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Carpenters: pre-internet (UK)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Someday, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. Someday

    Someday Active Member Thread Starter

    I've been thinking recently about many subjects and how we got along before the www ...

    As some of us may remember, if you wanted information about something, you could ask other people (whatever happened to that?!), find an encyclopedia or go to your local library/book store.

    Here in the UK, a work colleague had just got the Yesterday Once More compilation, so popular in 1985. On hearing it for the first time I was fascinated, along with the two photos included on the box art. Another work friend (I was only 17) told me KC had died from a drug problem and thought it was suicide. I knew nothing about Carpenters; it took many months to find any more information; nothing in the library. Then during a family holiday I found a cassette in Woolworths called ... Now & Then. We played it in the car and I remember being stunned by Karen's lower register. Soon after I found another cassette in a local music store: Voice of the Heart. For a long time I thought this was a 'complete' Carpenters album from years back.

    Eventually, a new friend introduced me to the International Fan Club, and we would regularly write to Evelyn and ask her our questions. Replies would take months to come back, but she always responded and, on a couple of occasions, popped in a picture postcard for free.

    So strange to think things were so different, even only 30 years ago! The world is practically unrecognisable since then ...
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  2. I think we Carpenters fans found ways to interact and collect information in the "old days".

    I became a fan after watching The Karen Carpenter Story on TV in South Africa in 1990. I had no idea about previous releases or music apart from what I heard on the film and didn't even know the title of some of the songs.

    Only Yesterday had just been released and I bought that and played the cassette to death. I also managed to find Lovelines on cassette. I then found the Singles 1969-1983 on vinyl in a second-hand record shop and wrote to A&M Records who forwarded my letter to the, now defunct, fan club.

    I was very surprised to receive a package from the USA with Carpenters as return address on it. I ripped it open and found a lovely letter from Evelyn Wallace and she had very kindly sent me 4 fan club posters, the Horizon tour programme book, Decade, several photos and a list of all the Carpenters releases. She also sent me the details of the UK Carpenters Appreciation Society.

    I wrote to them and had to send a bankers draft to make payment as this was before the days of Paypal and internet payments.

    Over time my circle of contacts grew and I made pen pals and friends in different countries and started to collect the various albums on CD I had to call up various UK and US stores and pay with my parent's credit cards.

    Luckily the internet grew, eBay and Paypal came into being and Carpenters friend and fans have been able to connect worldwide on spaces like this.
  3. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    My Decade book and a whole box of my Carps momentos "disappeared" after a move out of state. Never to be seen again. :sad:
    Jeff likes this.
  4. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    That's a crying shame for reals!
    Mark-T likes this.
  5. arthowson

    arthowson Active Member

    I think you mean to say; "It's a dirty old shame."
    ThaFunkyFakeTation and Mark-T like this.
  6. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Pre-Internet days... yesterday once more?

    I was able to get information on Carpenters in basically 3 ways:
    1. Visiting a department store or record store --- remember those? --- and looking in the record bins for any new releases.
    2. Visiting a newsstand, making a beeline for Billboard Magazine: checking out the Hot 100 Singles and Top 200 Album Charts, reading reviews of new releases and the "Chartbeat Chat" column, formerly authored by the great Fred Bronson.
    3. Being a member of the Carpenters' Fan Club, learning new information that way via updates from Ev and Rosina. I didn't learn of the fan club until 1978 when a friend, who was also a Carpenters' freak, told me about it.
    In addition, I learned about Carpenters' TV specials by faithfully reading the TV Guide.
    Murray likes this.
  7. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    This all sounds archaic to me. I was around at the start of the internet era, so I can remember looking on line back in the late-90's/early-2000's.
  8. Murray

    Murray Well-Known Member

    Pre-internet, I really had to work to uncover information on the Carpenters. I had to leave my mother's basement, go out into the world, visit record stores, bookstores, libraries, write letters, talk to people. Life was hard... You younger fans don't know how easy you got it!...

    ... But at least I didn't have to walk 10 miles to school, in knee-deep snow, uphill both ways like my parents did (or so they told me)...
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  9. My Carpenters' knowledge (aside from their records) pre-Internet came largely through AMG's GUIDE TO ROCK (which included the Carpenters). Before they had a website, they used to publish these chunky paperback tomes every few years.
  10. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Perhaps the pre-Internet days were indeed "archaic," but at least I didn't have to ride to the newsstand in a horse-drawn carriage, barter my farm goods for records at the record store, or churn butter and make candles while reading the notes from Ev and Rosina sent by carrier pigeon... :laugh:
    newvillefan and theninjarabbit like this.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Speaking of the Internet,
    I discover on the WGBH Website that the
    1974 Boston Pops Performance was recorded
    April 30,1974.

    Coupled with the timeline of the later
    Como Christmas Special,
    Karen Carpenter was truly in awesome form in 1974.
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Just 5 weeks before the Japan tour and live album recording then. They really were on a roll in 1974. Just not in the studio :laugh:
  13. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I'm not in the UK, but as a kid in the US I signed up for the newsletters. Then I knew when to beg someone for a ride to the Record Rack (record and head shop :wink:) because they had Carpenters 45's and albums. They also gave tour dates and TV appearances, which I would watch TV guide for. Drove me crazy that as a teenager I couldn't get to concerts in nearby towns. But I did see them in '72 & '74 when they were in my town. Both times with a parent present. :rolleyes:

    Post internet:
    In '96 we got a home computer. Voila! Eventually I found the original Newville Avenue website/forum, with Randy Schmidt. Some people there had VHS tapes of early performances and TV appearances. After being copied so many times they were grainy, but many have now been cleaned up and appear on YouTube occasionally.

    YouTube was my next destination, as was A&M Forum Corner. I looked at other sites, but this group is the most knowledgeable about all things musical, and when to look for YouTube posts of old Carpenters appearances and videos, as well as new publications. I appreciate the main focus here is on the music. Some others focus on inappropriate speculation or is mostly anorexics. At least the anorexic sites show that Karen's story touched many generations' lives.
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  14. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    I'm amazed that home VCRs were available when the Carpenters first broke on the scene, and that fans back then actually had the presence of mind to record their earliest TV appearances. I always thought that VCRs weren't commercially available to the public until the late '70s, but a quick search on Wikipedia proved me wrong.

    I'm also amazed that these same fans resisted the urge to record over the tapes. I regret recording over a LOT of stuff that I taped back in the day. Anyway, I'm just thankful that there were home VCRs way back then, and that people archived their tapes and decades later digitized them to share with us on the internet. Because otherwise these Carpenters TV appearances would have never seen the light of day again.
    Brian likes this.
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    Exactly my thoughts! I remember watching Sayonara Carpenters in the early 2000s and being impressed that Richard had a home VCR in 1984. I never realised they existed more than a decade earlier. We only got one in the mid 1980s and I thought they were still a new-fangled thing at that time.
    Eyewire likes this.
  16. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    Growing up on a farm in country Australia in the 60s and 70s, there was almost no way of finding out about Carpenters except by listening to the radio, and I'm sure that even the DJs didn't know much about the artists whose music they played. I guess they might have had the odd press release or a Billboard magazine imported from the US and probably a bit out of date to go by, plus a couple of pop music encyclopaedias, maybe.

    My family didn't get a a TV until 1978 and, back then, there was only one station. This screened the twice-weekly show, Countdown, and I watched every episode. I've now seen pretty much all of the shows going back to the beginning of 1975, I think, and I'm pretty sure that they never played a Carpenters clip. However, generally, Carpenters' music probably didn't suit the format of the show, although the two more teen-oriented tracks that may have, 'Please Mr. Postman' and 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft', weren't screened, either, even when they were massive hits. 'Please Mr. Postman would have been Number One nationally around the time that Countdown began.

    I'm glad that we didn't have a TV earlier than 1978, because, as a result, we were very physically active outside and also very creative, inventive and able to entertain ourselves.

    When I used to go into the town, which might only have been once or twice during the holidays, I'd go into the newsagent and see whether they had a music magazine, which they usually didn't. Trips to nearby towns were few and far between. If we did go, I'd search any store that might have anything about music. Once, I did find a music magazine in one of these towns and there was a tiny black and white picture of Carpenters in it(!) It all sounds unbelievable now, but that's how hard it was to lay hands on any info, or anything musical, back then.

    My Mum gave me my first Carpenters single for Christmas when I was ten. My sisters scraped all their five cent coins together and bought me my first Carpenters album for my eleventh birthday. On later albums, there was info about the US fan club, but the US seemed like a world away and I would have had no idea about postal money orders in foreign currency. The fan club seemed unreachable. Back then, too, you probably wouldn't even have thought of asking your parents for anything or of asking them for money or to cover the cost of what you wanted, such as fan club membership. You just didn't ask. Maybe if they asked you what you wanted for Christmas, you mentioned something small and cheap, such as a 7" record. Most Aussie eight-year-olds today strut around in designer clothes, flashing the latest I-phone, constantly asking their parents for expensive things, or demanding them, and continually getting. Very materialistic and pretentious, even at that age.

    I used to ride my bike into the town when I had saved up enough money and order a Carpenters album. I'd go into the dark, dusty, dingy electrical store amongst all the bicycles, nuts and bolts and washing machines and place my order. Then it would be a wait of at least three months for the record to arrive, (even though it would be a local release!)

    I used to listen to American Top 40 weekly, waiting for new releases by Carpenters. Miraculously, these shows were always current when aired. The radio station must have had them flown in and then express delivered. I listened sporadically up until the age of 12 but then religiously, every week, from 13 to 15. I remember hearing 'Only Yesterday' on AT40 and noting its position on Billboard's end-of-year countdown, (Number 94). However, by the release of 'A Kind of Hush', I was glued to the radio, eagerly following its ascent on the charts. I did the same with 'I Need to Be In Love' and the two charting singles from Passage, which disappeared almost as soon as they debuted. Therefore, I mainly listened in disappointment, because these were dry years on the charts for Karen and Richard.

    Thankfully, the local DJs were fully behind Carpenters, even spinning non-hits like 'Goofus' and 'I Believe You' a couple of times a day around their release and, later, 'Those Good Old Dreams' and Richard's solo 'Calling Your Name Again'.

    In some ways, Australia was a good place to hear different styles of music on the radio. We got the polished pop sounds from the US, the inventive, left-of-field and envelope-pushing stuff from the UK, (punk, beat, art-rock, bizarrely creative artists and later, new wave), the local rock tinged with idiosyncratic Aussie identity, the soul and blues, (once again, from the US), classical, folk, country, world, reggae and jazz, sometimes all on the same radio station! I'm now glad that I have such eclectic musical tastes. However, where I grew up, there was next to no opportunity to develop my own musical talents, which is very regretful.

    The 70s certainly wasn't an era of free-flowing information or easy access to commodities and products but I wouldn't swap my childhood from those times with an upbringing in the Internet age for anything.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  17. song4u

    song4u Well-Known Member

    I'm sure video-philes with the money to do so had the original Beta and VHS players (Like Pong). Likewise, tapes cost money, so taping over them was common.

    My poor deprived kid didn't have Cable TV or a VCR until he was 4.
  18. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Well Beta didn't come out till 75 and VHS 77 in North America. Before that some people had bought 3/4 inch U-Matics that came out in 71. Otherwise there was film to make kinescope.
    song4u likes this.
  19. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    Fascinating! So that's what these early fans must have used to record Make Your Own Kind Of Music in '71. What about Your All-American College Show in '68 and '69? What did these early adopters of high tech use to tape those shows?
  20. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    16 or Super 8mm film.
  21. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Remember when video rental stores seemed to be on every corner? I think they have gone the way of the payphone (though, I still do occasionally see them). Sorry to go off-topic :hide:
    song4u likes this.
  22. Song4uman

    Song4uman Well-Known Member

    I actually ordered albums from Walmart. Nope, not online, but by going in to the music dept of the store and placing an order. They would call when the record came in.
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    That reminds me--
    I had to special order the VHS
    Yesterday Once More, in 1985,
    from a brick-and-mortar video retail outlet
    in order to get a copy !
    Took forever to get it !
  24. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Early videotapes that are seen on places like YouTube (and I'm talking about 1970 and earlier) originate from access to tapes that have been sitting around in various television stations' or networks' archives or libraries. Someone knew someone who worked there and could run off a VHS or Beta dupe and that's how they ended up in the hands of private collectors. The number of people that had actual videotape recorders in their homes in the early seventies is infinitesimal, though I'm not discounting that certainly some of the early tapes could have come from that era in that way.

    I personally was a very early adopter of VHS technology in the US. My first machine was a gift to me in 1977-or-1978, and I was certainly among the very first in any of my circles to have gotten such a prize. That first machine only had two speeds, SP and LP, giving me 2 hours or 4 hours on a tape, and at the price of tape, the four-hour speed was chosen more often than the two-hour speed.

    I've relayed the story here before about recording CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT on the 2-hour speed for watching in the best quality, and then re-using the tape for other stuff as needed, resulting in that last-third of the show being left on my tape.

    CraigGA likes this.
  25. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Not long ago I bought a sealed copy of the Yesterday Once More LP and when I opened it this was inside and I had forgot this was included with the album. I don't remember but this is probably how I got my copy. I probably begged my parents to send a check and in return promised to be the best kid in the whole wide world.

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