To quote Francis Albert Sinatra; "you're riding high in April, shot down in May". The music business is brutal.
I never doubted the sales figures. I am saying that the people who liked a softer sound were still there as the tv shows provided and sales did eventually pick up for Christmas Portrait once people knew about it. For example, record bins had 3 slots for Christmas Portrait in 1996, but in 1978 they were mixed in with miscellaneous, yet it still was in the top for Christmas albums. The string massive sales were over as well as the machines that promoted them. If the Carpenters had not reunited in 1981, I’m not sure the sales would have continued. Even in the early 90’s the Carpenters had international sales above others for A&M. They went from 80 million to over 100 million and I thought the number was even a little higher now, in sales. My deal is that people felt they already had their best and started buying other artists. Plus, fans pass away through the years, too. Also there are those like us who purchase more than one copy. Then, their softer sound had no radio station for there were fewer formats to play them. DJ’s who never wanted to play them in the beginning grew stronger and the criticism finally took over into the streets, so the addiction was no longer there. But True fans were still there. It’s like a sports team who wins: people are fans in larger number for a winning team as it becomes contagious and part of pop culture. It’s definately the pop culture that diminished. And it was represented in sales. Hate is a taught value. Their music was softer, but still good and appealing, but no longer fresh. Without the hate promotion of critics, the circle of surveys to promotion would not have begun for there are places in the world where they are valued. I’m referring to the why the result by going down an alternate street. I feel both perceptions are correct, but sometimes face value needs a different, deeper look. But going back to sports: both teams score points but only one wins. The winning team is celebrated to the point that the side who did not win seemed scoreless. Then you can go to the field with a survey in hand and find far more likes for the winning team who then get played on the radio and those stations made for that more popular sound. And then people say remember when, and then game cards get traded and the Singles 1969-1973 sells another copy.Harry is correct (and we have the numbers documented on the forum somewhere),
Christmas Portrait was not initially a big seller. The LP was eventually certified Gold in January 1981.
It achieved its 'cult' status and sold many more copies after the cd revolution came around,
of course by then it was the Special Edition.
But, the larger historical issue for me is this (USA):
The massive sales from 1970 to early 1975 were NOT replicated for anything that came after.
Of the folks who bought those early records, obviously the same folks did not continue to purchase
either Hush, Passage, Portrait or the Made In America albums (ditto: singles).
Why was that ?
For instance, whether or not those songs got airplay, I purchased anything that got released (if I could find it).
So, why did the same group (who had purchased earlier records) not continue to purchase their product ?
I bought everything-- whether or not it got any airplay. I bought every album-- regardless of reviews or promotions.
But, for some reason, the many other fans (in USA) deserted that trend.
and the Singles 1969-1973 sells another copy.
My thought has always been that Helen Reddy should have been nominated as Best Female Vocalist for the home run she hit with "You're My World".The TV Christmas Specials were very popular proving public favor. And top audience viewing numbers were much larger In the 70’s than what those ratings represent today. For the album, it was talked about in a positive light from the beginning. And, I thought that someone posted that it was a top Christmas album of the 1970’s. All of this is very good publicity for that period. Had their health been better, this may have done even better. Remember, by Christmas of 1978, they were on an extended break as the duo and had already quit touring. There was only one live performance of this with them and their presence was limited due to Richard’s illness. I’m just trying to show that fans still adored them, it was the DJ’s that made any excuse possible not to play them for their music became softer. And, by the time of Passage radio stations had already abandoned them. The same was true of Helen Reddy who also played a softer sound, too. You’re My World had virtually no airplay In 1978 and was out about the same time as I Believe You, if memory serves. So did Seals and Croft and Bread, with new product but all in the same boat. I bet most potential buyers did not know those artists had new products. Back in those days, if it was not on the radio, it was not known by those not in a fan club. As a customer, I believe that radio set the trend in those days. And, polling is not always the best science, however it does help determine popular pop culture.
That was a depressing post.Being in retail music from 1977-2004, I can say that as their original fan base grew older, they stopped buying music in large quantities, after about 25 years in age. They were busy with other things like families, and bills in the real world. Kids mostly bought 45’s back then. Adults purchased vinyl, 8 tracks and cassettes. Too expensive for most without a job. There was also the image problem that made it hard to even be an outspoken Carpenters fan back then,without backlash from people in general. I received lots of negative comments from coworkers and customers when talking about them. I still played them in store a lot when possible. My friends at local radio played Calling Occupants our of respect for me, then Sweet Sweet Smile at the country station after that. The last single ever on local radio here was Touch Me When We’re Dancing, and that was very brief. They just lost their mass appeal by then. The true fans and die hards were still there, but we sold very little from 1977 on. Christmas Portrait did okay, because I played it in store a few times a day when it was released. The only brief sell out, were the few days after Karen passed. We carried the entire catalogue, being a megafan, lol, but with only a dozen pieces of each format in stock, they didn’t last long. The label ran out as well, and it was weeks before we could restock anything. The mass interest had gone by then. Only The Singles 1969-1973 sold on a consistently after that. Top 40 radio splintered around that time too. There was Top 40 dance, Top 40 rock, Top 40 r&b. Carpenters didn’t fit in any of those formats.
This jibes with what I recall from a documentary I watched about John Denver a while back. It's also worth noting this Wikipedia reference to someone he shared in common with the Carpenters, Jerry Weintraub:Didn’t John Denver have problems after the 70’s getting his new material/albums play. They all wanted to hear his hits from the 70’s not his new stuff, even his concerts too. They wouldn’t let him move on (music wise)
Sadly, this is a fairly common observation of show business. Because it is, after all, a business. And tastes are fickle. Companies tend to play it safe with what works, even if it's formulaic. But that's stifling for any creative individual, which I think is a big part of why Karen and Richard wanted to strike out in a new direction with Passage. In hindsight, it's remarkable that they were allowed to do this, but I'm sure a number of factors played into A&M's decision to back them on this ... not the least of which was their commercial success.His live concert special, An Evening with John Denver, won the 1974–1975 Emmy for Outstanding Special, Comedy-Variety or Music. When Denver ended his business relationship in 1982 because of Weintraub's focus on other projects, Weintraub threw Denver out of his office and accused him of Nazism. Denver later told Arthur Tobier, when the latter transcribed his autobiography, "I'd bend my principles to support something he wanted of me. And of course, every time you bend your principles – whether because you don't want to worry about it, or because you're afraid to stand up for fear of what you might lose – you sell your soul to the devil".
Now if only Richard would do an excellent remix and remastering of the album for CD/digital that comes closer to the vinyl mix.Passage really is an extraordinary album. The older I get, the more I grow to love it. When I first discovered the duo and their many albums, it was my least favourite of all. Now, it’s probably in my top three. It has everything, including the sultry, jazzy B’Wana She No Home, the summery All You Get From Love Is A Love Song, the lilting Two Sides and the off the wall Occupants. I don’t know what more they could have done by 1977 to please the record buying public. Reading so many of the “time capsule” music press reviews that have been posted on this forum, it’s really gratifying to see that after years of being dismissed by the music press, this was the album that made many reviewers sit up and take notice at the time. Deservedly so.
Totally agree with you.Passage really is an extraordinary album. The older I get, the more I grow to love it. When I first discovered the duo and their many albums, it was my least favourite of all. Now, it’s probably in my top three. It has everything, including the sultry, jazzy B’Wana She No Home, the summery All You Get From Love Is A Love Song, the lilting Two Sides and the off the wall Occupants. I don’t know what more they could have done by 1977 to please the record buying public. Reading so many of the “time capsule” music press reviews that have been posted on this forum, it’s really gratifying to see that after years of being dismissed by the music press, this was the album that made many reviewers sit up and take notice at the time. Deservedly so.