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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 9 10.5%
  • ****

    Votes: 43 50.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 28 32.6%
  • **

    Votes: 6 7.0%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    86

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Yeah, “Passage” doesn’t sound that good on either CD. Really, “Passage” reminds me of “Christmas Portrait”: for its digital versions (and the 2017 LP release) it’s masters are in the worst shape. And like CP “Passage” really needs a new master made from the original or Digital multi-track tapes.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I have had a pleasant Sunday afternoon listening to music, which I rarely have time to do. It's cold outside, and even raining, for once. I've listened to albums by Dobie Gray, Brook Benton, Bobby Flynn, Toni Childs, Pseudo Echo and Lobo. And I just happened to listen to a trio of Robert Palmer albums - 'Clues', 'Secrets' and, finally, 'Some People Can Do What They Like'. All three, in my opinion, are strong albums for their time.

As many would be aware, Robert Palmer's version of 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' appears on 'Some People Can Do What They Like'. As I was listening to his version, I was thinking that, although Richard used a very similar arrangement to his, the Palmer version has a little more in the piano part and chords that sort of makes his version appear not so monotonous. Palmer's version also employs steel drums, which suit the Calypso style of the song. (I don't remember steel drums on Carpenters' version). Also, the funky bass and drum parts seem to work better on Palmer's version than the bass and drums on Carpenters' recording do. People, in the past, have referred to the muddiness of the mix on 'Passage', particularly on the CDs, so maybe that is why Palmer's bass and drums seem to be more prominent, to my ears.

Furthermore, Robert Palmer was able to bring more grunt and grit to the vocal than Karen was. Although having Karen sing the song may have been a clever move to have her as a voice for the strength of women, I feel that the song works better for a male voice than Karen's style of singing.

Of course, these are only my opinions. I believe that some people like Carpenters' version.

Robert Palmer's version sits well amongst the other tracks on his 'Some People Can Do What They Like' album, which all have a more funky feel. Reggae-flavoured tracks and others tinged with Calypso feature on the album, later on. In fact, 'Off the Bone' returns to a very similar chord structure to 'Man Smart, Women Smarter', almost like a reprise, and, once again, features the Calypso steel drums. 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' seems a bit more out of place on 'Passage' than it does on 'Some People Can Do What They Like'.

I must say, though, I do give Richard and Karen marks for trying something different - in the case of 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter', 'On the Balcony' and 'B'Wana She No Home' - and, especially, for 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' - at least, the single version.

I had forgotten about some of the history of 'Man Smart (Woman Smarter)' as a song, until I looked it up on Wikipedia. It was first recorded by King Radio, (Norman Span), in 1936. Harry Belafonte's version was on his US Number One album in 1956. Other artists who have recorded the song, apart from Carpenters and Robert Palmer, are Joan Baez, Rosanne Cash, Chubby Checker, Dr. Victor and Ratdog. The Grateful Dead used to frequently perform it live. And, apparently, it was sung by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, with others, in a 1957 episode of 'I Love Lucy'.

The fact that Karen and Richard chose to record the track has always puzzled me, (although I recognise their wish to change direction), but the choice makes sense when you realise that the song seems to be firmly fixed in the history of American popular music, popping up again and again. With Richard's prodigious talent and interest in music, even before he started school, it is possible that he was aware in his young years of Harry Belafonte's version, as Belafonte's Number One album would still have been receiving major attention as Richard was growing up. The fact that one of Karen's comedy favourites, Lucille Ball, sang 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' provides another strong clue as to why Karen and Richard might have chosen it. Both Richard and Karen may have had a connection with the song going way back.

For those of you who may be a bit annoyed with my appraisal of Robert Palmer's version of 'Man Smart, Woman Smarter' in comparison to Carpenters', I even gave the song a plug as a possible single follow-up to "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" on the official review thread for that song, as MSWS would have emphasised Karen's and Richard's change of style.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I like Robert Palmer's Man Smart, Woman Smarter.
And, I almost like Carpenters' version:
but, I feel Carpenters' version warrants a new (stripped-down and clarified) MIX.
It is not such a bad song, but the version on Passage almost has too much happening in the song,
and there is the issue of the un-musical sounding instrument (at 5-6 seconds in).
There are ten instruments throughout the song, including Conga--
but, I can barely distinguish it in the mix, and I love congas !
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Carpenters' version warrants a new (stripped-down and clarified) MIX. The version on Passage almost has too much happening in the song. There are ten instruments throughout the song, including Conga-- but, I can barely distinguish it in the mix, and I love congas !
Exactly. A clearer mix might improve the sound of the song a lot.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Here are some cool promo ads for the Passage album.
Cool how they tie in their upcoming Christmas Special on tv (tiny print at bottom)

Passage Radio Contact Promo Ad
Radio Records Oct 28, 1977


Passage Daring To Go Promo Ad
Radio Records Nov 11, 1977


Calling Occupants Your Not Alone Promo Ad
Radio Records Dec 09, 1977
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Here are some cool promo ads for the Passage album.
Cool how they tie in their upcoming Christmas Special on tv (tiny print at bottom)

Passage Radio Contact Promo Ad
Radio Records Oct 28, 1977


Passage Daring To Go Promo Ad
Radio Records Nov 11, 1977


Calling Occupants Your Not Alone Promo Ad
Radio Records Dec 09, 1977
I had to check whether the John Sebastian at KDWB was the same John Sebastian who was lead singer from Lovin’ Spoonful. (He wasn’t). Lovin’ Spoonful had some great songs and albums, and John Sebastian was also good solo.

Thanks for posting these, Rick. Those were exciting times, when ‘Calling Occupants’ was taking off.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
We've had a lot of back-and-forths in older threads about PASSAGE - maybe even in this very thread! - about how "B'wana..." sounds really muddy and almost mono in the remastered version. The A&M CD from the 80s sounds much nicer as far as the mud goes, but you'll hear even more stereo on the PASSAGE album and the 45 single where it's the b-side.
Are there any YouTube links that have the sharper sounding version? Not the best sound always on there anyways but I’m sure I’d still hear a difference.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
The Japanese shm cd is pretty clean. I have to turn down the treble in the car on those shm recordings. Very bright to my ears.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Are there any YouTube links that have the sharper sounding version? Not the best sound always on there anyways but I’m sure I’d still hear a difference.
Read this page and there’s a video too
Oh sorry looks like the video is gone lol. I’m sure you can find the original A&M Cd for dirt cheap on eBay sometime.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
THIS is what the album version should sound like! It sounds great, the sax and piano have so much more clarity to them and the whole song sounds much brighter and clearer. The mastering on “Passage” was terrible.
Was it just lack of time and personal issues that lead to dropping the ball production-wise on Hush and Passage? When you reach an aural peak like Horizon how do you end up with two subsequent albums that sound much more muted and muddy? Why couldn’t that insanely clear, tube-y sound be achieved again?
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
^^ "Personal Issues" gets my vote. Richard was popping ludes like Pez candy and Karen was on her 2nd serious downward spiral from Anorexia (look at her in the official video of A Kind Of Hush). Their creative genius was seriously compromised at that point. But Karen did manage to sound brilliant on a lot of the tracks of those albums.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I listened to all 3 Japanese cd box set versions of B’wana and then the Japanese vinyl of Passage with the obi that says Vol.8 from the early 80’s, best vinyl made then, they all sound like Karen is singing in an ice box. Then I got out the Sweet Memory at last cd, and it’s totally clean and sounds like a studio recording. The instrumentation and vocals all much cleaner. BTW the original acetate pressing I have, had the original muddy version as well.
 
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tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I listened to all 3 Japanese cd box set versions of B’wana and then the Japanese vinyl of Passage with the obi that says Vol.8 from the early 80’s, best vinyl made then, they all sound like Karen is singing in an ice box. Then I got out the Sweet Memory at last cd, and it’s totally clean and sounds like a studio recording. The instrumentation and vocals all much cleaner. BTW the original acetate pressing I have, had the original muddy version as well.
Sorry hate to disagree with you, but all the CD versions sound mono, whereas the 1970’s/80’s LPs sound as if they are in stereo. Not to sure what happened in the mid-80’s but “Passage”’s master was damaged for some reason and the 98 Remaster did very little to fix it.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
THIS is what the album version should sound like! It sounds great, the sax and piano have so much more clarity to them and the whole song sounds much brighter and clearer. The mastering on “Passage” was terrible.
Didn't Richard say somewhere that Passage was the most expensive album (cost wise) that they ever recorded? I just wonder why Richard never wanted to go back and remaster the entire album so that it sounds as good as the single, "B'wana She No Home"

There is something special on that 45 edit and album track that has not been captured again on CD except the original A&M pressing CD. Sweet Memory comes close but I still feel the 45 edit and vinyl track sound almost perfect to my ears. It just suffers from the muddy effect on every release after that. There's nothing worse than a muddy sounding Karen. :laugh:
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
By the way, the most expensive album to produce was Made in America.
I may have remarked earlier that the cassette single of the album Passage sounds fine.
On the other hand, I have never had any issue with the sound on any format of Passage that I own.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
^^ "Personal Issues" gets my vote. Richard was popping ludes like Pez candy and Karen was on her 2nd serious downward spiral from Anorexia (look at her in the official video of A Kind Of Hush). Their creative genius was seriously compromised at that point. But Karen did manage to sound brilliant on a lot of the tracks of those albums.
I should know this by now, but I thought with the new recording section in the studio they would be able to easily make future records sound like Horizon did.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Was their ever a remix of Argentina? The official resource says no, but I thought I read a few years back that someone heard it on the Readers Digest set (which I never had) and it sounded improved with more clarity.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I stand by my comments earlier. I listed to all my best copies of Passage vinyl and cd, B’wana sounds the same on every one.except the 1995 Japanese release. The cleanest cd version is on Sweet Memory, and the vinyl box set Passage lp is decent, not as good as Sweet Memory. I didn’t get out my 45’s to hear that edit though. The rest of the CDs and albums sound fine to me. It’s just B’wana. I think it was done that way on purpose because it was their experimental album that unfortunately bombed. You could find it all over for $2 in the cut out bins a couple of years after it was released. I believe BSNH was an attempt to sound hip and the sound was altered on purpose for effect. It didn’t work.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Was their ever a remix of Argentina? The official resource says no, but I thought I read a few years back that someone heard it on the Readers Digest set (which I never had) and it sounded improved with more clarity.
I think the only "remix" that it has received is the 45 edit that removes the "On the Balcony of the Casa Rosada" section. Otherwise, its the 1977 mix that has appeared.

And GDB2LV, the only difference in the "Sweet Memory" collection and the US Singles collection and the Japanese Singles Collection, is that the mastering of the SM disc was done similar to the 1980's CD of "Passage" (which seems to be the best version of "Passage" out there in digital), otherwise "B'Wana She No Home" comes from the same mix, master tapes and transfers that were used for the 1980's CD. Suffice it to say, the 1970's/80's LPs and 45's are the best source for any track from "Passage".
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
3301

If any of you have the COMPACT DISC COLLECTION from the UK (1990), that version of PASSAGE also had the 80s "better" mastering - same as the A&M CD from the 80s and the SWEET MEMORY set. All of those sound better than the Remastered Classic versions and those in 1998 or later box sets.

No commercial CD has the single - or LP - mix with the right-trailing reverb. You'll need original vinyl for that.
 
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