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Official Review [Album]: "PASSAGE" (SP-4703)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Aug 6, 2013.

How Would You Rate This Album?

  1. ***** (BEST)

    7 vote(s)
  2. ****

    42 vote(s)
  3. ***

    25 vote(s)
  4. **

    5 vote(s)
  5. *

    0 vote(s)
  1. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    If they're in a moist environment, yeah. I've had many Polygram CD's over the years and many have succumbed to "ring rot". It's simple "bad sandwich" syndrome. I haven't seen anything in recent years that has fallen victim to it but the Polygrams, mirror ring or not, seemed to be especially susceptible to it. I've had it happen to numerous Warner CDs too.

    If yours aren't suffering from it now, they won't. You're safe.. :)

    Graeme likes this.
  2. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    The curious thing is why does "B'wana" suffer and little else does? I was listening to the rest of the record a little while ago and nothing else is that "near monaural". They would have been working with 24 tracks then. The rhythm section bits were fairly straight forward. It did have some strings going on but nothing extravagant. No horns at all. The Puerling vocal stuff takes up some space for sure. Listen to any of the Singers Unlimited stuff for proof how crazy he could get:

    Maybe the vocals forced the "bouncing"?

  3. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    The narrowed stereo - or mono-ness of the track never bothered me. I don't mind a good focused mono track. It was the muddiness that first exhibited itself with the Remastered Classics disc and then perpetuated on the several comps that have the track since then. It sounded nearly respectable in the highs department on the old A&M CD.
  4. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    With B'Wana, I was listening to it on the PBS Complete Singles set, and again it is mono on that set, but it appeared to have undergone a huge amount of gain to the point where it sounded like it had been clipped and then compressed and then separated to try to get some dynamic range back in the mix.

    But back in 77, could it have been that early test pressings of B'Wana had it too out-of-phase, thus it was causing the needle to jump out of the track, and the Carpenters had to mono it so that the record would play right? (Prepare Music for Vinyl Record ) And as a result, for years now the only master available was the mono master?
  5. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    He has digital copies of the original multis and the masters. The originals were lost in the A&M fire. If every version of that tune sounds as it does (I don't think it's mono but it's definitely more mono than it is stereo), it's likely that way on the tape. The only thing different here on the whole album is the Puerling vocal arrangement, which would have taken a lot of tracks to do properly. Still, the vocal should be the only "muddy" thing there and they aren't.

  6. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    This is the waveform for "B'wana She No Home" from the COMPLETE SINGLES. There has been no clipping at all, and it's only a dB or two higher than the old CD version.


    As has been stated many times in this thread by multiple of posters, "B'wana..." is a stereo track - albeit with very narrowed stereo. To my knowledge, there has never been an official mono mix.
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I hadn't noticed until today, but, on the Space Encounters Television Special,
    which opens with the song Sweet,Sweet Smile....
    Richard says...."Sweet, Sweet Smile, Take Three...."
    Now, that got me to wondering about the "one-take wonder" of Karen Carpenter;
    that is, how many "takes" did it actually "take" to complete vocals on this song ?
    Are any other vocals extent ? Snippets or complete.
  8. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Sweet, Sweet Smile does not sound good on Carpenters Gold 35th Anniversary Edition. The high frequency notes are muffled, sounded great on the original Passage CD. How could this happen?
    Harry likes this.
  9. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    That's a relief. Actually, turns out only a few are Polygram ones, the rest are the remastered 30th anniversary additions. I have quite a few WB James Taylor CDs though. I'll work my way through them some time.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  10. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    Finally, an advantage to living in the driest state on the driest continent in the world. I've got thousands and thousands of CDs. It sounds as if they shouldn't be getting ring rot anytime soon.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation and Graeme like this.
  11. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Sure it wouldn't show up on your sample, but when Richard and company digitized the original analog masters, was the original in the 0 to +10 range a lot on the analog tapes, but then clipped on the digital master that someone with sound editing software compressed and then separated before the track was put onto the CD?

    It can be a stereo track as much as the old Louis Arsmstrong/Bing Crosby track "Gone Fishing" is on a CD. It's 2.0 mono.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    It mostly is - we agree there. Listen to the Rhodes in the intro. The Rhodes pops out as pure stereo. I was just listening to it last night.

  13. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Tom seems to be convinced that "B'wana..." is pure mono and compressed and clipped. We've tried to convince him otherwise, but he remains convinced of his own theories. It certainly *is* a mostly mono track, though not totally. It likely *is* compressed to some degree as most records are. This particular track is one that they probably added a little extra compression on - it's got that kind of feel to it. Remember that Richard and Karen grew up in the age of big-time AM radio stations in Southern California, and probably loved that sound. It's evident on the "Postman" single mix too.
  14. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    I expect Richard's intro was done for television. I have only heard about SUPERSTAR being a one-take single. it is a great track, but time crunch also to do with the decision to use the only take; how many times has Richard had to explain about the bleeding. if there had been more time, i'm sure there would have been another take. on GOODBYE TO LOVE, the sound engineer can clearly be heard saying, " nine ".
  15. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    After all this "B'wana..." talk, I decided to have a little fun with it and "lift the veil". I took a crack at it anyway. If this isn't workable here, I'll totally understand if those in charge decide to delete it.

    Jamesj75, Chris Mills and Don Malcolm like this.
  16. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Listening to it again, I have to say I really enjoy 'Bwana She No Home'. Even if there's an element of desperation in the choice of such a range of material for the Passage album, this track goes to show that they could deliver the goods on the right song. It is a shame that it's so muddy-sounding though.

    I realise this song has never been one selected much for inclusion on compliations, which may explain why it's not happened, but given that a number of album tracks have been subjected to unnecessary remixing over the years when the original versions were just fine as they were, it's a real shame that the one track in their catalogue that's crying out for a remix has been overlooked. Although, that said, at least this means we're spared any attempt to insert a toy piano, harp or oboe into 'Bwana'!
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  17. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    What a great idea Ed, and pretty much anyone with a Windows system can experiment with it within the Windows Media Player program. There's a playback feature within that program called SRS Wow Effect. It supposedly expands the stereo to be more exaggerated. I always leave it off as it's actually just a wonky processing effect that I don't want on my music. I want to hear the music as it was originally processed.

    If you have Windows Media Player, while a stereo song is playing, click on the three dots and an arrow in a square on the lower right. That switches you to the "Now Playing" mode. Once there, right click the background and it will bring up a menu with the word "Enhancements" in it. Select "Enhancements" and then "SRS WOW Effects". If the effect is turned off, it will have a "Turn On" link. Use that to turn the effect on, and while playing "B'wana She No Home", slide the WOW effect slider to the right.

    You'll soon hear the guitar in the song slide all the way to the left of the sound field and Richard's low "...B'wana!" will come from the right channel. It's a wonky way to listen to any song, but it DOES prove that the track has some stereo elements to it. If you attempt this with a pure mono track like "Ticket To Ride" on the singles set, you'll get no expansion of the sound at all. The fact that it works on "B'wana" proves that there are stereo elements to the recording, albeit quite narrowed.

    Be sure to go back and turn off all the enhancements that you messed with - otherwise you'll forget and then everything on your computer's Windows Media Player will sound funny and you'll wonder why!
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  18. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Thanks for posting that illustration @ThaFunkyFakeTation. I was going to do a phase cancel on this and post it, which would have given a similar effect but this again demonstrates that the song was never mixed dual mono (a.k.a. 2.0 ) @tomswift2002.

    You can have 23 of the 24 tracks on the master technically centered in the mix, and assign just one track to stereo for separation along with your effects sends (reverbs, delay, chorus or what have you) in stereo as well, and you have a 2-channel stereo mix, REGARDLESS of how many of the tracks on the multi are left centered during mix down. Don't want anyone confused by all of this. :)
    Rudy likes this.
  19. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    Is there an explanation for the loss of high frequency sound on the album after the original A&M CD pressing.
  20. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Usually depends on where they pulled the 1/4" 2-channel master from and what state it was in at the time. I know the copies in England are the best source on all this Carpenters stuff, but not certain where they got this one for all of the post original A&M disc.
    Chris Mills likes this.
  21. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Funny to think now, but in 1977, when I first heard Passage, I wanted Bwana to be the single that came next. I did enjoy Sweet Sweet Smile but thought Bwana would have been better encouragement for album sales. SSSmile was a Top of the World type that made most feel like they already had that sound in their greatest hits collection or prior albums. After 8 albums there needs to be a reason for another purchase of the same artist and I thought Bwana had that qualification as a great song that was an alternative to the usual style, or at the very least a more modern appeal to Another Song from Close To You. There are so many treasures in the albums that most people never had an opportunity for listening pleasure. This is always one I include for those who want to learn more of their talents. However, these days, I meet fewer people who even know who they are so all the songs can be pure pleasure. Plus, after all these years, we have found that even through the unreleased material there are even more treasures. I keep wishing for that one more trinket and hope it's not the same result as I eagerly awaited for Bwana as a single release.

    Sometimes, I wonder what would have been the next single if Klatuu did not write a song of a Beatles feel and the world contact day was never made into a song. Bwana?

    Don Malcolm and Chris May like this.
  22. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Agreed. When you "lift the fog", the separation becomes more apparent. I added further separation (albeit very slightly) and everything jumps out nicely. I also boosted the low end very slightly. Most of the boost came at the high-end (around 8k or so).

    The Rhodes is clearly in stereo and the background vocals are too. There is a flaw in the mix in the backgrounds when they come back in during Pete's piano solo. Richard's bass notes (VERY LOW bass notes...like Len Dresslar* low, btw) jump out way too far and weren't mixed properly. This hides well in the original master but when I remastered it, it jumped out more dramatically. Likely, these vocals were sub-mixed before the track was due to the sheer number of parts so perhaps they were trying to hide things like that. Hard to say. It's also something Richard couldn't have gone back and fixed later because, as @Chris May said, they were working with 24 tracks and Richard likely used them all for this tune.


    *Len Dresslar is better known as "The Jolly Green Giant" in all those commercials. He also worked with the arranger, Gene Puerling, in the Singers Unlimited.
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  23. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Can I just say I LOVE this recording! Always have. Karen sounds amazing- and it's great to hear they could still have as much fun as it sounds they had!
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
    Jorge and Don Malcolm like this.
  24. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Would "Occupants" have even been a single without the popularity of "Star Wars" as an incentive? I seem to recall reading that Richard wasn't that sold on its potential as a single due to the length and editing difficulties (though I thought they did a fine job with the edit). So what would single #2 have been otherwise?

    I personally think they made all the right choices with "Passage". They were battling problems in the marketplace and on radio that had very little to do with the quality of the music, unfortunately.

    (BTW, I've always loved "Bwana" too...in fact, this cut turned me into a Michael Franks fan.)
  25. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    It's just a band in the studio KILLING it and Karen...being Karen.

    Jamesj75 and Don Malcolm like this.

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