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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.


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  1. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I've been needling dropping my original Carpenters LP's and I'm currently up to Now & Then. The design of this LP is very cool but it makes me wonder if Richard and Karen had thought of releasing this as a 2 LP set. The LP cover is actually made perfectly for this....today opening it to get out my original LP I said what a missed opportunity not to include an LP on each side of the flip open cover.

    It would have entailed recording more tracks most likely but even if they didn't have time to record more tracks they could have opted to use less songs on each side almost like a 45 rpm on an LP allowing for better quality across the vinyl(s). I wonder if this would have worked? LP 1 could still be the pop songs and LP 2 would be the oldies.
    jaredjohnfisher likes this.
  2. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    As I recall, they were sort of stumped as to what material to record for the album that became NOW & THEN, which is why they decided to throw a whole side of oldies on there - and they still needed to fill part of Side One with a soft instrumental. I don't think there would have been enough material for a second full record.

    But yes, that tri-fold always looked like it should have held more than it did.
  3. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I could be wrong but wouldn't artists be charged a bit more for designing a tri fold album regardless whether the artist creates a 2 LP set? I would think it would have been cheaper to release a regular open end cover than a huge tri fold. I'm sure money wasn't an option for them at that point, maybe the whole point of the tri fold was for the car and releasing a 2 LP set was not even discussed. Another good question for Richard.
  4. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I think it was more for the length of the house :laugh:
    Chris May and jaredjohnfisher like this.
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Timeline, Fan Club Newsletters, 1973:
    "Mom Carpenter came up with the title of the album, Now & Then" (July Newsletter).
    "Album finally released " (June).
    "Recording day and night for new album, scheduled for release this month..April." (April).
    "continue work on the next album.."(March).
    "spending many long hours recording another album." (February).

    (1) In perusing the Fan Club Newsletters, this album seems to take as much time as usual to complete.
    (The liner Notes to Passage providing for an average of three months)
    There is no indication that I can ascertain--in the Fan Club Newsletters--regarding lack of available studio
    time, or inclination, to complete the album as conceived by Richard.
    (2) At issue was that the Robert Young TV Special airing date kept getting pushed back,
    which was being used to promote the album. ("scheduled to air in March" and "finally aired May 6th").
    Also. "the taping of their own TV special has been postponed temporarily" (May 1973).
    (3) John Bettis remarks: "that is one reason why the album--Now & Then--gained its format
    as a retrospective of Richard's favorite oldies...he didn't have the time to listen to 500 demos a year,
    so all he had to do was remember the songs he wanted to record.." (1994,Coleman, page 139)
  6. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Ha, true but then the car is also part of the multi fold out covers..it's a toss up. :laugh:
  7. Tri fold covers (some even larger than that) were not uncommon during this period; the absolute height of album cover art (70's).
  8. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    A double album by them in 1973 would have sold very, very well.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    I didn't think so early in their career they were having trouble like that already.
    I remember Richard said in a documentary once that "it's hard to come up with these things" (referring to full LPs).

    If that's the case, it makes sense they wouldn't have had the time let alone ideas for an album in '74.
    Plus explains more of the draggy-ness of what followed.
    With all considered it makes sense why later releases didn't have the same impact; although, of course they're a treasure for fans! There's a few songs they did Live that didn't make it onto an album, and of course a list of things they left unfinished in studio that would work too. I imagine with the perfectionism they both had it would be hard to find just the 'right' material.

    Were they kind of in a vacuum when it came to song selection?
    As in they had little outsider input for what they should or shouldn't record?
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Still makes little sense to me. Richard Carpenter had plenty of time, energy, and inclination
    to select the songs for LP Made In America...
    and, look at the resulting product.

    And, as Paul Williams stated, after the success of Close To You and We've Only Just Begun,
    the song writers/composers were "writing" songs with "Carpenters in mind,"
    thus, the songs were "out there"---Richard was choosing , for whatever reason, to ignore them.

    Why--for instance--would Karen Carpenter not be the first choice to record "We're All Alone" ?
    That song is virtually tailor-made for her voice....I know many folks at that time thought
    it was Karen ! Until, you really listened, and realized it was Rita Coolidge singing.

    Richard Carpenter seems to have passed many a good song by--intentionally.
    On the other hand--Horizon has some excellent material, "draggy," or not.
    Passage, too, has some excellent things happening....
    MorningOpensQuietly likes this.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Don’t forget though, that by the time of Horizon, they were really into feathering their own royalties nest: the album contained no less than 6/10 tracks written by Richard or John (or both) and I’d say four of them fell into the “draggy” category. So he could hardly blame external material for the overall feeling of the album.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    (1) Good point, although I forgot to add that I never felt Horizon to be "draggy" !
    Richard used the word 'draggy' to describe the LP, I believe, in a late 1990's documentary.
    Seems to me as if the majority of songs selected (or, written)
    for LP Horizon, were chosen purposely to "fit" Karen's lower register.
    (2) And, I believe you are correct, the desire for songwriting royalties (RC/JB)
    overshadowed picking songs from 'external' writing sources !
    (As further evidenced by the choice of "b" Side-songs !).
    (3) Even, Now & Then --imho--suffers from drawbacks:
    Heather -as a song selection, period-places them squarely in the very easy-listening section !
    The Oldies Medley, good as it is, is abbreviated from the live show--
    Richard did the same for the tan LP, not including Any Day Now--a great song.
    (4) Already, then, both 1971 and 1973-- medleys on these albums.
    Furthermore, the 'live' albums (JP/1972,UK/1976) are Medley-heavy.
    Too much, so !

    Now & Then, while a good album, should have been so very much more.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I agree, the fact that side 1 was all covers and side 2 was just one Bettis/Carpenter song followed by what is essentially one long medley, felt like short change to me. After the last three albums, it should have been of a much higher standard.
    MorningOpensQuietly likes this.
  14. I think both Karen and Richard were a bit more fragile as people than how they appeared from the outside looking in. But then, aren't we all?
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member


    Billboard Magazine, February 1974
    Here is a more extensive view --February 1974--
    of Carpenters in UK:
    "to be presented with five gold album awards, two silver disks..."
    "two Silver disks , 250,000 UK sales, for Yesterday Once More and Top Of The World,"
    "February 24, Talk of the Town appearance"
    "new single, Jambalaya"
  16. adam

    adam Active Member

    Now and Then Album sold 110,000 copies in UK by end of 1973 and was 12th best selling Album in UK of 1973. And it was 25th best selling Album of 1974 in UK.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Regarding cover songs,
    I know Please Mr. Postman (which I believe to be an inspired, brilliant, choice with great arrangement)
    gets attacked.
    But, my real concern originates earlier--with Jambalaya.....
    Appears on the US Billboard Top 100 Charts: March 10, 1973 , at #19, John Fogerty's Blue Ridge Rangers.
    And, previous to that cover, many others had covered same.
    Yes, the Carpenters' single did well in Europe, 1974,
    but, this is fluff.
    Good cover, yes. Nice enough album cut, yes.
    Did them no favors, though.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    My favorites off of the album (in no particular order):
    Yesterday Once More
    I Can't Make Music
    End Of The World
  19. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I Have The CD remaster of This and I have my favorites such as Yesterday Once more and the Medley with Tony Peluso's DJ routines ( which I love Being a DJ myself ) and This Masquerade seems to me the definitive version. All in all I think its a Great album ( I'm sure I'm in the minority here) even though it's not in the same mold as their previous works. I find there is plenty to enjoy from Every Carpenters release regardless of popularity or sales. Experiences will vary
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  20. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Record Mirror (UK music magazine)
    By all accounts of this article, this UK music critic really disliked the Carpenters and pretty harsh to Karen on her looks, I guess this is what they endured back then.

    Close To The Carpenters
    March 02, 1974

    Carpe diem and Chris Mills like this.
  21. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Record World
    Carpenters NY Concert Review April 27, 1974

    GaryAlan likes this.
  22. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    UK Concert Review Nov 26, 1976
    Record Mirror

    I didn't realize they were still performing so much 50's & 60's music still in 1976?

  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^The Record Mirror article March 2nd, 1974:
    "I'm doing all the talking here and I leave Karen to do all the singing...he jokes,
    raising a rather sarcastic laugh."
  24. If only I had known they were in Westbury in 1974!
    I was in Bethpage High School at the time, not far away.
  25. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    "The show was too much of a pot-pourri to be rated unforgettable"

    This type of criticism must have been frustrating for them - if they'd sung their catalogue of love songs for two hours, critics would have accused them of being bland and boring. I'm not sure what else they could have tried when updating their show, but I know one thing for sure: the Spike Jones and City Slickers routine would have been completely lost on British audiences.
    Jarred likes this.

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