• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 19 18.8%
  • ****

    Votes: 36 35.6%
  • ***

    Votes: 37 36.6%
  • **

    Votes: 7 6.9%
  • *

    Votes: 2 2.0%

  • Total voters
    101

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
And, I must add, Two Lives is awesome: A request to those who have them, listen with earphones.
...
Now has some great lyrical content and for a work-lead, Karen's delivery is impressive (as it seems to be a rather 'rangy' song).
...
TWO LIVES always appealed to me - the oboe interlude is delightful - however, I think the song needs a better, stronger, more melodic bridge near the end...

Agree on NOW - great song!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I feel that NOW is one of their most beautiful songs - choral interlude and sax solo included - even though Karen didn't seem to be at the top of her game (but still better than anyone else) - her voice didn't seem to be as strong or have that deep, clear, piercing edge that we all loved so much...PRIME TIME LOVE is far below NOW's standards musically and vocally and has "album filler" written all over it...
Sorry, but NOW should’ve been left in the vault or erased! Karen’s vocal is terrible, extremely high and airy and Richard’s arrangement isn’t that good. Whereas “You’re Enough” from the same session is a much better recording. Same with “Prime Time Love”. PTL should’ve been the single for VOTH, or even released as a single for MIA.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Sorry, but NOW should’ve been left in the vault or erased! Karen’s vocal is terrible, extremely high and airy and Richard’s arrangement isn’t that good.

I think the issue with the song, as pretty as it may be, is its range and, more crucially, when it was recorded. It starts off with that low opening note and ends up in the rafters towards the end. You couldn’t have brought it down a key or two to improve the impact of Karen’s vocals in the latter half of it because the opening note would then likely have been out of her range altogether.

Had she recorded this in 1974 or 1975, it would have been a magical experience to listen to. By 1982, the quality of her voice had dramatically changed; she’d lost the velvety richness she once had and the tonal quality was compromised. It’s a case of the wrong song at the wrong time.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
...Karen’s vocal is terrible, extremely high and airy and Richard’s arrangement isn’t that good...
Hardly "terrible" and not "extremely" high - because of her years-long battle with physical problems her voice was not as deeply resonant or rich or strongly clear and penetrating as we had become accustomed to in her "prime time", but like I said her performance of this was still better than what anyone else could have done...

And the song was in a key that appears to have been a tad higher than those which allowed her to roam so brilliantly and beautifully "in the basement" and it could have been adjusted downward a degree (interval) or two...

As far as Richard's arrangement goes I think it was right up their with some of his best, including the intro, the sax solo and choral interludes in the middle and the instrumental interlude near the end, followed by Karen's reentry (in the upper range of her voice) with the phrase "No, I never really knew how until now". First rate artistic craftsmanship!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I'll never understand the criticism of "Now". It's a gorgeous song arranged tastefully and performed perfectly. Not all songs can be in a narrow range as to showcase the "basement". Another reason for my affection for this recording is that it's co-written by Roger Nichols - and I can only guess that he wrote the music white Dean Pitchford did the lyrics.

I also love a little turn of phrase that Karen uses on "there's no harm in thunder if you are there". I get just a slight impression that she ever-so-gently rolled the "r" at the end of thunder into the next word "if".

To those of you who don't "get" this song, I feel a bit sorry for you. While Richard has given many musical gifts over the years, this was one of Karen's last gifts to us. Embrace it and cherish it.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Just like how 'I Need to Be in Love' is a sentimental favourite for fans due to it being Karen's favourite, I think 'Now' has a similar status for some fans because it was reportedly Karen's final studio performance (a point emphasised by its use in The Karen Carpenter Story and then in its inclusion as the 'final' track on From the Top). So there is some unusual (or special, depending on your viewpoint) context surrounding 'Now'. And that if that adds something to the song for you, then that's fine.

However, as a song, I don't think either the vocal or the production is anything more than simply OK. In fact, both it and 'You're Enough' are amongst the weaker tracks on Voice of the Heart in my opinion. The fact that it was one of the last things Karen ever sang doesn't make it a better song in itself. Even in terms of 'sentimental' songs, 'Look to Your Dreams' on the same album has more resonance for me.

What doesn't help is that 'Now' has been bigged up over the years as being a special performance - Richard has described Karen's singing on 'Now' as 'flawless' and Ray Coleman gave it a very positive write-up in the authorised biography from 1994. Some fans have found that praise somewhat subjective. I wouldn't say there's anything bad about 'Now' per se, but is it a key track in their catalog? Certainly not.

Perhaps I'm just not sentimental enough to get it - give me the moodiness of 'Ordinary Fool' or 'Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore' over 'Now' any day!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
There are great points raised by all concerned !
I side with three simultaneous views (as they are not necessarily "mutually exclusive"):
Rumbahbah, Harry and Stephen's viewpoints sum-up anything more I could ever say about "Now" !
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I'm fairly introspective as a person, but I honestly cannot say whether my adoration for this vocal by Karen is - at least in part - influenced by my knowledge of it being her last recorded vocal.

Ultimately, I don't care; my enjoyment of music is visceral; not technical, intellectual or analytical. Karen, in my view, knocked her last recorded vocal out of the park.

For me, Now is Karen's finest vocal post-1980.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Just like how 'I Need to Be in Love' is a sentimental favourite for fans due to it being Karen's favourite, I think 'Now' has a similar status for some fans because it was reportedly Karen's final studio performance ... So there is some unusual (or special, depending on your viewpoint) context surrounding 'Now'. And that if that adds something to the song for you, then that's fine.
...The fact that it was one of the last things Karen ever sang doesn't make it a better song in itself.

What doesn't help is that 'Now' has been bigged up over the years as being a special performance...
All of that's true, and yet it would be a mistake to assume that those are the only, or even primary, reasons the song and performance are admired by many - these are mere facts adding a certain amount of ambiance or provenance to the song - they are not the criteria serious Carpenter enthusiasts use to judge or evaluate any of their recordings. The standards that are used are the musical content of the songs and the emotions they generate.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
All of that's true, and yet it would be a mistake to assume that those are the only, or even primary, reasons the song and performance are admired by many - these are mere facts adding a certain amount of ambiance or provenance to the song - they are not the criteria serious Carpenter enthusiasts use to judge or evaluate any of their recordings. The standards that are used are the musical content of the songs and the emotions they generate.
I agree with this @JohnFB.

I like to think of it this way when getting into the analytical side of things: Can any of us, or anyone we know sing with even a fraction of the quality and intonation that Karen did—at her worst? NOPE! Is the song's arrangement educated, well-crafted, and well produced and performed?

Hands down.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I also love a little turn of phrase that Karen uses on "there's no harm in thunder if you are there". I get just a slight impression that she ever-so-gently rolled the "r" at the end of thunder into the next word "if".
Agreed! I remember one of my first big conversations on the forum was regards Karen's accent. This is one of two big instances of Karen showing off a more stereotypically British flair of her mid-Atlantic singing accent (the other being on "Intermission"). I love it. :) I wonder if it was a tongue-in-cheek nod to someone or something.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
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From my scanner. I learned just now that Preview on Mac actually de-screens without losing detail when you scale an ultra high-res image down. I scanned the source images in 1600 dpi, then basically resampled to 10% (160 dpi) and have attached the results here.

There was no obi with the CD I received today.

Enjoy :)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
This disc (38XB-4) has pre-emphasis as well. I will have to apply de-emphasis before giving it a proper listen.

Here is the CUE sheet, to my fellow audiophiles/tech nerds out there:

Code:
TITLE "Voice of the Heart"
PERFORMER "Carpenters"
REM DATE "1983-12-21"
REM DISCID 9909850A
REM REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN 3.43 dB
REM REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_PEAK 0.999969
FILE "Voice of the Heart.wav" WAVE
  TRACK 01 AUDIO
    TITLE "Now"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Roger Nichols"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 3.50 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.655090
    INDEX 01 00:00:00
  TRACK 02 AUDIO
    TITLE "Sailing on the Tide"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Tony Peluso"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 3.86 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.891907
    INDEX 01 03:51:42
  TRACK 03 AUDIO
    TITLE "You're Enough"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Richard Carpenter"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 3.58 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.759705
    INDEX 01 08:16:55
  TRACK 04 AUDIO
    TITLE "Make Believe It's Your First Time"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    ISRC USAM18300069
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 4.77 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.567291
    INDEX 01 12:06:42
  TRACK 05 AUDIO
    TITLE "Two Lives"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Mark T. Jordan"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 3.25 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.935120
    INDEX 01 16:16:35
  TRACK 06 AUDIO
    TITLE "At the End of a Song"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Richard Carpenter"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 4.98 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.612579
    INDEX 01 20:52:00
  TRACK 07 AUDIO
    TITLE "Ordinary Fool"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Paul Williams"
    ISRC USUM70981918
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 5.61 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.556854
    INDEX 01 24:33:17
  TRACK 08 AUDIO
    TITLE "Prime Time Love"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 1.23 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.999969
    INDEX 01 28:16:32
  TRACK 09 AUDIO
    TITLE "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Larry Weiss"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 2.17 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.763397
    INDEX 01 31:29:52
  TRACK 10 AUDIO
    TITLE "Look to Your Dreams"
    PERFORMER "Carpenters"
    SONGWRITER "Richard Carpenter"
    FLAGS PRE
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_GAIN 2.99 dB
    REM REPLAYGAIN_TRACK_PEAK 0.512939
    INDEX 01 35:22:20
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
If I could change my vote, I absolutely would. The sound on this CD (after de-emphasis is applied) is so balanced. Songs I previously didn't care for, including "Make Believe It's Your First Time," really pop. The guitar and the keys on "Two Lives" really pop. Shivers down the spine.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Some sonic sampling for you all... opinions on the forum about this album are really divided re: which songs are good/okay, so I am choosing to share the song that my opinion has changed the most on since listening to the Alfa CD:


To me, Richard's instrumentation shines through more on this disc. I hear guitar strums I've never noticed before, little percussion notes that I've never noticed before... This disc to me represents the opposite of the "Wall of Sound" method. Richard takes little parts here and there and delicately draws them out. Quiet parts stay quiet until they're given a green light.

Also, I know there's reverb here, but I have to say, the reverb on this disc sounds less "wet" than the reverb in subsequent CD/digital releases (that's my perception at least).

^ note about the audio file... I applied de-emphasis because this CD has pre-emphasis. Without de-emphasis, all of the songs sound a little grating on the high end/treble. De-emphasis is a process that CD players did either analog or digitally to adjust the EQ in a similar way to Dolby on cassette tapes. I started a thread here: Help! Pre-Emphasis Questions

To my knowledge, this Alfa disc is the only instance of a Carpenters disc with pre-emphasis. There are lots of others out there, if you're curious and want to do a Google search. Pre-emphasis was popular in Japan in 1983/1984, but most discs after that, especially most discs pressed in the U.S. or West Germany, abandoned pre-emphasis. The acquisition of the Alfa disc makes this the fourth disc in my entire CD collection (a couple hundred CDs) to have pre-emphasis.
 
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GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
The Alpha pressings of their vinyl is also really clean. This disc an example of the care they used in cd reproduction too. The Japanese market usually demands it since the cd and pure vinyl age of the 80’s.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
The Alpha pressings of their vinyl is also really clean. This disc an example of the care they used in cd reproduction too. The Japanese market usually demands it since the cd and pure vinyl age of the 80’s.
I was really surprised actually. Prior to stumbling across this disc, I had never heard of Alfa Records. It seems like they released a few other Carpenters discs. With this disc, I also received an Alfa pressing from 1985 of The Singles 1969-1973, catalog number 32XB-39. A Discogs search shows Alfa also pressed Close to You, A Song for You, Now & Then, and Christmas Portrait. Singles is pretty faithful to the original vinyl, I think. The Superstar/Rainy Days/Goodbye to Love triad is sped up, the single version of "Yesterday Once More" is there, and the tape is very hissy. But I'd take a hissy tape from a flat transfer over noise reduction, any day. (For archival purposes, at least.)
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
They pressed product for A&M after they left King Record Company, sold eventually to Polygram, and then to UMe. The major labels kept buying up the smaller ones, or 2 majors would merge to cut costs and more appealing to their artists and shareholders. My opinion of King Records is so-so. They quality of the vinyl is mediocre at best. The usual pops and ticks. The positive side is that they released a ton of compilations for their market. You can get them on EBay now. Carpenters had dozens of vinyl and cd releases in Japan available nowhere else. Love the 45 picture sleeves we never got here.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Some sonic sampling for you all... opinions on the forum about this album are really divided re: which songs are good/okay, so I am choosing to share the song that my opinion has changed the most on since listening to the Alfa CD
^^Thanks for spotlighting that particular song, Two Lives. This is truly one of Karen's best readings, another work-lead. Also, a fine arrangement by Richard.

What really surprises me about this track - and it’s even more more apparent on this version Cuyler posted - is that Karen’s lead vocal is so loud, sitting way out front and on top of all the music where it belongs. Richard said he always mixed Karen that way in at least one interview I can recall, which is ironic because that’s not how she sounds on most of Made In America - and this is an outtake from those sessions.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
They pressed product for A&M after they left King Record Company, sold eventually to Polygram, and then to UMe. The major labels kept buying up the smaller ones, or 2 majors would merge to cut costs and more appealing to their artists and shareholders. My opinion of King Records is so-so. They quality of the vinyl is mediocre at best. The usual pops and ticks. The positive side is that they released a ton of compilations for their market. You can get them on EBay now. Carpenters had dozens of vinyl and cd releases in Japan available nowhere else. Love the 45 picture sleeves we never got here.
In 1986, A&M left Alfa Records, and signed a Japanese distribution agreement with Canyon Records (which was renamed "Pony Canyon" in 1987, following a merger with Pony Records). In 1989, Herb and Jerry sold A&M to Polygram. Polygram ended the agreement with Pony Canyon (likely by buying out the contract), and took over production and distribution of the A&M catalog in Japan themselves. Polygram was later sold to UMe.

Neither Alfa Records, nor Pony Canyon, was ever owned by Polygram or UMe. Alfa Records was purchased by Sony in 2000. Pony Canyon was, and continues to be owned by Fuji.
 
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Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
What really surprises me about this track - and it’s even more more apparent on this version Cuyler posted - is that Karen’s lead vocal is way out front, sitting on top of all the music. Richard said he always mixed Karen that way in at least one interview I can recall, which is ironic because that’s not how she sounds on most of It’s Made In America.
That was my initial thought, exactly! This disc puts Karen front and center, slightly above the music in most cases, but there's a lot of goodness that is shoved into the left and right channels too that to me gets lost in later CDs. I love the little acoustic guitar strumming in the right channel on "Two Lives" on the Alfa CD. I wonder if that's Tony Peluso. He did a great job with those little rhythm guitar parts... truly underrated in many instances.
 
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