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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

Sue

Active Member
Working through this set today, it being a special anniversary! In the garden, glass of wine and lovely music. Congratulations Carpenters!!!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
All the talk regarding the three-year period 1979-1981 took me back to yesteryear,
specifically the day I purchased the big From The Top 4-disc set.
It is chronological, which is the BEST way to listen to this set.
Also, look at that time frame '79-'81 as it is sequenced:
If I Had You
My Body Keeps Changing My Mind
Still Crazy After All These Years
MMM Medley
Touch Me When We're Dancing
When It's Gone
Because We Are In Love


Still, it seems to my ears,
Karen's lead vocals get weaker, or softer, as time moves forward.
The difference between Karen's solo songs and the "Carpenters" songs are there to compare and contrast.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I agree for the most part. “Without A Song” is about as soft as she gets. It always bothered me that her vocal was so weak on a really great track. Then the medley for the same tv special was a work of art. The overdubs and harmonies are some of the best they ever recorded. Again her voice is subdued though, not the powerful one from earlier recordings. An associate of Phil Ramone’s who worked on Karen’s solo album, who gave me a cassette recording in 1988, told me she had oxygen on standby in the studio in case she felt weak since she was undergoing treatments at the same time for anorexia. I have no way of verifying this though. He could have made it up I suppose. I don’t remember his name, only met the one time in Los Angeles. He was an associate to my friend Richard Kraft who is a movie soundtrack coordinator and mangager for many composers the studios contract with to score their motion pictures. Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo fame, is one of his clients.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I saw this listing on e bay the other day and it brought back memories of when I went into a local record store "Peaches Records and Tapes and bought this when it was released. It first came out with this style large cover box. I remember seeing it and not believing what I was seeing...holding it and standing there for what seemed like an hour just reading all the titles and knowing I would not be able to put this back down. For a moment it was like Karen had not left and I was reading new titles and kept saying...I never heard that title before. etc..Then when I got home and opened the lid...wow that booklet...I sat listening while looking...priceless!!

These photos really captured the moment for me and brought back memories of something new by Carpenters and the hype sticker..just gorgeous packaging. This will probably remain one of my most favorite box sets ever!!





LINK to Sale and credit for photos

Carpenters From the Top Box set 12 x 12 square new sealed 4 cd set and booklet | eBay
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I saw this listing on e bay the other day and it brought back memories of when I went into a local record store "Peaches Records and Tapes and bought this when it was released. It first came out with this style large cover box. I remember seeing it and not believing what I was seeing...holding it and standing there for what seemed like an hour just reading all the titles and knowing I would not be able to put this back down. For a moment it was like Karen had not left and I was reading new titles and kept saying...I never heard that title before. etc..Then when I got home and opened the lid...wow that booklet...I sat listening while looking...priceless!!
Pretty much mirrors my experience. I’d fastidiously collected all their albums and then one day was shopping and saw this box set in the window of a record store, ironically named “Windows”. At first I thought it was an LP set but when I went into the store and asked to see it, imagine my delight when the assistant opened the lid and there were FOUR CDs with the timelines on them! I turned it over, quickly scanned the tracklist and my heart was pounding at the sight of so many unknown titles. Having heard - and loved - the solo tracks on “Lovelines”, my eyes darted straight to disc four and sure enough...two more tracks I’d never heard of that fell between 1978 and 1981. I knew straight away from their titles they were from her solo album. I bought it on the spot and gripped it tightly all the way home on the train. The booklet was a sheer delight and I read it over and over again and marvelled at all the photos. Don’t forget, this was pre-internet so photos of them were not as common place as they are now. When I got home, I played the first disc and was in heaven, but it took all my will power not to skip straight to disc four. When I got there, I was overjoyed. It was worth the wait.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
The only issue with this original box set is the speed of Ave Maria it comes in at 2:28 and sounds like Karen's on helium. I can't figure out how that got past quality control :laugh: Did this get corrected when the set was re packaged in the slim line case? I know the speed was corrected on The Essential Collection.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The only issue with this original box set is the speed of Ave Maria it comes in at 2:28 and sounds like Karen's on helium. I can't figure out how that got past quality control :laugh: Did this get corrected when the set was re packaged in the slim line case? I know the speed was corrected on The Essential Collection.
I remember reporting that to this forum years ago. How on Earth that got past Richard is beyond me and I don’t have a clue why it was sped up in the first place.
 

Kacfan

Member
I remember reporting that to this forum years ago. How on Earth that got past Richard is beyond me and I don’t have a clue why it was sped up in the first place.
My family had a karaoke machine at home then which played cds and allowed us to speed up or slow down the playing. I remember noticing this track was fast and when I used the machine to slow it down by two knob turns it sounded like the normal version. Before internet, I was so puzzled and wondered how often Richard would do this to the recordings. And then I wondered about I won’t last a day without you and goodbye to love.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
This is a magnificent collection of music!

I used to buy an import UK magazine and, when ‘From the Top’ was first released, I saw it listed by a US seller for an exorbitant amount, so promptly sent an international money order off with added insurance and including a large fee for air mail shipping.

I was horrified to come home from work one summer’s day a few weeks later and find that the posties had left my box set sitting on my front gate post, on the street, in full sun, on a day of 113 degrees F. I lived in a town where there was a high number of robberies and house break-ins, etc, yet no-one helped themselves to my Carpenters package, which was in full view and right there for the taking. They don’t know what they missed. The set remains one of my most treasured Carpenters collections. It’s especially a privilege to hear Karen at 16, 17, 18. She sounded great back then!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
It’s especially a privilege to hear Karen at 16, 17, 18.
When you think about it, given Richard's strict editorial control over what gets released, it's a miracle we ever got this set at all. To hear the rough demos of Karen in her teens was just sublime. When I looked at the year listed beside each track on the back cover, I thought that maybe the first half a dozen tracks would be instrumentals and that she wouldn't show up as a vocalist until the track All I Can Do, which I obviously recognised as a title from their first album. I never dreamed we'd get to hear all those tracks recorded in Joe's garage studio and the acetates that they made. There's one track I'd be curious to hear which I think was recorded when Karen was 14, but Richard decided against releasing it on a set like this as he didn't think Karen would want people to hear it. I think he said her voice was then only in its very embryonic stages, whereas from around 1966, you can already tell it's her.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
They could theoretically have fit it on to eight LPs, but it would have resulted in severe compression to get up to 29 minutes on a side so it probably never would have passed muster, soundwise.

It probably could have been reconfigured to 12 LPs (3 per CD) but that would probably have resulted in some odd sequencing.

As hinted above, LPs were really in the basement at the time this was released...the whole craze was to get as much stuff onto CD as possible, hence the proliferation of box sets. At that moment, LPs were an afterthought, if anything.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
Review by Jerry Osborne from Page 27 of 'DISCoveries' magazine, December, 1991:-

"From the Top" - Carpenters.

The much-anticipated four-CD, Carpenters' boxed set, "From the Top", will disappoint no-one. (Okay, I would like to have seen 'Sandy', one of their best LP cuts, included - but I'll live).

Kicking off with a 1965 jazz rendering of Ellington's 'Caravan', recorded in their living room when they were the Richard Carpenter Trio, disc one moves next to 'Parting Of our Ways', made for Magic Lamp but never issued.

One of the rarest singles of the '60s is Karen Carpenter's Magic Lamp single, (#704), 'Looking For Love' / 'I'll Be Yours' and both sides appear on 'From the Top'. According to Richard's liner notes - remarkably enjoyable and revealing throughout - only 500 copies of the Magic Lamp single were pressed. No wonder it can sell for $200.

Carpenters fans will delight in 13 prehistoric tracks before even getting to 'Ticket to Ride', their first A&M single, (October, 1969). Included among these early recordings are 'All I Can Do' and 'Don't Be Afraid', made in 1967 and '68 when Richard and Karen's six-member band was named Spectrum. From Richard's notes, you'll also learn of 11 tracks being cut for RCA Victor in 1966, none of which ever saw the light of day.

Beginning with 'Ticket to Ride', the listener's ticket is punched for a chronological ride through the years. From that first A&M 45, the two dozen-plus chart hits are all here, right up to 'Now', from Karen's last recording session in April of 1982.

'From the Top' delivers 67 selections, (1965 - 1982), 20 of which are previously unreleased and 40 remixed. The 16-page, full-colour bonus booklet rates as one of the most informative you'll find with any album package.

Karen Carpenter was truly blessed with a magnificent voice, and this new set from A&M, (#75021 6875 2) makes it easy to regularly remind oneself of that fact.

Collectors note:- A&M has issued a seven-track CD, in-store play sampler with selections from 'From the Top'.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Here is another review,
Entertainment Weekly, November 29,1991:
Carpenters
From the Top
Intention
: To prove that the late Karen Carpenter shouldn’t be remembered just for her bad eating habits —
that she and her brother, Richard, were, in fact, underrated talents.
Achievement: The Carpenters’ music can still seem painfully banal, but at its best it defined middle-of-the-road pop in the ’70s,
with the sad, dark hues of Karen’s voice suggesting underlying currents of angst. The point is diluted, though, by soda commercials,
forgettable ’80s recordings, and other padding.
Fans, Behold: Early recordings by the Richard Carpenter Trio featuring teenage Karen’s nascent jazz drumming;
unreleased songs from Karen’s canned solo album, including the ominously titled “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind.”
Newcomers, Beware: Stick with the second half of disc 1 and all of disc 2. Or, buy The Singles 1969-1973, the Carpenters’ greatest-hits package. Also: Richard re-recorded some of his keyboard parts to improve their CD sound quality.
Unintentional Morbid Touch: Tracing Karen’s weight loss through chronological photos in booklet.
Boxed-Set Hell: A version of the insipid ”Sing” partially sung in Spanish. B-

Source:
Box-set music guide
 
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