• 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

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Don't forget the origins of I Believe You. I understand Karen made it her own and you'd think KC may have written it herself! Lol
But, there's usually stories behind the songs, if you trace it back.

Originally the song was for Dorthy Moore.


Of course the C's contributed something to the song with their own version of it.

Like with a lot of these songs. Beechwood, Hurting Each Other, Postman, Your Baby doesn't love you anymore.
There's some influence from R n' B, Soul, Afro-carribean and even gospel music.

I'd think of "and when I die" along those lines too (waaay back very early on in their career).
Richard talked about the song "Hurts so Bad" and I'm sure there's others too that he thought were incredible recordings and/or pieces of music.

I find it fascinating how there are places you'll find songs where the C's would have heard a song while on vacation or what have you and love it so much that they want to share good music.

And sure they would have heard and appreciated a lot of the Motown sound too. I mean just think of "Dancing in the street" as another example.

I'd imagine KC and RC have heard a lot of R n' B, soul, jazz, country and many pop selections too. They would have had to consume a lot of music.

And to me it speaks of great taste, how musical the Carpenters were and open to different styles. I think they did the song with great respect and honour.

To my ears, if it's alright to say it, this is where the C's meet a little bit of culture and it's not so bad to me.

I have no idea why "Freckled little girl" is bothersome. It was changed from:
"And love will grow into a brown-eyed
Little girl who looks like we do"

Each phrase provides the same kind of open vowel sounds you'd expect for a ballad and works with the music.
Not so much controversy or anything there. I'd assume the songwriters gave it their blessing too.

It's an interesting observation that the songs that seem to get some of the most push back from fans are: Beechwood, Man smart/women smarter and even an innocent line in I Believe You.

There is some interesting psychology there.

I honestly don't mind Karen singing songs that were intended as soul, funk, disco or r n' b.
It doesn't bother me whether it was a solo album cut or song with Rich.
It just means they like good music and it's not that deep or to be read into. It's just good music folks. Lol
 
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Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
"Freckled little girl" seems to torment many of the fans on this board. The song is loaded with other lyrics, yet *that* phrase is often brought up as the major offense.

I wonder if there's something psychological going on there. But I'm not a psychologist and I don't play one on TV.

It's just bad. LOL!! The line is changed because of how bad it is in Dorothy's version (see above). I agree with @Murray on the "fill my body with your soul" line too. The sentiment is really very sweet but it's put across in the most cloying way. Karen very nearly overcomes it but it's just too much for even her to cover. Yeah, the tune has other lyrics that are first-draft, but those just elicit laughter anytime I hear the tune and it takes me right out of it. Never has a better vocal been rendered at the service of a worse tune. It's also a total waste of the legendary Motown arranger Paul Riser. The song itself is what it is and there's no overcoming it.

Ed
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I like the mental images in both Dorothy Moore’s and Carpenters’ versions of ‘I Believe You’. A brown-eyed little girl - a freckled little girl - both fit the sentiments of the song and encourage the listener to picture that image of perfect innocence that the singer is idealising about. It’s a very romantic song. True, it was too adult contemporary to be a mainstream hit in 1978 but I like very much what Karen and Richard and also what Dorothy Moore did with the song.

Dorothy Moore covered a lot of styles in her 1970s albums - soul, disco, pop and country-influenced songs. I can’t remember if she did gospel in that period, or not. I don’t remember that she did. Some of her releases were more pop than soul. I have her albums ‘Misty Blue’, ‘Dorothy Moore’, ‘Definitely Dorothy’, ‘Once Moore with Feeling’, ‘Winner’, ‘The Definitive Anthology’ and maybe a couple of others. I enjoy her interpretations.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Overcoming the feelings of disgust and/or criticism is possible with open mindedness.
I think that's the thing I've tried to touch upon (after probably over a year since I've posted on this board).

It's strange to me to come back to witness a real exercise in what looks like heavy nit picking and echoing critics of Carpenters on a fan board.

I am guilty of doing so myself on certain selections depending on my mood, but as time goes by there's really nothing I gain from doing that.

It doesn't make Richard want to work faster to produce new music or want to respond to fans after hearing, "Hey, I love everything you do but then there was that one song you did that really sucked. What a bum record and I'll tell you why but I love your work anyways. Your other songs are great!"

Fans do stuff like that all the time without realizing it. It's unconscious and I'm sure Richard doesn't favour those letters/comments and certainly doesn't get any point across.

It doesn't always help discussion. Like you see how because I accept and received the record, I could then mention other artists' versions of the songs and then we're talking about that. We can get into the musicianship, composition, lyrics, timelessness of it, etc. Move conversation forward.

I can't make you open your heart... but I can dream that there's fans on this board who can grow deeper appreciation for the C's and music itself.

I was always a fan of MIA and early 80s sounds Carpenters wanted to get at, and I stand by my feeling on that and that of KC and RC's feeling for MIA too.

The C's were always hopeless romantics. That's part of who they were and the longevity of their career. None of us could do it any better and for goodness sakes we have so much of the 'MIA sessions' to play with on playlists as we would like.

A person's preferences, interests and likes is what it is. I am not arguing that. An opinion is an opinion, but it doesn't negate who the Carpenters were or what their experience of the album was. From any thing I've read, they both enjoyed the music and wanted to get at these songs for a long time.

So who are we to judge and blame? It's just alot of mind activity that isn't really useful on fan boards and groups. Unless if that is the specified topic.
To me these threads aren't about 'everything wrong with the Carpenters.'

So what if there's a line that's a little bit earthy from Karen? Whether it was solo songs or some of the songs on MIA that eluded to adult thoughts and feelings? So what if there's a lot of romance, schmaltz? Don't we all enjoy "As time goes by"? There's a lot of that on there too with all the bombastic and whimsical nature of it too that was formatted differently as well. I think the lyrics of MIA touch upon more complex emotions than previous records, but you gotta open your mind, heart and ears to experience it. Close your eyes and let the record play without preconceived notions. It's helps.

If you want to continue to have a terrible time with the music then OK continue what you're doing.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy MIA then perhaps consider some of what I've been writing over the past few days. :)
 
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Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Overcoming the feelings of disgust and/or criticism is possible with open mindedness.
I think that's the thing I've tried to touch upon (after probably over a year since I've posted on this board).

It's strange to me to come back to witness a real exercise in what looks like heavy nit picking and echoing critics of Carpenters on a fan board.

I am guilty of doing so myself on certain selections depending on my mood, but as time goes by there's really nothing I gain from doing that.

It doesn't make Richard want to work faster to produce new music or want to respond to fans after hearing, "Hey, I love everything you do but then there was that one song you did that really sucked. What a bum record and I'll tell you why but I love your work anyways. Your other songs are great!"

Fans do stuff like that all the time without realizing it. It's unconscious and I'm sure Richard doesn't favour those letters/comments and certainly doesn't get any point across...

There is no musical group that is universally great. Carpenters, like all music groups before or since, are not perfect and they made some amazing choices, some horrid choices, and everything in between. It's all accented by the most beautiful female pop voice we'll ever hear. It's that voice that on the whole makes the unbearable more bearable and the very good astonishing.

Message forums are for all opinions - good and bad. Inasmuch as people are entitled to voice their positive opinions, we are also allowed to voice our negative ones. When I love something, I'll shout it from the rooftops. When I don't, I do that too. Neither is wrong. There is a place for both. I, for one, learn as much from the positive as I do from the negative. I respectfully disagree that being negative doesn't get a point across. That it isn't one that you like is perfectly understandable.

In short, I've always felt that both the positive and the negative are useful. I personally am not aiming to "please Richard" (no shade, just speaking to your point.. :wink:); I'm aiming to express an opinion. I don't believe that we have to be "Pollyanna" about everything. That would actually hinder conversation more than the mix of positive and negative, IMHO.

Ed
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Any artist's music that's heard by an audience will always be subjective in terms of how it's received. Every one of us has a different perspective and taste, which allows all sorts of opinions on the way we perceive the world. All sorts of music is elevated to a top spot on charts that supposedly tell us what is most popular. And while you may think that that top of the charts song is great, I might feel the exact opposite - and in many cases over the years, that's true. I've never been one to follow popular trends in more ways than one.

And our views of one particular subject - the music of Carpenters - is going to vary from person to person, and all views are valid here, as long as we're sticking to the music as the subject. I've long noted that negative subjects tend to be the ones expressed most often on the internet. Whenever something negative happens to a person, one easy way to lash out in anger is to throw some words on the internet telling others how bad your experience has been. The happy people are just happy, and have not as much need to opine in words on a message board or a review site.

The mere fact that this one album (MADE IN AMERICA) has a bunch of detractors means that its review thread is by far the longest of any of the album threads on this message board. This very message is #1531 in this thread, and many of the individual posts are wordy as well - so it would be correct to say that more words have been written about MADE IN AMERICA than on the universally-praised albums like CLOSE TO YOU or A SONG FOR YOU. Everyone's happy with those. What's left to say? Yet there is a tendency to want to help "fix" a "broken" album like MADE IN AMERICA. Get rid of this song, add in one that was shelved, and another; there, that's much better. Monday morning quarterbacking with 20/20 hindsight.

And the words aren't going to stop here either, as more and more will find more words to say to try to let others know how they feel. Sometimes folks will express themselves in words that would seem to be definitive, (this song is trash, etc.), but it's really just an opinion. Agree or disagree - that's all of our rights, as far as they go on a message board.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Another reason I feel this album seems to generate so much feedback is because this was the last album both Karen and Richard worked on together as a duo from start to finish. We watched as they performed the singles and promoted the album then it would soon all be over.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
Another reason I feel this album seems to generate so much feedback is because this was the last album both Karen and Richard worked on together as a duo from start to finish. We watched as they performed the singles and promoted the album then it would soon all be over.
Muisically and personally there’s a whole mixture of overlapping thoughts and feelings of this era/album being their swan song, clearly. Seriously bad decisions were made on both sides of that coin and both feel like such singular circumstances in the pop consciousness that it feels natural to suss out all that one can.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
That's fair. I am saying if you want to enjoy it or think of these songs differently there are ways to do so.

I guess my point is somewhat lost on this.

It feels like arguing or having an opinion on whether or not humans should drink water.
Or like having a disagreement on scientific findings almost.

You're fine to do that, but I don't have to think the opinion is right.

Like it is what it is. Carpenters were great musicians, artists. Plain and simple. If they did a sequel to Passage in 1981 then we'd be complaining about that too. I don't think they could really 'win' in this case with all things considered.

I'm hopefully getting across that this album is handled professionally as any other and like I said I'm not sure why it's so heavy criticized as though they never had any experience in music before. Lol

This isn't a debut. This is happening in context of a lot of other material, and MIA has had an influence whether fans like it or not. Wasn't it Akiko Kobayashi that said "I want my album to sound like MIA." And that's where City of Angels came from. So you see how people who have any connection to the arts, music, production, performance can understand it on a level that perhaps the general public and fan groups cannot.

I can play the same thing here with fans too, but it's not like there's anything to change it really. So I just choose to accept it and look at the either positive or neutral aspects of it. Sometimes I've gone into negative commentary relating to situational conditions rather than any conclusion about anyone's personality or character. That's how I've done it, personally and not wanting to be overly positive or overly negative about it either.

So, by all means share thoughts and opinions I really don't think this album from one of the greatest artists of the 20th century is all that bad.

Again I know people can pick apart classical music or best selling pop records, etc. I just would like to know some of the rationale behind some of this playing devil's advocate and being creative directors or life planners for The Carpenters 50 years after the fact.

It's all very interesting.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
That's fair. I am saying if you want to enjoy it or think of these songs differently there are ways to do so.

I guess my point is somewhat lost on this.

It feels like arguing or having an opinion on whether or not humans should drink water.
Or like having a disagreement on scientific findings almost.

You're fine to do that, but I don't have to think the opinion is right.

Like it is what it is. Carpenters were great musicians, artists. Plain and simple. If they did a sequel to Passage in 1981 then we'd be complaining about that too. I don't think they could really 'win' in this case with all things considered.

I'm hopefully getting across that this album is handled professionally as any other and like I said I'm not sure why it's so heavy criticized as though they never had any experience in music before. Lol

What's coming across is that you're not a fan of negative opinions of the album. I think we all get that...and that's fine. Those of us who've been negative (mostly me lately) have expressed what we don't like about the record. The "as though they never had any experience in music before. Lol" is a bit hyperbolic. I know I've never put that across myself. My issues are that I feel it's really overproduced, it doesn't emphasize Karen enough, and the songs aren't good enough (of course, IMHO).

The main reason I've visited this forum for all these years is because of all opinions, not just the "every album they ever did is an astonishing work of art that sends chills down my spine each time I hear it" variety. Honestly, that would get pretty boring. The only thing I'm not a fan of is when someone tells me they either like or hate something without telling me why. Of course, that doesn't happen here (yet another virtue of A&M Corner).

My well-meaning suggestion would be that when you sense a negative post, just avoid it. Those kind of posts don't seem to be your thing and I get that. I promise I mean absolutely no harm when I express my opinions and I always enjoy reading other's takes as well. It's the give and take here that's always kept me coming back.

Ed
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
On this, I Believe You,
I could not agree more, spot-on Ed: "Never has a better vocal been rendered at the service of a worse tune. It's also a total waste of the legendary Motown arranger Paul Riser. The song itself is what it is and there's no overcoming it."

By the way,
am I the only person who hears cacophony in the background harmonies of I Believe You ?
To my ears, this one song has the most discordant (harsh and jarring)
background harmonies of any other Carpenters' song.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
What's coming across is that you're not a fan of negative opinions of the album.

Yes, it's a general life skill thing that people don't like criticism. And that's what this was getting into. There's a difference between criticism and constructive criticism for an artist or performer.
There appears to be at least a handful of others on this board that didn't take some of the comments as constructive criticism either.

You say overproduced I say overly critical. Tomato, Tomato. Potato, Potato. Lol It doesn't matter so much. It's all interesting discussion.
And it's true I can avoid. Most of the time I would. It just seemed like there was a need to say something for the voices of fans that are neutral on it or do have positive experiences with MIA.

I don't really care for tribes here folks. You can bash the album and not enjoy pretty well the only album we have of theirs from the 80s.

That's wasn't my experience of it and still isn't and there are people who can have a change of heart as the years go by. So, on a fan board I'll chime in with anecdotes and aspects that I like about it, felt moved by or anything from it.
 
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Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
On this, I Believe You,
I could not agree more, spot-on Ed: "Never has a better vocal been rendered at the service of a worse tune. It's also a total waste of the legendary Motown arranger Paul Riser. The song itself is what it is and there's no overcoming it."

By the way,
am I the only person who hears cacophony in the background harmonies of I Believe You ?
To my ears, this one song has the most discordant (harsh and jarring)
background harmonies of any other Carpenters' song

I don’t hate them but I know what that mean. They could stand to be a little smoother for sure. They do kind of “pop out” oddly at times. That’s likely a mixing thing.

Ed
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Also, going to walk out on a limb and mention how there were moments in my life where Carpenters saved my life.
And I think the sentiment is something a lot of fans can relate to. The moments where I felt like Karen and Rich were there for me in times when it didn't seem like anyone else was. Karen with her intimate, soothing vocals helped me through, you know?

I hope Rich knows that about himself too. I don't think I ever got the chance to get that through in fan mail to him or anything. I am sure he must know it on some level how much Carpenters music means to people around different places in the world.

So for me it's a bit more than just opinions on music.
Music saves and some of the best therapy I've had is through music.

There's not a lot of artists I can say I've listened to them all the way through, but Carpenters for me is one I can dig into.

For me it's not just the fondness I have for older Carpenters songs, but really love for the catalogue and enjoying their discography.
Getting to learn and read about their recordings, life and career.


Just want to add that piece in there about "not liking negative opinions about the album."
Like with many of the C's songs there are songs off of MIA that have meant a lot to me at one time or another. ✌️
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Sorry, but ‘Freckled little girl’ could be lifted from any Lawrence Welk song/performance. So can the Glinda Good Witch orchestration in the very beginning that grounds the song immediately.

That being said, the song itself is just fine (line above excepted) and Karen sings it incredibly well. But that glitzy good girl arrangement kept it far away from the Top 40.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
On this, I Believe You,
I could not agree more, spot-on Ed: "Never has a better vocal been rendered at the service of a worse tune. It's also a total waste of the legendary Motown arranger Paul Riser. The song itself is what it is and there's no overcoming it."

By the way,
am I the only person who hears cacophony in the background harmonies of I Believe You ?
To my ears, this one song has the most discordant (harsh and jarring)
background harmonies of any other Carpenters' song.

How do people feel about "I Believe You" being one of the songs on the RPO album? Do you skip it there? Are you happier with the song with the alternate take lyrics from most RPO versions or the 2004 surround mix? Or is it always a "worse tune"?
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
What can anyone possibly have against "freckled little girls"? As cute as it gets, both the girls and the lyrics in a song...that part is the saving grace in an otherwise cloying composition, saving the song from the countless ranks of the mediocre...

I like "Those Good Old Dreams" and "Touch Me..." on MIA, and surprisingly "When It's Gone", which has grown on me after repeated listenings, although as Ed has accurately complained, it is (as most of the songs here are) over-produced - it's a solid song that would be far better with no strings and a less prominent bass, carried almost exclusively by the acoustic guitars...Karen's voice is far too surrounded on all sides and buried under far too much extraneous and distracting sound - but there is the rare blessing that it's not doubled...so many great chances missed...
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
How do people feel about "I Believe You" being one of the songs on the RPO album? Do you skip it there? Are you happier with the song with the alternate take lyrics from most RPO versions or the 2004 surround mix? Or is it always a "worse tune"?

I have my bias of course because I like the song. I do not skip it and like it on RPO. You can tell there's clean up, and in fact reduced some of that dissonance perceived on the original LP. I do have a preference to the original, but that's probably because I'd heard it like that for years on various compilations.

RPO treatment is rare because it's the first time we ever heard of MIA remixed in any fashion and Richard agreed there were some things to either add in or reduce and he got the chance to do so in 2018.

To my ears, there's a lot of fullness in 'I believe you,' as that's the art form and explained nicely by Rich as early as '72.


I hear nice harmonies and vocal arrangement on I believe you.
The C's always played with dissonance since their debut.

It fits the way the song was written and for the Carpenters sound of course. Increasing the amplification of the backing vocals is also a feature and characteristic that often comes out in R n' B and soul records too. Carpenters were masters at multitrack recording and many pop artists, and R n' B artists still use stacks and close harmony to this day using the "ooo aaaahs" and things Carpenters did so often and so well. Very audible on 'I believe you.'

To a point, I hear how in the chorus or verses there's a sense of some of the backing parts coming in a tad 'late.' But, that's part of Karen's vocal style and not a bad thing. It adds to the whole ethereal, ambient, soothing and easy listening quality of it. I am not sure if there was a click track used on it or something like that on this track. It's the C's singing with relative pitch and excellent delivery as usual.

But, I mean again, I am bias about this albums' sessions and even what was intended for a 1979 album that didn't come to pass (released on subsequent posthumous albums).

It may not be the song you have blaring in your car or house so everyone in the neighbourhood hears, but I think we can all admit it's a guilty pleasure at least. Creates a nice buzzing, warmth in the headphones too, btw. Rather enjoyable piece.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Oh yeah and I almost forgot...

Don't forget the break in I believe you!

That's one of my favourite parts from The Carpenters. I love when the Toms come back in just when you think it's over. :razz:

Love that part! :love:
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Usually, whether it is this album or any other Carpenters' album, I do not skip any songs when I listen straight through.
Interesting thing about the RPO album is how the initial 14 seconds of melody of I Believe You is sorta replicated on the next track,
on the instrumental segue to track 8, I Just Fall In Love Again.
Also, the drum break on the RPO track is not nearly as forceful as the initial mix of the song.
But, I do not hate the song (how could I ? Karen sings it).
But, it is not inherently a good song (that is, were Karen not singing it, I would never listen to it by another artist).
Karen's vocals are (almost) all that saves it from mediocrity.
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
How do people feel about "I Believe You" being one of the songs on the RPO album? Do you skip it there? Are you happier with the song with the alternate take lyrics from most RPO versions or the 2004 surround mix? Or is it always a "worse tune"?

The song itself has issues that a new setting can't cure, IMHO. Richard really like this tune and he's certainly entitled. I just don't share his enthusiasm for it. It sounds sonically better (though it certainly isn't bad from that standpoint on MIA) but was the never the issue. I'm listening again as I type this and that lyric... Yikes. The sentiment (when you tell me you'll give me the world, I believe you) is lovely but it's just crippled lyrically and it's in the elevator, IMHO. "And that forever isn't long enough to love me" nearly sucks me in. Karen's voice is just sublime on this whole thing. If it just had a good lyric and was less heavy-handed production-wise...

I've likely spoken quite enough about that tune at this point. Onto more positive pastures...and there are many... :wink:

Ed
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The number 19.
19, that is the number of times that the song I believe You has popped-up on compilations in the cd era, and, beyond.
In any rendering of Carpenters' "history," I find that to be a significant number...
Why would Richard devote so much energy and time to a (cover of a) song,
which-- upon its initial A&M Single-45 release-- effected so little response from radio and the public ?
Obviously, judging from Ricard's remarks in the latest 2021 Legacy bio, he still holds the song in high regard,
and faults "the image problem" as responsible for its lack of commercial success in 1978.
19 compilations has presented the opportunity for the song to "live" well beyond 1978....
as, I recall in 1978, fans were having to locate a copy of the 45 by writing to the official fan club for a copy !
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I'll just add that I find it completely perplexing to me that some who "dis" MIA so emphatically praise Karen's solo album so highly. Personally, I thought MIA as one of their Top 5 albums in my book. I actually LOVE "Strength of a Woman" and "Back in My Life Again." I thought the entire feel of the album to be fresh and "California." I was 14 at the time it came out and have only grown to appreciate it over the years/decades. Sure, at 14, "Because We are In Love" and "Somebody's Been Lyin'" were not my favorites, but almost every other song on that LP was fantastic (although "Those Good Ol' Dreams" was one I thought was just "meh."). Compared to Karen's solo album, the quality of the songs, Karen's performances, Richard's arraignments, and the overall production is far superior to the abomination Phil created with Karen...especially the terrible material and Karen singing way above her "basement" range throughout.
 
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