• 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 18.6%
  • ****

    Votes: 36 35.3%
  • ***

    Votes: 38 37.3%
  • **

    Votes: 7 6.9%
  • *

    Votes: 2 2.0%

  • Total voters
    102

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
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). 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.
Wow, thank you so much for this information! I got my first Alfa and Canyon discs this year, so I am now becoming familiar with these names. It seems to me that the Alfa discs are the earlier pressings (38XB and 32XB), and Canyon/Pony Canyon are later pressings (D32Y..., D50Y..., etc.). My 1985 disc of "Singles" is with Alfa, but my disc from either the next year ('86) or the year following ('87) for "A Song for You" was with Canyon.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
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.

The acoustic guitar was performed by Tim May :)
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
The acoustic guitar was performed by Tim May :)
Masterful! That's one of the things that immediately jumps to me listening to the Alfa disc. The guitar parts are shoved into the right channel, but he does a great job at doing "accompaniment" on the guitar, in the same way that Richard is an excellent accompanist on the piano!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Masterful! That's one of the things that immediately jumps to me listening to the Alfa disc. The guitar parts are shoved into the right channel, but he does a great job at doing "accompaniment" on the guitar, in the same way that Richard is an excellent accompanist on the piano!

I’ve mentioned on another occasion when discussing this track that the acoustic guitar parts are really reminiscent of When It’s Gone, one of my all time favourites Carpenters tracks. Just sublime. I checked thinking those parts might also have been done by Tim May, but they were performed by the two other players on the album sessions, Dennis Budimir and Fred Tackett.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
My "Voice of the Heart" fun isn't over yet... I also impulsively bought a "Made by Denon in Japan" (for the U.S.) CD pressing of "Voice of the Heart" from around 1984. Stay tuned for goodies. I'm hoping that one is identical to the Alfa CD, but without the pre-emphasis!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Re: the "Two Lives" Alfa. I've placed that and the AM+ CD I have side by side in Audacity. The first thing I noticed, other than the low level for the Alfa, is that the Alfa is exactly 180° out of phase with the AM+ CD. That is, the peaks on one line up with the valleys of the other. I spent some time trying to align the speeds. The closest I got was to increase the speed of the Alfa by about a half of one percent in order to get them to line up. It needs to be fine tuned more but the Alfa is just a hair slower than the AM+ CD.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Re: the "Two Lives" Alfa. I've placed that and the AM+ CD I have side by side in Audacity. The first thing I noticed, other than the low level for the Alfa, is that the Alfa is exactly 180° out of phase with the AM+ CD. That is, the peaks on one line up with the valleys of the other. I spent some time trying to align the speeds. The closest I got was to increase the speed of the Alfa by about a half of one percent in order to get them to line up. It needs to be fine tuned more but the Alfa is just a hair slower than the AM+ CD.
Thanks for the sleuthing in Audacity! Before I applied de-emphasis, the Alfa CD actually has some high peaks hitting close to 0 dB (on "Prime Time Love," which makes sense because that song has some very strong treble). But because pre-emphasis is present, de-emphasis brought those peaks down considerably.

I am wondering, because we had those discussions in the Horizon forum about tape speed, which tape speed is "definitive" and how to know. I imagine that if the tape decks from 1975 or 1983, etc. ran a little slow in the recording process but were played back at exactly 30 ips in 1990 or 2000, the digital transfer would sound a little fast. Is there any way to know? I think maybe I also appreciate the Alfa CD because it's a little slowed down--the notes don't sound flat to me though. Generally, I feel like listening to later CD pressings, the notes sound a little sharp. Who knows for sure, though?

Thoughts?
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I don't think anything when it comes to tape machine speeds can really be all that precisely close. A tape machine playing a master tape in Los Angeles might be less than half a percent within the speed of a tape machine playing a sub-master in Japan. Who could really say which is the most correct? When recorded, was Richard's piano exactly in tune to A440? Could it have been off by less than half a percent? Was the sub-master dubbed on a machine that was slightly slow?

In all of the time I've been playing in Audacity, I see all kinds of inaccuracies between recordings, usually related to speed, sometimes to absolute phase between the channels, and certainly recording levels. It's all an imprecise science, particularly when we're talking of recordings from the 60s and 70s.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
The first thing I noticed, other than the low level for the Alfa, is that the Alfa is exactly 180° out of phase with the AM+ CD.
What could be some explanations for this phenomenon of being 180 degrees out of phase? I’ve seen this before but never known why or how that happens.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I recall a conversation on another site where someone claimed that just by listening to a track he could tell it was 180° out of phase. I find that hard to believe, but the evidence bore him out.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I recall a conversation on another site where someone claimed that just by listening to a track he could tell it was 180° out of phase. I find that hard to believe, but the evidence bore him out.
How interesting! I thought I read somewhere that, if all the audio is inverted, it sounds normal, but it's when one channel is at 0 degrees and the other channel is 180 degrees out of phase that you can really hear wonkiness.
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
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.
This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I’d almost call the mix “delicate.” This is one of my favorite songs and I’ve also always thought this was one time when the choir was a positive addition for the backgrounds.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I’d almost call the mix “delicate.” This is one of my favorite songs and I’ve also always thought this was one time when the choir was a positive addition for the backgrounds.
I agree! Coincidentally, this song just came on in iTunes as I started to read your reply. Delicate is a great word to describe all of the mixes on this album. Richard shows off his fine touch here.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
dDqEyEv.png

Voice of the Heart
ヴォイス・オブ・ザ・ハート (Voisu obu za Hāto)
Carpenters
カーペンターズ (Kāpentāzu)

  1. Now
    ナウ (Nau)
  2. Sailing on the Tide
    輝く船出 (Kagayaku Funade, lit. "Shining, Setting Sail")
  3. You're Enough
    幸福過ぎて (Kōfuku Sugite, lit. "Too Much Happiness")
  4. Make Believe It's Your First Time
    遠い初恋 (Tōi Hatsukoi, lit. "Distant First Love" — also the name of Karen Carpenter's solo album)
  5. Two Lives
    二人の思い出 (Futari-no Omoide, lit. "Two People's Memories")
  6. At the End of a Song
    ジ・エンド・オブ・ソング (Ji Endo obu Songu)
  7. Ordinary Fool
    オーディナリー・フール (Ōdinarī Fūru)
  8. Prime Time Love
    プライム・タイム・ラヴ (Puraimu Taimu Ravu)
  9. Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore
    ユア・ベイビー (Yua Beibī)
  10. Look to Your Dreams
    愛は永遠に (Ai-wa Towa-ni, lit. "Love for Eternity")
プロデュース、アレンジ:リチャード・カーペンター
Produced and arranged by Richard Carpenter
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Make Believe It's Your First Time
遠い初恋 (Tōi Hatsukoi, lit. "Distant First Love" — also the name of Karen Carpenter's solo album)

What does that mean? Was Karen’s album known in the Japanese market as something other than ‘Karen Carpenter’?
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
What does that mean? Was Karen’s album known in the Japanese market as something other than ‘Karen Carpenter’?
Yep! I just learned today, while doing research to translate the tracks, that when Karen's solo album was released in 1996, they called it "Tōi Hatsukoi," after what I presume they thought was the star track, "Tōi Hatsukoi," or "Make Believe It's Your First Time" (the solo version, of course). When I looked up "遠い初恋" (Tōi Hatsukoi) in Google Translate, it came back with "Karen Carpenter" and I was so confused.

Here's an image on Discogs (Karen Carpenter – Karen Carpenter (1996, CD)):
R-4407623-1468179952-3937.jpeg.jpg

You can see on the obi, it reads in black (vertically, from top to bottom):

カレン・カーペンター/遠い初恋
Karen Kāpentā (*denoting the artist) / Tōi Hatsukoi (*denoting the album name)

So, even though album and CD covers were rarely modified (you can see it still says in Latin letters "KAREN CARPENTER" on the actual booklet), the obi served as the carrier of information/advertising/messaging to the Japanese audience, which for me is why the obi are so valuable. Sometimes the obi would be the only place where there would be release dates, MSRP/pricing info, etc., and the obi always has the name of the artist and the name of the album in Japanese, whether it's in katakana (the alphabet used to approximate the way foreign words sound, like カレン・カーペンター, Karen Kāpentā) or in mixed hiragana/kanji (for "true" Japanese words).

Which reminds me... in my above post for Voice of the Heart, if you see the romanization that looks like it could be sounded out to sound like English words ("Nau" = Now, "Yua Beibī" = Your Baby), that's katakana script. :) What that means is, the Japanese people in charge never decided to give an original Japanese translation to the song title; they just took the English title and wrote it out using Japanese letters to approximate the English pronunciation. Usually (not always), you can tell which songs they thought were the "strongest" or most single-worthy, because those tend to have original Japanese names. Interestingly, on Voice of the Heart, that would be tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10.
 
Last edited:

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Some brief thoughts.

I believe that all of the recent remasters are a hair too fast. The Alfa disc is slower than all of the modern versions that are available, but on the flip side Karen’s vibrato sounds much more natural imho.

Listening to the disc over decent earbuds turned up, I can put myself in the shoes of a listener in the mid-1980s, when CDs were new—the Alfa disc has that sound quality. I can see now why “Now” was put up front. As this is the first time the Carpenters were ever put on CD, I think the quiet fading in of the oboe from a whisper to a broad sound stage was a great way to showcase the digital precision of CD to those who could afford to listen on a CD deck at the time. All subsequent remasters sound processed to me.

I always find myself confused with the lyrics for “You’re Enough” — “made for wishin’, made for dreamers.” I’m always inclined to say “made for wishin’, made for dreamin’.”

I think there is a lyric error on “Sailing on the Tide.” The booklet (LP sleeve) reads: “Takin' my time tryin' to find some peace of mind.” I hear “Takin’ my time tryin’ to find some time to unwind.” Just thought that was an interesting discrepancy to share.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
It was interesting that Harry mentioned tape speeds may be different in Japan from USA. They probably are just slightly slower there. We use 120v for most small appliances and audio here, Japan uses 100v which makes a audio playback a tad slower. A hair dryer slightly slower, etc. I worked in a Travel Store for almost 14 years, and sold hundreds of plug adapters and power converters during that time. Most European countries and Australia are 240v. It’s extremely confusing to the customers for sure. They would blow up their dryers or older audio all the time. iPhones convert on their own. Just an adapter plug needed. Japan, S. Korea, all of N. America, and Central America use the same 2 prong plug. One side slightly larger for polarity.
We carried over 30 different adapters, for most of the world. Africa was the most crazy. Some countries use as many as 3 different plugs, depending on the region they’re in. It depends on which European country claimed and developed it as their territory back in harsher times. I believe Japan is the only major country that uses 100v. though.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I hadn't thought that the voltage would cause a difference. It would seem to me that the Japanese would want their music to all be at the correct speed and adjust things accordingly. If voltage were a factor, then every Japan record, tape, and CD might have a speed variance, and of course they don't. No, I was simply referring to playing a tape back on a machine that was slightly slower than the one that the tape was recorded on - and slower by mere fractions of a percentage, so as not to be noticeable.

My thoughts on this one Alfa disc that Cuyler's brought up is not that it is the ONLY correct version speed-wise, but rather the opposite being true. When the Alfa disc was mastered, was Richard around to approve things? I'd bet not. But he surely has been around on the numerous occasions that VOICE OF THE HEART has been subsequently mastered to CD and even LP. So I sense an "Occam's Razor" here.

The simplest explanation is usually the case, that being here that the Alfa disc is the slightly errant one, and all of the others are as Richard intended.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
All points taken. I looked at Alfa, AM+ Series (made in U.S. for U.S., with an IFPI number in the hub), and Remastered Classics, and it seems like each one gets progressively faster--again, the speed variances are small enough that they're generally not noticeable to the ear, although my brain does pick up the subtle differences subconsciously. I am wondering what your thoughts would be on the argument that, well, the Alfa disc was pressed at the time of intended release, as opposed to AM+, which could have been mixed 3 years after the original discs (vinyl + CD) and tapes (cassette) were pressed, or Remastered Classics, which was mixed a good 16 years after the original discs and tapes were mixed.

For me, I think I would have to put on the 1983 disc on my turntable again. (But again, that assumes that my motor runs at exactly the intended speed, which is impossible.) In the same vein of Occam's razor, this discussion likely complicates things too much--folks should listen to the version they prefer! I prefer a lot of the early CDs (Target discs, Black triangle, properly de-emphasized pre-emphasis discs), so that will be my jam... but I understand and recognize that not everyone will feel the same, and that's okay too!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I’m certainly sure they are the same speed as far as the pressings. It just says in the power tutorial I read several years ago, that a turntable will play slightly slower there than here, which I found amusing. I’m sure the high end industrial machines all use 220-240 due to power consumption and needs. My range and dryer are both 220, but everything else is 110. My hot tub was 220, because it would take hours to heat it up at 110. I was a huge addition to my monthly power bill, so I got rid of it 10 years ago.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
There surely is a slight difference as Cuyler has pointed out. But in my dealings with songs, albums, pressings, singles, album versions, remasters - there are very, very often slight discrepancies in speed, and it's got to be due to the differences in the machines that these tapes are played on for mastering.

And we know that sometimes, a slight 1% increase in speed was intentional to make a single sound "brighter" and better than the other guy's record. Radio stations used to speed things up even further to make themselves sound "more exciting" than the guy down the dial - and to get a bit of extra time for commercials - or to play those "16 songs this hour".
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Radio stations used to speed things up even further to make themselves sound "more exciting" than the guy down the dial - and to get a bit of extra time for commercials - or to play those "16 songs this hour".
Oh gosh, that happens A LOT on the mainland, especially in big cities in my experience. Thankfully, that doesn't happen so much here in Hawaii. I've noticed this phenomenon a lot in Los Angeles and Las Vegas... songs sound sped up by as much as a semitone (almost 6%).

there are very, very often slight discrepancies in speed, and it's got to be due to the differences in the machines that these tapes are played on for mastering.
Agreed with you here. Sometimes I think about the calibration processes--there are so many aspects to sound engineering that the average listener has never thought of because we've never thought of it or been exposed to that behind-the-scenes work. It's definitely of interest to me though, and it drives my curiosity in working in an archive some day!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
It was interesting that Harry mentioned tape speeds may be different in Japan from USA. They probably are just slightly slower there. We use 120v for most small appliances and audio here, Japan uses 100v which makes a audio playback a tad slower. A hair dryer slightly slower, etc. I worked in a Travel Store for almost 14 years, and sold hundreds of plug adapters and power converters during that time. Most European countries and Australia are 240v. It’s extremely confusing to the customers for sure. They would blow up their dryers or older audio all the time. iPhones convert on their own. Just an adapter plug needed. Japan, S. Korea, all of N. America, and Central America use the same 2 prong plug. One side slightly larger for polarity.
We carried over 30 different adapters, for most of the world. Africa was the most crazy. Some countries use as many as 3 different plugs, depending on the region they’re in. It depends on which European country claimed and developed it as their territory back in harsher times. I believe Japan is the only major country that uses 100v. though.
Japan uses 100V, but then the HZ is different in different parts of Japan. I think it’s south Japan that uses 50Hz (Europe), while the north uses 60Hz (same as US/Canada).
 
Top Bottom