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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

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
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.
I wonder if this a streaming-specific phenomenon though. It's pretty likely that many of those streams for the big hits are by people searching for a song generally and listening to whatever version they find of it (so in this case it wouldn't matter much to them whether they streamed the original album version or the RPO version) - if they were listening to the whole album on the streaming site (i.e. they'd specifcally searched for it), then in theory all the tracks would have the same popularity on these sites. The same may be true to a lesser extent for downloads.

I think the comments about a more diverse tracklist being beneficial are more relevant to the physical media versions, which for an artist like Carpenters presumably still make up the lion's share of their sales. Obviously they had to include quite a few hits as otherwise it wouldn't have enough appeal to the casual buyer, but given the multiplicity of Carpenters compilations out there and still in print, by aping the tracklisting of a regular compilation too closely, it seems quite possible (as is the probably the case with the RPO album) that more casual fans or music buyers who already own one of the earlier compliations would have been less tempted by what might, from a glance at the tracklist, look like more of the same.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I think it's more or less that, despite how we feel, Carpenters are a relic of the past now and interest has waned. That doesn't thrill me but it is what it is. Karen has been gone for nearly 36 years. That's a lot of time.

Ed
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
Revised thinking on my part...

Years ago, somewhere in these pages, in a discussion on remixes by Richard, I wrote something along the lines of not liking remixes in general, particularly for "We've Only Just Begun" and "Superstar," with my aversion resulting from the remixes being different from what I remembered hearing on the radio and albums when I first heard theses tunes, so different from what I had always been used to hearing for many years.

Yet with the release of this RPO project, I am completely on board! I so thoroughly love the bulk of these songs in their newest form. Bring on these extra flourishes of trumpets, guitars, violins, etc.! Bring on the new beautiful instrumental introductions to these beloved songs! I am fully embracing the changes and thus the new life therein. And, by all means, bring on a Volume 2!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
To continue with my review...

I Need To Be In Love, as I mentioned it starts off sounding like the TV audio from the 2000 Video Biography disc, although in stereo, not mono, with just the piano. It would've been nice if Richard had used the vocal track from that video, as Karen sounded more like someone who needed to be "in love" on that recording than on any of the studio recordings. Otherwise, I really wish the Royal Philharmonic had been more involved on I Need To Be In Love, as the song really called for a more orchestral arrangement, otherwise this sounds more like the album recording that we've been hearing for 40+ years.

Next up is For All We Know. This really benefits from the orchestra and the new recording, as its truly on a stereo soundstage for every single part. The pre-1975 songs really seem to be benefiting from the Orchestra.

Touch Me When We're Dancing. Now then I've listened to one both in my truck and on my Yamaha, as well as a regular CD player, and this one I find you really need a GOOD sound system to get the benefits from, otherwise in my truck and on a regular CD player, this one sounds like its missing its beat, and Carolyn Dennis' vocals seem to overpower and be out of tune and causes this to be dud of a track. This might be indicating that the CD is mastered in the HDCD process, and on my Yamaha it is getting everything right because it is able to playback at the bigger dynamic range. However, on my Yamaha it is a pretty good song, and Carolyn Dennis' vocals really give it that dance hall feeling, kind of like My Body Keeps Changing My Mind (1991 remix).

I Believe You, again, this is one that in my truck and on a regular CD player sounded like another dud, and really didn't sound much different from the 40+ single mix that's been out. But on my Yamaha, does everything really expand, and Karen's lead vocal really sounds like a different take from the 45 version. And then her backing vocals are really different. In both cases, my Yamaha HTR-5630 was set to STEREO, not 5.1 or any other setting, so this is all in stereo. Overall, I'm still not impressed by I Believe You, and in no way is it my favorite Carpenters track, but it does sound a better on RPO.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
Rudy has added a poll to this thread, so go vote and let's see what the results are.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I wonder if we need two polls...a "listening experience" one and a "how much I liked it" one. I would rate the listening experience a 5 out of 5 especially in the vocals department, but as for overall enjoyment I'd give it about a 3...I like this album, but I still prefer the originals (or occasional remixes thereof) and always will, I think.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^I, too, prefer the originals, more so than anything that came afterward.
I enjoy listening to the vinyl 45-singles and the vinyl albums more so than anything that came later.
One exception: The Master Karaoke cd is awesome (of course, it was never on vinyl).

As much as I like I Just Fall In Love Again on RPO, I love the earlier bombastic version.
I have one serious reservation about the RPO: Goodbye To Love (not liking the piccolo trumpet).
On the other hand, as a whole, the RPO listening experience is fine.
Crystal clear vocals.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thank You Rudy for including Did not listen to this album yet. Still waiting for my vinyl to arrive (I have no idea when that will be) as the Official Carpenters Store are big into non-communication. I have heard individual versions of songs on YouTube, but I haven't experienced the entire album from start to finish yet. :)

 

Rudy

ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ
Staff member
Site Admin
I wonder if we need two polls...a "listening experience" one and a "how much I liked it" one. I would rate the listening experience a 5 out of 5 especially in the vocals department, but as for overall enjoyment I'd give it about a 3...I like this album, but I still prefer the originals (or occasional remixes thereof) and always will, I think.
Definitely the originals for me. I am "one and done" with this one.
 

motownboy

Active Member
After listening to it many times over the past two months, I give the RPO album 4.5 out of 5 stars in it's final form with the final mixes. My favorite transformation has to be the final mix of "Ticket To Ride." The new piano part and other mix changes over the version put out online before the album was released, just pushes it to the top for me. This version of song does not sound dated at all to me and really comes together nicely. My least favorite transformation is "Close To You", which I guess was near perfect to begin with. I am hoping for a Volume 2.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I haven’t listened to the album in its entirety more than twice since it was released. The “buzz” for me subsided almost immediately because the changes were too subtle to make any real difference. New drum and piano tracks don’t make up for the palpable lack of any real orchestral changes, although the two album tracks - the absolute standouts in my opinion - are now on my regular playlists. Honourable mention also goes to the new version of For All We Know, which I love. I voted it 3 stars.
 
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Murray

Well-Known Member
I haven’t listened to the album in its entirety more than twice since it was released. The “buzz” for me subsided almost immediately because the changes were too subtle to make any real difference. New drum and piano tracks don’t make up for the palpable lack of any real orchestral changes, although the two album tracks - the absolute standouts in my opinion - are now on my regular playlists. Honourable mention also goes to the new version of For All We Know, which I love. I voted it 3 stars.
You've pretty much summed up my feelings regarding the album. It's a nice enough album, when listened to in its entirety. It has its moments, especially the two album tracks and some of the segues, and it's especially nice to hear Karen's lead vocals cleaned up, and upfront in the mix. However, most of the changes are so subtle, and the tracklist so similar to many existing compilations, that I could have skipped this one, gone on happily listening to what I already owned, while not really feeling that I missed out on that much. In other words, while nice to have for the collection, it's not what I'd call essential. That's not so much a critique, as it is an acknowledgement that Richard's original arrangements were already so close to perfect, that they really didn't need, or actually benefit that much, from any further "enhancements".

Of course, as a life-long fan, I pre-ordered the CD, and then also purchased the digital download version once it was evident that they weren't entirely the same. Although subtle, I can spot all the changes, and I will occasionally listen to this album when I want a little variety from the norm. But for the more casual listeners - the majority of people who, unlike us, don't know these songs backwards, forwards, and inside out - I can see them listening to the songs on YouTube (for free), and thinking, "they don't sound any different to me, so why should I buy this when I already own Singles 69-81/Gold/40-40/insert name of compilation here?"

While I can understand why Richard presented this album the way he ultimately did - these songs are his babies after all, and I'm sure he didn't want to, as he put it "go overboard", and risk tarnishing their legacy - I really was hoping for something a little different to what we've been enjoying for the last nearly 50 years - nothing radical mind you, but something where the orchestra was allowed to stand out and shine, while still keeping to the original melodies that we love... something like The Corrs "Unplugged" album would have been perfect!

3 stars from me...
 

Rachel

Someone said that time would ease the pain...
Just for fun I downloaded Buddy Holly with the RPO. Carpenters with the RPO is far superior, in my opinion. Karen's vocals are the highlight of each track. On the Holly songs, you can barely hear him sing over the violins (normally I appreciate a well-played violin). This is especially noticeable on "It Doesn't Matter Anymore".
Voted 4 stars. I hope some newcomers to Carpenters get to hear the bonus track, as I think it is the best one. Still grateful for this addition to their catalog. Not listening as often as when it was released, but still appreciate that we have it at all.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Just for fun I downloaded Buddy Holly with the RPO. Carpenters with the RPO is far superior, in my opinion. Karen's vocals are the highlight of each track. On the Holly songs, you can barely hear him sing over the violins (normally I appreciate a well-played violin). This is especially noticeable on "It Doesn't Matter Anymore".
I disagree. Take a listen to “True Love Ways”. It’s far superior to anything on the Carpenters album and Buddy comes across loud and clear. This is the kind of treatment and mixing I thought we’d get and that I feel the tracks deserved.

 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
In the end, I think we can all agree that Richard really didn't want his arrangements touched and he pretty much didn't. He added a bit here and there, fixed a few things, and tweaked vocals, but that's about it. There's very little here that's fresh and new. As a result, not enough to differentiate them from songs people already have on numerous complications.

IMHO, the sound on the CD is great - even if it's not the finished version. I wonder what the LPs will have on them.

Ed
 

Nick

Member
I think it is amazing. Every time I listen I hear something new. I am glad the tunes were not messed
with and I think Richard's changes have vastly improved the tracks included. Bring on Vol 2!!.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
IMHO, the sound on the CD is great - even if it's not the finished version. I wonder what the LPs will have on them.
I found the CDs a bit too maximised, occasionally slopping over into the distorted range, but overall it sounded pretty good.

If I'm reading the tea-leaves correctly, I believe the LPs were to include the updates that didn't make the CD, and that perhaps a little more tinkering may have pushed the LPs back another month. We'll see what's on there whenever we get them.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I rated it four stars. It was a very pleasant surprise and is a good album experience to listen to, but it does not rise to the levels of new albums with new songs.
Exactly, and I voted 4 stars as well. Karen's vocal treatment alone boosts this way up for me. The only way this would have achieved 5 stars from me was if a number of the songs, in my view, eclipsed their original incarnations, and only 1 does.
 
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