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⭐ Official Review [Album]: "NOW & THEN" (SP-3519)

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 17.9%
  • ****

    Votes: 45 57.7%
  • ***

    Votes: 18 23.1%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    78

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
In the song "Yesterday Once More (Reprise)", I think than Karen should have sung "When I was young I listened to the radio (chorus: Every sha la la la every woah woah woah) When I was young I listened to the radio (chorus: Every sha la la la every woah woah woah)" & fade out!!!
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
In the song "Yesterday Once More (Reprise)", I think than Karen should have sung "When I was young I listened to the radio (chorus: Every sha la la la every woah woah woah) When I was young I listened to the radio (chorus: Every sha la la la every woah woah woah)" & fade out!!!

The “so fine....so fine....” is perfectly chilling and socks home the sadness of times long gone.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Recently, Murray posted his review of the album, Now & Then.
Surprisingly, or not, my review is a bit different. In particular, I am much fonder of two songs that are often disparaged:
Sing and Jambalaya: quite frankly, I believe the arrangements are sparkled with bits of brilliance (as detailed elsewhere).
And, Karen's vocals on both are exceptional. On the other hand,
Heather,
in terms of its arrangement, is not one of Richard's best, as it mimics the original--not
much creativity went into his arrangement (as he copied the original)--it should not appear on a "pop" album, it is filler.
While I enjoy, This Masquerade, it is still perplexing to me that the comparable song Solitaire gets a bad rap,
because it is superior in both Richard's arrangement and vocals, while being roughly of the same tempo.
I Can't Make Music is absolutely stunning.
The album is also special in that Karen drums on all but Jambalaya (Hal Blaine). Compare to Karen's drumming on Offering.
My opinion of the album has improved over time. It is --in my opinion--the duos' "transition" album.
(1) Hal Blaine and Jack Daugherty were pretty much out of the scene.
(2)The piano instrumental was not nearly as "inventive" as the earlier Piano Picker.
(3) The Oldies Medley was apparently accomplished in one-take with band members, not studio players,
thus, my opinion of the Oldies Medley has gone up over the years (generally, I disapprove of Medleys).

Joe Osborne said that Yesterday Once More was spliced together from two separate parts.
Read: "Karen played drums on this one. She had a jazz trio before she even knew she could sing. After we did this track,
I had already moved to Nashville when Richard called me and said we had to do the first half of the song over,
though he liked the second half. He wanted to play the first half and splice it together, because he didn’t want to redo the last half.
I said, “Richard, I don’t know if you can.” Going from the front and cutting it in the middle… if the tempo varies any, it’s not going to match.
Unless you did it to a click, which we didn’t. He said, “Let’s just try it again anyways.” It’s a real testament to Karen’s time, because it cut together perfectly. "
More:
Stories Behind the Songs: Joe Osborn
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
While I enjoy, This Masquerade, it is still perplexing to me that the comparable song Solitaire gets a bad rap,
because it is superior in both Richard's arrangement and vocals, while being roughly of the same tempo.

That's an interesting point GaryAlan. Until the release of the single version of "Solitaire", I didn't pay it much attention, but found it much somehow improved with the tiny changes.

And I can now state that I'm much more likely to intentionally play "Solitaire" just to listen to than I am to play "This Masquerade" on purpose. I won't turn off either if listening to an album or compilation, but when picking and choosing a track to listen to, "Solitaire" wins that particular battle - single version, of course.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
That's an interesting point GaryAlan. Until the release of the single version of "Solitaire", I didn't pay it much attention, but found it much somehow improved with the tiny changes.

And I can now state that I'm much more likely to intentionally play "Solitaire" just to listen to than I am to play "This Masquerade" on purpose. I won't turn off either if listening to an album or compilation, but when picking and choosing a track to listen to, "Solitaire" wins that particular battle - single version, of course.

This is exactly my experience. For some weird, unexplainable, reason, Richards very minor modifications to the single version of Solitaire turned it from a long, slow, plodding listen for me into a thoroughly engaging "experience." Don't know why; but I think the addition of the organ lifted it just enough to take it "over the edge." What was my least favorite "hit" (album cut version) is now on of my favorites (single version).

Conversely, This Masquerade, although a brilliant arrangement by Richard, is one song I need to be in a particular "mood" to enjoy; thus, it gets a lot less play from me. The only "critique" I have for this song is too much flute; but then, it would be the brilliant arrangement with out it, either. Perplexing.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
This 1974 live version of Jambalaya is a pleasant listen, Bob Messenger changes the flute solo slightly,
the sax at the end is a bit different, the drums are a bit different and the song seems paced faster.
I sorta wish it were slowed down a bit, but it is a good "concert" song:
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
This Masquerade is a one mood song with the piano solo as it’s highlight. Karen sings it as skillfully as Richard plays and it is a highlight of Now and Then. Solitaire’s highlight is ALL Karen with words brought to life with inflections and phrasing and a tone and clarity that is one of a kind. It brings a hope in a yearing for love and hope yet a satisfaction in being complacent in his own room. Her voice is perfectly mature and it is glowing to say the least. Richard’s arrangement on the single frames her voice perfectly and both bring all there is to bring to the song. Nothing more can bring life to a song. The song itself is not contagious but in this form it is more than memorable. I have listened to each equally and the only thing similar to me is the speed-which is like comparing Rainy Days to Superstar, but we celebrate both instead which is what I do in this case,
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^So, even if I do not compare This Masquerade to Solitaire, let us try comparing
A Song For You and This Masquerade: same writer, Leon Russell--both songs are, arguably, brilliant compositions.
Happily, the Carpenters recorded both songs, as I do think they are two great Interpretations by the duo.
Both songs are "mature," and both songs highlight Karen's voice (I suppose, all Carpenters' songs do !).
But, there is something extra in A Song For You that I found wanting in This Masquerade,
darned if I can isolate what that "something" is !
 

Martin Medrano

Well-Known Member
@GaryAlan could it be that a song for you has that more personal feel in the lyric for example, karen sings about the person she is singing to being there for her and being appreciative thats why she sings them a song.

Where as in the case of this Masquerade it has a message about how im assuming its a couple who can't seem to work out their issues hence the lyric we tried to talk it over but the words got in the way.

Well that's just the way i see it but im open to any comment hope this helps.
 

Carl

"you are one of the few things worth remembering"
I'm actually listening to the album now. Its not one I pick out often as I tend to listen more to the later recordings but being an avid Carpenters fan, I try to get the earlier recordings out when I can. I like that there are two forms to this album, there's the normal songs on one side and the medley on the other which for me is a nice treat. Variation of songs is a treat too. I like the reprise of Yesterday Once More. Also for some reason, I'm listening to Heather in full for the first time in years .
Big fan of This Masquerade I have to admit this has grown on me in recent years and I love the jazz feel of the solo. Sing is another easy sing a long. Jambalaya is one I vaguely heard on a movie but the movie version is much faster. Yesterday Once More is wow , considering this was the of first songs I heard , it has everything a great song needs. Karen's voice suits every song on this album.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
^^So, even if I do not compare This Masquerade to Solitaire, let us try comparing
A Song For You and This Masquerade: same writer, Leon Russell--both songs are, arguably, brilliant compositions.
Happily, the Carpenters recorded both songs, as I do think they are two great Interpretations by the duo.
Both songs are "mature," and both songs highlight Karen's voice (I suppose, all Carpenters' songs do !).
But, there is something extra in A Song For You that I found wanting in This Masquerade,
darned if I can isolate what that "something" is !

For me, it's the difference between singing about as opposed to directly to someone. That's what it feels like when I hear A Song For You.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
It's kind of amusing to me that the terminally "uncool" Carpenters are associated with 3 iconic songs in their music library that were written by (music/lyrics or otherwise) a hip, long-haired, sun glass-wearing, hippie in a top hat, sitting at the keyboards with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. What a contradiction. Not really fitting in with their squeaky-clean/goody-four-shoes image. But do they get any credit for this association by the Rock & Roll intelligentsia? Of course not...
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I really enjoy the medley on the original Now and Then and the Quad version for I really like all the stacked vocals of Karen throughout the medley. It’s almost like a different shade of her voice and emotion to her character are on display through all the voice parts. I can focus on a different vocal line through each listen.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
The Yesterday Once More reprise at the end of the quad lp is amazing, as it goes around the room, back and forth between speakers. It’s an amazing experience to say the least. I play it all the time just for that reason. It’s one of the things the guys that mastered the quadraphonic lps, did well.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
The Yesterday Once More reprise at the end of the quad lp is amazing, as it goes around the room, back and forth between speakers. It’s an amazing experience to say the least. I play it all the time just for that reason. It’s one of the things the guys that mastered the quadraphonic lps, did well.

Couldn’t agree more! Quad aficionados that aren’t necessarily Carpenters fans hold ‘Now And Then’ in very high esteem. The mix is outstanding when it’s played back properly. The oldies medley cooks in quad!

And CraigGA is spot-on regarding Karen’s vocals on that album! Her range is otherworldly and her singing style changes with practically every track. She was a powerhouse talent. Plus she’s drumming on almost the whole album.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Johnny Angel is consistently one of my most played songs. I find it addicting. The lyrics may not be the most sophisticated but it's hard to beat the piano and drums in that one, and the quality of Karen's vocals is tops. I quite enjoy hearing her sing 'and together we will see how lovely heaven will be...'
It’s interesting how “Johnny Angel” is one of 3 songs that the Carpenters re-recorded for the ‘Live In Japan’ album. (The other 2 are “The End of the World” & “Da Do Ron Ron”. ).

Did ‘Johnny Angel’ or any other medley track maybe get a “B” side release anywhere in the world (or even an “A” side like ‘Druscilla Penny’)?
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
A Song For You is much harder to sing. It not only captures the Carpenters unique style and harmony but it showcases Karen's lyric ability! It’s a perfect song for Carpenters!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I’ve just been looking through the liner notes for each album on the official site and never realised that Jambalaya was not recorded specifically for this album.

“As the time approached for recording our fifth album, Karen and I once again were not left with enough time to produce it in as relaxed an atmosphere as possible, given all that was going on in our lives. I, especially, was not happy, as it was my job to audition, select and/or compose, as well as arrange, the music for our recordings. I always believed that the Carpenters were first and foremost a record act; all of the success stemmed from the popularity of the records, so management should have placed the utmost importance on the recording process, not on excessive touring.

At any rate, as the limited time we had to record the album approached, it was clear to me that we had only enough material to complete one side of an LP, and even that was by completing a track we had recorded in 1972, Jambalaya”.


Carpenters: Now and Then 1973
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^The give-away on Jambalaya is Hal Blaine drumming on that one track.
I always assumed background vocals were completed in 1973 for inclusion on Now & Then.
Wonder what else was done to "complete" that track ?
This is another example of what one considers as a definition of an "outtake."
Jambalaya may have been held-over from 1972, but it is a great Carpenters' interpretation of a classic song.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I must say, this album has grown on me in a big way.
Been playing the album, lately....
Sing and Jambalaya keep me uplifted, which is interesting as some folks consider these two songs to be "lightweight"
when compared to other (more serious) Carpenters' recordings.
However, for their day and within their own constraints,
both songs are rather brilliant.
 

MorningOpensQuietly

Well-Known Member
I must say, this album has grown on me in a big way.
Been playing the album, lately....
Sing and Jambalaya keep me uplifted, which is interesting as some folks consider these two songs to be "lightweight"
when compared to other (more serious) Carpenters' recordings.
However, for their day and within their own constraints,
both songs are rather brilliant.
I agree! I think what Richard did with "Sing" was truly masterful for its time and sadly overlooked and/or not appreciated by critics and some fans. It's a sweet song with a universal "feel good" message that resonates well, particularly in these current unprecedented critical times of ours.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
And don’t forget that ‘Sing’ was nominated for a Grammy in 1974 for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus, so it was recognized at the time as being pretty special. It was beat out by ‘Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)’ from Gladys Knight And The Pips.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I watched a recent PBS docu-special of the late Hank Williams (writer: Jambalaya, 1952).
I must say, what Karen and Richard achieved with Jambalaya is truly inspiring (I love their version).
It sorta reminds me of how the duo re-imagined/covered Please Mr. Postman--
of taking a classic and then "pop-ifying" it (yet, retaining elements of its originators).
 
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