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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. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I saw it once a LONG time ago. You tube I think.
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    It was cut from the programme Chris due to time constraints (much to Karen and Richard's disappointment) and I assume must have hit the editing room floor rather than been kept. To my knowledge it has never aired since nor have any bootlegs of it surfaced.
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  3. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Ha! You're probably right, newvillefan. Maybe I saw it in my (good old) dreams....But I really did hear Karen sing When I Fall in Love live. No doubt there! :wink:
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  4. arthowson

    arthowson Active Member

    reminds me of the shortest story ever written by Hemmingway. For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I had put together a compilation about 6 weeks ago. Never listened to it until today, and I forgot what was on it. It was a mix from all the albums.

    Solitaire was followed by Back in My Life Again then Road Ode. What a shock! BIMLA sounded like a whole different group. Thin high vocals, airy arrangements, muffled sound over all. No comparison with the power and elegance of either of the songs that sandwiched it.
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool and byline like this.
  6. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    That's what I love about the Sweet Memory Collection, for instance on disc 4 you can go from Crescent Noon to Sailing on the Tide to I Believe You to Now and then later in the disc to Another Song then to Can't Smile Without You....Just a jump around from early to late career yet the way it's mastered it just all blends together so wonderfully.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I saw this yesterday (before Stephen posted) and I got all excited!! :laugh:
    So another video lost to the cutting floor....:tsk:
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Here is July 11,1981 Advertisement on front of Billboard Magazine:
    "After selling 77 million records throughout the world, the Carpenters have named their newest album Made In America.
    The first single from the album, Touch Me When We're Dancing, is already headed for the top, proving that Richard and Karen
    make hit music in America for the whole world to hear. Produced by Richard Carpenter."

  9. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    To me, Back in My Life Again and You are the prime candidates for a remix. . . .it'll never happen now, of course.
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I always liked "Back in My Life Again".
    Now, to bring home Karen and Richard's genius on this song,
    one only has to listen to Chris Christian's performance.
    He is a co-writer of the song, his 'take' is on Youtube, thus, for all to compare/contrast.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    You're right...even though it's in need of a remix, their version is still loads better than the writer's. Ironically, the plinky-plonk synths on the Carpenters' version got them compared to the Doobie Brothers by one reviewer, but this is even more Doobie-esque! I can definitely hear Michael McDonald singing this song :)

    Bobberman likes this.
  12. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    'Back In My Life Again' will always be my favorite track from MIA. It's hip, catchy and it screams for a remix! I still feel it would have been a smash if Karen's vocals were upfront where they belong. I played the hell out of for 2 years after the album was released. It's always the second track on my personal C's compilatons, immediately preceded by 'A Song For You'.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  13. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    If you love Carpenters' version of this dearly, don't read my post...LOL!

    This is far better. Richard's arrangement is a trendy, synth-y, trend-chasing grab at radio play and "doubled" Karen sounds unengaged and just lousy on it. This is the only time in their catalog where both Karen and Richard blow it in their respective departments. The vocal arrangement is, in spite of Richard, somewhat interesting but that's all it has going for it. Carpenters' recording of this is one of their very worst. Christian's recording, while not amazing, at least reveals that there's an actual song there and he sounds involved with it. Karen couldn't be bothered and, thanks to her vocal and Richard's arrangement, I can't either.

  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Ed, while I do not 'love the song dearly'--either version,but preference to the duo--
    I still enjoyed reading your insight on the tune !
    It is another instance, in Carpenters' catalog, where I enjoy listening to
    the differences between how Karen and Richard approached a song--as
    compared to an original version, or a song's composers' version.
    I do wonder why Karen's lead vocal is buried so far down in the mix.
    (And, obviously, Richard was aiming for trendy, radio play on this one.)
    Enjoying the alternative viewpoints! Homogeneity would be boring!
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  16. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I quite agree. The Chris Christian version is a bit plodding (the tempo seems a bit slow) and is very Doobie Brothers-esque, but it feels more substantial in that it has a proper beat and a clearly audible lead vocal. The Carpenters version completely lacks this. The vocals and the arrangement are very airy by comparison, so it feels like there's no anchoring in the song to make it memorable for the listener, which I'm sure is why it failed to do well. The basic song itself is OK but I'd agree that it's one of Richard's worst productions.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  17. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    With the exception of the previously-recorded "I Believe You," the whole album is like that. It's like Richard was trying to reassert his dominance. I'm pretty sure this was said elsewhere in the thread but, given that this followed Karen's solo record, the whole record features a somewhat muted Karen. She's a cog in the machine and not a featured player. Criminal treatment given how important she was to the duo's success.

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Ed, you have "hit the nail on the head" with the above observation.
    Criminal treatment,indeed!

    And, re-reading the Made In America Press Release,June 1981:
    It begins-
    --"For Richard Carpenter it was a day of triumph...after a year of listening, writing,
    arranging, orchestrating, background vocals, piano and mixing..the master tape had finally been put to bed".

    Fan Club Newsletter(s):
    Feb 1981 #69..."Tom (Burris) has exercised patience and understanding during the long hours of recording
    which claimed so much of Karen's time."
    June 1981 #70: Richard blames delay of the album on three factors--tape machine, computer board, unacceptable test pressings.

    Jamesj75 and ThaFunkyFakeTation like this.
  19. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I remember spinning MIA for the first time in June, 1981....still in total shock that I was finally hearing a new Carpenters album.

    The minute Karen began singing, 'As a child, I was known for make believing'....I knew something was up. Knowing at the time of the shelved solo album (but not knowing the drama behind it), I instinctively thought to myself that this album was created as Richard's big comeback.

    The lavish production spells it out quite clearly. He wanted people to know he was BACK, and I will always maintain that Karen was mixed as just another instrument on that record. They had both expressed in previous interviews the importance of having the lead 'very up' in the mix. So, why would that approach suddenly change for MIA?

    I also noticed that day that Karen was no longer credited as 'Associate Producer'....for the first time since 1973! I don't think it's a coincidence.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  20. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I'd always assumed that this was because Karen became involved with Tom Burris during the recording of the album and so presumably spent less time in the studio with Richard as a result. But it's true that the production feels like an even more distilled version of some of the more 'lavish' excesses that had crept into some of their other work in the late 1970s, so this may be indicative of Richard taking more of an assertive stance as producer in creating the sort of sound he wanted on the album, including burying Karen's vocals in the mix.

    Karen's buried vocals really is the crux of the problem with this album. Although I don't think the songs themselves were generally that hot to start with, they'd have all sounded so much better if Karen was more 'present' on them. As it is, she's made to sound like a shadow of her former self on pretty much everything other than 'I Believe You', and you only have to listen to the vocals on the solo album or some of the outtakes from Made in America to hear that she was perfectly capable of sounding as good as ever.
    LondonRobert likes this.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Fan Club Newsletter#70:

    "Richard had to turn down three test pressings. The pressings he finally approved are (in his words)
    as good, if not better, than other ..albums.
    He will not rest until he achieves the result he is completely satisfied with."

    Astute observations by all, here!

    Until I revisited those fan club newsletters, I had/have always believed that there was some type of mistake
    with the production/mixing of the album which kept Karen's vocals so well-hidden.
    That belief no longer exists.

    Richard knew exactly what he was doing and what he had 'approved'.
    This was no error, this album is Richard's 'baby'---no Carpenters, no 50/50, his one-upmanship,
    it had never hit me like this before--but, is clear as a bell,now.
  22. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I wonder if Karen had lived if the next Christmas album would have been titled "A Karen Carpenter Christmas" it sorta has a nice ring, huh? Surely A&M would have approved of that....how about a disco jingle bell rock??
    A&M Retro and Jeff like this.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Unfounded as my belief is, I do not think that A&M Records would have stamped their approval on
    anything with only her name ascribed to it.
    And, yes, I may be wrong in that belief--but, I have no documented evidence to suggest otherwise.
    There is a Billboard article--I'll find it-- where it is pointed out that if she had been credited as Karen Carpenter,
    instead of credited as vocalist of Carpenters duo, she would have been one of the top solo female artists of the 1970's.
    Of course, we all know she is The Top.
    A&M Retro and Jeff like this.
  24. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Yes, she is, Gary. :)
  25. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    No,no and no.

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