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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 10 9.1%
  • ****

    Votes: 57 51.8%
  • ***

    Votes: 35 31.8%
  • **

    Votes: 7 6.4%
  • *

    Votes: 1 0.9%

  • Total voters
    110
FINALLY, Mark! :) Clearly PASSAGE is aptly named as a conduit for you in your personal life, and that comes through loud and clear in the very expert weaving together of what was happening to you simultaneously with our heroes' own efforts to reverse their flagging fortunes in 1977. It makes for a compelling read, transcending the danger of its wide scope taking us down too many parallel paths by how you keep certain narrative through-lines clearly in view to keep us from getting lost.

I think the Carpenters' problems in 1977 might be seen as somewhat analogous to what was going on with the Beach Boys in 1972. Their great chart successes were behind them, they'd struggled with/against the counterculture, their leader was in some way troubled and needed assistance from others to keep the creative flow going, and they embraced a wide-ranging diversity in assembling records (the Carpenters' PASSAGE, the BB's CARL AND THE PASSIONS: SO TOUGH) that were possibly too ambitiously dedicated to such a project that they created confusion at the time of their release. Perhaps now we can see efforts like these from artists who are now more universally seen as major historical figures in pop music for what they are: serious, sometimes fraught efforts to grow beyond the limits of their earlier fame and the images they'd been saddled with.

The Beach Boys would be forever saddled with their earlier image with the mega-release of ENDLESS SUMMER in 1974, and never found a way to build on what they were doing in the years after "Good Vibrations"; I think that if Karen had lived, the Carpenters might have escaped that fate, and both brother and sister would have been found a wider range of creative projects that would have fit their individual and collective identities as artists. Of course it's a (dirty old) shame that neither of them were given that chance, but we can look at PASSAGE as possessing the spirit of what they might have done with those opportunities. Of all the tracks from the album that point in such a direction, I think it's "Two Sides" that captures it best--Karen is just so sublime here...I often think of it as her finest overall performance (that ending!!).

Kudos for an epic performance of your own with this essay!
 
Thank you, @Don Malcolm. The title Passage is an apt conduit for me personally as well as for Karen and Richard. Nicely said. And thank you for the kind words.

Keeping their story straight and making it a compelling read was difficult. It's why I kept "remixing" the article. :wink: And I kept uncovering images in my files. (Last I counted, that post had 98 images in it!) It does make my wish the Musical Legacy book had more about the album.

I had never thought about the similar course of The Beach Boys' career with Brian Wilson at the helm, but you are certainly correct. I thought they'd lost their way after Good Vibrations- an epic release to be sure.

Letting artists grow and change should have been the mainstay at A&M. After all, they were so good at signing artists that were unique. Why stifle that? Embrace it instead! My hunch - as far as KC's solo album was concerned- was that it was the collective feedback and opinions that killed it. Not one single entity but all combined.

Now, it's off to begin the next one. I think but am not positive that Christmas Portrait was released after The Singles 1974-1978. But it's proven a tough thing to discover an actual release date so far.
 
Christmas Portrait October 1978, Singles 1974-1978 November 1978 it says on Google Wikipedia.

I think the Singles compilation was actually released December 2, 1978 in the UK, aimed at the Christmas market. Some of you will remember Karen’s puzzlement that UK stations were not promoting the Christmas album instead when she arrived in London.
 
Portrait was released October 13, and The Singles '74-'78 in November. I'll have to find the specific date on the latter. :)
 
From Richard, regarding the album's lead single "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song":

"I am really fond of this recording, although in hindsight it never should have been a single. It's just a very good album cut, it did alright but it wasn't a big hit".

Agree or disagree?
 
I think it should have been a much bigger hit. It's surprising that it wasn't except for the image problems they were facing at the time and the negative radio testing that Harry has described. The song itself is fantastic I think. Probably should have been followed up with "I Just Fall In Love Again" or perhaps preceeded by it. I don't think it charted in Britain at all which is strange as Calling Occupants did better there than here.
 
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From Richard, regarding the album's lead single "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song":

"I am really fond of this recording, although in hindsight it never should have been a single. It's just a very good album cut, it did alright but it wasn't a big hit".

Agree or disagree?
Nah. It wasn't a big hit because no one cared about Carpenters anymore. That was the problem.

Ed
 
Nah. It wasn't a big hit because no one cared about Carpenters anymore. That was the problem.
Sadly, yes. I'm confident their back catalog was still popular on A/C stations, but top 40 was now beyond them without some major change to what they were doing musically. And a major change in musical direction just did not seem to be a choice they'd have chosen. In my view, Country may have been a ticket to resurgence.

"Carpenters pair up with The Ramones" wasn't going to happen. Kinda funny to me thinking of watching Karen sing "I wanna be sedated!" but then I'm in a weird mood today.
 
It wasn't a big hit because no one cared about Carpenters anymore. That was the problem.
It got heavy airplay here--our AC/"soft rock" station was on it, hard, and even with all the airplay here it never caught on. Years earlier it could have been a hit but the record-buying public had moved on at the time it was released.
 
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