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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. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Its a 45 jacket from Argentina featuring Don't Cry For Me outta Brazil. Has the front cover PASSAGE Carpenters logo.
    Mark-T likes this.
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Don't get too excited, it's just a picture of the sleeve for the 1983 single Don't Cry For Me Argentina.
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member


    's--- October 8,1977--write-up regarding Passage
    still makes for delightful reading:
    I Just Fall In Love Again....
    " features thick strings, and a big angelic chorus effect. It is a tribute to Karen's
    expressive, emotional vocal and to the excellence of Steve Dorff's melody that the song never becomes
    lost in the production."
    Country in two of the Album's best numbers....
    Sweet ,S weet, Smile.... "fast paced, punchy, sly vocal" and,
    Two Sides ...." a sound much like their 'Caught Between Goodbye And I Love You' "
    B'Wana She No Home..." a tasty rhythm number "
    "impeccably crafted"..... All You Get From Love Is A Love Song
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Given the recent Grammy Awards being handed-out,
    I thought--again--about this album, Passage....

    What could have been done--at that time-- to get this album noticed ?
    Could anything have been done ?

    I know the Tan LP won a Grammy Award,
    but, I (still) believe Passage is a better album !
  5. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Passage certainly has its moments but is a very uneven album with a couple of real clunkers in there too. The Tan album, 'Druscilla Penny' and (to a lesser extent) 'Saturday' aside, is pretty much perfect.

    They were certainly up against it when Passage was released and the comparative failure of 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song', which sounded like it should have done much better, signalled that they were going to have their work cut out in making it a success.

    I think to some extent they were paying in 1977 for taking their eye off the ball with the A Kind of Hush album and releasing some poor single choices from it, as this just accelerated the resistance to their output that had started during the Horizon campaign - had Passage appeared in 1976 in Hush's place, I'm sure it would have performed much better. But then sometimes the market for whatever just won't take to a product, even if it's reasonably presented and well-judged. They didn't do much to promote it though - no TV spots, no international trips to Europe/Japan, the TV special wasn't shown until the album had already fallen off the charts in 1978...

    It's a shame the singles sales and airplay charts that Billboard started to publish from the mid-1980s weren't made available for this period so that we could see whether the singles were falling down due to a lack of sales, lack of airplay or both. I recall reading that 'Calling Occupants' did reasonable business sales-wise, but was hampered from climbing higher on the charts to a lack of broad support from radio stations.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Thanks for the input ! And, many good points.
    I do recall Billboard writing that pre-release sales for Passage--in Japan--exceeded 250,000 copies.
    Richard Carpenter was also Grammy-nominated for arrangement on Calling Occupants.
    And, of course, the album did reasonably well in the UK.
    Even so, the lack of attention in USA continues to baffle me.

    Interesting how we (fans) perceive these albums, differently.
    While the Tan album has the three Big Singles--
    Superstar, Rainy Days, For All We Know....I still believe that that does not make a perfect album,
    it does make three perfect million-selling singles, boosting profile and sales of that album !

    In any event, I hold Passage to be a better album,
    despite its flaws !
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    1977....Year In Review...Radio And Records Magazine,page 16,December .....
    "Top 40 really went to the movies in 1977..starting right at the top of the
    year -end chart with Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" from the movie of
    the same name, and continuing with Barbra Sbeisard's "Theme From A Star Is
    Born," Meco's "Star Wars" theme, Bill Conti's "Theme From Rocky'; Carly
    Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" from "The Spy Who Loved Me'; and Rose
    Royce's "Car Wash." Top 40 music played a major part in other movies of
    1977 including "Saturday Night Fever" containing two hits for the Bee Gees.
    Lights, camera and plenty of retail action!"
    "Performers relatively new to Top 40 listeners crossed over from a primarily
    AOR audience in 1977 continuing a trend of the last few years. Artists like
    the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Al Stewart; Randy Newman, Jimmy Buffett; Rita
    , Kansas and Dave Mason broke into "power rotation" at Top 40
    stations all over the country."
    "Country superstars scored well on the chart this year with big hits for
    Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle."
    "And some friends of Top 40 radio returned in 1977...Johnny Rivers, Bob
    Seger, Manfred Mann and Marvin Gaye went top ten. And of course, Stevie
    Wonder's long silence was broken to the critical acclaim of a/most everyone."
    "In 1976 only one female soloist was in the top 20. This year's Top 77
    has five females in the top 20 with Debby Boone, Catty Simon, Barbra Sbeisand
    and Mary MacGregor all having number one records. Both of Rita Coolidge's
    hits went to number two."
    "Disco music did not have nearly the impact in 1977 that it had enjoyed
    in the two previous years. K.C. and to Sunshine Band cranked out two more
    top five smashes and Thelma Houston and the Jackson each went top ten."
    "Overall 1977 took musical diversity one step further. All the music formats
    seemed to be getting closer together with AOR, Country, Adult Contemporary
    and Top 40 sharing more musical selections than in any previous year. There is
    no indication that this trend will cease anytime soon. And as playlists get
    closer and closer together, the real difference between the music radio formats
    becomes presentation and pacing rather than types of music played."
  8. adam

    adam Active Member

    Although Passage had pre advanced sales in Japan of 250,000 copies,what it actually sold was just 87,000 copies failing to achieve Gold status in Japan.But it did receive Gold status in UK for sales of 100,000 copies.
    Lack of promotion possibly a factor in low sales they should have made TV appearances or radio interviews.
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^That is quite interesting, Adam !
    In that same vein,
    how much of their album product had higher "shipping" numbers, compared to actual sales numbers !
  10. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    So, listened to this album this morning--a vinyl promo copy--
    and, I still--to this very day--find the album to be exceptional.
    We have fantastic Karen Carpenter vocals: great leads and backing vocals,
    interesting and creative song choice, creative arrangements,
    a great album cover.
    Really, I am still perplexed as to its overall poor chart success.
    Carpe diem likes this.
  11. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Completely agree, Gary. Several great tracks on this album and the packaging is attractive and unique (love the label on the vinyl also). The past few days, I have been obsessed with All You Get From Love Is A Love Song and the video of a still vibrant and beautiful Karen dancing! It's a real :hmmm: as to why this song was at least not in the top ten. After the lackluster "A Kind Of Hush", radio stations writing the duo off at that point?
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I think it had little to do with the quality of the material and more to do with radio’s perception of them. Richard has said before that by that point, no matter what they put out, radio just wouldn’t play their songs, which in turn would have driven sales to some degree.
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The Anthology LP/JP-Set has the song
    Don't Cry For Me Argentina without the Balcony/Opening.
    I do wonder if the song should have been placed as such on the original LP
    Passage....I mean, once you get to Karen's opening vocals, the song soars !
    And, that Harp....sounds fantastic (near the end).....
    So, were I re-imagining Passage--back in 1977--
    I would have removed that Opening Operatic part of Argentina
    and included one more song on the album.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    So would I. Aside from the fact Richard produced it, it's not even a Carpenters track therefore was a waste of space.

    Some observations I made while thinking this through:

    - They could easily have fitted another song or two on the album and binned off the atrocious Man Smart, Woman Smarter.
    - There was never any need to "toss a coin" (as Richard put it) over the two ballads, because they could have both sat equally on the album. Not including You're The One during Karen's career robbed her of perhaps some of her most noteworthy praise. It's right up there at the top with her finest vocal performances, if not the best.
    - Sweet, Sweet Smile, Sailing On The Tide and Two Sides segue beautifully because they're in the same key.

    With all of that in mind, this is what I would have done with the song selection and running order:

    1. B'Wana She No Home
    2. All You Get From Love Is A Love Song
    3. I Just Fall In Love Again
    4. Don't Cry For Me Argentina

    1. Sweet, Sweet Smile
    2. Sailing On The Tide
    3. Two Sides
    4. You're The One
    5. Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    and, as much as I adore the Passage album--as it was delivered in 1977--
    I can't help but be a bit puzzled by certain events:
    (1) The Space Encounters TV-Special included both
    Goofus and Man Smart, Woman Smarter.
    Surely, the inclusion of those two songs did nothing to spur album sales.....
    I am curious as to why either one of those songs made it to that television special.
    (2) Interestingly enough,
    the tack piano on Sweet,Sweet Smile is played by only Tom Hensley,
    while the tack piano on Man Smart, Woman Smarter is played by Richard Carpenter and Tom Hensley.
    So, what does that mean ? Are the performances of those two players edited together on that song ?
  16. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Both songs did nothing to improve the specials either. Dreadful choices for inclusion. Why didn’t they go for the title track of Hush for one of the segments? That would have at least raised the bar a bit.
  17. To be a fan of the Carpenters when Passage was released was a truly exciting time. The album did NOT disappoint.
    newvillefan likes this.
  18. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    It would appear that the UK press really disliked the Carpenters (at least in the music magazines) here is one on the review of the Passage album. If you think this one is bad...I can't even post the review of the single Calling Occupants as it's littered with some profanity...so with this I wondered why they got so much bad press in the UK. I totally disagree with this reviewer of Passage.

    Record Mirror
    Passage Album Review Oct 01, 1977

    Carpe diem likes this.
  19. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    Blimey. 'Flat monotones whether she's singing about pain or love, depression or joy'? Seriously? After googling Barry Cain (other search engines are available) it appears he was a big punk fan. His thoughts on music in the 1970s:

    I don't think there ever was a real seventies. It was the itsy-bitsy-no-focus post Beatles decade kicking off with dross, glam, Philly, dross, New York disco, dross and ABBA. It welcomed punk with open arms, shook hands with high-street ska, gave birth to the New Romantics and invented Freddie Mercury. If you were in your late twenties in 1970 the next ten years meant f**k all really. You wouldn't get it. The seventies had to be 'Abbafied' because the sixties were too sad.

    Barry Cain Interview 1108
  20. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Thanks that explains it. I can't figure why they give an album review to a reviewer who already dislikes that artists or a certain genre of music? It doesn't make sense to me, it's not even being objective it's just flat out incorrect and one sided view. It's like asking a hip hop artist to review a country album. I wonder how many people read Barry's review back then and decided they would skip that Carpenters album?
    David A likes this.
  21. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    "Karen's the girl you pull in a dance hall who don't say a word when you jive and after buying her drinks all night you find she's got her own car outside."

    Let's put it this way, I wouldn't want one of my daughters to go out on a date with this guy.

    Once again, with the sexual bent (towards Karen) of his "review";

    "Just tease please, Karen. Slip out of those surgical stockings and put on some with seams and maybe the tiniest garter."

    The "creep" meter needle has spiked way over to the right for Barry.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    Geographer likes this.
  22. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    This guy sounds like the quintessential music critic asshat; attempts to be 'clever' while lambasting something he likely didn't even listen to in full and, as others say here, was predisposed to hating before he put pen to paper. What's the point?

    The more intentionally vicious a "critic" is with their words, the less likely it is that the critique has any probative value at all, for the reader; it immediately betrays their lack of credibility and blatant bias.
    Carpe diem likes this.
  23. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    A young artist exhibits his work for the first time, and a well-known critic is in attendance.

    The critic asks the young artist “would you like to hear my opinion of your work?”

    “Yes”, the artist replies.

    “It’s worthless”, the critic says.

    “I know”, the artist replies, “but let’s hear it anyway.”
  24. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Add Ordinary Fool to side 1 and all would be perfect. I do like Man Smart...but I would not have missed it if I knew it was there as I did when we learned about Ordinary Fool. It is a treasure!
  25. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    So True!

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