• 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.
I think will always have a love/hate relationship with Made in America.

Fully understanding that everything I have to say will be met with strong disagreement by someone, somewhere, here are some brief thoughts on each song:
  1. Those Good Old Dreams – I first heard this song when I got my Gold: Greatest Hits DVD and enjoyed the music. Of course, a big plus of this video was seeing all of the childhood photos of Richard and Karen. However, it did make me sad to see Karen emaciated. To this day, I still like this song, even though I'm not usually one for country. (Oddly, Carpenters + slide guitar have always worked for me in a way that it never has for any other artist.) The original LP version (which is heard on "Gold: Greatest Hits") will always be the definitive version for me.
  2. Strength of a Woman – The Carpenters have had little moments of progressive politics, particularly with regard to second-wave feminism (this song, "Man Smart, Woman Smarter"). This song is a nice album filler to me, and the message that "sometimes it takes the strength of a woman to understand the weakness of her man" is much appreciated.
  3. (Want You) Back in My Life Again – This song has always given me the most '80s vibe of any Carpenters. Considering what it was, a product of the early '80s, it's more album filler to me. Points to the Carpenters for using a real drummer and not a beat machine.
  4. When You've Got What It Takes – I've always liked this song (preferably sans chimes). To me, the lyrics of this song represent, again, the confidence and self-assuredness of a woman. It's nice that at least Karen could play the role of a confident woman in the record studio in moments like this song. On earlier CD pressings, and on the LP, the stereo soundstage is so wide, and the lack of peak limiting makes parts of this song sound like Karen and Richard are soaring (just like on the album cover for MIA). The version sans chimes can be found on disc 1 of "Magical Memories of the Carpenters." I've also uploaded it to YouTube here:
  5. Somebody's Been Lyin' – See above. I usually love Richard's lush arrangements. In this case, it sounds like Richard forced himself to push this song to almost 4:30, similar to how a college student may force themselves to write a 20-page paper, even though they can only come up with 10-15 pages of good content.
  6. I Believe You – I know that this song gets included on a lot of compilations; it doesn't do much for me, though. The second half of the song seems to be a variation of the first half; again, it feels like they had about 2:20 of good, original arrangement, then everything after that was recycled.
  7. Touch Me When We're Dancing – Nice, sensuous, sultry single. Although I love the clean open of this album, I have to say, it fits really nicely with "For All We Know" on the YOM compilation, due to them having the same key (G major).
  8. When It's Gone – Karen's voice is buried in this song. Between the reverb and the guitar in both left and right channels, I have a hard time understanding Karen here. Again, the song repeats and pushes five minutes; it doesn't have to be this long imho.
  9. Beechwood 4-5789 – I know some folks on this forum detest this song hehe, but the Carpenters' was the first version I heard (again, on the Gold: Greatest Hits DVD). The music video was very 1981, with the colors and the greenscreening (bluescreening). The song is upbeat, which I appreciate very much. That being said, I can see how others (still) do not appreciate Karen being double-tracked here, and I would concur.
  10. Because We Are in Love (The Wedding Song) – I don't have strong feelings one way or another about this song (again—I recognize that forum members do very often have strong feelings about this song). It's very heavy on the strings and woodwinds and not much else, which is a detracting factor of most of MIA, in my opinion. I could also do without the OK Chorale.
Even as a Carpenters fan, Made in America was my last CD of the studio albums. (I still, to this date, don't have a "Remastered Classics" copy of this CD.) I only got what I consider to be a definitive copy today in the mail, which is an AM+ CD issue. This album has some shining moments; I go back and forth because the production technology is clearly there, but some of the production choices leave me wanting something a little less "shiny."
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Sorry all… I’ve been listening to this AM+ CD and found a few sonic caveats.

There are two parts that have a particular “wobbling” sound. (These are fixed on the digital release on Qobuz, which I believe is sourced from the “Remastered Classics” CD.)

If you have an AM+ CD from the 1980s or the early 1990s, take a listen to “When It’s Gone (It’s Just Gone).” The wobbling starts at around 2:16 and ends at around 2:22.

Another example of this “wobbling” effect is on “Because We Are in Love” at about 4:40, only for a few seconds.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Maybe I'm not sure what you're hearing, but I detect nothing that I would describe as wobbling. Are you talking about the soundstage wobbling right/left, or the pitch of the music wobbling up and down, or the volume of the music wobbling up and down?
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Carole Bayer Sager is much like her contemporary Carole King. Great song writers , so so vocalists. I have 3 of Ms. Sager’s albums, and pretty much everything Carole King has put out, except the very rare Oh Neil single. Love them both, but still better song writers than vocalists.
Favorite Sager song is You’re Moving Out Today. Carole King, Sweet Seasons.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Maybe I'm not sure what you're hearing, but I detect nothing that I would describe as wobbling. Are you talking about the soundstage wobbling right/left, or the pitch of the music wobbling up and down, or the volume of the music wobbling up and down?
I don't know how to quite describe it, but I used the word "wobbling" because in some ways it reminds me of how a record sounds when there's severe warping on one corner and the stylus bounces up and down.

Here's the excerpt from "When It's Gone (It's Just Gone)." Distortion starts at Karen singing "past." To me, it's really strong when Karen sings "back."


Here's the excerpt from "Because We Are in Love." Distortion is mostly heard in the clarinet.


I have to also mention, I didn't hear these as readily in my earbuds; it was actually through my computer speakers that I noticed this wobbling/distortion sound most. This is from a non-damaged CD I received yesterday. The rip log shows zero read errors, jitter errors, zero retry sectors, and zero damaged sectors.

Interested in hearing if others hear what I hear too. (Again, though, I think with the Remastered Classics CD, these distortions were fixed—I never noticed them when I played my Qobuz files.)
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Yes! The Music album is my favorite. I even have the quad version, but it’s not mixed as nice as Carpenters quad albums. It lacks the vocal harmonies that Carpenters have. Rhymes & Reasons is s close second, and personal favorite.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I hear the same things, I think, on the Remastered Classics that I have.
Ooh, I will have to find myself a copy of the "Remastered Classics" CD. I only have the 40th anniversary CD and the digital versions.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
The "wobbling" distortion is fixed/repaired as of the Carpenters 40 release.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
One more question — I don’t want to stir any controversy, but was the theme of “Made in America,” in particular considering “Those Good Old Dreams,” one of only two Carpenter/Bettis originals on the album, related to the “Morning in America”/Reagan win in the 1980 presidential election?

Feel free to ignore this question — I apologize in advance for asking.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
One more question — I don’t want to stir any controversy, but was the theme of “Made in America,” in particular considering “Those Good Old Dreams,” one of only two Carpenter/Bettis originals on the album, related to the “Morning in America”/Reagan win in the 1980 presidential election?

Yes - Karen’s tracksuit was emblazoned with the logo that was related to Reagan’s campaign. I’ve always thought it was the perfect title for the album.
 
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Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Yes - Karen’s tracksuit was emblazoned with the logo that was related to Reagan’s campaign. I’ve always thought it was the perfect title for the album.
Oh really? I never knew that. Do you have any pictures of that? In many ways, I’m not surprised. But I do find it interesting.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Here’s one source, that was related to his re-election:

I know about the “Made in America” movement (and as a Japanese American who has read about Vincent Chin, I find it cringeworthy at best), but I’m curious to see where Karen has this emblazoned on her jacket/suit.
 

John Tkacik

Well-Known Member
Oh really? I never knew that. Do you have any pictures of that? In many ways, I’m not surprised. But I do find it interesting.
Log into the members only "insider" section of the Forum and go to the New Carpenters Photo thread. On the newest page (57), go to entry #1407 on Feb. 19,2021 from Chris Carpenter Collecter. There is a photo from 1981 with Karen wearing the "Made In America" sweatshirt.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Log into the members only "insider" section of the Forum and go to the New Carpenters Photo thread. On the newest page (57), go to entry #1407 on Feb. 19,2021 from Chris Carpenter Collecter. There is a photo from 1981 with Karen wearing the "Made In America" sweatshirt.
How interesting. Thanks for pointing me in that direction!
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
I think will always have a love/hate relationship with Made in America.

Fully understanding that everything I have to say will be met with strong disagreement by someone, somewhere, here are some brief thoughts on each song:
  1. Those Good Old Dreams – I first heard this song when I got my Gold: Greatest Hits DVD and enjoyed the music. Of course, a big plus of this video was seeing all of the childhood photos of Richard and Karen. However, it did make me sad to see Karen emaciated. To this day, I still like this song, even though I'm not usually one for country. (Oddly, Carpenters + slide guitar have always worked for me in a way that it never has for any other artist.) The original LP version (which is heard on "Gold: Greatest Hits") will always be the definitive version for me.
  2. Strength of a Woman – The Carpenters have had little moments of progressive politics, particularly with regard to second-wave feminism (this song, "Man Smart, Woman Smarter"). This song is a nice album filler to me, and the message that "sometimes it takes the strength of a woman to understand the weakness of her man" is much appreciated.
  3. (Want You) Back in My Life Again – This song has always given me the most '80s vibe of any Carpenters. Considering what it was, a product of the early '80s, it's more album filler to me. Points to the Carpenters for using a real drummer and not a beat machine.
  4. When You've Got What It Takes – I've always liked this song (preferably sans chimes). To me, the lyrics of this song represent, again, the confidence and self-assuredness of a woman. It's nice that at least Karen could play the role of a confident woman in the record studio in moments like this song. On earlier CD pressings, and on the LP, the stereo soundstage is so wide, and the lack of peak limiting makes parts of this song sound like Karen and Richard are soaring (just like on the album cover for MIA). The version sans chimes can be found on disc 1 of "Magical Memories of the Carpenters." I've also uploaded it to YouTube here:
  5. Somebody's Been Lyin' – See above. I usually love Richard's lush arrangements. In this case, it sounds like Richard forced himself to push this song to almost 4:30, similar to how a college student may force themselves to write a 20-page paper, even though they can only come up with 10-15 pages of good content.
  6. I Believe You – I know that this song gets included on a lot of compilations; it doesn't do much for me, though. The second half of the song seems to be a variation of the first half; again, it feels like they had about 2:20 of good, original arrangement, then everything after that was recycled.
  7. Touch Me When We're Dancing – Nice, sensuous, sultry single. Although I love the clean open of this album, I have to say, it fits really nicely with "For All We Know" on the YOM compilation, due to them having the same key (G major).
  8. When It's Gone – Karen's voice is buried in this song. Between the reverb and the guitar in both left and right channels, I have a hard time understanding Karen here. Again, the song repeats and pushes five minutes; it doesn't have to be this long imho.
  9. Beechwood 4-5789 – I know some folks on this forum detest this song hehe, but the Carpenters' was the first version I heard (again, on the Gold: Greatest Hits DVD). The music video was very 1981, with the colors and the greenscreening (bluescreening). The song is upbeat, which I appreciate very much. That being said, I can see how others (still) do not appreciate Karen being double-tracked here, and I would concur.
  10. Because We Are in Love (The Wedding Song) – I don't have strong feelings one way or another about this song (again—I recognize that forum members do very often have strong feelings about this song). It's very heavy on the strings and woodwinds and not much else, which is a detracting factor of most of MIA, in my opinion. I could also do without the OK Chorale.
Even as a Carpenters fan, Made in America was my last CD of the studio albums. (I still, to this date, don't have a "Remastered Classics" copy of this CD.) I only got what I consider to be a definitive copy today in the mail, which is an AM+ CD issue. This album has some shining moments; I go back and forth because the production technology is clearly there, but some of the production choices leave me wanting something a little less "shiny."
This album will always be a favorite and will hold a special place in my heart. I became a serious fan in 1983 and had a copy of the Singles 69-73 on vinyl that belonged to my aunt and became mine, and a cassette copy of ASFY that was well worn being played hundreds of times in a Sears “walkman.” MIA was the third album I owned, purchased with my own money, as a vinyl “cut-out” in 1984 along with a “cut-out” copy of Passage a few weeks later. I spent hours in my room listening to this LP over and over. It really kept me going, sounded “new” and very “light and breezy” to me and I will always have good memories around it. It used to be a goal for me to listen to any new Carpenters album enough times in the first week I owned it so that I could memorize every song. Even though there are a couple of tracks that are not favorites, the album overall, is a favorite.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Nice to read positive thoughts regarding MIA !
I'll admit, the album took time to grow on me. Once I ignored the tendency to believe that every song has to be a "hit" single,
it's easier to listen to the entire album for what it is. I always loved Those Good Old Dreams, so that hasn't changed.
I never thought I Believe You should have been released as a single, but it is a nice enough album cut.
Karen loved Because We Are In Love, and when she sings it so beautifully, I understand why. It is different, no doubt about it,
but that difference is part of its charm for me. The nuances of her vocals are incredible.
So, this may not have been the 'comeback' album we were all hoping for, but I have grown into it.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Once I ignored the tendency to believe that every song has to be a "hit" single,
it's easier to listen to the entire album for what it is.
This statement resonates with me a lot. I feel that way about all of the albums from Passage to Lovelines. Rather than judging them by the position of the singles on the Billboard Hot 100 or the Billboard AC, I judge them by the complexities and nuances of Richard's and Karen's joint efforts, together, to create music that's complex, diverse, and even challenging at some points, even though they may have a slick sheen on the exterior--and I love it. I find the complexities, the contradictions, to be quite interesting.
 

AM Matt

Forum Undertaker
Carole Bayer Sager's "Sometimes Late At Night" (from 1981) is on Apple iTunes!! The song "Stronger Than Before" (duet with Michael McDonald) was a Top 40 song & her one hit wonder.
 

Jorge

Well-Known Member
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.
Oh, absolutely! The only thing I can say about Carol, is that she is a great songwriter! :D
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The Forum resource information has this: Date of Release: 06/09/81 (Chris May, post#1 in this thread).
Should not the date-of-release for Made In America be June 16, 1981 ?
(here: RECORDINGS).

In any event, I now say....
Happy Birthday to Made In America.

Give it a spin !
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The Forum resource information has this: Date of Release: 06/09/81 (Chris May, post#1 in this thread). Should not the date-of-release for Made In America be June 16, 1981 ?

Whatever date for the album release is correct, “Touch Me When We’re Dancing” was released June 19, 1981 - after the album. Why on earth would they do that? The usual protocol with albums and singles is to release your lead single first in order to generate interest in the album, which would then follow later. If people had bought the album in early June, there would be absolutely no incentive to buy the single, as they already had it. With no non-album B-side either, there was even less reason for anyone to buy it.

Had A&M done this the right way, the single probably would have fared better and might even have reached the top 10. Yet another bizarre marketing decision on the label’s part.
 
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