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Official Review [Album]: "VOICE OF THE HEART" (SP-4954)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 30, 2013.


  1. ***** (BEST)

    17 vote(s)
  2. ****

    26 vote(s)
  3. ***

    30 vote(s)
  4. **

    7 vote(s)
  5. *

    1 vote(s)
  1. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter



    Catalogue Number: A&M SP-4954
    Date of Release: 10/17/83
    Chart Position: U.S.: #46; U.K.: #6; JAPAN: #41
    Album Singles: "Make Believe It's Your First Time"/"Look To Your Dreams"
    "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore"/"Sailing On The Tide"
    Format: Vinyl/8-track/Cassette/CD

    Track Listing:

    1.) Now 3:46 (Nichols/Pitchford)
    2.) Sailing On The Tide 4:21 (Peluso/Bettis)
    3.) You're Enough 3:46 (Carpenter/Bettis)
    4.) Make Believe It's Your First Time 4:07 (Morrison/Wilson)
    5.) Two Lives 4:32 (Jordan)
    6.) At The End Of A Song 3:42 (Carpenter/Bettis)
    7.) Ordinary Fool 3:40 (Williams)
    8.) Prime Time Love 3:10 (Unobsky/Ironstone)
    9.) Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore 3:51 (Weiss)
    10.) Look To Your Dreams 4:28 (Carpenter/Bettis)

    Album Credits:

    Produced and Arranged by Richard Carpenter
    Lead vocals: Karen Carpenter
    Recorded at A&M Recording Studios
    Engineered by: Roger "Mingo" Young
    Assistant Engineer: Robert De La Garza
    Mixed at A&M Recording Studios, Capitol Recording Studios and The Village Recorder
    Mix-down Engineer: Roger Young
    Assistants: Robert De La Garza, David Cole, Robin Laine
    Mastered by Bernie Grundman at A&M Recording Studios
    Look To Your Dreams arranged by Peter Knight
    Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff
    Contractor: Jules Chaikin
    The O.K. Chorale - under the direction of Ron Hicklin
    Conducted by Dick Bolk
    Special thanks to Ron Gorow, John Bettis, Roger Young, Don Hahn, Mimi Thomas, all the guys in the shop: Ken Gary, Bill, Karl; Werner Wolfen, Herb, Jerry and the entire A&M family.
    Art Direction: Chuck Beeson
    Front Cover: Claude Mougin
    Back Cover: Larry Williams
    Innersleeve: Annie Leibovitz



    February 4, 1983. On that day I lost my sister, a dear friend, and my professional partner. The world lost a beautiful spirit. Karen had not only a voice that was heaven-sent, but a personality that warmed the lives of everyone who had met and known her. She was with us only 32 years. Though my family and I will never get over losing her at such an early age, we can take comfort in the marvelous legacy she left us all. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss gave us the opportunity to record and due to that opportunity Karen's voice touched and will continue to touch the lives of millions. That was a privilege she was very proud of... as I am proud of her. She is greatly missed. - Richard Carpenter
  2. LondonRobert

    LondonRobert Active Member

    I LOVE this album, I remember loving it so much more than MIA. The tracks just 'sound' so good..... they flow into one another so well. I've since read Richard had to rush it through, but he certainly made an excellent job!
    Prime time love, sailing on the tide, ordinary fool ( wow!), now and so on...... all just gorgeous vocals and arrangements........
  3. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    Always a favourite, though 4 of the tracks on the album I always skip (Make Believe, Two Lives, Prime Time, Baby)

    Now and You're Enough, I love (which I'm so pleased about. . .foolishly I attach too much meaning to an artists final projects. . .I'm pleased those 2 '82 songs are favourites).

    I just wish A&M hadn't rushed him so much, he was labouring under the impression they wanted a summer release, where in fact they held off until October. He could have spent another 2 months in the studio overdubbing his vocals, amongst other things. . . .then perhaps the OK choral would have been knocked into touch on tracks like You're Enough and End of a Song (then again maybe not. . .he still used them for Lovelines. . . and The Rainbow Connection)


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  4. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Strip the chorale effect here and I'd vote higher than mid-range. It's simply not the "sound" I'm entranced with. Karen's voice could've been spotlighted in simple verse and melody. Much like her solo lp offering Make Believe was. I love the torch of Your Baby. Two Lives tugs at me. End of a Song sounds autobiographical and wonder if the Carpenter/Bettis team intended it to be just that way. Ordinary Fool is so very soulful and a direction a new album would've welcomed. So very expressive. I remember release date and near shaking, sweaty hands holding the unopened lp and cassette. While I listened transfixed it felt otherworldly and ghostly. Casting the heady grief once again ad infinitum. I loved the title and packaging. Richard's note on back cover was heartbreaking and I ached for him. The piano closing Look To Your Dreams was and is so poignant. The loneliness and aloneness so vivid. I never put this album on to generate ecstasy. The cuts I mentioned above are usually my limit. Just writing this I'm nearly nauseas. But whatcha gonna do? Somehow I became so emotionally attached to a strangers Voice Of The Heart that it continues to move me even today. Honestly, until I discovered our forum I felt very isolated with these thoughts. Here I have found a genuine empathy. The camaraderie is welcomed, interesting and at times there are fascinating insights.

    Thank you everyone,
  5. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    As a fan who discovered them long after Karen's death, I went about hungrily collecting the back catalogue as much as I could afford as a teenager, in whatever order I could find them. I had no chronological reference point, so this album, along with 'Close To You', was the last 'original' album I was gifted. I asked for them from my parents as Christmas presents, and with both albums side by side on Christmas Day, I was astounded at the difference between the chirpiness of 'CTY' and the complete bleakness of 'VOTH'. At the time, all I had was liner note references and dates on the back of the CD covers. One was 1970. The other was 1983. I had found out Karen had passed in February 1983, so I was dumbstruck how a supposed 'complete' album could have been released in 1983, with her brother's wide eyed and lonely picture on the back cover. It just didn't make any sense to me at the time.

    I LOVED the opening tracks 'Now' and 'Sailing On The Tide'. Apart from 'Ordinary Fool' and 'Look To Your Dreams', none of the other tracks connected with me. They all sounded like outtakes to me and I wasn't enamoured with Karen's leads either. They didn't sound like finished vocals and I was missing the lack of KC/RC backing vocals, given that their signature sound was the lush KC/RC sound I'd already experienced on everything from 'A Song For You' and 'Horizon'.

    'Lovelines' comes across as MUCH stronger and more coherent to me than any posthumous album. In 1983, Richard said 'Karen would have wanted these tracks released' but then years later retracted that saying, had Karen lived, they would have forgotten all of these VOTH outtakes and moved on. In fact, after 'A Song For You', my favourite album is 'Lovelines'. It's just sooo sophisticated in that it brings together the best of their latter years, yes, including the KC solo tracks. Not only does it feature more superior lead vocals to VOTH, there's more of Karen in the backing vocals ('Slow Dance', 'Kiss Me...'). I once played 'Remember When Lovin' Took All Night' to my aunt in 1995 (then in her 60s) at full blast, and she said "Is that Karen Carpenter? What a lovely song that is, that's gorgeous!". Just goes to show Karen's album was still touching a nerve in the mid 90s.
    Jeff likes this.
  6. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Interestingly, some of the songs that were left over until 1989 were much better, more polished and finished. Amazing the difference time can make. I think it was unfair of A&M to pressure Richard into a summer release for VOTH - they asked him to deliver in summer 1983 and then left it until October 1983. It was a rush release, with too much OK Chorale sound. Had he been given the space to spend time on properly producing VOTH, we might have had a different album. Interesting that 'Slow Dance' was not tracked and finished with oboe until 1983, which tells me it was originally destined for VOTH but left until 1989. I'm glad it was.
  7. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Love the album, hate the choir on the background. Over the years, the only song I haven't grown to love is "Two Sides".
    "Ordinary Fool" is my favorite Carps song. Just love "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore". "Now" always gives me goosebumps.
    Not a perfect album, but given the season in which it was compiled, it's a good one. And the cover photo- stunning.
    toeknee4bz and 70sFan like this.
  8. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I love this album, it's a Best for me, mostly for sentimental reasons.

    I can't understand for the life of me why Richard would not have gone back and re-created what VOTH should have been. The so many remixes he has been involved in and wanting to correct error with "punch in's" and just creating his magic. Why on earth would he not re-visit the album and re-release it. I agree that it has entirely too much choral...he should have uses his vocals for some of the overdubbing to make it more a Carpenters release instead of Karen with the OK Choral. I can only assume the album has too many memories that he just wants to leave it all alone and never visit it again. I guess it would also have issues with rights to the OK Choral being removed when they were originally paid for their services.

    That leaves me to wonder if he did go back and re-release the album without parts of the OK Choral, what would he title the album? Voice of the Heart, Remastered? nooo Voice of the Heart Part 2? Oh no..tacky...Voice of the Heart Remixed? hmm sounds too common. Re-Visited-Voice of the Heart? I don't like that either..... suggestions? Richard may be watching this. :)
  9. One of my least favorites, made less so, especially when Lovelines was released with so much better material ("You're The One," Where Do I Go From Here," and "Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night"). I do like "Now" and consider "Ordinary Fool" one of the best of all their songs. I do agree about OK Choral. The songs Richard sings back-up on stand out as better tunes to my ear. Just my two cents.
  10. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I purchased this as a college junior in October, 1983, and couldn't wait to take it home. I thought it was coming out the following week, so I was doubly surprised to find it in the store that day.

    My feelings towards 'Voice of the Heart' have evolved through the years. I enjoy it very much, but it still retains a sense of melancholy for me, as it was released so soon after Karen's passing. I really like every song on the album. Nothing drags it down, with the possible exception of 'Make Believe It's Your First Time'. But that's only because I was spoiled by the solo version 13 years later, which is superior. The O.K. Chorale had no place in that bedroom....

    My all-time favorites on the album are 'Two Lives', which is truly 'rock edged' (to quote Paul Grein in Billboard that year). Karen's vocal is VERY different on that song from any other in her career. 'Truth or consequences....which one will it be?' So fricking cool. She really does rock out in places, and then it gets to the bridge, which is one of my favorite Karen moments on a record: 'No, I can't believe it's over....it's over....'. That always gets me. And Ron Tutt's drumming kicks ass.

    My second favorite is "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore", which, to me, has it all. GREAT vocal from Karen, and the arrangement is impeccable. It's much more dramatic for the Carpenters than usual, and it has an almost Motown-esque urgency. I also love 'Now' and 'You're Enough', and the vocals are very 'old school' Karen. The same can be said for 'Prime Time Love', which sounds better than anything else she recorded during 'Made In America'.

    My take on 'Ordinary Fool' has also changed over the years. The arrangement is just too syrupy and Lawrence Welk-ish, though Karen's voice cuts right through it. Otherworldly vocal. I would give anything to hear a stripped down version with just Karen, Richard's piano, Joe Osborn's bass, and Bob Messenger's sax. That would be amazing.

    I also liked 'Lovelines' better due to the outstanding diversity of the material, as well as Karen's incredible vocals. That being said, 'Voice of the Heart' still sounds pretty damned good to me.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
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  11. LondonRobert

    LondonRobert Active Member

    I'm sorry, but whoever gave this album 1 star should be struck off the site!!!
    hehe, just kidding, everyones taste is different, but i think 1 star is a bit harsh!!!
    A&M Retro likes this.
  12. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    After reading your comment about Two Lives, I had to listen to it again. And again. And again. I'd forgotten about that song and how awesome it is. Not the Karen we had previously heard on the prettier ballads. She was going for something different here. I think that was missing on her solo album. You could really hear the angst in her voice. As much as I like to hear her on more jazzy ballads like This Masquerade, Ordinary Fool, and Last One Singing the Blues, which she clearly excelled on - I think she could hold her own with more rock oriented ballads. Would love to hear her sing something like Ryan Adams' "When the Stars Go Blue" or U2's (Bono's) "So Cruel", but she was already gone.
    Graeme and A&M Retro like this.
  13. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    First time hearing new music from these two - since Karen's death...
    Not knowing the industry that well - it hadn't even occurred to me that there were unreleased cuts... so hearing Karen's voice wrap around any new melody was and remains one of the nicest surprises ever... So - this alone makes it hard for me to critique anything on here! I'll say the chorale on Now, (bridge going into the last segment of the song, particularly), is off-putting... I'd like to hear that song without that - especially since this was Karen's last recording...
    Other than that - I'm pleased and delighted with every syllable that we got to hear from the vaults.....
    ALWAYS praying for another couple opportunities.... particularly, Moon is a harsh mistress - but am glad for what we have...
    One of my favorite tracks had been Make Believe It's Your First Time. It's weird hearing it - AFTER hearing Karen's solo version - and wondering if she recorded this version with any trepidation or sense of melancholy of what might have been... but I do think her take on this particular version (especially, the beginning), is superb.
    One final note... I remember hearing that piano trail off on Look To Your Dreams - and weeping hysterically - feeling that same sense of loss and loneliness of an idol's passing all over again.
    It's a sad record, but also a celebration. Two thumbs up.
  14. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Nicely said, BarryT60.
    BarryT60 likes this.
  15. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Fine review, BarryT60.
    BarryT60 likes this.
  16. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    The amazing thing about VOTH is how Richard was able to assemble tracks from five different recording sessions,spanning a six-year period, and make the whole album sound like it was recorded in 1983.Absolutely one of K&R's most cohesive albums.

    VOTH is one of those albums where Karen's tone,phrasing and timing are on full display.

    "Ordinary Fool"-a jazz masterpiece & one of K&R's all-time greatest recordings.VOTH is an essential album just for this track alone.

    "Make Believe"-Karen's opening vocals with just electric piano & flute are sublime.The steel guitar & backround vocals tend to ruin the intimate mood.

    "Now"-Karen's vocals on her last session were exquisite.Nice sax solo.

    "Look To Your Dreams"-An original RC torch song.Karen's vocals are,again,exquisite here.Would have preferred an improvised sax solo over the chorale parts.
  17. LondonRobert

    LondonRobert Active Member

    I agree Mr. J, it sounds like it was all recorded during the same period to me, the vocals are mixed the same way. As much as i like lovelines, i always feel that that album is put together from unused tracks from different times, it doesn't gel as one for me.
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  18. I first heard this album in the eighties when I borrowed it from the local library in Randburg, South Africa where I grew up. My dad had the Tan album and I loved that. VOTH on the other hand was much too mature for me. I was only seven or eight when I heard the album.
    My Carpenter-craze started in the early nineties after the release of "Only Yesterday"/"Their Greatest Hits". That's when I started collecting their music. By then I was living in The Netherlands and only a few of their albums were available on CD at the time. VOTH wasn't one of them. But I already knew a few of the songs from the album.

    I had heard "Now" in The Karen Carpenter Story and loved the song. Knowing that it was Karen's final recording has made it forever bittersweet though. I had the track on the British "Treasures" compilation. That set also featured "Look to your dreams", another track I loved. Only later when I bought VOTH as an American import in a specialty store did I hear that song in the album context, which added so much more poignancy to that piano outro!
    "Make believe it's your first time" was also on the "Treasures" compilation and I really loved the sentiment of the lyrics, even more so as I got older. But hearing the solo version in 1996 changed my perception of the VOTH-version. The solo version is so much more intimate. An often-praised part of Karen's vocal talent were her intimate readings, but sadly it wasn't utilised as much as it could have been, especially in later years IMHO.
    "Ordinary fool" was one of my favourite discoveries on "From The Top". While I know it to be a part of VOTH and I feel it's a definite example of the album title's meaning, the track is so strong on its own that it sits well practically anywhere. It is hard to believe that it was left off "Hush".
    The rest of VOTH was new to me when I finally got the album, I think around 1993/1994. "Sailing on the tide" and "You're enough" were immediate favourites back then and have remained so. The other tracks have grown on me through the years.
    Personally, I feel the album as a whole has an unfortunate melancholy tinge, because of the way it was released posthumously and so close to Karen's passing. "Lovelines" on the other hand has a much more celebratory feel to me. I guess there are more sad (or rather wistful) songs on VOTH, perhaps in line with Richard's feelings at the time of its conception. Having said that, it's hard to imagine how I'd feel about "Lovelines" if it had been released in 1983 instead of VOTH. The first posthumous release was always going to be "overshadowed" I guess.
    Walkinat9, A&M Retro and LondonRobert like this.
  19. I have always loved this album. Today as I was driving into the city I was listening to it. I noticed how mature Karen's vocals had become and that she really sang with heart-felt feeling, which is one of the things I believe that makes one a star. When's the last time you heard someone sing with such emotion? We just don't see much of that todays music scene. Melancholy yes, but outstanding!
  20. Dave60640

    Dave60640 Active Member

    Always LOVED this album. It was my first CarpenterS album and bought it at a very, very stark time in my life. KC's voice and RC's arrangements somehow made me feel secure, safe and warm. Kinda hoakie sounding but true. Still get emotional when playing certain tracks, especial LTYD!
  21. cam89

    cam89 Active Member

    I still can remember where I was, when I first saw this album cover. I was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba at the time. And I was 15 years old. I was looking thru stacks of records in bins at a local library, looking thru the "C" section, and I saw the logo and the beautiful photo of Karen in the front, and the sad notes of Richard on the back. I remember thinking it was a beautiful album upon listening, so I kinda set it aside, to other albums I liked more, Close To You, The Singles 1969-1973, Carpenters, A Kind of Hush, Made In America. Later on, I got it on cassette and cd, and it became MY favorite Carpenters album. She had such a mature sound and feel to it. Her singing was breathtaking. I've said it, and I'll say it again. A Kind of Hush connects so well and merges into Voice of the Heart....I remember I not so willingly, lent out the VOICE OF THE HEART cd to a friend who was heavily into music and all that....and then I never got it back from him again, and it's always been on my mind...then I look back and think, he must really enjoy it. He was into voice and had been professionally trained, and when he heard Karen's voice...he fell in love with her deep and beautiful registers. His father directed the Sweet Adeline's in Regina, Saskatchewan.
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  22. BGW

    BGW Member

    I really like VOTH. It was one of the last albums I bought. I agree that most of the songs are not single material and I can see why they were outtakes, but what wonderful outtakes they are. I like all of the songs to varying degrees except for Two Lives, which I usually skip. Not because it's a bad song, but honestly, I find Bonnie Raitt's version (from her album Sweet Forgiveness in 77 or thereabouts) to be more powerful. Mind you, I'm biased because I've been listening to her version for years before I even heard of the Carpenters. I've always kind of thought of "Now" as Karen's swan song, I sure hope that wasn't the song she hated from the "session from hell" in Joe's words. It's beautiful. I love Look to Your Dreams as well, those two songs make nice bookends. I know most people don't like Prime Time Love but I really dig it. The funky rhythm really sets it apart from most of the other Carpenters songs.

    This is kind of random, but I realized that VOTH is technically the first Carpenters album I ever saw- even though GH 69-73 was the first album I physically touched and listened to. I'd been seeing VOTH for many years on eBay when I was searching for The Voice of Music brand audio gear. Once I started getting into the Carpenters, it was weird to recognize that album I'd been seeing for years.
  23. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Do we actually know what went wrong with this 1982 session, why was it the "session from hell"? Did Joe ever actually elaborate on what happened?
  24. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member

    I just copied and pasted this from the "New Year's Day" thread directly below this one. I'm sure you've read it many times.

    "In about ’81- ’82, I flew out for another round of sessions. We usually started at 6:00 pm and worked until midnight. Well, that afternoon I met up with some old buddies for a couple of beers--- which turned into a whole bunch of beers--- when I got to the studio (needless to say) I wasn’t in top form. We started to work on the first chart and I floundered around trying to read the part--- trying to play the part---After a couple of hours and several pots of coffee I was feeling better---so we started on the next song. KAREN HATED THE SONG!!! I don’t remember what it was but I’m sure Richard does. I had just changed the strings on my bass (the old strings had been on the bass for seventeen years). Well, Richard started to complain about the sound of the new strings--- TWANGY --- DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOUR BASS--- Now, the tension starts to mount. Richard is trying to convince Karen that the song is great--- and she is in total disagreement! He doesn’t like the sound of the bass. By now he’s not having a very good time. Then Richard asked me if I brought the old strings with me--- I don’t know WHY I did--- but I did--- they were in my case. So he asked if I would mind putting them on my bass. I said “yes, I would mind--- but I will! But you won’t like them”. Well we made it through the session and as I was (quickly) packing--- Richard said, “oh, by the way, I do like those strings”!!! So I took them off the bass and rolled them up--- and as I handed them to Richard I said (in no uncertain terms) “if you like them that much--- they’re yours”!!! Richard refers to that night as “THE SESSION FROM HELL”.
  25. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Richard states in an interview that Karen 'was touched by 'Now' and its lyrics', so I don't think that's the track Joe was talking about. My understanding is Richard and Karen both loved it.

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