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Carpenters..."A Christmas Portrait"...Special Edit

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Chris May

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I have to throw in my two cents on this. Being a real Carpenters purist at heart, I am a little bummed that I cannot get the "Christmas Portrait" album on CD with ALL ORIGINAL MIXES. Unfortunately, the special edition version on CD is a combination of both Christmas albums, and the "Christmas Collection" features the album in it's entirety, however it is loaded with remixes. Don't get me wrong, most of the remixes are great, but there is something about the original analog mixes that are very unique. Anyway, enough said....anyone agree????? -Chris
 

Chris

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The Christmas Portrait remixes were both exciting and disappointing. I agree that some of them are nice, but their sound from song to song is very inconsistant ( due to different people working on the remixes ) and some of them sound downright bad. There are a few that have a "scratchy" sound to them - They include "Christmas Waltz", "Silent Night", and the remixed "Merry Christmas Darling". The latter only appeared in remixed form on the Time Life 2 disc set "Christmas With The Carpenters". Wisely, the original mix of Merry Christmas Darling was included on the wide release of "Christmas Collection" instead of the poor remix.

Some aspects of the remix of "Merry Christmas Darling" sounded nice, like a great stronger base line, but Karen's voice track had that scratchy sound to it, like a poor transfer from an old LP or something. Does anyone know why this happened? I had heard a rumor that some of the original "Portrait" sessions were lost in a fire. Is this true?

When I listen to the remixes on "Christmas Collection" it is especially hard to listen to "Christmas Waltz" and "Silent Night" with the poor sound quality transfer of Karen's voice track. Not to mention how her voice is so completely buried in the music. If you've not tried this before, listen to the original mix of "Waltz" and then then play the remix of it right after. Listening to them in succession is dramatic. It's sad to hear what was done to it. Karen's performance is given much more of a spotlight in the original. It's like night and day.

Then with the remix of things like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", we went from too little reverb for Karen's voice in the originals, to way too much reverb in the remix.

The only remixes that are both faithful to the originals and improvements in my opinion, are "Jingle Bells", "Carol of the Bells", and "Winter Wonderland/Silver Bells" all remixed by Armin Steiner for the "Christmas Collection" release according to the liner notes. The other remixes were done by someone else right before the Time Life 2 disc release.

Maybe one day we can look forward to a better remixing job on the tracks on this masterpiece? It deserves so much better.
 

davidgra

Active Member
It is very unfortunate that the original vinyl mix of CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT was not issued as part of the "Remastered" series a few years back...

You can get the original vinyl mix on CD if you try really hard -- it was issued in Germany in the early '80s. It's the complete original CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT, including "Ave Marie" without the choir. But since it went out of print years and years ago (and was never issued in the U.S.), it is very hard to locate.

CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT and AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS were issued separately on CD in Japan last year, but the CD of CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT is exactly the same as the CD that came in the CHRISTMAS COLLECTION set -- the CD actually has the words "Christmas Collection" printed on it. The only thing unique about the Japanese releases last year were the original album covers reproduced for these CDs. It's the only time I've ever seen the OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS cover on a CD.

David
 

Bruno

Member
I'm glad I bought the original CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT CD in the late Eighties here in Germany. Whereas liking the remixes of most Carpenters songs, I prefer their Christmas songs in the original versions. Especially AVE MARIA is beautiful in it's original version, without that kitschy choir, just Karen's vocals and Richard's electric piano.

I just checked out amazon.de, but PORTRAIT is no longer available here in Germany.
 

Harry

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I was lucky enough to have been in Germany in the late eighties, happened into a record store, saw the un-SPECIAL original mix version on sale and grabbed it. The locals must have thought me to be one of those crazy Americans, buying a Christmas CD in the middle of a heat wave in the center of old Munich.

That's still the CD I listen to every year. It's better than the echo-ey remixes and the order of songs sounds "correct."

Harry
...in the right place at the right time, online...
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I am just glad that I can hear all the songs that Karen sang on one set and can choose not to listen to the filler crap on An Old Fashioned Christmas with the not-so-delightful sappy chior singing the background and can substitute the original Christmas Portrait instrumental favorites for orchestra and chorus while playing the cds.

And, First Snowfall and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day are two of my favorites.

Craig
 

Rudy

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CraigGA said:
I am just glad that I can hear all the songs that Karen sang on one set and can choose not to listen to the filler crap on An Old Fashioned Christmas with the not-so-delightful sappy chior...

My feeling exactly. I had the original LP, played it more times than I can remember, and was very disappointed when the first Christmas Portrait CD had different songs on it, and the sappy choir (which ruins any recording for me, not just this one). That first LP was so programmed into my mind--it was sequenced perfectly, and brings back a lot of good memories. The recent two-CD set still has remixes, but at least it preserves the original running order.

-= N =-
 

PJ

Member
Was able to purchase original Christmas Portrait German CD and enjoy this release as compared to Special Edition and Christmas Collection sets.

Love both Christmas Albums , there are outstanding Vocals from both Karen and Richard , classy Medleys and Instrumentals included.

There are other tracks that could be released , either as a third Album or as bonus tracks for both Albums for future remastered re-issues.These tracks are duets or performed with other Artists and clearance/ copyright issues would have delayed release in 1984 or were incomplete and needed more work / production than time allowed :sad:

Richard's postponed Christmas Album is a disappointment as this includes "Toyland "(1978 Outtake) , December Morn , Together At Christmas Again and many other original tracks......with guest vocalists , CSULB Choir and other performers....have to wait until 2003 sadly :sad:

Hopefully for the future Richard may release some of the Christmas songs from Carpenters December 1978 CSULB Concert that became their last official Concert performance.....plus some live Las Vegas Christmas rarities :D

Peter....getting festive early....
 
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