S” sounds? I think I’ve read that she sang very close to the mic.
 

Jorge

Well-Known Member
^^I respect differing opinions...be that as it may....
Carpenters' version of the song is far and away better,
Karen nails the vocals with perfection.
Richard's arrangement does justice to the song.
Oh well, my two cents worth.
Absolutely, Karen always nailed every song. I am just talking about the simplicity of the first arrangement. I can see this song getting airplay with a simpler arrangement in 1981. But the way it was delivered to us, no way.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Interestingly enough, in one of the 1981 interviews, Richard did say that this was one of the songs
that was an "album cut," he loved it yet emphasized it was never going to be a single.
Listen here (5:05, "an excellent tune but not a single."):
 

John Adam

"A House Is Not A Home"
Absolutely, Karen always nailed every song. I am just talking about the simplicity of the first arrangement. I can see this song getting airplay with a simpler arrangement in 1981. But the way it was delivered to us, no way.

Karen is a better singer than Carol, but I like the simplicity of her version. It "kind of" of compares to the solo version of Make Believe It's Your First Time. Sometimes simple is better when a song can carry the weight on it's own, with just a great vocal.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
That song is great. It is the arrangement that spoils the whole song in my opinion. Listen to Carole Bayer Sager, so much better.

Of course Richard had to go over the top. I like Made in America, well, because it is the Carpenters. But it is such a lame album. If A&M thought Karen Carpenter album was unfit to be released, I don't know what were they thinking giving green light to MIA.

Carole isn't a singer and this kinda proves it. She was very wise to hand her tunes to others. Still, this arrangement is light years better than MIA's, IMHO. As is the case with everything on MIA, Richard over-produces to - kind of like a kinder, gentler, and less hip Jim Steinman. If we could get Karen's vocal on this arrangement, then we'd have ourselves a track.

Ed
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I really like Carpenters' version of 'Somebody's Been Lying'. I really like Richard's arrangement and orchestration, and the background vocals that he arranged are heavenly.

Carole's version shows that the song could have worked with a more simple arrangement, but her arrangement doesn't quite work, even if you take out the terrible outdated synths, half way through. Richard takes the song to another level, not only with his arrangements, but by adding a few chord changes that take the song from quite a pleasant, simple but fairly ordinary song to something special.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I never knew that "Somebody's Been Lying" was such a polemic song. I have nothing against the instrumentation or arrangement or the performance, personally speaking. For me, it's the odd sibilance that diminishes the listening experience to me.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I never knew that "Somebody's Been Lying" was such a polemic song. I have nothing against the instrumentation or arrangement or the performance, personally speaking. For me, it's the odd sibilance that diminishes the listening experience to me.

For me, "polemic" might be a bit strong a word to use to describe this song lyrically, but...this is one of those rare Carpenters songs I actually don't care for. For me, Karen's voice sounds weak and a bit unsure of how to approach this song. Richard's arrangement doesn't frame the emotional context of the song well; in my view it clashes in stark contrast to the lyrics of the song.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
For me, "polemic" might be a bit strong a word to use to describe this song lyrically, but...this is one of those rare Carpenters songs I actually don't care for. For me, Karen's voice sounds weak and a bit unsure of how to approach this song. Richard's arrangement doesn't frame the emotional context of the song well; in my view it clashes in stark contrast to the lyrics of the song.

Agreed totally. It's one of the rare times they both just miss. Alll of their outright misses for me were recorded during the period. "The Rainbow Connection" is a total whiff for me because neither Karen nor Richard understand the song and what made it work. Kermit's version is definitive and when others try it, it nearly always falls flat. It really was written for Kermit and it's not a tune that anyone else should be covering. "(Want You) Back in My Life Again" is nearly awful because Richard just doesn't do trendy and cool well. Add to that a very weak and detached-sounding Karen and you've got a near-train wreck. The only thing that totally saves it from the bin for me are the background vocal arrangements. Richard rarely misses there.

Ed
 
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Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
For me, Karen's voice sounds weak and a bit unsure of how to approach this song. Richard's arrangement doesn't frame the emotional context of the song well; in my view it clashes in stark contrast to the lyrics of the song.
But you understand, with word choices like this, why I used the word "polemic." I'm quite ambivalent about the song; it's an album filler to me. But others have used the words like "clash" or "overproduced" on the naysayer side, and others have used the word "terrific" or "nailed" on the positive side. My point is that, I just find it interesting that a song that I personally am ambivalent about evokes such strong emotions from others. It's not good or bad, it's just interesting.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
But you understand, with word choices like this, why I used the word "polemic." I'm quite ambivalent about the song; it's an album filler to me. But others have used the words like "clash" or "overproduced" on the naysayer side, and others have used the word "terrific" or "nailed" on the positive side. My point is that, I just find it interesting that a song that I personally am ambivalent about evokes such strong emotions from others. It's not good or bad, it's just interesting.

I think we just view the word "polemic" differently; had I said "this song is a piece of trash that both Karen and Richard f'd up", that'd be polemics :wink: But I was more respectful and nuanced than that, as their work deserves.

Edit for clarity - nor am I saying that the song deserves such harsh language; not my intent. Just paraphrasing for clarity.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
"this song is a piece of trash that both Karen and Richard f'd up", that'd be polemics :wink:
hahaha point well taken! For me, in general, MIA is more of a miss than a hit; I think it's an okay album—not horrible but not terrific (I think the overproduction is a big part of it, and like you said, the detachment in Karen's voice in some parts is a big part as well).

I do like the LP version of "Those Good Old Dreams," and I do think "Touch Me When We're Dancing" was done much better by R&C than Bama. (I think I'm thinking about the "Yesterday Once More" CD, but I've always thought that "For All We Know" fading into "Touch Me When We're Dancing" worked beautifully.)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
But I was more respectful and nuanced than that, as their work deserves.
I'd also like to give you a big shoutout for that as well — it's not so commonplace to find respectful, nuanced discussion online these days. But A&M Corner is generally very different; I've really appreciated the level of respect and candor that forumgoers here conduct themselves with.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I'd also like to give you a big shoutout for that as well — it's not so commonplace to find respectful, nuanced discussion online these days. But A&M Corner is generally very different; I've really appreciated the level of respect and candor that forumgoers here conduct themselves with.

Thanks - much appreciated. I completely agree with you regarding this forum and general decorum. I've been on here for 5+ years and wouldn't be if it was not well moderated and (with very rare exceptions), mutually respectful.

Touch Me When We're Dancing is in my view the 'Belle of the Ball' on MIA; love the song, the closest, in my view, to an "early '80's" sound, i.e.,. not sounding too dated.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Thanks - much appreciated. I completely agree with you regarding this forum and general decorum. I've been on here for 5+ years and wouldn't be if it was not well moderated and (with very rare exceptions), mutually respectful.

Touch Me When We're Dancing is in my view the 'Belle of the Ball' on MIA; love the song, the closest, in my view, to an "early '80's" sound, i.e.,. not sounding too dated.

…and even that is overproduced for me. Never a dull moment. There’s always some flourish of something going on in it. Even in the moments where it’s just the rhythm section, Richard just couldn’t get out of the way and let Karen carry it. The strings age it tremendously. As in most cases. Karen’s vocal and the backing vocals save it. Love the vocal color Carolyn Dennis adds. Also like Tom Scott’s sax solo muchly.

Ed
 

David A

Well-Known Member
…and even that is overproduced for me. Never a dull moment. There’s always some flourish of something going on in it. Even in the moments where it’s just the rhythm section, Richard just couldn’t get out of the way and let Karen carry it. The strings age it tremendously. As in most cases. Karen’s vocal and the backing vocals save it. Love the vocal color Carolyn Dennis adds. Also like Tom Scott’s sax solo muchly.

Ed

I have to agree about the strings; generally speaking, music in the early to mid 80's didn't include much orchestration with strings, flutes, oboes and such - heck, even guitars almost disappeared for a bit (mostly in the new wave stuff)...but I think Touch Me was as close as they got on MIA.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The various opinions are fascinating !
Me and Ed do have one obvious difference where I'll quote him: "There’s always some flourish of something going on in it."
Now, Ed (I am assuming) isn't too keen on those flourishes, whereas in my view those flourishes on MIA give it that little extra something.
Had it not been for all those flourishes, I am afraid I would be less interested in the album.
My real issue with MIA, after all these years, since 1981, hinges on the way Karen's leads are "buried in the mix."
Whether that is accidental (for the time: engineering, mixing or computer issues) or intentional, no one seems to know.
But, I love the orchestration on the album (generally) and Karen expresses herself beautifully (vocals),
Be that as it may, disregarding whether any songs are 'hits or misses',
there seems to be a problem with the way Karen's lead vocals are situated in the mixing.
I do still believe the duo's version of Somebody's Been Lying is far superior to Carole Bayer Sager.
(On the other hand, I agree with Ed on Rainbow Connection).
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
The various opinions are fascinating !
Me and Ed do have one obvious difference where I'll quote him: "There’s always some flourish of something going on in it."
Now, Ed (I am assuming) isn't too keen on those flourishes, whereas in my view those flourishes on MIA give it that little extra something.
Had it not been for all those flourishes, I am afraid I would be less interested in the album.
My real issue with MIA, after all these years, since 1981, hinges on the way Karen's leads are "buried in the mix."
Whether that is accidental (for the time: engineering, mixing or computer issues) or intentional, no one seems to know.
But, I love the orchestration on the album (generally) and Karen expresses herself beautifully (vocals),
Be that as it may, disregarding whether any songs are 'hits or misses',
there seems to be a problem with the way Karen's lead vocals are situated in the mixing.
I do still believe the duo's version of Somebody's Been Lying is far superior to Carole Bayer Sager.
(On the other hand, I agree with Ed on Rainbow Connection).

Back in 81, computers weren’t doing the work as far as mixing. That could only have been a choice…and I agree with you; it was an awful choice. Instead of being the center of the production (as the finest female pop singer who ever lived should be), she’s merely part of the production on MIA. Richard really over-asserted himself on this record and it didn’t go well - neither was the response to the album anything to write home about. He blew it in nearly every conceivable way. Tunes aren’t great, Karen isn’t great on much of it, and the production is just overblown. Easily their worst album for me. Only the vocal arrangements get any of it over for me. Darn that Richard Carpenter vocal ear candy. 😂😂

Ed
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
That song is great. It is the arrangement that spoils the whole song in my opinion. Listen to Carole Bayer Sager, so much better.

Of course Richard had to go over the top. I like Made in America, well, because it is the Carpenters. But it is such a lame album. If A&M thought Karen Carpenter album was unfit to be released, I don't know what were they thinking giving green light

…and even that is overproduced for me. Never a dull moment. There’s always some flourish of something going on in it. Even in the moments where it’s just the rhythm section, Richard just couldn’t get out of the way and let Karen carry it. The strings age it tremendously. As in most cases. Karen’s vocal and the backing vocals save it. Love the vocal color Carolyn Dennis adds. Also like Tom Scott’s sax solo muchly.

Ed
Orchestrated by Peter Knight. Richard shares the burden.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
That song is great. It is the arrangement that spoils the whole song in my opinion. Listen to Carole Bayer Sager, so much better.

Of course Richard had to go over the top. I like Made in America, well, because it is the Carpenters. But it is such a lame album. If A&M thought Karen Carpenter album was unfit to be released, I don't know what were they thinking giving green light to MIA.
I just listened to Carole Bayer Sager's performance. Comparing her voice to Karen's, I would obviously in this case say that Karen's voice is much more pleasing to the ear (the diction, the phrasing). The beat in Carole Bayer Sager's arrangement is also a bit constant; I like that the Carpenters' version slows down at some points, then returns to normal speed.

Pluses in Carole Bayer Sager's version: 1) the song isn't saturated in reverb; 2) the arrangement is simpler—sometimes simpler is nicer.

Neither song nails the ending, imho. Carole Bayer Sager's version could have ended without that flute and been a perfect ending.

In the Carpenters' version, the harp dragging on the ending like 15 seconds was also not necessary. In fact, re-listening to it, the song (with the orchestration) sounds really nice from around 2:12 to around 2:40; after that, it drags. The arrangement is kind of aimless from them to the end. Some flute here, some strings here, a big piano flourish, some harps, then the record ends.
 
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