• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 10 9.5%
  • ****

    Votes: 54 51.4%
  • ***

    Votes: 34 32.4%
  • **

    Votes: 7 6.7%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    105

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Some time ago, I promised to dig-up a review that shows the negative criticism in some corners during the 1970s:
Record Mirror, October 1st, 1977:
"KAREN CARPENTER, the dummy In the shop window devoid of emotion, each song a rerun of the last.
Flat monotones, whether she's singing about pain or love, depression or joy. A supermarket voice. Stick it In the wire trolley and run the gauntlet of washing - powder shelves. On Passage she tries, tries very hard In fact, to bend those white line vocals and there's Richard In the back trying very hard to lift those barbed wired fences so she don't get caught. And how does he do it ? By choosing things like Don't Cry For Me Argentina and Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft written by Beetle-bombers Klaatu. Does it work ? Well, put it this way: I suppose it ain't bad as far as Carpenters' albums go,
which ain't very far. No matter how flash the production, no matter how melodic they strive to be, their records leave me as flat as a pie without self raising flour. 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. The two experimental tracks, which amount to little more than typical Carpenters jelly moulds only twice as long, have mixed success.
Argentina just doesn't belong The operatic intro sounds like something straight out the local Gilbert And Sullivan Society and Karen's voice adds
nothing to the song. Occupants Is the new single and I guess you could call it catchy, despite the clumsy phrasing. Calling occupants of Interplanetary most extraordinary craft. For what It sets out to achieve, it succeeds. Just tease please, Karen. Slip out of those surgical stockings and put on some with seams and maybe the tiniest garter. And forget Steve Harley, He'll only make things worse. BARRY CAIN."

Source:

This reads as if he already decided to hate the album before he even listened to it. And then, once he did, he secretly liked it but was already committed to his negative review.
 

GDBY2LV

Well-Known Member
It’s typical of the day. Robert Hilburn did the same kind of trash journalism for the Los Angeles Times. Not sure if he reviewed that album, but most likely he did. No kind words until Paul Grein came along from Billboard.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Actually, I remember reading the Hilburn review of Passage. He actually gave them some kudos for it.
 
Horrendous review! Glad I didn't read that many back then. I needed my money for the records and not magazines that contained reviews like this. I guess reviews are more about the reviewers likes and dislikes and less about the merits of music.
 
Some time ago, I promised to dig-up a review that shows the negative criticism in some corners during the 1970s:
Record Mirror, October 1st, 1977:
"KAREN CARPENTER, the dummy In the shop window devoid of emotion, each song a rerun of the last.
Flat monotones, whether she's singing about pain or love, depression or joy. A supermarket voice. Stick it In the wire trolley and run the gauntlet of washing - powder shelves. On Passage she tries, tries very hard In fact, to bend those white line vocals and there's Richard In the back trying very hard to lift those barbed wired fences so she don't get caught. And how does he do it ? By choosing things like Don't Cry For Me Argentina and Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft written by Beetle-bombers Klaatu. Does it work ? Well, put it this way: I suppose it ain't bad as far as Carpenters' albums go,
which ain't very far. No matter how flash the production, no matter how melodic they strive to be, their records leave me as flat as a pie without self raising flour. 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. The two experimental tracks, which amount to little more than typical Carpenters jelly moulds only twice as long, have mixed success.
Argentina just doesn't belong The operatic intro sounds like something straight out the local Gilbert And Sullivan Society and Karen's voice adds
nothing to the song. Occupants Is the new single and I guess you could call it catchy, despite the clumsy phrasing. Calling occupants of Interplanetary most extraordinary craft. For what It sets out to achieve, it succeeds. Just tease please, Karen. Slip out of those surgical stockings and put on some with seams and maybe the tiniest garter. And forget Steve Harley, He'll only make things worse. BARRY CAIN."

Source:

This reads as if he already decided to hate the album before he even listened to it. And then, once he did, he secretly liked it but was already committed to his negative review.
This was the review I was referring to above. I didn't manage to get it quoted in the post above.
 

Tom_P

Well-Known Member
Some time ago, I promised to dig-up a review that shows the negative criticism in some corners during the 1970s:
Record Mirror, October 1st, 1977:
"KAREN CARPENTER, the dummy In the shop window devoid of emotion, each song a rerun of the last.
Flat monotones, whether she's singing about pain or love, depression or joy. A supermarket voice. Stick it In the wire trolley and run the gauntlet of washing - powder shelves. On Passage she tries, tries very hard In fact, to bend those white line vocals and there's Richard In the back trying very hard to lift those barbed wired fences so she don't get caught. And how does he do it ? By choosing things like Don't Cry For Me Argentina and Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft written by Beetle-bombers Klaatu. Does it work ? Well, put it this way: I suppose it ain't bad as far as Carpenters' albums go,
which ain't very far. No matter how flash the production, no matter how melodic they strive to be, their records leave me as flat as a pie without self raising flour. 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. The two experimental tracks, which amount to little more than typical Carpenters jelly moulds only twice as long, have mixed success.
Argentina just doesn't belong The operatic intro sounds like something straight out the local Gilbert And Sullivan Society and Karen's voice adds
nothing to the song. Occupants Is the new single and I guess you could call it catchy, despite the clumsy phrasing. Calling occupants of Interplanetary most extraordinary craft. For what It sets out to achieve, it succeeds. Just tease please, Karen. Slip out of those surgical stockings and put on some with seams and maybe the tiniest garter. And forget Steve Harley, He'll only make things worse. BARRY CAIN."

Source:

I used to buy Record Mirror and I can remember this review well; it made the teenage me so angry! In 1977, UK music journalists were looking for the kind of outsider cool that would maintain their punk credibility, and this is a particularly bilious example of that mentality. In retrospect, it says more about the writer than it does about the Carpenters. It's so poorly-written and so plainly desperate for coolness that I cringe at how awkward it is.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
from another thread:

There were thousands on promo lps sent out too. It looked the same as the regular album, no gold stamp, but a sticker instead saying it. The label the same, but PROMOTIONAL COPY NOT FOR SALE in the musical note part of it, and sticker.
This confuses me. I was working in radio and the moment this came into the station, I grabbed a copy. Of the two LPs I have now, one is a Pittman pressing and the other a Monarch. Both have no indication of "promo" anywhere, yet I know that one I received was in fact a promo sent to the radio station. I guess they sent standard stock copies to us.

I also have the first CD issue, CD 3199/DX 787 with smooth jewel case, and the 1998 Remastered Classic, along with the copies in box sets.
 

GDBY2LV

Well-Known Member
Maybe east coast-west coast distribution made it different? 🤷🏻‍♂️ My budget copies are actually British imports. I have 2 copies of those. 1 U.S. promo with album cover, 1 promo with white jacket bought at record swap. Same with my test pressing, and acetate copies, just different dates on them with corrections. 1 store copy, 1 Japanese copy. All vinyl. Plus Carpenters collection box set vinyl, 3 sets, which all are bad. 4 on cd, 1 British Box, 3 Japanese boxes. All have poor quality versions of B’wana. Only decent but still poorly mixed stereo on U. S. and Japanese 45’s.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Cashbox (10/08/1977):
PASSAGE - Carpenters - A&M SP -4703 - Producer: Richard Carpenter - List: 7.98
"Surely, this is a milestone Carpenters album. Where the sibling duo was once content with lushly arranged pop ballads with mass appeal,
they have embarked this time on a well -charted course that takes them through a calypso boogie, an operatic and symphonic opus,
a Latin tinged number exploring the master/servant dilemma and an other worldly tune exploring the theme of intergalactic harmony.
A breathless ride on the gossamer wings of Karen's magic -carpet vocals with Richard's steady navigation through new and familiar territory."

Cashbox (10/29/1977):
"King To Push The Carpenters TOKYO - King Record Co. is expected to promote the Carpenters heavily this autumn.
The company has released the Carpenters' LP, "Passage" on Oct. 5 and their 45, "Sweet Smile" on Oct. 10, respectively.
To sell these records throughout the country, the company has launched a strong sales campaign beginning the middle of Oct.
The plan incudes 300 TV -spots, and 100 radio -spots. "

Cashbox (1/28/1978):
CARPENTERS (A&M 2008-S) Sweet, Sweet Smile (2:54) (J. Newton/O. Young). This second single off the "Passage" LP has an intriguing country feel
mixed with an obviously pop approach. Present are the snappy bass, country twang violin and boogie piano. Karen's singing has an effective edge.
Pop and country chart potential."

Cashbox News (9/16/1978):
"Carpenters have missed dates. Illness was cited as the reason behind the cancellation of 18 of a scheduled 28 performances by the Carpenters
at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Fortunately, Dean Martin, who was slated to follow the Carpenter's engagement, consented to come in a week early and keep things going in the MGM's Celebrity Room."
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I remember reading in an entertainment magazine, from the time when ‘Passage’ was actually being recorded, a short piece that went pretty much like this:-

‘The Carpenters are recording a new album with the help of a 100-piece orchestra and a 50-voice choir. And, boy, do they need it!!’

Anybody who was fair and knew anything about Carpenters’ music would have known that Karen and Richard could record the highest calibre record just by themselves, just with Karen on drums and vocals and Richard on piano, vocals, arrangements and production. They didn’t NEED the help of anyone to make a world-class record.

In fact, if you listen to the Magic Lamp recordings and the Joe Osborne Garage recordings, you can hear that, even with Karen at just 16 or 17 years of age and Richard at 20 or 21, they didn’t NEED anyone to help them make music of phenomenal quality. Their talents were more than enough.

The piece from the magazine is another example of the ignorance and nastiness of the press, in this case, even trying to prejudice readers against Karen and Richard’s music and influence them away from Carpenters’ product.

The snippet would have been from a press release intended to garner interest in Carpenters’ new album, yet the magazine turned the message into something very negative.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I remember reading in an entertainment magazine, from the time when ‘Passage’ was actually being recorded, a short piece that went pretty much like this:-

‘The Carpenters are recording a new album with the help of a 100-piece orchestra and a 50-voice choir. And, boy, do they need it!!’

Anybody who was fair and knew anything about Carpenters’ music would have known that Karen and Richard could record the highest calibre record just by themselves, just with Karen on drums and vocals and Richard on piano, vocals, arrangements and production. They didn’t NEED the help of anyone to make a world-class record.

In fact, if you listen to the Magic Lamp recordings and the Joe Osborne Garage recordings, you can hear that, even with Karen at just 16 or 17 years of age and Richard at 20 or 21, they didn’t NEED anyone to help them make music of phenomenal quality. Their talents were more than enough.

The piece from the magazine is another example of the ignorance and nastiness of the press, in this case, even trying to prejudice readers against Karen and Richard’s music and influence them away from Carpenters’ product.

The snippet would have been from a press release intended to garner interest in Carpenters’ new album, yet the magazine turned the message into something very negative.
Unfortunately, I don't think the world has learned much since then. The snarky responses to people around us seem to be the acceptable norm. It's really too bad. We are meant to be a blessing to each other- and there's ways to disagree while still being respectful. Another forgotten approach.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Record World (10/08/1977):
CARPENTERS, PASSAGE. "This long awaited set from the duo touches on traditional Carpenters tunes (I Just Fall In Love Again),
but is noteworthy for the way it branches out in both material and production. Klaatu's Calling Occupants is a departure as is
Man Smart, Woman Smarter (recently covered by Robert Palmer). A&M SP -4703 ($ 7.98)."

Here:
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Sisters, Julia Tillman Waters and Maxine Willard Waters were two of the background vocalists on "All You Get From Love is a Love Song", on 'Passage'.

Maxine Willard Waters also performed background vocals on 'Made in America', alongside Karen and Richard and other backing vocalists, (Caroline Dennis and Stephanie Spruill).

Here is a very interesting interview from 2013 with Julia Tillman Waters and Maxine Willard Waters, along with their brother, Oren Waters, where they talk about their recordings as backing vocalists, (although they don't mention Carpenters).

 

John Tkacik

Well-Known Member
from another thread:


This confuses me. I was working in radio and the moment this came into the station, I grabbed a copy. Of the two LPs I have now, one is a Pittman pressing and the other a Monarch. Both have no indication of "promo" anywhere, yet I know that one I received was in fact a promo sent to the radio station. I guess they sent standard stock copies to us.

I also have the first CD issue, CD 3199/DX 787 with smooth jewel case, and the 1998 Remastered Classic, along with the copies in box sets.
I have 2 promo albums that are just like GDBY2LV's with the stickers on the album covers and the black printing of "PROMOTIONAL COPY NOT FOR RESALE" on the white part of the album label.
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
In this area, Calling Occupants got the airplay before All You Get From Love. I was not too impressed with the former but did like the latter and the followup Sweet Sweet Smile. All You Get should have made it very high on the charts. I have the album but picked it up at a thrift store. I am not too enamored of a few of the songs but I still listen to the lp every once in a while.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I was recently wondering whether Karen and Richard or Tony Peluso wrote the DJ and alien's dialogue at the beginning of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft', or whether they got somebody else to do it.

I remember, as an early teen, how delighted I was by the humour.... "..and by the way, you sound GREAT over the phone!", etc.

I was also recently remembering that, around early 1978, there was often time for just one music video before the evening national news on ABC TV, (Australian Broadcasting Commission), and, a few times, 'Calling Occupants' was chosen. I wondered why that might have been. One thing would have been that the video might have been the right length; probably longer than a number of other videos, taking into account the DJ segment and the long song, (for a single). The ABC is a non-commercial station, so they couldn't fill the gap in programming with ads.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
I was recently wondering whether Karen and Richard or Tony Peluso wrote the DJ and alien's dialogue at the beginning of 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft', or whether they got somebody else to do it.

I remember, as an early teen, how delighted I was by the humour.... "..and by the way, you sound GREAT over the phone!", etc.

I was also recently remembering that, around early 1978, there was often time for just one music video before the evening national news on ABC TV, (Australian Broadcasting Commission), and, a few times, 'Calling Occupants' was chosen. I wondered why that might have been. One thing would have been that the video might have been the right length; probably longer than a number of other videos, taking into account the DJ segment and the long song, (for a single). The ABC is a non-commercial station, so they couldn't fill the gap in programming with ads.
i once asked richard who mike ledgerwood was; he replied that ledgerwood was an a&m staffer that attended them while in england and europe. richard said tony just included the name in the patter.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
One perspective on...

Much-hyped albums that were commercial disasters:​

Carpenters — "Passage" (1977)

Excerpts:
"Looking for a change in direction, 1977's "Passage" was designed as an attempt to breach a new audience,
but it instead became one of the most quixotic major-label albums ever released."
"...the buoyant pop of lead single All You Get from Love Is a Love Song is one of the duo's most underappreciated classics,
but the rest of the album is as strange as all-get-out."
"Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft... is, without question, one of pop music's greatest curiosities."

More:
 
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