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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 17 20.5%
  • ****

    Votes: 27 32.5%
  • ***

    Votes: 31 37.3%
  • **

    Votes: 7 8.4%
  • *

    Votes: 1 1.2%

  • Total voters
    83

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
It is interesting to note the difference in amount of time taken to "complete" the album Made In America
versus completing the album Voice of the Heart. Part of that difference was perhaps due to Richard's perfectionist aspirations.
After all, Made In America was declined in three of its vinyl pressings before Richard accepted a pressing for mass production.
That is one of the reasons I prefer VOH to MIA (perhaps, too, partly explaining why Richard thinks otherwise).
For it is the imperfections of the finished product that are seductive to me.
That he utilized a choir is unsurprising, as Karen was not there to "complete" background harmony.
That so many "work leads" are here enhances my appreciation of Karen Carpenter.
The artwork for the entire album is excellent.

Look To Your Dreams is a fantastic Carpenter/Bettis production. (Written 1974, recorded 1978, completed 1983)
Ordinary Fool is a fantastic example of their take on a Paul Williams tune. (Tenor Sax: Tom Scott and John Phillips).
Sailing On The Tide is some of the old-style Carpenters' magic (as good as Happy).
At The End Of A Song is a great song (pedal steel guitar: Jay Dee Manes).
You're Enough is a great song (electric guitar: Tim May and Tony Peluso).
Two Lives, a great work lead.
Prime Time Love, a good effort.
Chuck Findley on trumpet solo,Your Baby Doesn't Love You AnyMore

At least the OK Choral is okay.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
In response to some of the criticisms of the track selection on Voice of the Heart compared to other tracks that were held over until Lovelines, I'd say that this is probably down to the need to create the right mood and flow. There were already quite a few slow and downbeat songs on Voice of the Heart like 'Now', 'Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore', 'Make Believe It's Your First Time' and 'Look to Your Dreams', so it would have been a mistake to include others like 'Where Do I Go From Here?', 'You're the One' or 'When I Fall in Love' as well, as that would have made for a very draggy feel overall. There needed to be a few more upbeat moments like 'Sailing on the Tide' and 'Prime Time Love' to break it up.

Indeed, as I've said before, the flow on Lovelines really only works so well because of the four solo tracks, which are all more upbeat and punctuate the slower ballads and standards well; without them, you only have 'Kiss Me...' and 'Slow Dance' that are midtempo, and so again the flow would be too slow and ballad-heavy. It's an inexact science for sure, but if you listen to the non-solo songs on Lovelines in order, it's hard going in places.

On a separate note, here is the original version of 'Prime Time Love' recorded by Jess Roden in 1980. I'm guessing this version may have been the demo sent to Richard as there are some definite similarities in the arrangements:

 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I believe Richard himself said she wasn't really of fan of "Ordinary Fool" so had she lived, we may never have heard it.
From the Fans Ask page of Richard's site:

I happened to see " Bugsy Malone" in 1976, heard "Ordinary Fool", got a demo and then played and sang the piece on a cassette for Karen to hear as I wasn't crazy about the demo. (Until reading the book First Lady of Song I did not know Ella [Fitzgerald] had recorded it). Karen and I recorded it in 1976 while working on our "A Kind Of Hush" album. Originally it was recorded the way we did virtually all our recordings, bass, piano, drums and a "work lead" so, as you know, the drummer and bassist could hear the melody while reading their charts. Karen was not that taken with the song and it did not make the album.

 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
In response to some of the criticisms of the track selection on Voice of the Heart compared to other tracks that were held over until Lovelines, I'd say that this is probably down to the need to create the right mood and flow. There were already quite a few slow and downbeat songs on Voice of the Heart like 'Now', 'Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore', 'Make Believe It's Your First Time' and 'Look to Your Dreams', so it would have been a mistake to include others like 'Where Do I Go From Here?', 'You're the One' or 'When I Fall in Love' as well, as that would have made for a very draggy feel overall. There needed to be a few more upbeat moments like 'Sailing on the Tide' and 'Prime Time Love' to break it up.

Indeed, as I've said before, the flow on Lovelines really only works so well because of the four solo tracks, which are all more upbeat and punctuate the slower ballads and standards well; without them, you only have 'Kiss Me...' and 'Slow Dance' that are midtempo, and so again the flow would be too slow and ballad-heavy. It's an inexact science for sure, but if you listen to the non-solo songs on Lovelines in order, it's hard going in places.

On a separate note, here is the original version of 'Prime Time Love' recorded by Jess Roden in 1980. I'm guessing this version may have been the demo sent to Richard as there are some definite similarities in the arrangements:

Never heard this before. Interesting. I think we can now figure out why this didn't make a proper Carpenters' album. Carpenters' recording is basically a copy of this one. This goes beyond similarities. It's even in the same key. Carpenters add nothing new to this, really.

Ed
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
This goes beyond similarities. It's even in the same key. Carpenters add nothing new to this, really.
I’ve said it before but for some unknown reason Richard seemed to opt just to carbon-copy the arrangements of many songs they covered from around 1977 onwards. For the life of me I have no idea why, especially when he was supposed to be recovered and recharged by the time this track was recorded in 1980 (and probably finished off in 1983).
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
In response to some of the criticisms of the track selection on Voice of the Heart compared to other tracks that were held over until Lovelines, I'd say that this is probably down to the need to create the right mood and flow. There were already quite a few slow and downbeat songs on Voice of the Heart like 'Now', 'Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore', 'Make Believe It's Your First Time' and 'Look to Your Dreams', so it would have been a mistake to include others like 'Where Do I Go From Here?', 'You're the One' or 'When I Fall in Love' as well, as that would have made for a very draggy feel overall. There needed to be a few more upbeat moments like 'Sailing on the Tide' and 'Prime Time Love' to break it up.

Indeed, as I've said before, the flow on Lovelines really only works so well because of the four solo tracks, which are all more upbeat and punctuate the slower ballads and standards well; without them, you only have 'Kiss Me...' and 'Slow Dance' that are midtempo, and so again the flow would be too slow and ballad-heavy. It's an inexact science for sure, but if you listen to the non-solo songs on Lovelines in order, it's hard going in places.

On a separate note, here is the original version of 'Prime Time Love' recorded by Jess Roden in 1980. I'm guessing this version may have been the demo sent to Richard as there are some definite similarities in the arrangements:


Interesting! The original is quite nice and sounds very ‘1980’. Carpenters version is vastly superior to my ears.

Karen can make anything sound amazing. I was crazy about this tune in ‘83, and there are moments of the classic Carpenter sound on K&R’s version. Plus, I really like the way Karen sounds on it with her unique inflections. No ‘whispy’ vocalizing here at all.

I’ll always maintain she chose the way she wanted to sound with each record. It wasn’t due to anything else (health or otherwise).

She always knew what she wanted to do with a tune to make it her own.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Well, Richard Carpenter surely added a sax break for his arrangement of
Prime Time Love. I find Carpenters' interpretation superior, especially Karen's vocal interpretation.
So, I believe the Carpenters did fine with their version.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Well, Richard Carpenter surely added a sax break for his arrangement of
Prime Time Love. I find Carpenters' interpretation superior, especially Karen's vocal interpretation.
So, I believe the Carpenters did fine with their version.
He added this but that’s it, really. The tempo is the same, key is the same, and form is the same. It’s not bad but it would have been more fun to find something new in it rather than just copying the other version which is essentially what was done.

Ed
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
. Voice of the Heart - The artwork for the entire album is excellent.

Look To Your Dreams is a fantastic Carpenter/Bettis production. (Written 1974, recorded 1978, completed 1983)
Ordinary Fool is a fantastic example of their take on a Paul Williams tune. (Tenor Sax: Tom Scott and John Phillips).
Sailing On The Tide is some of the old-style Carpenters' magic (as good as Happy).
At The End Of A Song is a great song (pedal steel guitar: Jay Dee Manes).
You're Enough is a great song (electric guitar: Tim May and Tony Peluso).
Two Lives, a great work lead.
Prime Time Love, a good effort.
Chuck Findley on trumpet solo,Your Baby Doesn't Love You AnyMore

At least the OK Choral is okay.
I agree that the art for ‘Voice of the Heart’ fully enhanced the mood of the music and the mood of the times. Richard couldn’t have looked more bereft than on the back-cover photo. He’s leaning sadly over the piano all alone as if there’s no longer any reason to play it, making the viewer / listener miss Karen all the more. Then there’s his heart-felt message about the loss of his sister.

If you were around at this time and had been a big fan, you were still reeling from the death of Karen. This art work really emphasised your feeling of loss and maybe enhanced the poignancy of the music.

The sombre cover also had this effect - although maybe a picture of a lively-looking Karen, instead of a melancholy one, might have had a greater effect in this way - although the lively Karen appeared on the inner sleeve, with her comedic pose.

Then there was the beautiful music within, and you realised there would probably never be any more of the same - at least, that’s what you thought at the time.

All quite an emotional experience as you approached ‘Voice of the Heart’ for the very first time. I think that all of this, especially a connection to the emotions of the period, adds to my high regard for the songs on this album, to this day.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
On a separate note, here is the original version of 'Prime Time Love' recorded by Jess Roden in 1980. I'm guessing this version may have been the demo sent to Richard as there are some definite similarities in the arrangements:

Thanks for posting this, Rumbahbah. I had never heard of Jess Rodent. Sounds like he’s got a good voice. I just read a bio for him and it seems he’s worked with just about every iconic English rock god and band from the 60s and 70s. Well, not quite.

Interestingly, he recorded an album as lead singer for Mott the Hoople. That was the group that Karen ripped into in print in the early / mid 70s, saying they had no talent. (She received a lot of flack for that). Maybe Karen and Richard recorded the Jess Roden song as compensation. :)

When I heard the Rodent version, I thought it started out more promising than Carpenters’ version. The bass is more prominent and funky and he has the right sort of voice to carry a funky style off. His voice would have to be a highlight - your ears pick up straight away when you hear it. Then he gets into the chorus, which sounds messy. The background vocals sound as if they need to be tidied up, or re-arranged. His recording, like Carpenters’ version, highlights the weakness of the song. It doesn’t have a strong chorus. It’s as if it goes nowhere - the chorus isn’t different enough from the verses to stand out.

I don’t think that either Jess R. or Carpenters could really do much with the song. I think it was the right decision to leave it off original albums. It’s just a fairly weak composition.

It’s great to hear this version, though. Thanks! I might look into this artist more. The fact that he recorded for Island raises the possibility that he might have released some music that was a bit different from the mainstream - therefore, possibly interesting.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
There were a couple of acts focusing upon ‘Prime Time’ around this time. As well as the Jess Roden single of ‘Prime Time Love’, released in 1980, San Francisco band The Tubes released a single called ‘Prime Time’ in 1979. They were label-mates of Karen and Richard. I remember their song well, but I don’t remember ever hearing Jess Roden’s song. I think The Tube’s composition is better, with catchier verse and chorus. Their song reminded me of stuff that Sparks, another band I liked, (and still do), were releasing at the time:- ‘When I’m With You’, etc. The two ‘Prime Time’ songs, Roden’s and Tubes’, have sort of similar themes. The lyrics in TheTubes’ chorus are
“I’ll give you my prime time.
Saving my prime time for you”.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
Not to mention The Alan Parsons Project "Prime Time" (from 1984 "Ammonia Avenue") & a Top 40 song. Matt Clark Sanford, MI
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The sombre cover also had this effect - although maybe a picture of a lively-looking Karen, instead of a melancholy one, might have had a greater effect in this way - although the lively Karen appeared on the inner sleeve, with her comedic pose.
If Karen’s solo photo shoot had never taken place, I wonder which picture Richard would have chosen that would have been befitting of the cover?
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I’ve said it before but for some unknown reason Richard seemed to opt just to carbon-copy the arrangements of many songs they covered from around 1977 onwards. For the life of me I have no idea why, especially when he was supposed to be recovered and recharged by the time this track was recorded in 1980 (and probably finished off in 1983).
I totally agree! I am one who thinks their "decline" came, in-part, because Richard was doing less of interpreting songs in his own arranging style. Leaving these duties up to Peter Knight or just carbon-copying others' arrangements was not playing to his strengths. Gone were the days where he would take "Ticket...," "Close to You," "Hurting Each Other," and "Superstar," put his stamp on it, and make it "theirs." don't want to say he got lazy; however, as good as Karen was, one half of their success was Richard's arrangements and "style" on those hits. Once he started farming out those duties to others...or not providing his original "take" on songs...half the magic was gone.
 
he has also said by then, "the bloom was off the rose and it would be that way for anyone." I really understand that. as an artist you can't say something until you have something to say. tell that to the bank account, the executives and mostly the ego (and I don't mean ego as a bad thing)
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
however, as good as Karen was, one half of their success was Richard's arrangements and "style" on those hits. Once he started farming out those duties to others...or not providing his original "take" on songs...half the magic was gone.
I wouldn't say the magic was gone........but surely it was diminished. Plus as an artist gets older, many just aren't as "hungry" as they were in the beginning of their careers. But I agree with your point.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I totally agree! I am one who thinks their "decline" came, in-part, because Richard was doing less of interpreting songs in his own arranging style. Leaving these duties up to Peter Knight or just carbon-copying others' arrangements was not playing to his strengths. Gone were the days where he would take "Ticket...," "Close to You," "Hurting Each Other," and "Superstar," put his stamp on it, and make it "theirs." don't want to say he got lazy; however, as good as Karen was, one half of their success was Richard's arrangements and "style" on those hits. Once he started farming out those duties to others...or not providing his original "take" on songs...half the magic was gone.
100% agree. The decline may have happened anyway, but this definitely did not help things.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I just heard Rod Stewart's "Some Guys Have All the Luck", and I thought- "I bet Richard sounds great on it.
I’ve always wondered what a Richard lead on that song would’ve sounded like? The Persuaders first released the song in 1973 (11 years before Rod Stewart), so it would’ve been interesting to have heard Richard Do it on the “Now & Then” album.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
There are examples aplenty that Richard Carpenter could show elements of arranging creativity post 1976:
Two Sides and Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore
spring to mind as great arrangements. There are more.
Songs should not be discounted due to their 'non-hit-single' status....
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
There are examples aplenty that Richard Carpenter could show elements of arranging creativity post 1976:
Two Sides and Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore
spring to mind as great arrangements. There are more.
Songs should not be discounted due to their 'non-hit-single' status....
I'd agree in those two cases, but I think it's fair to say that the amazing flair for arrangement that Richard showed in the 1969-1975 period just wasn't there for much of what was recorded in 1976-1981. Even songs like 'Calling Occupants' that *were* great arrangements leant heavily on the arrangements from previously recorded versions.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I also have high-regard for
Those Good Old Dreams....
Not a big-hit- single, but a great RC/JB composition,
great arrangement, background harmonies and lyrical content.
 

Someday

Active Member
Have been listening to VOTH again with fresh ears. Wow, some of the performances are just great. Special mention: Prime Time Love & Your Baby, whichactually sound like 'proper' Carpenters songs. After all these years I've just realised that's Richard alone doing the backing vocals, so I'd imagine he added his parts in '83. What an amazing guy; must have been so difficult to do that without KC by his side.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I never thought
Voice of the Heart
got the respect that it deserves.
I glanced at a list of top albums of 1983 and, yes, this Carpenters' album is certainly "against the grain" for the times.
Richard Carpenter (and A&M) wanted to deliver a tribute album--a tribute to Karen Carpenter.
In my opinion, they succeeded. Richard chose an eclectic mix, completed the songs, included great work-leads,
all under duress and within the span of a few months.
So, it isn't Lovelines--how is that a fair comparison ?
So, it isn't a hit-singles collection, you can't in fairness compare it to Singles 1969-1973, either.
By the way, LP Singles 1969-1973 (#118 on 4/9) and Christmas Portrait re-entered the Billboard charts in 1983.
(as did, Merry Christmas Darling December 17,1983 Billboard Christmas Hits).

Here is Richard Carpenter November 19, 1983 (Billboard):
Carpenter says he hopes to have an ongoing relationship with A & M as a producer and a solo artist.
"I'd like to work around in some different sounds," he says. "I'd like to do instrumentals, and if the right vocal
piece comes along, find the right singer for it. I've been with A & M for going on 15 years, and I really don't
want to break that association
."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
After all these years I've just realised that's Richard alone doing the backing vocals, so I'd imagine he added his parts in '83. What an amazing guy; must have been so difficult to do that without KC by his side.
Whilst I've thought many times how difficult it must have been to produce the album without Karen, I've never really given much thought to the fact he had to stand there in front of the mic and record the background vocals on his own for the first time as well. Yeah, that must have been tough.

I remember reading an interview with Hal Blaine where he described what I assume were the remix sessions in 1985. He talked about how they were all in tears laying down the new parts and that it hit home that Karen was no longer with them.
 
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