1. The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available for preorder! Use this link to preorder, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

Anyone read this?

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by ullalume, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Billboard Magazine, July14, 1973:
    " Although Richard professes annoyance with the ultra -clean image of the Carpenters,
    he admits to restricting the act to material that doesn't contradict their public concept
    of them
    . "Nobody could be as squeaky dean as we're supposed to be," he said.
    "We're really normal people. But I suppose in comparison to some freaky long -hair rock group,
    we are pretty clean -cut

    " He also has gotten into the habit of recording a cassette tape of each
    night's concert from out front
    after discovering that his stage monitor
    speakers did not really give an accurate account of what the audience
    was hearing via the hall's speaker system. Richard checks each concert
    cassette and uses his findings to make any needed changes in the
    show's amplification layout."

    Chris Mills likes this.
  2. NowhereMan

    NowhereMan Active Member

    Rolling Stone remembers Richard and Karen's White House performance:

    "Blessed with one of the purest, most naturally expressive instruments ever committed to record, Karen's contralto vocals were distinguished by an unusually low timbre, giving nearly everything she sang a warm, enveloping quality. Her range also allowed her to tackle a wide array of material, including country music. Although the Carpenters only had a single entry on the country charts with their 1978 Top Ten hit "Sweet, Sweet Smile," written by "Angel of the Morning" singer Juice Newton with Otha Young, their Number One 1973 pop hit "Top of the World," awash in steel guitar, should have been a crossover smash, coming as it did just ahead of other (albeit controversial) genre-hopping songs by Olivia Newton-John and John Denver.

    The singer's takes on such country tunes as Hank Williams' "Jambalaya (on the Bayou)," the Skeeter Davis hit "The End of the World" and the Eagles' "Desperado" were hints of what could have been a second act for Karen. But Carpenter's influence on singers of all genres, including country music, has certainly increased in the time since her passing. Last December, singer-songwriter Brandy Clark covered the Carpenters' holiday classic "Merry Christmas, Darling," and in 1984, duo Mickey Gilley and Charly McClain cut their version of the 1981 Carpenters hit "Touch Me When We're Dancing." In 1986, it would top the country chart in a version by Alabama."
    Flashback: Karen Carpenter Takes Country Music to the White House
  3. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    That’s an interesting revelation. It means that the hundreds of tapes he has of their concert recordings are not really releasable and were really for reference only. They were recorded from the auditoriums instead of from the mixing desk so could never really be mixed for release.
  4. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Great website with some cool screenshots and images and a treasure trove of memorabilia.

    Don Malcolm, Chris Mills and Eyewire like this.
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    August 2017, Excerpt, Rolling Stone Magazine:
    "After the singer's sudden death, her legacy felt cloudy
    thanks to the then-misunderstood illness, anorexia, which took her life,
    and a prevailing lack of critical respect for the hugely popular music she and brother
    Richard produced as the Carpenters from 1970 onward.
    Many dismissed trademark hits like "Yesterday Once More", "Close to You" and "Rainy Days and Mondays"
    as schmaltzy and Lawrence Welk–level square; others were haunted by images of an alarmingly frail,
    thin Carpenter in performance."
    "..... and lack of control over her own artistry have been explored extensively since her passing.
    What ultimately redeemed her has been a gradual reassessment and celebration of her extraordinary
    contralto and The Carpenters’ catalog....."
    " In her final years, she was eager to take her lush, understated and crystal-clear voice into a new,
    independent direction. A 1979 solo album produced by Phil Ramone..."

    Gone Too Soon: Artist Deaths That Changed Music History
    Chris Mills and Jeff like this.
  6. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I found this interesting interview with Todd Haynes about his infamous movie, published just two days ago. The movie, whilst still banned from distribution, has just been remastered. There are a few things revealed in this article which I never knew, in particular what happened when the "cease and desist" demands were received and Haynes asked the legal team if he could at least continue to show the film in anorexia clinics and donate the proceeds to the Karen A. Carpenter Memorial Foundation.

    One thing that has always intrigued me about this film is how it was peppered with amazingly accurate details of Karen's life, because it was made before the official TV movie, the official biography and long before the advent of the internet, where many articles and interview material have since been published. Haynes explains in this interview that it was all the result of meticulous research. There are references to Karen's Stillman diet in the late sixties, her struggle to move out of the family home in 1975, her relationship with Terry Ellis, her troubled marriage and subsequent divorce, her admission to Richard in 1981 that she was sick, her sojourn in New York in 1982, references to Cherry Boone O'Neill and Steven Levenkron, her return to California in late 1982, it's all there.

    I also found another lengthy interview with Haynes which I've posted below. It gives a lot of great context to the making of the film.


    Todd Haynes' Banned Film 'Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story' Has Been Saved for Posterity

    The director's elusive cult classic is being rescued.

    When I received the e-mail inviting me to a private screening of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls hosted by Todd Haynes, I was intrigued. But when I read the full invite, which promised not only a 35mm print of the Russ Meyer camp classic, but also “a newly restored, doll-themed rarity,” I was ecstatic.

    As anyone who has followed independent film and Todd Haynes’ career could guess, the film they were teasing was Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. The director’s first film, which uses manipulated Barbie dolls, archival news footage and mock interviews to tell the heartrending story of '70s pop singer Karen Carpenter’s battle with anorexia, has been unavailable for more than 30 years.

    In the indie film community and beyond, the story of the elusive Superstar became legendary. The 43-minute film hit the festival circuit in 1988, winning over audiences at Toronto and Sundance with its inventive style and mixed-media approach. But when the Carpenters’ estate threatened a lawsuit over copyright infringement as well as misrepresentation of the Carpenters’ image (it’s a damning portrait of the family), it was pulled from distribution.

    Over the years, as Haynes continued to establish himself as an auteur with films like Poison, Velvet Goldmine, I'm Not There and Carol, Superstar developed a life of its own, circulating via an underground network of indie video stores, film fans and scholars who shared much-coveted bootlegged VHS tapes. When I was getting my Masters at NYU Cinema Studies in the early '90s, a copy of Superstar would gain you instant film geek cred.

    But VHS tapes don’t last forever. Luckily, as part of a partnership between UCLA Film & Television Archive and Sundance Institute, Superstar has been digitally restored. But that doesn’t mean it will be available to the public. Legal issues continue to restrict distribution of the film, but a legal loophole allowed Haynes to show the restored version of the film at private screenings, including at Sundance 2018.

    At the screening I attended, Haynes spoke to the audience about the recent restoration, the legal issues involved in Superstar and why he decided to use Barbie dolls to tell such a tragic story. Below are his responses to the audience’s questions.

    Q. What’s the legal status of Superstar and how was it able to be restored?

    Todd Haynes: A little while back, I was contacted by UCLA and the Sundance Institute about a restoration program where they were joining forces and picking specific titles from the history of Sundance films to restore and preserve. They asked me if I would be interested in restoring my early film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and I said, "That’s so cool and awesome!"

    Still, the legal status of the film remains as it always was. But in this case, it’s in the context of preservation and archiving certain films that have a specific history to Sundance. UCLA tracked down the materials and they found the original elements of the film, which took about three years.

    "It’s all about the representation of female bodies and the idealized object of the Barbie doll."

    Q. How did you decide to use Barbie dolls to tell this story?

    Haynes: I co-wrote and co-produced the film with Cynthia Schneider. She was starting law school and is now a lawyer, and we knew each other from college. We had this idea about doing a project together and she was thinking it would feature pets. I had this idea to do something with dolls. I said, “Let’s use dolls,” and she said, “Let’s do pets.”

    Then one day I was sitting in this coffee shop in New York City and they were playing a Karen Carpenter song ["Yesterday Once More"] — “Every Sha-la-la-la, Every Wo-o-woo-o… — and I felt I hadn’t heard her voice in those songs since she had passed away, which had only happened about three or four years earlier. Hearing her voice after knowing what happened to her was such an intense experience. All the sudden that music, which we thought we could write off—even if we appreciated that incredible voice and those overproduced melodies—it kind of snuck up on you against your will, how this new depth gave it new meaning.

    I called Cynthia and said, “We’ve got to do this with dolls.”

    Q. Why did you want to use dolls?

    Haynes: It’s all about the representation of female bodies and the idealized object of the Barbie doll, but I was just interested in creating an experiment about the way movies work on audiences by following formal engineered conventions. It’s like the movie is up there projected on a wall, but we fill in and form that experience.

    Q. Was there much research out there on Karen Carpenter’s story? What was the source material you used?

    Haynes: We researched it really intensely. There wasn’t much [information] out there. There were magazine articles, but we really followed the story and everything in the narrative is from what really happened, as much as we knew at the time. People who later saw the film who had actually been inside the Carpenter family’s house were like, “You got it, that’s really what it looked like.”

    It felt like the whole system was conspiring against Karen Carpenter—it was a family system, it was a show business system, it was a general culture. There was not as much known about anorexia at the time.

    Q. What were the legal issues with the film and how did it get shown?

    Haynes: By the time the “cease and desists” came, which we knew were coming, there was no question we weren’t going to get the rights. I was making homemade cassettes of Superstar at home and distributing them a bit, so there were a few little pockets of people who had seen it. The VHS tapes would have a Xeroxed label on it. Before the restoration, you couldn’t read the intertitles in the film. But because we found the original film elements, you can read everything now.

    The thing that pissed me off is that within a couple years, the film was getting shown in art houses and museums, but it was also being shown in schools and in anorexia clinics for discussion. So when [the Carpenters' legal team] came at us, I said, "Can we at least continue to show the film in clinics and have all the proceeds can go to the Karen Carpenter Foundation for Anorexia Research?" They said no. I didn’t care about the money. I just wanted it to be seen.

    "I didn’t really expect the movie to be seen by as many people as it ended up being seen by. It made me feel encouraged about playing around with narrative form."

    A few years after we made Superstar, an official Richard Carpenter sanctioned TV movie called The Karen Carpenter Story went on TV and this was the approved version and it was a pretty similar depiction of the Carpenters’ family life as ours. There were even songs they used at the same point in the story, like playing Masquerade during the breakup of Karen’s marriage, and people said, “They must have seen your movie.”

    I don’t think they did. I think they were drawing from popular generic ideas of a pop-star biopic. But we were trying to diffuse it and intercut it with other kinds of discourses and other kinds of information, with the experimental film montages [including news footage of concentration camps and the Vietnam War] that put you more into Karen’s internal state.

    Q. Are you surprised that the film has become such a cult favorite?

    Haynes: I didn’t really expect the movie to be seen by as many people as it ended up being seen by. It made me feel encouraged about playing around with narrative form.

    Q. Have you considered doing a live-action narrative feature about Karen Carpenter?

    Haynes: I never have, but [frequent collaborator] Rooney Mara loves Karen Carpenter and is like, “Come on, Todd,” so it’s come to me.

    When I watch Superstar, I think, “I could have stopped right there.” It comprises all of my interests from all of my films—melodrama, family secrets, artists, women’s stories and musicians. It’s sort of all in one package.

    The main thing that is so surprising about the movie is you go into it thinking this is a movie about Karen Carpenter and Barbie dolls and you’ll be laughing through the whole thing, like it’s a dis on Karen Carpenter. I think in many ways, that makes your resistance drop and you become open to some other kind of experience. That’s what happens when I listen to the Carpenters’ music.

    I feel like the film is doing something in its conceptual form that really mirrors the way that music sneaks up on you, especially us knowing what happened to Karen Carpenter and that she really was suffering. That voice that was singing these songs about suffering and pain, that sophisticated voice of hers really was conveying the truth that we didn’t even realize. That’s the thing about popular culture—we dismiss it and we read it on the surface, but it gets into our bloodstream and seeps into us and it has lurking powers. That’s the thing with this specific story and it’s a really sad story.

    "These days it’s hard to find an example of things that are unavailable, uncirculatable, unrepresentable. Superstar maintains this strange status of living on by people who share it with other people."

    Q. Can it really not be legally shown?

    Haynes: The "powers that be" have [Karen’s] body under their control. There’s still questions about whether they ever even saw the film. I'm not sure. I can’t absolutely say that Richard did see it. It’s complicated. His whole life and career was wound up in her and when she passed away, it ended his career.

    But the legal terms left one caveat, which was that the film could be shown in the context of my other work. They left this little tiny margin that we’ve exploited thoroughly.

    The film had this underground life and in many ways, people have written articles about the movie when that VHS tape would get copied and recirculated over and over again and how people would sort of fetishize it and speak of the meaning of the obscure image—it was almost akin to Karen’s body that was disintegrating before you.

    The movie had a kind of subterranean life and it still does. These days it’s hard to find an example of things that are unavailable, uncirculatable, unrepresentable. Superstar maintains this strange status of living on by people who share it with other people.

    Q. Why did you think it should screen alongside Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?

    Haynes: It was one of many influences on Superstar, mainly in its sort of radical genre-breaking sensibility. It’s kind of an interracial rock-n-roll melodrama, horror film meets sexploitation with a lesbian romance movie formula with this pop amphetamine editing style, which I’ve never seen in any other film by Russ Meyer or anybody else. It’s got a kickass amazing soundtrack and a script by a young, hipster square Roger Ebert. It’s just the most fascinating combination of elements that could only have occurred at this particular moment when studios, after the success of Easy Rider, were willing to funnel money into unexpected places, and Russ Meyer stood up and said “Me!” There’s a lot of money in this production, it’s so rich and so stuffed and so funny and strange. It’s just a one-of-a-kind film.

    Todd Haynes' Banned Film 'Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story' Has Been Saved for Posterity

    Todd Haynes
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Record Mirror, January 1975:
    Poll, Favorite Female Singer
    1...Diana Ross,
    2...Suzi Quatro...
    3...Olivia Newton-john...
    4...Marie osmond
    5...Karen Carpenter...
    6...Carole King
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Pete Henderson, half of comedy duo Skiles and Henderson, dies at 79 – Orange County Register

    Pete Henderson, half of comedy duo Skiles and Henderson, dies at 79.....

    "In 1970, on a broadcast of “The Ed Sullivan Show” from Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C., Henderson and Skiles met Richard and Karen Carpenter of the Carpenters. When Richard Carpenter learned that Henderson was also a singer, he hired Skiles and Henderson to open for the Carpenters and had Henderson sing an oldies medley every night."
    “We’d do 45 minutes to open, then there’d be an hour set of (the Carpenters), and then the last 20 minutes was the medley,” Henderson said in 2011. “It was fun, it was terrific.”
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  9. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for posting that Stephen.

    I'd been aware of the film since the official Newsletter in '89 (?) mentioned it. I couldn't find it for love nor money in the UK but when living in LA for a year in 98'/'99 there was a great little video shop on Santa Monica Boulevard directly adjoining the Nuart Theatre. It was there that I found loads of goodies, from curios, banned horror and cult stuff to classics by Chabrol, Bergman and the like.

    Superstar was one of them, with that same xeroxed cover and shoddy image. It seemed the perfect way to find and watch the film (just months before DVD's really took over). I completely understand why the film is not some people's cup of tea and why Richard reacted as he did, but personally I'm very fond of it.


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  10. Song4uman

    Song4uman Well-Known Member

    I didn’t know who Suzi Quatro was.. so i looked her up and remember her recurring role on Happy Days.
    She didn’t have big singles in the US and her albums didn’t chart well here either.
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  11. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    I, too, was baffled by the inclusion of Quatro in this list. I vaguely remember her hit, "Stumblin' In" (1978). Even Marie Osmond seems out of place, as she had a solo smash with "Paper Roses" (1973) and a few charting duets with brother Donny. Glad, though, that she is still going strong! And svelte at that!
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Suzi Quatro was quite big in the UK in the seventies during the glam rock period and appeared a lot on TV shows like Top Of The Pops. I always wondered why she was more successful here than in her native US, but I guess her musical style was more aligned with what was going on in the UK at that time. I never rated her as a singer though and I’m surprised at her placing in this list.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  13. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the further information, @newvillefan. It bears repeating that Carpenters remained huge in the U.K. long after their heyday in the U.S. Even in 2016, The Nation's Favourite Carpenters Songs was a #2 hit! So kudos to our U.K. friends!
    newvillefan likes this.
  14. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    1983 Modern Drummer, always worth re-reading:
    Karen Carpenter 1950-1983 - Modern Drummer Magazine

    Hal Blaine
    When they decided to go with professional musicians, they had talked to Karen about my playing drums,
    and as far as she was concerned, it was fine because they wanted a hit.....
    “I’ve always said Karen was a good drummer to begin with. Often times, guys think that a girl drummer
    isn’t right, no matter what. But I knew she could play right away when she’d sit down at my drums on sessions.
    She played a lot of the album cuts as well, and we had Howie Oliver make her up a set of my monster drums.
    But about the third or fourth hit, I remember I said to her,
    ‘When are you going to get off the drums? You sing too good and you should be fronting the band.”
    CraigGA likes this.
  15. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    I came across one of those infuriating online slideshow lists: "The Best-Selling Musicians of All Time (by US Album Sales)," infuriating because you have to keep clicking "Next" for the next web page (i.e., the next number on the list; and most of the featured artists had 2 separate web pages): The Best-Selling Musicians of All Time (By US Album Sales) .

    Carpenters are listed at #90. I realize the criterion was album sales, but I still would have expected them to fare better on this tally. Yet, some recognition, and the write-up below is favorable:

    "The Carpenters
    90 of 100
    Certified Units Sold (in millions): 24.5

    This popular brother-and-sister duo was a music and tv-hit sensation over the span of their 14-year-long career. They ended up leading the soft rock genre with three Grammy Awards, record-breaking Top 40 hits, and tv appearances."
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    GaryAlan likes this.
  16. Portlander

    Portlander Active Member

    Visited the same slide show and was disappointed with the lack of accuracy. The 24.5 million tally is actually a dated count of U.S. sales only, worldwide numbers would have been a better snapshot for all of the listed artists and the Carpenters easily exceed 100 million units total.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  17. I'm only now reading this write-up. Excellent overview! One of the most accurate pieces on Carpenters music I've ever read.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    This NY Times Article is representative of how USA News organizations covered 4 Feb 1983:
    "...sold more than 30 million records."
    "...were signed to A&M Records in 1970."
    "...in 1974 they performed at the Nixon White House."
    "... were planning to tour and record a new album this year."
    "but had recovered. ''She looked great,'' Mr. Bloch said.
    ''She was anxious to record her new album, and she was in good spirits.''

    Last edited: Apr 4, 2018
  19. adam

    adam Active Member

    Ab out The Carpenters sales tally.They sold over 30 million records .This includes Albums/Singles in the USA by the end of 1980.There is an ad in Billboard magazine from june 1981 promoting Made in America where it states Carpenters have sold 77 million records Worldwidw.
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Yes, Adam, we hardcore 'fans' are well-aware that the tally of sales was woefully undercounted,
    and under-reported at that time (4 Feb 1983).
    Which, of course, is the point I wished to make by linking to the New York Times Archive Article.
    That 1983 article contained numerous inaccuracies ( I place a few in Bold typeface).
    Many USA Newspaper articles were replete with inaccurate information.
    Some of those inaccuracies linger on to today.
  21. The inaccuracies could be blamed on the fact they hadn't been "in the news" for many, many years.
  22. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I’d have to disagree with her publicist on that point. She looked awful at the 1983 Grammy Alumni appearance, almost as bad as she did in late 1981.
  23. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Found this site with interesting list. 70s music acts ranked according to total amount of weeks charting on the Hot 100 during that decade. Our duo checks in at #5 - makes you wonder why so many stations that proclaim to "play hits of the 70s", you seldom if ever hear a Carpenters song.

    Who ruled the 70's: The 100 biggest acts of the decade in the USA
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  24. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    ^^ Music testing. Carpenters have among the highest "negative" scores, and radio stations never want anyone to have a reason to tune out.
    Carpe diem likes this.
  25. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting this link, @Carpe diem! It afforded me much enjoyable reading.

    Yet, what I don't understand is how Chicago usurped Carpenters for the #4 position. (Evidently, Chicago also usurped Paul McCartney.) Because, as well documented, Carpenters rank #4 in the 1970s overall (per Billboard Magazine). Perhaps it is as simple as combining album and single sales (for Carpenters' #4 ranking), whereas the current link provided considers only singles performance.

    Further, despite any "negative" scores, as pointed out by @Harry, I am eternally annoyed when so-called 70s music stations or special 70s programs omit Carpenters. These outlets may be avoiding "negative" scores, but they are betraying history and giving their listeners a distorted view (or "listening") of the decade.
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