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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)

    14 vote(s)
  2. ****

    23 vote(s)
  3. ***

    29 vote(s)
  4. **

    6 vote(s)
  5. *

    1 vote(s)
  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It's not a track I play that often but when I do hear it, it never fails to blow me away. I too would have loved to hear them do an album full of jazz standards like this song. In a lot of reviews of Lovelines, the track When I Fall In Love is singled out a lot for praise for the same reason: it's pure gold.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation and GaryAlan like this.
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Agreed, regarding Ordinary Fool.....simply a fantastic reading....
    Keeping in mind that I am not basing my judgement of
    Voice Of The Heart
    on whether, or not, any of the songs are "hit" material....
    Primarily my thoughts and emotions are based on Karen's interpretation
    of the material....with the sole exception of "Now," every vocal is one
    which I feel should be heard.....Although, Sailing On The Tide
    in arrangement, is every bit as good as "Happy".....I have always felt that
    since Richard considered Happy as single material (source: 1975 Compendium interview)
    then so is Sailing single worthy....So, he changed his mind on that one for sure....
    Well, I could detail specifics on each song, though I won't,
    no way should these songs be " left on the shelf "
    (sole exception: Now).

  3. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Absolutely. It's one of my Top 5 Carpenters tracks and easily the best thing they recorded after 1975. Like 'One More Time', it's one of those cases where less is definitely more. It's such an improvement on Paul Williams' own version and even Ella Fitzgerald can't quite find the darkness that Karen found in the song:

    Amazing to think a) that Karen apparently didn't much care for it and b) that it was recorded at the same time as and passed over in favour of the mediocrity that made up the lion's share of A Kind of Hush.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  4. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Richard did himself change his minds in the years after he released the material contained on VOTH, saying that they weren't good enough to release and would never have seen the light of day if Karen had lived. I agree with him on 90% of VOTH, but it would have been a crime to leave Ordinary Fool on the shelf permanently. I'd like to think that if Karen had lived, it would still have surfaced on some kind of career retrospective anyway, like From The Top. Unfortunately we'll never know, because her death forced him to go back and dredge through the archives and put these tracks out anyway.
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^I do agree that none--or, most--of the Voice Of The Heart songs
    are not of the caliber of
    We've Only Just Begun, Superstar, Rainy Days And Mondays, Only Yesterday...et.al.,
    I also believe those "hit" songs from era 1970-1975 were never going to happen again (IMHO).
    So long as the primary concentration remained on " finding another hit single "
    Richard's arranging skills would never again reached the rarefied heights he had in the 'beginning'....
    These Voice Of The Heart songs are not bad at all (are they "hits" ? Perhaps not, but, I care not)
    although, the arrangements are really what keeps holding those songs back....
    As far as single-worthy material,
    Ordinary Fool is a perfect example, I would venture to say that after the lack-luster sales/chart position
    of the stellar Solitaire,
    Richard felt that no way were they going to release a song as plodding as Ordinary Fool,
    which is every bit as slow as Solitaire (which might have sold 150,000 copies--
    based on sales of #4 Only Yesterday's 610,000 copies).
    He later changed his mind regarding Solitaire--for no good reason, as it's a great song...)

    Had the duo's direction turned to more songs of the mediocre-caliber of 'Now' ,
    I might just have turned elsewhere for 'pop' music !
  6. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It holds a special place for me as it was Karen's very last vocal, but everything about it screams mediocre and elevator to me. It's very bland, not very commercial-sounding and too high for Karen, which is ironic given Richard's criticism of her solo tracks!
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  7. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    About half of Voice of the Heart is only so-so, but the other half is pretty good. Overall it's far better than Made in America or A Kind of Hush.

    'Ordinary Fool' is certainly slow, but it's not at all plodding like 'Solitaire' (which I really don't care for at all) and it's got a jazz inflection that's also completely absent from the latter. It probably isn't a hit single (although it might have attracted attention given that it was featured the recently released Bugsy Malone film and for its rather different feel from their usual output), but then if it had been my choice, I wouldn't have released 'Solitaire' as a single either!
    ThaFunkyFakeTation and GaryAlan like this.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Spinning the LP today:
    I still think
    Two Lives
    is a fantastic reading,
    this, along with Sailing On The Tide,
    could have been singles.....
    IMHO !
    Carpe diem likes this.
  9. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I have an affection for 'Those Good Old Dreams'.

    Is the test pressing different in any way from the usual version?

    I haven't listened to 'Ordinary Fool' for a while but I don't usually think of it as overly impressive.
  10. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I have loved 'Solitaire' since the first time I heard it on the radio in 1975! I remember that it literally took my breath away and did so every time I heard it. Karen's lead vocal is the main attraction and other overwhelming elements are the background harmonies, the arrangement, the production and the melody. There were some unappealing lyrics to the original of this song which, thankfully, Karen and Richard left out.

    'Ordinary Fool' is a bit dull. Not too bad, just not a favourite for me.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^ The test pressing of Those Good Old Dreams simply sounds crystal clear.
    I have always loved the song, in any event.

    As for Solitaire--that single mix is simply divine ! It has been, and remains, a favorite.
    It is a chill-inducing song.

    Ordinary Fool is also great, and the manner in which Karen interprets it is divine.
    Speaking of Interpretations....I am surprised Ordinary Fool was not included on the Interpretations comp.

    Ordinary Fool, Little Girl Blue, When I Fall In Love, What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
    I Can Dream Can't I......just a few of the standards for which Karen's voice is so well suited.
    Jamesj75, Mark-T, Carpe diem and 2 others like this.
  12. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info, GaryAlan. It never occurred to me to seek out test pressings. It sounds as if it's worth it.
  13. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Fool is my favorite Carps song. Upon first listen, I was just in awe of Karen once again.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  14. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Ordinary Fool is the only cut on this album that would've had any chance at charting. But then again, maybe in 1976 as opposed to 1983. Aside from that, You're Enough and Look To Your Dreams stand out. Otherwise, A nice album of shelved material. I gave it 3 stars.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I am still impressed with the beautiful nuances in the song
    You're Enough,
    there is much of the earlier- style Karen vocalizations in that song.
    (compared to how she sings "Now"....I'd never know they were done in the same recording session).

    Forget the choir, and concentrate on Karen's vocals,
    and you will find much to like (and love) in
    Voice Of The Heart !
    Murray and Jamesj75 like this.
  16. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    The thought that the window of opportunity for Carpenters' sound to be a Top 10 phenomenon is an interesting one. I know this isn't exactly what you are saying, GaryAlan, but it did turn out that after '(There's) A Kind of Hush', they never got anywhere near the Top 10 again in the USA, although they did make the Top 10 and even Number One in some other countries in 1977 / 1978 with 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft'. I think, to reach the Top 10 in the 80s, they would have had to find a new niche or a slightly different sound that worked for them and was also popular. Or found the perfect SONG that was in a similar vein to their earlier stuff. Singles like 'Beechwood' and '(Want You) Back in my Life Again' were never going to do it.

    I agree that the gold streak of 'Close to You' up to 'Only Yesterday' was never going to happen again, (and it never did). Then again, there were artists getting Top 5 singles with lighter material not that different from Carpenters' sound right into the mid-80s or beyond. And there were artists who revitalised their careers and had a second wind, or had two or three separate life-times, at the top of the charts. Those were very rare cases, though, I suppose. (By the way, a run of big hits across six years, if you consider the near-top ten '(There's) A Kind of Hush', is mighty impressive).

    I agree also that Carpenters should have concentrated on recording quality albums with songs that were right for their sound. Having big hit singles, perhaps, wasn't that important.

    The truth of the matter is that Karen's recording career was, effectively, over by early / mid 1981, when 'Made in America' was finished, so Carpenters never really got to explore the 80s together musically, if you consider the fact that they had decided not to release much of what ended up on 'Voice of the Heart' and 'Lovelines'.

    By the way, 'Voice of the Heart' is still one of my favourite Carpenters albums.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^And, keeping in mind that many of the post-1975 songs are amongst my favorites !
    Even so, the earlier period (1970-early 1975) is the bulk of the million-selling "hits" .

    Now, I did give a very close listen to my newly-acquired test-pressing of the 45-vinyl
    " Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore "....crystal clear, I might add.
    Which brings me to another point: Karen's vocals on this song--in particular--
    are very much still in-tact, the highs and the lows.....so, at that point in time
    (that is, time when this song was recorded...when was that ?)
    Karen still had " it "

    I'd love to hear the isolated vocals on every song from MIA and Voice,
    I believe the appreciation for the two albums would increase dramatically
    if all we heard from them consisted only of Karen's vocals.

    Your Baby, You're Enough, Look To Your Dreams
    have some incredible Karen sounds happening........
    Brian likes this.
  18. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    My first sentence above is missing some words. It should say something like, 'The thought that the window of opportunity for Carpenters' sound to be a Top 10 phenomenon WAS LIMITED is an interesting one'. (Their sound exploded and stole the attention of the public in a particular point in time).
  19. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I agree. Her voice still sounds incredible on these recordings. (I don't like all of 'Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore'. She starts to almost lose it a bit in the later choruses - just holds it together).

    Karen also sounds incredible on many of the 'Made in America' recordings. (Generally not on the couple of up-tempo songs).

    She definitely still had that sound.
  20. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I love The Carpenters’ version of Ordinary Fool. Even today when I begin listening to the song, my mind drifts into another world and even at the end of the song I’m not ready to let go. This is what all the early hits did to me. And, a few of Karen's solo tracks do the same. It is the standout song from the album and I feel it would have done well in fall of 1976, for two reasons: it showcased emotions with a jazz flair, allowing Karen to showcase her vocals in the more sophisticated light that Horizon began, and it did not follow the singles hit receipt format. It would have shown dynamic stretch which could have led into the Passage vein of songs from different genres. A top ten, maybe not, but a way back to the opportunity that This Masquerade could have played out with a realization of Karen’s stylistic singing strength into a more popular crowd that before Solitaire was left only to album selections. And this song had the strength of a Paul Williams song to where Karen always found a new window to the soul when singing. These interpretative ballads is what Karen was better at than anyone and was what I always desired a solo effort to become. That is why it took a while for me to open with warm reflection to the solo songs, but there are a few of those as mentioned earlier in this post. Ordinary Fool has the best of Karen written all over it and it is what made Voice of the Heart come alive for me.
    Mark-T likes this.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, looking at the frequency of occurrence (according to the resource) for some of these songs:

    ...You're Enough
    and Prime Time Love: only available on the Voice LP (no compilations),

    occurs 17 times,
    Make Believe It's Your First Time occurs 18 times.

    Your Baby
    is on 10 ,
    Look To Your Dreams 9,
    Ordinary Fool, 7 times (that's six compilations plus original LP).
    Three occurrences for each of: Sailing On The Tide and At The End Of A Song
    Two Lives....only Four times. (
    three plus original LP)

    This is merely my opinion,
    but the two
    weakest songs are available on the most recordings,
    while two of the stronger songs occur
    only on the original recording !

  22. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I used to think it was a sales ploy. It used to be that the song you wanted was on an album that was not yet owned by you so to get the song you had to buy the album. For the first 10 years it was that way for the songs that were not singles from A Song For You, for example. Now, it’s what remix...lol. There are only two selections for the remix of Road Ode and neither are released in the US. Looking back, I remember my younger sister prefering Road Ode while I craved Yesterday Once More as we listened to the 45rpm stereo single.
    I used to feel that eventually they would all be released in the US, but that has yet to happen.
  23. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I Agee with you on "Now" and "Make Believe" (and if you count Karen's solo "Make Believe" is on 19 different albums). "You're Enough" is the stronger of the last 2 recordings (of course if we knew what the other 2 songs were that Karen recorded in 82, I wonder how they would compare).

    And "Prime Time Love" really goes with "Your Baby", just like "Rainy Days" and "Superstar" go together.
  24. Just wanted to say I love this album. I play it far more than any other.
    It's my lock the world out after a busy week.
    Brian and GaryAlan like this.
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^ I must say,
    re-listening to the entire LP,
    I (still) believe it to be a very strong album.
    With the exceptions of Now and Make Believe It's Your First Time,
    very strong material (underlined), great Karen Carpenter vocals ( bold), nice Richard/Bettis efforts (italic),
    and, over-all Karen does excellent interpretive vocals on every song
    Ordinary Fool
    Two Lives
    Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore

    You're Enough
    Look To Your Dreams
    At The End Of A Song

    Sailing On The Tide (Happy #2 !)
    Prime Time Love

    So I really enjoy 80% of the material on this album !

    Jeff likes this.

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