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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 14 16.9%
  • ****

    Votes: 48 57.8%
  • ***

    Votes: 20 24.1%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    83

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
^^This is the quote I concur with from that interesting review you linked to, Jarred:
"...it (Now & Then) was, among other things, quirky, eclectic, eerie, joyful, eccentric, melancholy, silly, mysterious, and a TON of fun..."

For an imperfect, hurriedly constructed album they did manage to convey a variety of moods and tones that in lesser hands would have been much more jarring. I may have mentioned this in some form before, but because it’s a concept album with two halves, it mirrors that this album is the divide between classic Carpenters and their later career with a shift in sound and song selection. It’s as they are getting all those tones into this album before they know they won’t have the inspiration or energy to do it in the future.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Definitely, I consider Now & Then to be a dividing-line of sorts (at least, with respect to albums).
I really fail to see that it was any more hurried than previous efforts (save for LP A Song For You,
which, if memory serves, Richard says they spent lovingly more time on--correct me if I am wrong).
By the way, The Singles 1969-1973 compilation took all of two weeks to complete.
But, with Horizon, there comes more time to create, more sophistication and less lead vocal by Richard.
The true dividing-line, in terms of temporal scheme of things, might be one song-- Please Mr. Postman (the final #1).
Too bad I Won't Last A Day Without You did not score higher on the pop-charts in 1974.
And, what if Look To Your Dreams had gotten recorded and released that year, 1974 ?

Rolling Stone ,July 1974: "When she really comes alive is when she sings; she changes completely. Joking or talking one moment, she becomes a different person the very next, as soon as she opens her mouth. Out comes that unique and wonderful voice, exactly as on record, expressing fascinating contrasts: chilling perfection with much warmth; youth with wisdom. Then she seems to be someone who knows something of life.
She must be aware of the transformation she brings about, yet when asked to describe what happens at such a moment,
all she will guardedly say is “I don’t know what you mean. I’m not thinking of anything in particular. I’m just . . . trying to get it right."



Rolling Stone, July 1974: “The Carpenters seem to be going through what they would like to be a transition period."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I’ve always been of the opinion that they dug up Jambalaya from the 1972 recording sessions because it was a quick and easy way of filling up the album due to lack of time. That’s also why the medley on side B ended up being included. In that sense, Jambalaya is actually an outtake, rather than a bona fide track intended for this album. The dead giveaway is the drum credit to Hal Blaine, whereas everything else on Now & Then is Karen.

Can you imagine if Jambalaya had been included on A Song For You? It’s nothing like any of the other songs in terms of production or style.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Here is further evidence regards previous albums not being allotted "enough time" (besides with Now & Then):
Richard Carpenter: "After being pressed for time while making “Carpenters”, I made sure enough time was set aside for its successor."
Also, Richard reminds us about Horizon: "By this time, A&M Studios had 24 track recording. By contrast, the “Offering” album is on 8 tracks
and the following four on 16 track recording." (Both quotes from official Carpenter website).

Here is Richard regarding the Close To You album:
" Well, as far as doing another album (after Offering), Herbie said we could just do a couple tracks here, have a listen, a couple tracks there... Well, the first ones were “Love Is Surrender” and “Mr. Guder” in Studio C. We were in a hurry, why, I don’t know, we didn’t have a tight schedule yet. In the midst of all of that, “Close To You” came out, and it pretty much “happened” overnight. Then we get the call from Jerry (Moss). “Album! Need an album!!”
From that moment on, the schedule was never relaxed."
More of that 40th Anniversary interview:
 

LondonRobert

Well-Known Member
Until fairly recently I never knew that Kenny Everett was a DJ as well. As a little boy I remember seeing him on TV sometimes. What a character! :D
So happy to find that many of his radioshows survived on tape and are available for streaming :phones:

Here's the one that you mentioned:

Kenny Everett on Radio 1, 1973
That was amazing to listen to that show and Kenny.

He was fantastic on the radio, got the sack at least three times, for swearing and other stuff , i can't remember for what else. Then they had him back because he had such a huge audience.
An off the wall, zany guy - loved him.
Such a character, really sad when he died before his time.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
He was fantastic on the radio, got the sack at least three times, for swearing and other stuff , i can't remember for what else. Then they had him back because he had such a huge audience.
An off the wall, zany guy - loved him.
Such a character, really sad when he died before his time.

In the 1970s Kenny was a great friend of Freddie Mercury, who in 1975 loaned him an advance copy of their new single “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He swore Kenny to secrecy about its release and Kenny promptly went on to play it 16 times in one weekend on his show on BBC Radio 2. At one point he got to the end of it and announced “that was so good, let’s hear it again!” :laugh:. It’s very sad that they never spoke again after their falling out and Kenny died in 1995, four years after Freddie.
 

LondonRobert

Well-Known Member
In the 1970s Kenny was a great friend of Freddie Mercury, who in 1975 loaned him an advance copy of their new single “Bohemian Rhapsody”. He swore Kenny to secrecy about its release and Kenny promptly went on to play it 16 times in one weekend on his show on BBC Radio 2. At one point he got to the end of it and went “that was so good, let’s hear it again!” :laugh:. It’s very sad that they never spoke again after their falling out and Kenny died in 1995, four years after Freddie.
I just messaged my partner about this thread and he more or less said the same thing to me as you did Stephen, how he played the song over and over when no one else were because it was over 7 minutes long.

I've often wondered how lovely it would be to hear full length versions of Karen's vocals on the oldies medley. I wonder if they recorded full length versions?
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I’ve always been of the opinion that they dug up Jambalaya from the 1972 recording sessions because it was a quick and easy way of filling up the album due to lack of time. That’s also why the medley on side B ended up being included. In that sense, Jambalaya is actually an outtake, rather than a bona fide track intended for this album. The dead giveaway is the drum credit to Hal Blaine, whereas everything else on Now & Then is Karen.

Can you imagine if Jambalaya had been included on A Song For You? It’s nothing like any of the other songs in terms of production or style.

Jambalaya feels like a non-album b-side because it wouldn’t fit on ASFY and is older than then “then” side of N&T but is placed on the “now” half. It technically fits the lighter feel of this album, but still isn’t a great recording. I’m not big on medleys, and while the performances are well done and don’t feel as if corners are being cut, I still think the album feels half-assed because of it. Karen’s magic works best when she’s given time to develop her performance over the course of a full song, not small clips that the medley gives us. I can’t imagine anyone would keep it as is if we could have full length versions of some of those songs.

I remember in Randy Schmidt’s book “Carpenters: An Illustrated Discography” Justin Bond says something to the effect of how Top of the World was what began to ruin their legacy and what culturally turned them into an overall hokey, campy 70s group for many who didn’t know how sophisticated they really were. I think the medley was what signaled this image as much as TOTW - professional work but seen as too slight for what they were capable of.

Then again, people roll their eyes at Sing and I think it’s a brilliant track and Karen pulls out a subtly devastating performance that gives the surface sheen a worldly grit. But non-fans hear the track and may not be hearing such nuances.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Indeed, the brilliant "nuances" are everywhere in Carpenters' recordings !
I find it interesting that three songs appearing on Now & Then album strike
a divisive (or dismissive) opinion with music critics: Sing, Top of the World and to a lesser extent, Jambalaya.
So, I still believe that this album was the true beginning of the "downward slide," not Horizon.
Too few people actually listened to (or purchased) Horizon compared to Now & Then album sales/charts.
Apparently, Top of the World grew to be despised because it was played too often on the radio in the 70's
and apparently people grew tired of hearing it. I never tire of hearing the song,
so I can't confirm or deny the truth of that comment.
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
Sorry if this video had been posted before, but I just stumbled upon it...
So, had Karen and Richard lived around 1900, then this is what state-of-the-art hi-fi (or rather lo-fi) was and people at home would be hearing their music like this:


Although very early 20th century instrumentation would have been a bit different for making acoustic recordings; instead of an electric piano, can you imagine Karen being accompanied by horns and... a tuba? 😉
 

Walkinat9

Well-Known Member
Heh! I once created a mythical mono mix of "Johnny Angel", extending the song to 2:27.

Sounds great Harry! (label looks cool too! :cool:)
So we've got one of the medley-songs as a "full(er)" DJ-less track now. I should go and look for the stand-alone DJ-less "Our day will come" version I made years ago. And also pull out the Reader's Digest set, see how they did it there :)
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Sounds great Harry! (label looks cool too! :cool:)
So we've got one of the medley-songs as a "full(er)" DJ-less track now. I should go and look for the stand-alone DJ-less "Our day will come" version I made years ago. And also pull out the Reader's Digest set, see how they did it there :)
This is really nice - the track is simply doubled back on itself - all it needs is an extended piano improv by Richard in the middle, especially since his piano interweaves tastefully in the background throughout the vocal...she just kills the word "me" in the phrase "...and you love me"...

 
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Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
'Johnny Angel' and 'Our Day Will Come' are the two jewels in the Oldies Medley - the latter in particular does a great job of transforming the already good Ruby and the Romantics original into a more effortlessly jazzy and breezy affair.

I very rarely listen to the Oldies Medley as it has become hard work to get through after multiple listens and some of the selections (or at least the interpretations they came up with) aren't that great - particularly 'Da Doo Ron Ron' and 'Deadman's Curve'. I will say though that 'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes' contains what may be Richard's best solo performance in their entire catalog.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
'Johnny Angel' and 'Our Day Will Come' are the two jewels in the Oldies Medley - the latter in particular does a great job of transforming the already good Ruby and the Romantics original into a more effortlessly jazzy and breezy affair.

I will say though that 'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes' contains what may be Richard's best solo performance in their entire catalog.
I agree wholeheartedly with your views on these three songs.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
'Johnny Angel' and 'Our Day Will Come' are the two jewels in the Oldies Medley - the latter in particular does a great job of transforming the already good Ruby and the Romantics original into a more effortlessly jazzy and breezy affair.

...
"A more effortlessly jazzy and breezy affair" is a perfect description of both the arrangement and Karen's vocals on these 2 tracks - and on some others, like "It's Going To Take Some Time" and "This Masquerade". What a pleasure it is to listen to music this simple and yet elegantly appealing. Just the basics in instrumentation and a pure, unadulterated voice and singing style that is irresistable. Ha! I have no power to resist and I wish there were a lot more just like this. I wish they had video taped her in the studio recording these...come to think of it I wish they had video taped all of their recording sessions!
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Sorry if this video had been posted before, but I just stumbled upon it...
So, had Karen and Richard lived around 1900, then this is what state-of-the-art hi-fi (or rather lo-fi) was and people at home would be hearing their music like this:


Although very early 20th century instrumentation would have been a bit different for making acoustic recordings; instead of an electric piano, can you imagine Karen being accompanied by horns and... a tuba? 😉
Wow. Even on this, one can still hear how special Karen's voice was.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Quite entertaining indeed - she seemed to really be having fun - I always liked her and much of her music - any deficiencies in her vocal prowess were certainly compensated for by the quality of her compositions and her enthusiasm - but every time I hear her now I strangely think of her saying once that the Carpenter's recording of her song "It's Going to Take Some time" made her version sound like a demo - she probably didn't feel too bad about this because they had a habit of doing this to everyone whose songs they covered (and the royalties helped too), although I'm still on the fence about "Ticket to Ride", where I love both versions equally...
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I had forgotten that ‘Our Day Will Come’ was a Ruby and The Romantics song. Richard must have truly appreciated their music, as he recorded with Karen versions of three of their singles - ‘Our Day Will Come’, ‘Hurting Each Other’ and ‘Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore’ - but you probably all remembered that.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
Also the late Isaac Hayes did a great remake of "Our Day Will Come" (from late 1970 "...To Be Continued").
 
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