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

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, May 2, 2013.


  1. ***** (BEST)

    13 vote(s)
  2. ****

    36 vote(s)
  3. ***

    16 vote(s)
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    1 vote(s)
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  1. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    song4u: Thanks for your input! All of what you said makes sense.

    Chris: Thank you for helping restore a smidgen of my sanity. I'm glad I am not alone in my perception... I like your remark about their teeth:
    LOL! I just hope that their nice teeth didn't add to their image problems...:)
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I'm with Chris on this one as I own this set too. The detail is amazing, I couldn't believe it the first time I opened the little singles out of their clear sleeves and the tiny 3" discs fell into my hands. They are perfect replicas of the original Japanese 45 singles. Definitely worth buying. I've shown them to many friends who also marvelled at the concept of mini singles on CD.
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  3. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Let's leave it to their dentists to pick at their teeth! :D
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  4. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I think the Osmonds had the same smiles. :wink:
  5. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    The only negative I have about the set is that they are 3" discs, it was no problem with I had my old XP system that took those smaller size CD's but I got rid of that and went to a Mac and the standalone CD drive is one of those that sucks in the CD so it won't take those smaller discs. I do have another CD rom drive I could hook up externally that has a tray that will fit the 3" disc so all hope is not lost, just I'd have to dig it out and hook it all up but thank goodness I already burned all 33 discs from that set into my iTunes library. All that to say, those 3" discs are not really user friendly for me.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Another irrelevant rambling:
    Which Oldies Medley is preferable--that which appears on
    Now & Then or, that which appears on the Live In Japan album ?
    And, then, why did Karen and Richard alter the Oldies Medley ?--such
    that the concerts differ from the studio recording.
  7. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    When listening to Now & Then (Vinyl, especially), it is of some interest to be able to
    directly compare Hal Blaine's Jambalaya-style drumming to Karen Carpenter's style,
    perhaps this partially explains its (Jambalaya) placement after the instrumental Heather ?
    And, presumably the Hal Blaine part was done in 1972. (".. rhythm track was recorded in 1972
    and put aside."
    Richard Carpenter, Essential Collection)
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    October 30, 1978 Interview (Liner Notes Reader's Digest 1997):
    Karen Carpenter: "There were a lot of things on this (Now & Then) album that we wanted to release as singles,
    Our Day Will Come, End Of The World, Johnny Angel...but, we didn't want to get stuck in an oldies thing."
  10. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I wish they had. Our Day Will Come would have been beautiful as a full on Carpenters album track.
    GaryAlan and Chris Mills like this.
  11. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Amy Winehouse recorded 'Our Day Will Come' and as much as I appreciate Amy's incredible voice, listen to both versions of the song, and Karen's vocal wins for me every time.
    Charlie D and GaryAlan like this.
  12. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Interesting, first time I'd heard this comment. Technically, in 1973, they weren't stuck in the oldies...that fear might be more appropriate after oldies had become their lead singles from two consecutive albums. It would almost have made more sense for them to release an "oldies" single in support of Now and Then. Half the album was oldies -- releasing a third single drawn from the medley would have given the public a taste of what the album was about.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I agree. Which of the oldies songs do you think would have been the most successful as a single in support of the album? I'd go for Our Day Will Come or One Fine Day.
    Toolman likes this.
  14. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Deserves a listen, great song.
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    My second favourite version of the song after Karen's. I was over the moon when I saw it as the opening track on Lioness and Amy definitely doesn't disappoint.
    Charlie D likes this.
  16. Charlie D

    Charlie D Active Member

    Amy is a huge favorite of mine, and she absolutely nails the song in her own unique way, it sounds so hopeful and bright, just like she was at that point in her life. I read that she learned the song just a few minutes before recording it but by the way she sings it you'd think she'd known it forever.

    My two favorite altos as well, they had very similar lives in some ways that resulted in their tragic early deaths.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Johnny Pearson, Composer of --- "Autumn Reverie"
    Heather (
    Carpenters' instrumental as a B-side to Top of The World!) :
    "More television work followed as Pearson conducted orchestras for programs starring the Carpenters and Dusty Springfield.
    The Carpenters' 1973 album Now and Then ,included the song Heather, which had originated as an instrumental called Autumn Reverie, written by Pearson in 1968 as a piece of library music, made for TV, film and commercial producers looking for low-cost, ready-made background music."

    An accomplished and classically-trained musician, Pearson first appeared on Top Of The Pops in early 1965 as the pianist with the group Sounds Orchestral, whose first single Cast Your Fate To The Wind had reached No 5 in the charts. He joined the staff of the show in 1967, the year it moved from Manchester to London and the scantily-clad dancers Pan’s People were introduced.
    In 1966 the all-powerful Musicians’ Union had banned pop stars from miming to their records. This meant that artists either had to pre-record their numbers especially or perform live with the Top Of The Pops Orchestra, an assembly of jobbing musicians more accustomed to easy-listening arrangements for crooners like Matt Monro and Des O’Connor.
    As disorganised popstars often arrived at the studio on the day with no band parts at all, Pearson and the orchestra frequently had to improvise backing tracks. Inevitably the session men, almost all middle-aged, often struggled with the enormous range of rock and pop tunes with which they were presented. A gentle ballad by Val Doonican was one thing; a funky disco track by Tina Charles quite another.
    Even a middle-of-the-road artist like Cliff Richard had his doubts about the band’s inner grooviness, and ability to “get it on”. “They had no feel for the tracks,” he complained. “You could tell they didn’t even like rock and roll.”
    Another problem for Pearson was that, on the conductor’s rostrum, he had to contend with the extensive and rigidly-enforced provisions of the union’s rule book. In rehearsal, if a tea break was due, the orchestra would break off in the middle of a song and walk out, leaving American funk and soul superstars scratching their heads.
    With so many acts featuring on Top Of The Pops each week, rehearsal time was sorely limited. Pearson would have to explain to stars like Elton John that they had just 20 minutes to run through their number with the orchestra, which was corralled in a corner of the studio and hardly ever seen on camera.
    When Simon and Garfunkel arrived to sing their plangent hit Bridge Over Troubled Water and saw the thinly-populated string section, they refused to perform and returned to their hotel.
    Pearson had more success with backing tracks for artists like Bing Crosby, Neil Sedaka, John Denver and a young Michael Jackson, who sang his first solo hit Ben on the programme in 1972.
    His 16-year association with Top Of The Pops behind him, Pearson concentrated on musical composition, and produced a sizeable body of work in various styles. As well as easy listening and production music, he also wrote more demanding scores, such as the Gemini suite for piano and orchestra, and the Arabesque suite which included his familiar News At Ten theme.
    John Valmore Pearson was born on June 18 1925 at Plaistow, east London, the only child of a steel erector. Having started playing the piano aged seven, he won a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and studied under the pianist Solomon. John gave solo recitals, performing works by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, but when war broke out Lamda closed, and for the next six years he worked as an apprentice toolmaker and engineer.
    After National Service with the Royal Artillery Band, Pearson became a freelance musician, playing in the Malcolm Mitchell jazz trio; working as a pianist on The Goon Show and other radio programmes in the 1950s; and as a session musician on several pop hits of the early 1960s. In 1964 he made a memorable arrangement of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David number, Anyone Who Had A Heart, which became a No 1 British hit for Cilla Black. His delicate scoring for strings and French horn proved a perfect contrast to Cilla Black’s dramatic rendition. He also arranged her follow-up single, You’re My World (1964).
    In the mid-1960s Pearson also formed the successful easy-listening group, Sounds Orchestral. His distinctive and delicate piano touch on the group’s version of a 1962 instrumental number, Cast Your Fate To The Wind, gave it an unusually airy and jazzy feel. The record remained in the British charts for four months in 1965 and also charted in the United States; it sold more than a million copies worldwide and earned a gold disc.
    The group’s spin-off album of the same name (controversially featuring a naked woman in silhouette on the cover) was the first of 17 easy-listening albums released over the following decade. By the time Sounds Orchestral wound up in 1975, Pearson had carved out a successful solo career as a pianist and arranger. Shortly after contributing to the 900th edition of Top Of The Pops, in August 1981, he left the programme.
    Over the years, much of his output was library or production music, available for radio play and as incidental music in dramas. One of Pearson’s most popular compositions in this vein, the languid Sleepy Shores, recorded by his own orchestra, was chosen as the theme to the BBC Television drama series Owen MD, starring Nigel Stock. It reached No 8 in the pop charts in 1972.
    Another of his library pieces, Piano Parchment, which he had recorded with his orchestra 10 years earlier, became the perky signature tune of the popular series about a Yorkshire vet’s practice, All Creatures Great And Small, in 1978.
    But Pearson’s best-known and most enduring television theme was the menacing opening music for ITN’s News At Ten, which was first heard when the programme launched in 1967. Featuring a fortissimo brass figure over percussive strings, it lasts less than 15 seconds before yielding to the portentous “bongs” of Big Ben.
    Pearson’s theme was nearly dropped during pre-launch rehearsals because women complained it was too shrill and ear-piercing. Another composer was hurriedly commissioned to write a replacement, but when the editor-in-chief heard Pearson’s theme in conjunction with the Big Ben “bongs” he recognised a winning combination and ordered it to stand. News At Ten has used it, in one form or another, ever since.
  18. LondonRobert

    LondonRobert Active Member

    I used to love all creatures great and small - 'heather' used to be played during the show sometimes, always gave me a buzz when they used it.
  19. Someday

    Someday Active Member

    I object to Matt Monro being labelled a 'crooner' I must say. One of the most talented vocalists who ever lived; near perfect pitch, breath control and intonation. AND a major influence on KC.
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Billboard Magazine, March 9,1974:
    Jambalaya w/Mr.Guder
    Britain#48 (reaches#12, spends nine weeks on charts)
    Denmark, Now&Then,#11

    Charted elsewhere, such as Austria and Germany, Ireland.....
    Richard Carpenter got a lot of mileage from Mr. Guder !
    Here we are in Spring 1974 and Mr. Guder (written late 1967) is raking in some dough !
    Paul Williams wasn't kidding about 'free-rides' on the flip-side.
  21. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Both of those are very good choices, I think. Maybe a double-sided single so I don't have to pick between them. :)
    newvillefan likes this.
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Johnny Pearson's
    Autumn Reverie from 1968:
  23. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I can see where they would have been concerned about getting stuck in the oldies "bag." Have two or three hits with oldies and suddenly that's all people would want/expect.

    To me the best thing about the oldies medley was it showcased how much fun they could have with uptempo material. If they'd released one or two of those fast songs as singles and had hits, maybe they would have been inspired to do more fast songs (not oldies but either their own or other contemporary tunes) on their albums, like they did in the earliest LPs. I think the world kind of got shortchanged on what K&R could have accomplished thanks to most of their hits being ballads.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    This is the issue which gets to the crux of many a critic's review of their albums:
    Between the self-titled Tan Album (at a total run time of 29 min 16 sec) and Now&Then (which, without Heather is 31 min 3 sec.),
    there are not enough contemporary songs.
    Karen's voice as perfect as you will, along with Richard's astute arranging, should have embraced many more contemporary tunes.
    18% of the time spent on the Tan album is Medley, 41 % of the time spent on Now & Then is Medley.
    (Someone might want to double-check my arithmetic, to be sure.)
    The sequencing on each album, thus, becomes a bit less flexible-- more rigidly imposed.
    On the Tan album we have a coupling of Rainy Days and Mondays followed immediately by Saturday; Superstar followed by Druscilla Penny.
    (What a way to emphasize two of the weakest songs on the album....precede them with truly outstanding songs....).
    Now & Then, because of the Side Two Medley/format, has Side One occupied by Opening with Sing, then follows This Masquerade, then Heather...!
    ( This Masquerade easily the outstanding tune in that triplet).
    I still remember the critic who said: "They sure can't make music" (regarding the end of side one with I Can't Make Music)
    (And, Richard Carpenter subsequently took that one to litigation.)

    In conclusion, much as I enjoy listening to those Medleys, they seem to be a substitute for where Karen and Richard
    should have been going with their talents, which is why Horizon was such a great album for me.
    (It being the first album I listened to in its entirety by Carpenters, all others followed forthwith.)
    Thus, I understand the critics/reviewers at times, although I may not agree with their assessments.
    jaredjohnfisher likes this.
  25. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    Regarding "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" -- I would love to know who does those laughs in the song. When it comes on, my mom always says, "Richard sounds like he's having way too much fun", but I insist it's one of their band guys like Gary Sims. Time to settle who's right once and for all! :evil:

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