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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 19 19.6%
  • ****

    Votes: 34 35.1%
  • ***

    Votes: 35 36.1%
  • **

    Votes: 7 7.2%
  • *

    Votes: 2 2.1%

  • Total voters
    97

Jarred

Well-Known Member
My thoughts are always that this is an album that I want to enjoy much, much more than I do. I think it’s mainly the arranging and the fact that Karen’s work leads, for the most part, are rather weak. The production sounds limp and the arrangements sound sterile somehow, empty for songs that need more filling and texture to them. It’s understandable that for a rough work lead Karen might not be putting much into her vocal that she would later, but if some songs on Lovelines are work leads than they are much more committed ones (Does anyone know anything about that?).

Truthfully the three songs on VOTH that contain great vocal performances are the ones that are arranged and produced the best; Make Believe (I’m in the tiny minority that much prefers Richard’s version with this new vocal), Ordinary Fool (otherworldly vocal with a precise, lush, yet minimalist and every atmospheric arrangement), and Look To Your Dreams (goes right to my soul, personally and in the context of Karen’s life, a majestic vocal and with gorgeous musical framing. That piano postlude at the end says everything, likely added after her passing).
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I quote Richard Carpenter: "we would have turned our attention to the new songs (along with some standards, no doubt)
and not thought of these tracks again. Out of the two recorded in 1982, only
Now would have made any bona fide follow-up to "Made In America".
Richard: "...Karen never sounded lovelier..." (40th Liner Notes).
I quote Ray Coleman: "The song Now found Karen with a resonance that seemed rooted in her self-expression of sadness." (page 309).
I do not quote all of Ray Coleman's thoughts about this song, as what he is saying is surely speculative:
"sang these words as if they were an autobiographical desire..."

Of course, music, being subjective, strikes everyone differently.
Those who like the song appreciate it for their own reasons and that is fine.
But, if this were the direction that the duo was headed musically, then I am at a loss for words.....
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
But, if this were the direction that the duo was headed musically, then I am at a loss for words.....
They just didn’t seem to understand just how out of the loop they had become. I think if Karen lived she certainly would have been even more interested in doing a standard’s album after Linda Ronstadt brought them back. And as amazing as Linda sounds on some of the tracks, on others she could sound a bit stiff (she doesn’t have the exact right voice for this), but I can see Karen’s languid, more mercurial voice sliding through these old melodies with more ease.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
True, but because we know Karen was singing it in the context of her failed marriage and unhappiness in her life (as we know from what she said in some of the Levenkron sessions),
I'm sorry but I think this is a huge assumption to say this...none of us know what she was thinking when she sang the lyrics to Now. Sometimes we think all the songs Karen sung were written about her life, not so. She was a singer who in most cases just interpreted someone else's lyrics. The lyrics to Now were written by Dean Pitchford and music by Roger Nichols. Surely your not insinuating that the lyricist had some inside information into her personal life and wrote the song specifically for Karen at that moment? To me that's nonsense.

The song was a work lead and as Tom mentioned above most likely Karen would have re-recorded it and in doing so could have made the song feel totally different. I think Karen had the ability to set her mood as she interpreted certain lyrics. Sorta like "I have to get into a serious mood here"

Karen had grown into the ability to control her voice and to me sounds exactly like Mark mentioned she was interpreting the lyric "winds might blow through me but I don't care" she interprets this perfectly with a light and delicate phrasing. How about the song Solitaire, since Richard has stated Karen was not fond of this song...does that mean there is some hidden agenda inside because Karen didn't like the song that she's singing in a way that shows us she doesn't like it. Nonsense.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
They just didn’t seem to understand just how out of the loop they had become.
I’ve said the same many times. Judging by the 1982 tracks, by then they were just miles behind everyone else in their league. I wonder if they ever would have recovered from that state enough to make them commercially successful again?

The lyrics to Now were written by Dean Pitchford and music by Roger Nichols. Surely your not insinuating that the lyricist had some inside information into her personal life and wrote the song specifically for Karen at that moment? To me that's nonsense.
Read my post again, which you’ve misinterpreted and misquoted. I never made any mention whatsoever of the lyricist. I was explaining the context in which the song was recorded and therefore the sadness I feel when I hear her singing it, which is what many others have said on this subject.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Rick, please read Coleman, The Untold Story:
"The song Now, which would be the last song she ever recorded, found Karen with a resonance that seemed rooted in her self-expression of sadness. At her most potent, with rich, sentimental story lines, she seemed touched by the magic of this song about a triumphant relationship--maybe because it allowed her to live out, in song, a fantasy of something that had eluded her. She sang these words as if they were an autobiographical desire." (page 309).

That is from the "official" biography.
What do people take away from reading that ?
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
How did I misquote you when I copied exactly what you wrote?
“Karen was singing it in the context of her failed marriage and unhappiness in her life”

How do you know this unless you asked her? This is an assumption. The quote from Gary is the authors opinion, did he ask Karen or is he interjecting his own opinion? Look at the words he uses, “seemed” “she seemed”, “maybe because” “she sang these words” These are his opinions not fact and not directly from Karen’s thoughts about the song and relating her her personally.

Yes it’s a sad song and melancholy but who are we to say what she was thinking during the recording of this song. It’s an interpretation of ones views.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^By the way, I largely agree with your comment, Rick.
However, I quoted Ray Coleman only because it is my understanding that those words are
the words that Richard Carpenter authorized.
Otherwise, I would ignore what Coleman writes about Karen and the song "Now."
But, it can not be denied that Richard Carpenter allowed those words in print.
We already know Richard Carpenter holds the song in higher regard with respect to the other
songs included on Voice of the Heart.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Yes it’s a sad song and melancholy but who are we to say what she was thinking during the recording of this song. It’s an interpretation of ones views.
I'm not saying I asked Karen, that would be ridiculous. All I'm saying is that we are all well aware of her personal troubles during that period of her life, which have been confirmed and well documented by close family and friends, and I hear sadness in her interpretation of that particular song recorded during that particular period in her life. Others might not. I do. That's all I was trying to say.
 
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Geographer

Well-Known Member
I think alot of peoples opinions on them being "out of the loop" is just the use of the choir that wouldn't have been used had she lived. I still think "in love alone" is top 10 material
I totally agree with this. There are many songs that "suffered" from the choir. Oh how glorious they would be with a full compliment of K&R overdubbed backing vocals instead. In fact, to me, the stronger tunes on the album are the ones where Richard did the backing vocals (even without Karen) rather than utilizing the choir.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I think what it really comes down to is that Richard had only existing tapes to work with in 1983 and he did the best he could. Karen’s vocals are wonderful for being work leads on that album (‘Now’ and ‘You’re Enough’ included).

It’s pretty amazing that they were so good knowing what was happening at the time they were recorded. She was the ultimate trouper. As Dick Clark said once, ‘She always gave her all right up to the end’. And this album is proof of it.
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
I think what it really comes down to is that Richard had only existing tapes to work with in 1983 and he did the best he could. Karen’s vocals are wonderful for being work leads on that album (‘Now’ and ‘You’re Enough’ included).

It’s pretty amazing that they were so good knowing what was happening at the time they were recorded. She was the ultimate trouper. As Dick Clark said once, ‘She always gave her all right up to the end’. And this album is proof of it.
Were all the cuts on "Voice of the Heart" just work leads, or were any of them later redone, as possible releases, then shelved?
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Were all the cuts on "Voice of the Heart" just work leads, or were any of them later redone, as possible releases, then shelved?
Only a “Complete Recording Sessions” book would reveal the answer to that question! We know that a common method for them in the studio was:

1. Karen laid down a work lead, to help Richard and the studio musicians complete the basic backing track;
2. Additional instrumentation and finally orchestration was added;
3. Karen replaced her work lead with a final lead vocal.

Since Richard had to add the additional instruments and orchestration to most of the tracks after Karen passed away, as he’s mentioned in various liner notes, it would suggest that most, if not all, of the tracks never got past step one, so are likely to be work leads. Who knows for sure? Only Richard.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Only a “Complete Recording Sessions” book would reveal the answer to that question! We know that a common method for them in the studio was:

1. Karen laid down a work lead, to help Richard and the studio musicians complete the basic backing track;
2. Additional instrumentation and finally orchestration was added;
3. Karen replaced her work lead with a final lead vocal.

Since Richard had to add the additional instruments and orchestration to most of the tracks after Karen passed away, as he’s mentioned in various liner notes, it would suggest that most, if not all, of the tracks never got past step one, so are likely to be work leads. Who knows for sure? Only Richard.
“Sailing On The Tide” contains Karen on backing vocals, so it might’ve had a final lead vocal recorded, since backing vocals would be a later addition.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
The only songs according to the LP/CD insert) was a without the Ok Chorale are Sailing, Prime Time & Your Baby (and Ordinary Fool which has no BG vocals). So it’s possible.

Of interest to note: according to the “Lovelines” LP/CD notes, “Slow Dance” contains Karen backing vocals (and most likely a finished lead) as well as Kiss Me, and “You’re The One”, which was finished for “Passage” and was in competition with “I Just Fall In Love Again” for the ballad spot on “Passage”. (As Richard writes ‘it was a “flip of a coin” that decided’.) “Where Do I Go From Here?” would be like “Ordinary Fool”; Both have no bg vocals. So are the final readings?

But the cuts from the TV specials and solo like “When I Fall In Love” would have Karen’s final reading, as they were intended for release.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
“Sailing On The Tide” contains Karen on backing vocals, so it might’ve had a final lead vocal recorded, since backing vocals would be a later addition.
I did think of that but Richard has explained that that track was extremely difficult to finish, because of it’s complicated structure. So I’m not sure Karen’s was a finished vocal if the structure of the song required some work to bring it up to scratch. Similar situation with Slow Dance, although that one does sound like a final lead to me - I think all he added was the strings and flute solo to finish that song.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
There’s a cd floating around that has a number of songs on it that are all unmixed mostly from the MMM show but others as well including Honolulu City Lights (which most have heard Karen speaks for a sec) but it also contains an unmixed version of Sailing on the Tide. That one almost sounds like a total different lead take than what appeared on VOTH. All of these songs are before Richard mixed them so some sound quite different. I’m not sure how someone leaked them.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
it also contains an unmixed version of Sailing on the Tide. That one almost sounds like a total different lead take than what appeared on VOTH.
Wow. I'd LOVE to hear this! Whatever work was involved in bringing it up to scratch for release I'm sure could be discerned by comparing the two versions.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
This remains a favorite album.
There was an brief article soon after Karen's passing when Phil Ramone was asked about release of the solo work,
he replied that-- at that point in time-- Karen should rightfully be remembered primarily for her work with Richard.
I believe he was justified in how he worded his response. I love the solo album, I love Lovelines album,
but, there is something about Voice of the Heart that captures "the Carpenters" element off Karen.
Examples:
(1) The Richard Carpenter/John Bettis compositions: Look to Your Dreams, You're Enough, At The End of A Song.
I love those three songs.
(2) We get the full-on Carpenters' treatment (background harmonies) with the song Sailing on the Tide.
(3) Two Lives reminds us that Karen was a "one take wonder." Great lyrics, beautifully expressed by Karen.
Had this song gotten the full Carpenters' treatment (K&R on background) it would have been incredible.
(4) Ordinary Fool, phenomenal reading by Karen. I sorta want this song as a cold-starter (start at 15s).
(5) Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore, another with great potential. With a full-on Carpenters' treatment,
it would have been awesome (that is, K&R on all background vocals). Richard's "completion" in 1983 took it as far as possible.

Ultimately, I give this album high marks.
For what it is--at the time--a tribute to Karen, it is remarkably rich in diversity and expressiveness.
It is designed as a "tribute" album to Karen and works very well in that regard.
It reminds us of past achievement and hints at a future that might have been.
 
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