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Official Review [Box Set]: "FROM THE TOP" (AM75021/6875)

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS BOX SET?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 43 53.8%
  • ****

    Votes: 28 35.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 7 8.8%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • * (WORST)

    Votes: 1 1.3%

  • Total voters
    80

Must Hear This Album

Well-Known Member
Be very careful with that 40th Anniversary set. There are still tons of Chinese knock-offs of that set. I can see one up on eBay now, where if you zoom in on the picture of the disc spines, you can read the errant "Maade In America" - a telltale sign of a fake. And the eBayer is looking for a $700 price!

Harry
Harry, I currently see several on Amazon, from $300 and higher. As mentioned, I ordered one that was listed as "available" a few weeks ago, only to receive an email that the seller was "out of stock," cancelling my order. Any advice as to how one might verify the Amazon sellers? Perhaps send an email before placing the order?
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
That's always a good policy. It let's the seller know that YOU know there are fakes out there and that you're not willing to support counterfeiting.

They'll either back off, or give you an assurance that the set they're selling is genuine, or at least offer a money-back guarantee.

Harry
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
One thing that has always bothered me about Richard's remix is in the second chorus of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", where Richard manipulates Karen's lead vocal, and drops in the word 'dancin'' to obliterate Karen's high note. It occurs where she sings, 'when we get to dancin' (when we get to daaaancin') at 2:16, you'll notice her high note is way in the background, and the word 'dancin' is dropped in over it. THAT was so unnecessary, but it's another example of Richard's disdain for Karen's high singing on the album. I also don't like the fact that all of the background vocals are lost in the remix. All the echo consumes them. BUT....I do like the overall atmosphere of the remix. I just don't like the deliberate changes he made to her lead vocal singing track.
 

Dave

Well-Known Member
To me it adds an interesting dimension... Just keeps things even in that out reaching context, True Carpenters!!!!


-- Dave
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
One thing that has always bothered me about Richard's remix is in the second chorus of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", where Richard manipulates Karen's lead vocal, and drops in the word 'dancin'' to obliterate Karen's high note. It occurs where she sings, 'when we get to dancin' (when we get to daaaancin') at 2:16, you'll notice her high note is way in the background, and the word 'dancin' is dropped in over it. THAT was so unnecessary, but it's another example of Richard's disdain for Karen's high singing on the album. I also don't like the fact that all of the background vocals are lost in the remix. All the echo consumes them. BUT....I do like the overall atmosphere of the remix. I just don't like the deliberate changes he made to her lead vocal singing track.
You are probably right about why he did that- but I have to say, I like his remix much better than the original version.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
One thing that has always bothered me about Richard's remix is in the second chorus of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", where Richard manipulates Karen's lead vocal, and drops in the word 'dancin'' to obliterate Karen's high note.
I noticed he'd manipulated that line as soon as I'd heard the original from Karen's album. What he did was lift the whole line ("when it gets to dancin'") from the first chorus and superimposed it over the same place in the second chorus, as you say probably to 'hide' the airy high notes that Karen goes for on the second chorus.

I have to say, I like his remix much better than the original version.
I do too - it sounds much warmer than the dry, un-atmospheric mix on the solo album.
 
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A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Yeah, the solo version isn't very atmospheric, but the background vocals are much more prominent and the stereo separation is far better than Richard's version.
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
One thing that has always bothered me about Richard's remix is in the second chorus of "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", where Richard manipulates Karen's lead vocal, and drops in the word 'dancin'' to obliterate Karen's high note. It occurs where she sings, 'when we get to dancin' (when we get to daaaancin') at 2:16, you'll notice her high note is way in the background, and the word 'dancin' is dropped in over it. THAT was so unnecessary, but it's another example of Richard's disdain for Karen's high singing on the album. I also don't like the fact that all of the background vocals are lost in the remix. All the echo consumes them. BUT....I do like the overall atmosphere of the remix. I just don't like the deliberate changes he made to her lead vocal singing track.
He didn't drop anything in - these vocals were part of the overdubbing that Karen did - it's just that when Karen and Phil mixed the original, the lower vocal take wasn't included in the mix. I think it was a matter of preference. Richard actually included *both* vocals in his mix to "fill it out" a little to give it more of the layered Carpenters sound for the box set :D
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Love the solo version with the "dancing" thing. Always a bit perturbed that Rich would tinker with something so clearly not his to tinker with.
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
And just to give another example of this - Listen to the "Lovelines" track. You'll notice on Richard's mix, the slap bass comes in at the first (4) measures right off the top. Go back then and listen to Karen's original mix - the bass track isn't brought in until bar 5. But if one listens closely, you can actually hear the bass being played in the studio along with the drum track, it's just not brought into the full mix until later.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
the stereo separation is far better than Richard's version.
To my ears it isn't. The guitars in the verses are clearly separated to the right and left, I can clearly hear two separate guitar patterns. To the right is the rhythm guitar and to the left, the lower, plucky guitar picks. The orchestra is centered (apart from the swirling violins in the chorus which are to the right) as are the backing vocals, but I think that's where they should be.

He didn't drop anything in - these vocals were part of the overdubbing that Karen did - it's just that when Karen and Phil mixed the original, the lower vocal take wasn't included in the mix. I think it was a matter of preference. Richard actually included *both* vocals in his mix to "fill it out" a little to give it more of the layered Carpenters sound for the box set :D
I don't think that's true Chris. I think he layered the first *lead vocal* take over the second to 'hide' the high vocal that Karen went for on the second chorus. You can tell this by the slightly 'phased' effect you hear on that line, it's almost the same vocal laid on twice. Knowing his contempt for this album, I can easily see why he'd do that. It's subtle, but you'd miss it if you didn't know the album inside out.
 
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Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
I don't think that's true Chris. I think he layered the first *lead vocal* take over the second to 'hide' the high vocal that Karen went for on the second chorus. You can tell this by the slightly 'phased' effect you hear on that line, it's almost the same vocal laid on twice. Knowing his contempt for this album, I can easily see why he'd do that. It's subtle, but you'd miss it if you didn't know the album inside out.
My *only* reservation about that would be - based on years of studio experience mind you - is that it's all-too-common to record multiple "parts", or even separate takes on the multitrack, that for whatever reason don't make the final mix. In the case of the original mix in '79, we get the upper vocal take. In the case with Richard's latter mix, it sounds to me like he selected an alternate take to include in the mix. All a very common practice with remixing. To be even more specific, if he was really that against the upper vocal take, why even bother leaving it in once the lower take is present?! Doesn't make sense, but then again it's all a matter of subjectivity IMHO :D
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
GaryAlan: I think some of these news articles on the Carpenters from the 70's - 90's that you have posted may help younger and overseas fans understand why American Carpenters fans were so closeted back in the day. Some of the sentiments expressed by these journalists show just how much derision there was for them over their image.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Knowing of From The Tops imminent release I called Fred Meyer (Kroger) my then employer and claimed car wreck...lotsa drama. So overwrought was I the only available solace squirreled me away with a stereo and a brand new boxset.

What's a boy to do?

Jeff
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
I had a similar experience to some of you guys. I went to Orlando with my folks Halloween of '92, where I gorged myself in what I think was Music Land in Florida Mall. Never have I felt more like a kid in a candy store. And FTT was the grandaddy of that days purchasing. But I didn't get a CD player until Xmas of '92. . . let's just say during the 7 weeks leading up to Xmas Morning I knew the track list VEERRRYYYY well.

Neil. . . .finding it hard to believe that was over 20 years ago.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I bought the box upon the first day of release. Waited until Christmas Day as my wife gave it to me as a gift. Money was tight that year...
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
(You should have seen the 'look' on the store clerk's face when I purchased this (quite pricey) set back in the day--oh,well!--so worth it)

Now, for December 4, 2014, I am listening to the First disc of this set, 1965-1970:
First, as I get older, the 'purist' in me overcomes aesthetics, and I clamor against the remixes and incessant 'tinkering'.
Back in 1991, I did not notice, nor did I care: I just wanted more of Karen, on anything. The set was a revelation.
I still love it-- cramped as it is among all of the subsequent releases,compilations and box sets. (But, again, in 1991, different story.)

Well, I do have a question while listening to the First disc:
When one titles the disc 1965-1970, Why have the 1973 version of Ticket to Ride nestled there? (I adore the Offering version).
Next up, as I discovered--in the pages of this forum--Goodnight, has the word 'sun' replaced by 'moon', this is not alluded to in
the liner notes of the set, thus, I never caught that before. (I have a cd-r of this, which has the CSULB original, with, 'sun'.)
And, finally: Karen performed drumming duties on-- Caravan, Parting of Our Ways, Looking For Love, I'll Be Yours, Iced Tea, You'll Love Me,
All I can Do, Don't Be Afraid, Your Wonderful Parade, All of My Life, Eve, Ticket to Ride
(she re-recorded her drums in 1973) and
Get Together.
So, again, a question: Why is Karen not drumming on Close To You, We've Only Just Begun, or Merry Christmas, Darling ? (All 1970).
I do not understand the switch.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Well, I do have a question while listening to the First disc:
When one titles the disc 1965-1970, Why have the 1973 version of Ticket to Ride nestled there? (I adore the Offering version).
Probably because it's one of the only moments on record in their history where Karen is caught singing consistently under pitch. How this ever made the 'Offering' album is beyond me and rightly so it's never appeared on any album or compilation since the 1969 album (save the repackaged 'Ticket To Ride' in 1970 and 'The Ultimate Collection' from Netherlands in 1996).

And, finally: Karen performed drumming duties on-- Caravan, Parting of Our Ways, Looking For Love, I'll Be Yours, Iced Tea, You'll Love Me, All I can Do, Don't Be Afraid, Your Wonderful Parade, All of My Life, Eve, Ticket to Ride (she re-recorded her drums in 1973) and Get Together. So, again, a question: Why is Karen not drumming on Close To You, We've Only Just Begun, or Merry Christmas, Darling ? (All 1970). I do not understand the switch.
It was decided by A&M brass that the second album and thereafter would feature musicians of more standing, hence Hal Blaine (of the 'Wrecking Crew') was drafted in to beef up their sound.
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thanks Stephen, as always!
I re-listened to the 1986 CD of "Ticket to Ride". And, I simply had assumed--all these years--
that since Karen's vocals were a bit 'rough around the edges', she wanted to re-record them.
The booklet from The Singles 1969-1973 mentions nothing about why a re-record for that album.(Diehl:"enjoyed considerable airplay")
And in the A&M 1975 Compendium: Richard--"Oh, yeah, we re-cut ticket to ride from the ground up." (RC " ...'Ticket to Ride' didn't do well.")
My impression is that neither of them were satisfied with the 1969 version.
As for the 'beefing up', Karen sure did her part on "Please Mr. Postman".
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The 12X12 edition has the large Booklet, and,
I wonder, does anyone else find the colorization on the front of the booklet a bit off?
I mean, Karen's fingernails are painted-- not only on top, but on the bottom of her nails (look at her thumbnail) !
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Orange Coast Magazine, November 1991:
" ..Actually, From The Top was supposed to be delivered to the label in time for the 1990 Holiday Season.
However, the red tape involved in getting clearance for the jingles and the extensive remixing of all the tracks
made that impossible. "It's a wonder it's making it out now, " Richard Carpenter muses.
 
Probably because it's one of the only moments on record in their history where Karen is caught singing consistently under pitch. How this ever made the 'Offering' album is beyond me and rightly so it's never appeared on any album or compilation since the 1969 album (save the repackaged 'Ticket To Ride' in 1970 and 'The Ultimate Collection' from Netherlands in 1996).
People are wrong about this under pitch thing on 1969 Ticket to ride. I don't hear it, this is a fantasy.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
People are wrong about this under pitch thing on 1969 Ticket to ride. I don't hear it, this is a fantasy.
I'd beg to differ. She's off from the very first line. It's referred to in a number of places, including Randy's book. It's painful to listen to.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=njsDAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT159&lpg=PT159&dq=ticket+to+ride+karen+under+pitch&source=bl&ots=eV--AU0ejD&sig=cxbknEYcvrhUaq6o__vBYz-ugZg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9rSgVMiOM8rlavv3gegK&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=ticket to ride karen under pitch&f=false
 
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