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Official Review Carpenters Royal Philharmonic Review and Comments Thread

How would you rate Carpenters with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?

  • ⁕⁕⁕⁕⁕ (Best)

    Votes: 25 34.7%
  • ⁕⁕⁕⁕

    Votes: 33 45.8%
  • ⁕⁕⁕ (Average)

    Votes: 11 15.3%
  • ⁕⁕

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • ⁕ (Worst)

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • Did not listen to this album yet

    Votes: 1 1.4%

  • Total voters
    72

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Sales of albums are never going to match those of 20 years ago and the UK sales figures seem OK, albeit not brilliant, to me. They're roughly in line with those for 2016's The Nation's Favourite... compilation
The difference is, this album would have cost a lot more to make that a compilation of pre-prepared tracks. There was the cost of the orchestra for five days, the cost of Richard's trip to London, the hire of Abbey Road studios and then post-production back at Capitol Records.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
The difference is, this album would have cost a lot more to make that a compilation of pre-prepared tracks. There was the cost of the orchestra for five days, the cost of Richard's trip to London, the hire of Abbey Road studios and then post-production back at Capitol Records.
Oh undoubtedly, this was a more expensive album to create than those previous UK compliations, but the UK market has been so saturated with Carpenters compilations that I don't know if the twist of these being recorded with an orchestra was going to be enough to really give this a big sales boost over the numbers they usually do, particularly when the orchestra isn't that present in the songs. The fact that pretty much every compliation has sold 60,000-100,000 units in the UK since the early 1990s (even The Singles 1969-1981 achieved that figure despite never being treated as anything other than a back-catalogue compilation and given no promotion in the UK), with a couple selling way more, is quite an achievement in itself, albeit that it may have created buyer fatigue and a sales ceiling for continuing new releases in the same vein.

They released a Cilla Black compilation with the Royal Liverpool Philamonic Orchestra at around the same time as the Carpenters CD and that had even lower sales. Granted, Cilla never moved album units like the Carpenters did, but it shows that the gimmick of adding an orchestra isn't a guarantee of attracting buyers.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
They released a Cilla Black compilation with the Royal Liverpool Philamonic Orchestra at around the same time as the Carpenters CD and that had even lower sales. Granted, Cilla never moved album units like the Carpenters did, but it shows that the gimmick of adding an orchestra isn't a guarantee of attracting buyers.
Do you know what the sales figures were for Cilla’s album? It’s one of my favourite RPO collaborations, but you’re right, she’s not exactly well known in either Japan or the US so you’d expect sales to be more limited. Maybe the novelty of RPO collaborations is just wearing thin.

I also wonder what the impact of streaming is on physical sales. For £9.99 a month you can stream and save unlimited albums, which must hurt sales figures.
 

Portlander

Active Member
Do you think if Richard chose a premier orchestra from Tokyo or Osaka for release in Japan and the Asian markets it may have had a bigger impact? Just not sure how much excitement there would be for a Carpenters release in that part of the world with an orchestra from London.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Do you know what the sales figures were for Cilla’s album? It’s one of my favourite RPO collaborations, but you’re right, she’s not exactly well known in either Japan or the US so you’d expect sales to be more limited. Maybe the novelty of RPO collaborations is just wearing thin.

I also wonder what the impact of streaming is on physical sales. For £9.99 a month you can stream and save unlimited albums, which must hurt sales figures.
It hasn't been certified in the UK so definitely under 60,000 and looking at its UK chart run, it peaked at #26 and spent only 4 weeks in the Top 75, so I'd imagine 15-20,000 maximum.
 

motownboy

Active Member
I was disappointed by the sales response to the album. In the UK, I thought that there should have been more promotion. Richard decided to go to Japan instead. I really only know of two instances of media promotion on the UK. There was the Graham Norton radio show interview, which was an edit of the host's comments and Richard's that were most likely recorded at his home and were edited with the host's dialogue. They were never in the same room or on the phone together having a direct interaction. There was also a UK morning show segment shot at Richard's home. I think he had travelled to the UK, been interviewed in person, made more appearances, that might have helped. I do get that to do Japan and UK in the same week would have been physically a lot, but it was an RPO project at Abbey Road. I would have focused more on the UK first and then Japan.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I think he had travelled to the UK, been interviewed in person, made more appearances, that might have helped. .
Had he done one of the high profile daytime talk shows here in the UK like Lorraine, This Morning or Good Morning Britain, I think it would have sold a lot more. A lot of women and older generations watch those shows, two big captive Carpenters audiences.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I am surprised at the lack of promotion in the USA. Why not a spot on CBS Sunday morning, a show that many Cs-generation fans would possibly watch.
Yes, someone else mentioned a point in a different thread - it makes you wonder if Richard just feels gun-shy about the abuse the Carpenters have faced for so long, in terms of musical judgement, and opts not to stir that pot, as it were. I find that hard to believe, actually, but it is strange that little promotion by him was done here in the USA. I would suggest his age and the strain of that kind of marketing effort, but then, he traveled to Japan so I doubt that's it either.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Reasons for the album dissapointing chart sucess: 1- LAck of promotion 2- tracks not really that different from original work. Original work had orchestrated sound.. 3 for the general public specially in the USA this is an instrumental only album which is a no-no nowadays....
Your #3 is a head-scratcher - nowhere is it implied this is an instrumental album.
 

motownboy

Active Member
I agree. CBS Morning, or a QVC or HSN shopping network, or a PBS special tied to their fundraising would help. With the 50th Anniversary coming up, there is still an opportunity for some additional sales.

Now, if only a song or two from the RPO album could be strategically placed on an episode of a highly rated TV drama in the right scene, that could go viral.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I agree. CBS Morning, or a QVC or HSN shopping network, or a PBS special tied to their fundraising would help. With the 50th Anniversary coming up, there is still an opportunity for some additional sales.

Now, if only a song or two from the RPO album could be strategically placed on an episode of a highly rated TV drama in the right scene, that could go viral.
^^GREAT IDEA!!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
it makes you wonder if Richard just feels gun-shy about the abuse the Carpenters have faced for so long, in terms of musical judgement, and opts not to stir that pot, as it were.
I think it's fairly widely documented by now and acknowledged by the music industry and general public alike that Richard is a musical genius who was the brains behind the duo, so I'd be surprised if he shied away from publicising the album for that reason.

Your #3 is a head-scratcher - nowhere is it implied this is an instrumental album.
I think what was meant is that people may have looked at the cover title and thought it was an instrumental album. I posted earlier on this thread that the UK CD jewel cases include a large sticker on the front cover which specifically says "Conducted and Arranged by Richard Carpenter and featuring the voice of Karen Carpenter". So I think at least in the UK, this may have been the label's fear too.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
As much as I enjoy the RPO inclusion of song, I Believe You,
I have to wonder....
given the 20 other compilations the song appears on (excluding the MIA album itself),
why was it chosen ? True enough, vocals sound clearer, however,
a song that charted fairly low upon its single-release,
appeared on a fairly unsuccessful comeback-album,
has been subsequently championed throughout the years on many other other compilations....
and, is quite the sleeper, even allowing for the RPO "enhancements."
Its choice for inclusion on this album is a head-scratcher (imho).
Granted, it is not a make-or-break issue for the album sales,
but....
we have a stellar song like "Something's Missing"
that needs to be completed, and included, instead.

Now, I like
I Believe You,
simply not as much as Richard Carpenter does.....
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
As much as I enjoy the RPO inclusion of song, I Believe You,
I have to wonder....
given the 20 other compilations the song appears on (excluding the MIA album itself),
why was it chosen ? True enough, vocals sound clearer, however,
a song that charted fairly low upon its single-release,
appeared on a fairly unsuccessful comeback-album,
has been subsequently championed throughout the years on many other other compilations....
and, is quite the sleeper, even allowing for the RPO "enhancements."
Its choice for inclusion on this album is a head-scratcher (imho).
Granted, it is not a make-or-break issue for the album sales,
but....
we have a stellar song like "Something's Missing"
that needs to be completed, and included, instead.

Now, I like
I Believe You,
simply not as much as Richard Carpenter does.....
I wouldn't consider 'I Believe You' to be an over-used track on compilations - it's been on some, but absent from quite a few too - and I don't think it's a song the public are overly familiar with (particularly here in the UK, where it wasn't a single). There are other album tracks like 'When It's Gone' and 'Little Girl Blue' whose appearance on compilations in my opinion has been far more baffling.

My only real criticism of the inclusion of 'I Believe You' on the RPO album is the changing of the lead vocal. I know some people seem to like it, but to me it sounds like a deserved outtake compared to the lead on the original single.

I wouldn't disagree with you that having something like 'Something Missing' on the album would be preferable (and of course a bigger selling point from a marketing point of view), but that's straying into unreleased songs and solo songs territory, both points that were clearly not in contention for this release.

Having listened to the UK Radio 2 interview that was broadcast before Christmas to support this release (and which I have to say was excellent), given that Richard was either asked about or flagged up a number of stronger album cuts ('Eve', 'Love Me for What I Am', 'The Uninvited Guest', etc.), it might have been nice to have included some of these on the album in order to give it a 60% hits/40% album cuts balance or something like that.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I was just looking at Billboard’s Top Classical Albums chart, and Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic is at #4 for the week of February 2, 2019. Last week it was #2 on the chart and it’s been on the chart for 7 weeks.
So that's where it's been hiding :laugh:

given that Richard was either asked about or flagged up a number of stronger album cuts ('Eve', 'Love Me for What I Am', 'The Uninvited Guest', etc.), it might have been nice to have included some of these on the album in order to give it a 60% hits/40% album cuts balance or something like that.
Completely agree with this :righton:
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, in glancing at the USA tracklist, omitting Merry Christmas Darling, Overture, and Bonus,
we have 16 titles (correct me if I make an error).
Of those 16 titles, 10 of those songs appear on album The Singles 1969-1973 (in their earlier incarnations).
Of the 6 remaining titles, 2 titles: I Believe You and Touch Me When We're Dancing are found
on album Singles 1969-1981.

So, we are down to four titles:
This Masquerade (also, USA Interpretations, Love Songs, Yesterday Once More, among others).
Baby It's You,
I Just Fall In Love Again,
I Need To Be In Love (
There is no lack of exposure for this great song as it appears elsewhere frequently).

Of those four,
Baby It's You and
I Just Fall In Love Again
are (imho) the outstanding additions to this particular album.


Given the breakdown enumerated above,
at least for USA consumers,
it can hardly come as a surprise that physical sales are where they are,
no matter how wonderful this album sounds.....
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
So, in glancing at the USA tracklist, omitting Merry Christmas Darling, Overture, and Bonus,
we have 16 titles (correct me if I make an error).
Of those 16 titles, 10 of those songs appear on album The Singles 1969-1973 (in their earlier incarnations).
Of the 6 remaining titles, 2 titles: I Believe You and Touch Me When We're Dancing are found
on album Singles 1969-1981.

Given the breakdown enumerated above,
at least for USA consumers,
it can hardly come as a surprise that physical sales are where they are,
no matter how wonderful this album sounds.....
Thank you for your detailed analysis @GaryAlan. This comes back to what a few people have already concluded: the tracklist was way too safe and virtually replicated many other compilations out there.

Of those four,
Baby It's You and
I Just Fall In Love Again
are (imho) the outstanding additions to this particular album.
100% agree. They're the only two tracks from the collection I have moved to my regular Spotify playlists. It's a shame Baby It's You is spoiled by the segue from Merry Christmas Darling. I would have preferred a clean opening.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I just found a copy of the Carpenters RPO album yesterday at my local Walmart here in Ontario, and it was the only one they had. I must say, amongst the other CD’s on the shelf, the white cover really stood out. Sure the others has white in them, but they all kind of blended together. I think I’ll nickname the RPO album the “White” album just like their 1971 album is nicknamed the “Tan” album.

The sticker on the front of it clearly states that it features the “iconic vocals” of the Carpenters. On the back I see that it was manufactured and distributed here in Canada by Universal Music Canada. I also see that Universal considers this a full studio album, and not a compilation album, as the word “Compilation” does not appear in the copyright notice.

Opening the disc, I see that the label is reminiscent of the pre-1974 albums and disc 1 of the PBS CD package, with the brown background. And the booklet is nice and glossy.

As I put the CD into my PS3, which is hooked upto my Yamaha HTR-5630 by optical, I hear the sweeping orchestral opening of “Overture” and it reminds me of the LP that was put out in the 1980’s by the OLG called “Santa Claus Is Canadian” and it’s opening track. Then it flows into “Yesterday Once More (which doesn’t have the harp that I think the opening is suppose to have, so Universal Canada seems to be using an early copy of the master for this disc) however the stereo piano is really great. I’ve heard the digital single of YOM on my iPhone speakers, but this is the first time that I’ve heard it on my surround system and really good speakers and not coming from a compressed MP3, but an Uncompressed CD, possible an HDCD. Do the drums ever sound good, and even the orchestra gives the song a different sound. Reminds me of the Beach Boys RPO and how the core sound was kept but the orchestra flourishes gave each song a different sound.

Next up is “Hurting Each Other”. This one I always found the instruments had sounded packed and could not breath because they were mixed into a very tight stereo or even mono mix. I still remember when I first heard the “Dreamsound Orchestra” version and how if Karen’s vocals were on that it would’ve been a lot better. Well, now it does sound a lot better. No longer are the drums and piano in mono, but the drums play across the stereo stage and really give the song its punch, which it was lacking due to technical issues of 70’s recording technology.

Next is “I Need To Be In Love”. This starts out sounding like the video from the 2000 Video Biography DVD, with just piano. Unfortunately I could not finish the track, because the power decided to go out half way through the song, and the power company has posted on Facebook that there is no ETR (they say it’s from a loss from Hydro One’s power grid), so I can’t even put the CD in my truck’s CD player, since I’ve got no power to my PS3.

But so far, “Hurting Each Ither” has benefitted greatly from the RPO.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
IUnfortunately I could not finish the track, because the power decided to go out half way through the song, and the power company has posted on Facebook that there is no ETR (they say it’s from a loss from Hydro One’s power grid), so I can’t even put the CD in my truck’s CD player, since I’ve got no power to my PS3.
That's a shame, I was just getting into your review and enjoying it when your power went off :laugh:
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Given the breakdown enumerated above,
at least for USA consumers,
it can hardly come as a surprise that physical sales are where they are,
no matter how wonderful this album sounds.....
This kind of thing has always been a puzzlement to me. If you look at the popularity gauge on individual songs on iTunes and what-not whenever a new compilation album comes out, you will find that the biggest hits are always the most-downloaded or streamed from the new compilation. People just seem to always prefer the hits, rather than songs they haven't heard a thousand times.

When the Tijuana Brass albums came out after many years of not being available on CD, the Whipped Cream album immediately jumped and stayed at the head of the pack for the new releases, even though it was the one album that had been the most prominently available beforehand. You'd think everyone who wanted that CD already had it.

So it's no surprise that they packed the RPO album with hits. If they hadn't, it probably would have had weaker sales than it has had.
 

Song4uman

Well-Known Member
I have only listened in my car.... I need to listen on the computer with my headphones....one of these days.
Jonathan
 
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