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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 13 18.3%
  • ****

    Votes: 40 56.3%
  • ***

    Votes: 17 23.9%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    71

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I do agree with the consensus here generally that the album isn't up to par as a whole with their other classic albums - 1973 was a peak for them and they should have been focusing on creating a full, complete album that wasn't just filled with, well, filler. Karen's voice was at a new peak in 1973 and Richard's arrangements were as brilliant as ever and yet we get a half-assed medley and an instrumental. I actually like the golden-brown hued "Heather" but it should never have been on an album when they were still at their peak and Karen's in prime vocal shape. The hit and miss aspect of N&T makes the songs good to hear individually but not together as one unit, which is fine, we would all have liked full length cuts over bits of medley (no matter how breezy they sound. There's an article written about this album particularly (I'll find the link and report back) which went in detail about its cultural significance within early 70s America and how Karen's voice was worthy of discourse within itself. I believe he labeled it "the whitest album ever made" or something like that. I love it for what it is and it singularly encapsulates (more than any other album of theirs) their fascinating yet frustrating image as 70s American kitsch.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
By the time N&T came out, the Carps were considered very serious and each album seemed "heavy". They were 23 and 27, and still young. N&T was playful, and I think they needed that change of image.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
That disco version is bizarre! Has it ever been noticed before on this forum? First time hearing about it for me. It's so weird that they'd pick this wistful ballad from eight years earlier and change it. It doesn't work at all but it's interesting. Karen probably got a kick out of it.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
How surreal. I'm fairly familiar with the Spinners' catalogue but had no idea they'd recorded this. It's an odd approach to take, but it's actually not that bad. Part of my problem with the Carpenters' version is that the lyrics don't match the slowness of the song, so speeding it up actually is no bad thing.

Apparently the Spinners' single made #52 in 1981, ironically charting higher than some of the Carpenters' own singles released that year.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
The article above is a pleasant read, but he does not effectively join his premise into a complete concept. Instead, he wishes for us to follow assumptions without exact definitions, but quasi-examples as fact. At one point he is complimentary of Karen and Richard but tries to block them into a category of fictitious platitudes of social confinement. His feelings are present but he struggles to define them.

Maybe some things don't need parameters. There is not always an explanation for emotional musical communication. These reviewers seem to forget the mass appeal by sales numbers that broke their definition of categorization. Can it simply be that we like them and they transcend boundaries set by others? Their competitive playing field was seen on top of official charts for 5 years, at a minimum. Their international success was the result of agents who wanted to book them for engagements based on those run of hits. Everyone wanted a piece of their fortune, but critics seem to forget that nugget of information in their accesmemts. They insist on backhanded compliments that result in shame for others to like them outside of their definition of value vs society as they see it.

Now and Then is an enjoyable album. The medley concept of '60's tunes is successfully executed and was a favorite in their live shows. I still listen to it for I love to hear all the voice parts laid on top of each other in such a fun listening fashion. Even today, any artist who looks back at a hit is rewarded with appreciation, but definitions still are sought by critics as borders in social climate. Why can't music simply be enjoyed?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^How about this ?

" Despite being made for the masses, pop songs can seem to speak to us personally and seduce us.
They can seem to have been designed to specifically illuminate our lives, but ultimately they have nothing to reveal;
at some point we discover that everything we thought we saw in them came from inside us and that they have duped us into engaging merely in an ersatz emotional dialogue with ourselves. "
More:
The Carpenters, The Carpenters (1971)
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
^^How about this ?

" Despite being made for the masses, pop songs can seem to speak to us personally and seduce us.
They can seem to have been designed to specifically illuminate our lives, but ultimately they have nothing to reveal;
at some point we discover that everything we thought we saw in them came from inside us and that they have duped us into engaging merely in an ersatz emotional dialogue with ourselves. "
More:
The Carpenters, The Carpenters (1971)
That is a very strange review. I think the reviewer is actually being quite positive about much of the album, but the praise is so tangled up in the mockery, it's hard to be sure. It's that age-old problem of critics, particularly from the rock press, spinning the now-familiar line of 'initially it seemed saccharine and laughable, but after she died we noticed the sadness there'. How anyone didn't notice the melancholy or at least some emotional ambivalence when listening to 'Rainy Days and Mondays', 'Superstar', 'Let Me Be the One' or 'For All We Know', either back then or now, is quite beyond me.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Yes !
This so-called revisionism makes no sense to me.
The music was great as it was---during Karen's lifetime.
Her passing does not somehow infuse more pathos, more meaning into the songs--
that meaning was always there.
Of course, younger folks--those who were not yet born in the 1970s (as those songs or albums
were released nad played on the radio) tend to automatically interject (extra ?) meaning into the songs
due to Karen's ultimately tragic end.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Of all the people who sang these songs through the years it is the Carpenters that get the jet settled back handed compliment with a society comparison as if a slap across the face to the listener is required for a wake up call. Maybe the others aren’t even worthy of a review? Or, maybe since the Carpenters sold millions maybe a few people would read them and then the critic’s review will propel him in press music world?
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
^^Yes !
This so-called revisionism makes no sense to me.
The music was great as it was---during Karen's lifetime.
Her passing does not somehow infuse more pathos, more meaning into the songs--
that meaning was always there.
Of course, younger folks--those who were not yet born in the 1970s (as those songs or albums
were released nad played on the radio) tend to automatically interject (extra ?) meaning into the songs
due to Karen's ultimately tragic end.
They want to make it a tragedy played out in song. A secret torture veiled in song. It’s not glamorous enough to just state that the disease took over the person’s best attempt in the struggle of recovery. She wanted to live!
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
^^How about this ?

" Despite being made for the masses, pop songs can seem to speak to us personally and seduce us.
They can seem to have been designed to specifically illuminate our lives, but ultimately they have nothing to reveal;
at some point we discover that everything we thought we saw in them came from inside us and that they have duped us into engaging merely in an ersatz emotional dialogue with ourselves. "
More:
The Carpenters, The Carpenters (1971)
This is one of the most interesting, compelling articles written about them and that quote you posted is profound, really. I don't think the review is meant as mocking at all - he may not "love" their music but he's analyzing it from a broader standpoint, more of a critic of their place in the human condition.

And I'm not saying the article I posted is perfect by any means, but rather there's nuggets of fascinating, dark observation that I don't think anyone can deny is true.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
The Spinners medley of "Yesterday Once More" & "Nothing Remains The Same" went to # 52 (Billboard Hot 100), # 45 (AC Charts) & # 32 (R&B Soul) in May of 1981. Matt Clark Sanford, MI
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
As is evident through perusal of my writings:
I am hardly a fan of Medleys--in my opinion there are far too many
Medleys (studio medleys, concert medleys, television special medleys)
in Carpenters' over-all catalog.
But....I will say that the N&T Medley is growing on me.
In fact.... if I pretend that this N&T Medley were the only medley
(ignore everything that I heard later)...
I really love it.
Tony Peluso (lead guitar) and Karen Carpenter (drums) make a great combination.
As for song choice, here is eight minutes of vocal bliss (imho):
End Of The World,
Da Do Ron Ron
Johnny Angel
Our Day Will Come
One Fine Day.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I loved the medley when I first heard it, and again when I heard it remixed on the box set, but I tired of it quickly both times. I haven’t listened to it in years. The DJ chatter got old for me pretty quickly. I’d much rather have heard some of the songs in their entirety as standalone tracks, they’re that good.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, my mother hands me a pristine copy of the LP today....
yet, another listen....
Anyway, it is no secret that two of my favorite songs here are:
Sing and I Can't Make Music.

I have not changed my view after all these years,
the arrangement for Sing is a stroke of musical genius (and, I rarely utilized that "genius" terminology).
Also, its use in the live-concerts was also remarkable.
(I wish the children's choir had been used on the arrangement for Rainbow Connection.)
Yes, I like
This Masquerade,
but, gee, I think the flute is over-utilized.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I loved the medley when I first heard it, and again when I heard it remixed on the box set, but I tired of it quickly both times. I haven’t listened to it in years. The DJ chatter got old for me pretty quickly. I’d much rather have heard some of the songs in their entirety as standalone tracks, they’re that good.
I love the medley in its original form. The overdubbing vocal stacks are exceptional and we can really hear Karen’s vocal talents. In future releases only her solo stuff can compare. The quad version gives even a deeper perspective in the Now & Then jewels. To me, the remixes diminish the value of these songs. Only the main vocal line is clearer, but the other magic is missing in them. So original form for me, and I never get tired of listening to all the fun and listening candy it contains. In the remixes I agree with the boredom after a few listens.
 

ars nova

Active Member
I have always wanted to hear the background vocals in DEADMAN'S CURVE, I can hear just enough to make them annoying.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
The Spinners charted with this in 1981,
Yesterday Once More
:
I bought this as a single when it was released. I liked it. It is, of course, different from Carpenters' version but has its merits and charm. Btw, this is the album version. The single version is edited from this and that gives it a different feel.

A few years ago, I hunted for any Spinners singles anthology that might include the single edit but couldn't find one, so bought the 'Labor of Love' CD album, from which the song came. (It only includes the long version).

This single came not long after Spinners' big hits, 'Working My Way Back to You / Forgive Me Girl' and 'Cupid / I've Loved You For a Long Time' and uses very much the same sound and formula, right down to coupling two songs in a medley. Although 'Yesterday Once More / Nothing Remains the Same' was a minor hit, making it to US No. 52, it seems the public might have been becoming a bit tired of the sameness in Spinners' singles at the time, (they released a number of other medleys, too), and didn't buy it in such vast quantities.

I still like the single version.
 

adam

Active Member
Now and Then . chart facts.

Australia..3
Belgium. 5
Canada. 2
Denmark. 11
Japan. 1
Netherlands. 2
Norway. 12.
UK.2
USA.2
 
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