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Anniversary Box Sets: Which One Is Best?

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by newvillefan, Jul 7, 2017.

Which One Is Best?

  1. 30th Anniversary

    2 vote(s)
  2. 35th Anniversary

    4 vote(s)
  3. 40th Anniversary

    3 vote(s)
  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I was thinking of investing in a box set but wanted to get everyone's thoughts about which is the best and why? They go for hefty prices online so I wanted to see what others thought, especially those that own one or more. I've read that the 35th anniversary box set is somewhat an elusive rarity.

    In particular, which one has the best packaging and liner notes and what are the differences in sound quality? Do the Japanese versions differ in any way?
  2. I've compared notes with others who have the 30th. I have the 35th, and both seem to be fairly identical as far as I was able to determine.

    I know that the 35th had extremely faithful packaging of each of the albums' outer and inner packaging, down to the texture of the outer cardboard. The labels were all represented as they originally appeared, and they even included a two-sided paper replicating the inner-sleeves that were used, while protecting the discs inside a special CD holder. It included a Carpenters handkerchief with the logo, and a book with liner notes from Richard and all of the lyrics in English and Japanese - all in a black box with an individual serial number. A few pictures from when I first got it:

    CarpHoriz.jpg CarpHush.jpg CarpHush2.jpg

    I never sprang for the 40th. That one had less faithful packaging from what I can gather, and the discs themselves are all generically designed. But that set was made with SHM material (for whatever that may be worth - it's just a clearer polycarbonate) and it included an extra CD of supposedly leftovers, but it didn't really contain all that much of value - they called it SWEET SIXTEEN. It had some box-set rarities and jingles along with some other tracks. Probably the best part of the 40th was the inclusion of a DVD of GOLD with Richard's commentary track, and the addition of "I Need To Be In Love". I sometimes wish I had gotten that, but it was expensive and is now frequently bootlegged. And then I look at how nice my 35th set is and I don't regret it.
    CraigGA, Jamesj75 and newvillefan like this.
  3. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Great thread, and let's not forget that the 35th set included the (2) Christmas albums, whereas the 30th did not. The only drawback there was that the audio for Christmas Portrait was basically pulled from the 2-channel master containing all of the remixes used for the Christmas Collection set in '96, due to the fact that the original 2-channel master was in too bad of shape to even bake the thing in order to get a clean copy. Thankfully I have (aside from the vinyl) the West Germany release from '84 on CD that contains all of the original mixes.

    I, like you @Harry never purchased the 40th anniversary set because the number of bootlegs that popped up on that thing were utterly ridiculous. There was no way I was going to know until after the purchase whether or not I had an authentic copy. Not to mention that everything included in the set I already had/have, and it really made no sense to me at that point.
  4. That's right. I forgot that the 30th didn't include the Christmas albums. Another reason to be happy with my set, and I do so love the authentic reproductions.
    Chris May likes this.
  5. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    If the tapes were so badly deteriorated by 1996, why did he try again to get a clean mix from the original tapes for the 35th collection if he knew they were in such poor condition?

    Do the tapes still exist from the original 1978 sessions? Wouldn't A&M Germany have had their own 2" master of the original mixes that they used for the West German CD, for Richard to fall back on?
  6. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    He told me the reason he did the remixes on everything was to give them a little bit better quality, so I don't think that had so much to do with a decimated 2-channel original as it did with him wanting a more superior sound to what was originally presented in '78.
    By this point it's anyone's guess. I think England may have an original copy, as they tend to hold the title for being the best source, but I'd have to ask on that one.
    newvillefan likes this.
  7. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    There's a misunderstanding here. Richard didn't try to use the original stereo master tape for the box set, as it had already been written off as unusable in 1996.

    Polygram in West Germany didn't have their own 2" master of Christmas Portrait when they wanted to make the CD, so they requested the tape from A&M HQ in Hollywood. Foolishly, someone at A&M shipped their original 1978 stereo master tape to Germany, instead of a making them a copy! Richard wasn't aware of what had happened until some later date. When he eventually found out, he ordered the original mix CD to be withdrawn from the market, as he had never approved of it's release. All Richard wanted to be out there at the time was his "Special Edition".
  8. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    These box sets are nice. Really nice... :faint: (this is me after seeing how much they can go for :laugh:)
    newvillefan likes this.
  9. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Assuming that the original stereo master was as badly damaged as we've been told, Richard could still have released the original mix as part of "Christmas Collection" if he had really wanted to. Even if A&M UK or Japan didn't have a usable copy (and we don't know that for sure), Richard could have sourced the album from the West German CD. It sounds wonderful, and didn't even need to be remastered.

    If Richard really remixed the album from the original multi-tracks, in order to "give them a little bit better quality", or "superior sound", then I would say that he failed miserably. Karen sounds like she's singing from the bottom of a mine shaft.
    newvillefan likes this.
  10. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    This was going to be my next question: why didn't Richard refer back to the West German CD for an original sounding source?

    The remixed version of Christmas Portrait didn't impress me when I first heard it if I'm honest.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    One thing still confuses me about the remixed version of the album that appeared on the 1996 collection. If he remixed most of the album tracks for Christmas Portrait due to deteriorated masters, what source did he use to remix from?
  12. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    He used the original multi track tapes. Only the stereo mix down tape (used to make the LP) was damaged.
    newvillefan and Chris May like this.
  13. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    That's correct. The original 2-inch 24 track stuff was sourced for those remixes.
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter


    I've seen these sets (in particular the 35th) going for around $400 on sites like eBay. This is why I wanted to explore which one others felt was the best.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
    theninjarabbit likes this.
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    So in effect, working from the raw multitrack tapes he was never going to be able to recreate an exact replica of the final stereo mix down that he did in 1978? Hence he took the opportunity to tinker and touch up.
  16. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    I don't think he wanted an exact replica. It kind of reminds me a little of the dialogue we've been having about B'wana and its mix. Christmas Portrait had some of the same stuff going on in it, at least as far as the mixing and some of the effects used at the time. I always felt Richard over-compensated with the reverb on the remixes because most of the original stuff was pretty dry, and stereo reverb has become much brighter and more dynamic with the digital age than it was during the earlier analog years.
  17. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    The 30th/35th set is gorgeous. Stunning, even. But I still can't justify that! I'll take my chances with a single disc from CDJapan. :laugh:

    Good luck on your search. :)
  18. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I'd be able to vote on this one. I don't own the 30th so I can't comment on that one. I do own the 35th and the replica albums and discs are worth it alone, the attention to detail is immaculate. The actual CD's are even screen printed like Harry posted above and that adds another important aspect in my opinion, everything just fits perfectly in that little black box, large booklet, scarf and all the CD/LP replica's. I was bummed a bit when I got the 40th set to find that not only were they cardboard books for the albums but that the actual CD's inside were not the replica's. For example, the 35th set for Passage had that cool Passage screen print on the actual CD that replicates the same LP label. However the Passage CD for the 40th set is just the mirror finish with small Carpenters logo and the word Passage below, pretty plain looking, no track names, no track times. Maybe that was the idea for the SHM CD.

    But with that negative, the 40th had it's own pluses...inside the booklets for each CD are special photo's from Richard's collection and some new ones have appeared. The main reason for me wanting to obtain the 40th when I already had the 35th was that I never had the video for "I Need To Be In Love" on any digital format like DVD, in fact I don't even think I had it on any format, I've only been able to see it from grainy you tube videos. The other was that Richard took part of the voice over for the video disc and I had to own both of those things since I'm a Carpenter-holic. (anyone standing with me?) lol

    So which is best? That's why I couldn't vote because the 35th had it's own special stuff as well as the 40th and I had to have both. I guess if I didn't have either and I was trying to decide I'd opt for the 35th set but like I said I wouldn't be happy until I got the 40th too...tough call.
  19. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    He must've known a lot earlier than 1996, as the 1992 "Time-Life" and even the 1990 "From The Top" feature remixed "Christmas Portrait" tracks, which he would've pulled from somewhere, and considering a number of the tracks hadn't appeared on the 1984 SE disc, there were no digital 2-track masters for those. The 1992 "Time-Life" disc even contains what could be an early remix of "Merry Christmas Darling" that sounds more like "Baby It's You" from the "Treasures" set that replaced the piano with the DX-7. So he must've been rebuilding CP since at least 1989-90.
  20. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Nonsense. The reason that some of the tracks didn't appear on the "Special Edition" disc, is simply that there wasn't enough space on a CD for all of the tracks from both Christmas albums - not that stereo masters didn't exist. The entire album was all on one stereo master tape. This is the tape that was sent to Germany and used to create the West German CD - and this occurred AFTER Richard used the tape when preparing the "Special Edition" CD.

    For all the remixes that Richard ever made of Carpenters tracks, he used the multi track masters - NOT the 2-track stereo master tapes. When Polydor in Japan approached Richard about releasing both Christmas albums in their entirety, in 1996 - that's when it was discovered that the stereo master tape (used for the LP) was damaged. So, Richard went back to the multi-tracks, and he created a new remix of the entire album. That's what is on the Christmas Collection.
  21. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    I judged checked the Complete Resource, but apparently the only track that had to be remixed in 96 was the Medley just before 'Ave Maria', otherwise the album contains remixes done in 1990/92, aside from MCD that uses the original 1978 mix.
  22. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    My apologies Tom. I was under the impression that Richard remixed the album in 1996, specifically for the Christmas Collection release. That's very interesting that nearly all of the album contained previous remixes. Were these created originally for the Time-Life Christmas CD? I don't have that one to compare.

    The question I have then, is was the 1978 stereo master tape really damaged, as many of us have been lead to believe, and if so, when was the damage discovered? Did Richard ever intend to release the original mix of CP in 1996, and couldn't because of the (alleged) damaged tape, or did he release the remixed version because he prefers it? If the latter, then why didn't he remix the Old Fashioned Christmas tracks too? I hope that Chris May jumps in, as hopefully he has some further insight.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
    newvillefan likes this.
  23. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    ^^^ This answers the original question I had above about what source he used to remix tracks if the stereo master was damaged.

    It must have been an enormous headache trying to start with the multitracks from scratch and recreate the exact same balance and mix as was heard on the original 1978 album, especially with so much going on musically on the tracks. I don't envy him having to accomplish that task. Maybe that's why he started tinkering with reverb and such, to cover any differences where he struggles to match the ambiance of the original album.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Well with MCD you have to remember that the 1978 mix had been released on a few comps in the 80's (even the single mix of "The Christmas Song" had appeared on the 1987 "Time-Life Treasury Of Christmas" LP, CD, cassette release), and I have one UK Christmas Card Single from 1990 of it, that song probably had multiple copies of its master around. But you've got to wonder, considering Richard would've had access to the SE master, why he didn't source other CP tracks from that master.

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