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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: 27 36.5%
  • ⁕⁕⁕⁕

    Votes: 33 44.6%
  • ⁕⁕⁕ (Average)

    Votes: 12 16.2%
  • ⁕⁕

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • ⁕ (Worst)

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

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    74

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
But, Richard said in the past he doesn't even like live concert albums. :rolleyes:
Very rarely did he feature live recordings on compilations.
So, it comes across as another update or cleanup of their songs.
He may not have in the past due to technology limitations, however the RPO album seems to be comparable in production to “Christmas Portrait”, “Christmas Portrait Special Edition” and to a lesser extent, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas”. With CP & CPSE, both albums play like a symphony, where the music flows into each track, rather than an album of just one track after another (AOFC seemed to have short snippets reminiscent of CP, but it was also divided) and a pause between tracks. Same with RPO.

Also, according to the Copyright information, Universal considers the RPO album a Studio album, and not another compilation if remixes.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
He may not have in the past due to technology limitations, however the RPO album seems to be comparable in production to “Christmas Portrait”, “Christmas Portrait Special Edition” and to a lesser extent, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas”. With CP & CPSE, both albums play like a symphony, where the music flows into each track, rather than an album of just one track after another (AOFC seemed to have short snippets reminiscent of CP, but it was also divided) and a pause between tracks. Same with RPO.

Also, according to the Copyright information, Universal considers the RPO album a Studio album, and not another compilation if remixes.
It clearly isn't a studio album though as these are not 'new' songs (and many of them are little different from their original versions). Strictly speaking, it may not be a straight compliation either, but I'd never classify it as another studio album. That's like saying The Singles 1969-1973 should be considered a studio album because it has a couple of segues, a mini-overture at the start and a couple of re-recordings, and I don't think anyone would claim that that was the case.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
I think of it as an augmented Carpenters compilation.

From the point of view of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it's a studio album.
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
It's a phenomenon I've noticed many times.... the "first" version of something you hear turns out to be your favorite. There are a lot of Beatles tunes that were recorded by A&M artists and without fail, the version I prefer is the one I heard first. I suppose the same thing is true with the Carpenters albums -- if you'd heard the RPO version first, the originals would sound lifeless. If you hear the originals first, the RPO's sound fussed-over and overproduced. So it goes.
On second thought, there's truth to this idea.

I was used to Carpenters being a relatively quiet music experience, and prefer analogue to digital in many cases.

It's not that there's anything wrong with production... the mix is something I'll have to get used to.
When the Beatles went digital, music critics found it jarring to hear parts clearer than before.

It's a different experience. I'm the type of music consumer than will sit and listen to the product.
Perhaps forgetting that some people may have these songs on in the background and not be so attentive.

If this album came on at a gathering or played on a car ride I may not be so quick to notice which version it is.
At the end of the day, it's the same songs we all know and love.

I wish I hadn't been so reactive on the topic.

There are some moments and certain songs where this new take on them works quite well.
The decisions made by Richard and Nick Patrick came as a surprise. I really didn't know what to expect.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I love this project! It’s alternative mixes are among the best on most of them. I still like the Top Of The World 1973 mix best, and the one used in Dark Shadows, but for everything else I prefer these mixes. I like the originals too but these showcase many things tweaked, fixed, and new that I find I cannot do without. I still like the SACD best but these follow a close 2nd place! I especially like Rainy Days and Monday’s and Superstar! They come alive for me. And, as I have mentioned before, I Just Fall In Love Again is fresh and refreshing. This Masquerade has a great last minute and the older recordings finally have a fresh appeal, not just a remixed one. Ticket To Tide and Goodbye To Love finally have an appeal to me that I had yet to feel until this release. If it does not appeal to you, rearrange your sound system and you will see what I mean. I tuned mine all over again from EQ to speaker distribution using tools found in the receiver/speakers. I changed wires and HDMI and digital audio cables. I found it was long overdue for I can hear things never before felt or heard. If there is another, I feel Richard will take a wider field of orchestral swell. It’s a perfect match to me!

And, to me, analog has its place but this project shows how digital is king!

Craig
 

motownboy

Active Member
I am grateful for the RPO release. Just because there are these new versions of these songs doesn't mean the originals cease to exist!! I don't get all the "it should have been left alone crap" that many people have toward remixes and reworkings of songs. I LOVE that I have several versions of these songs to listen to. It is a wealth of choice over just having one version. Again, if someone doesn't like a remix, they don't have to listen to it.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I am grateful for any release. Needless to say, all opinions on this topic are equally valid.
Some remixes I love (for ex: Please Mr. Postman, bonus on RPO),
others not so much. But, as Richard Carpenter himself says:
we can (and, I do) return to the originals.
Fans have a surfeit of material to choose from,
which explains why Gold cd is on the charts (9 countries today),
whereas the RPO has fallen off the charts (as of today, 9pm).
 
Forgive me if this had already been discussed...but does anyone else wonder why the choice was made to use the blatantly synthesized string figures in the middle of “Baby It’s You?” Do we know if this was another example of something he decided to add after he had already left the UK and it was too late to have the figures recorded by the orchestra? Don’t get me wrong, I love the musical idea. It’s quite dramatic. I’m just wondering why not use real strings, since he was there with the orchestra anyway.
 

John Eidsvoog

Well-Known Member
Forgive me if this had already been discussed...but does anyone else wonder why the choice was made to use the blatantly synthesized string figures in the middle of “Baby It’s You?” Do we know if this was another example of something he decided to add after he had already left the UK and it was too late to have the figures recorded by the orchestra? Don’t get me wrong, I love the musical idea. It’s quite dramatic. I’m just wondering why not use real strings, since he was there with the orchestra anyway.
I can assure you those are real strings. Perhaps it sounds synthesized because those 16th notes are marked "marcato", causing the strings to dig in. It also seems they're more out front in the mix. As for adding ideas after leaving the UK, Richard did exactly that with a pickup date at Capitol Records. I can't remember if Baby, It's You was one of the songs that was modified in that session, but the score contained those figures in London.

Maybe we'll need to remind the string players next time not to sound so synthesized. :cool:
 

steve g

New Member
I can't work out how to place the 'spoiler' tag here, so I'm just saying that, seeing as the new album hasn't been released in most parts of the world yet, if you don't want to know details of 'Carpenters with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra', look away now!

You may want to wait to listen to the album yourself before you read this. This is a blow-by-blow description of the first eleven tracks. I guess you'd rather wait to hear the actual music than read about the sounds on the album.

I should also say that I am listening to the album on very basic sound equipment. Somebody listening on the latest high-tech equipment will have a different experience.

The first few seconds of the Overture that opens the album took my back to 1976. The first couple of passages sound like they're taken from the Overture on Carpenters' Very First Special, but then the music changes.

I like the snippet of 'Someday', leading into "Hurting Each Other", is nice. The OK Chorale-type 'Woo-hoo' a bit later in the intro is maybe not so necessary. The drums on this track are more prominent and Karen's vocal, going into the chorus, doesn't sound as 'sweetened' as on early mixes. Upon her first, "Without ever knowing why?" you can hear her tongue touching her lips. Maybe this little section is from a different take from what is usually appears, but almost all of the vocal, if not all, is what has always appeared. The strings sound very much like re-recordings of the original arrangements - at least, in parts of the song. In this mix, you have a sense of more defined stops, if only for a second at a time. There's a slight slowing down or pause in the vocals in the last chorus. And a sudden stop, similar to the way the song was ended in concert in Australia in 1972.

As I listen to this album, I'm getting the feeling of being at a current-day concert with the songs being performed as faithfully as possible, but with a few embellishments and with a clearly defined, modern-day orchestra behind Karen and Richard.

Going into 'I Need to Be In Love', there's a very hushed section, which I like. The piano is quite prominent at the beginning of the song, and it doesn't exactly sound acoustic. There's a faithful reproduction of Gayle Levant's original harp part. Drums throughout are the most noticeable difference - quite loud. Karen's vocals on the the choruses sound harder...not as echoey or gauzey as on previous mixes. The oboe at the end of this great song is nice and the piano ending is just slightly more elaborate, as in it has an extra little trill.

Notice that I'm not talking much about the actual involvement of the orchestra. The parts are very subtle and, upon first listen, I'm not hearing them too much. In fact, I think that Richard has largely used his arrangements / charts from the original recordings, with just a few extra flourishes or passages here and there.

I really like the acoustic-sounding snippet of guitar at the beginning of 'For All We Know', then the famous oboe sound. Beautiful. Flute comes in during the second verse. It's different to hear acoustic guitar on Carpenters recordings. Yes, we heard it on 'At the End of a Song', 'Honolulu City Lights' and some others, but it suits 'For All We Know' really well, in that intro. Can you imagine that?

So far throughout the album, the lead vocals and backgrounds have sounded very much as on the original releases. Someone with better equipment would definitely pick up their definition much better.

The additions / changes to 'Touch Me When We're Dancing' are super-subtle. I wondered if there might be a bit more guitar and in fact it does sound a bit more pronounced...maybe re-recorded...in the second verse. That's a really nice sound. The synth part after 'Play us a groove so we hardly move' sounds more pronounced. It's during this song that I first noticed quite major differences with the vocals, but only with the backgrounds. It sounds as if the 'Carpettes' from 'Made in America', (Julia and Maxine, etc.), might have been erased!! They must have fallen out of favour! It sounds very much to me, upon very first listen, that only Karen and Richard are in the background. It makes for a nice change!

On 'I Believe You', I have always loved the flute. That's quite prominent upon this mix. That's really nice! The background vocals are mixed differently. The second verse, "I Believe you when you tell me every time we make love will be the first time" is definitely a different take, with different phrasing and pauses for breathe, while the very first verse is almost certainly the same take as always. The orchestra behind and flute sounds nice! The background vocals are very much more prominent than on previous pressings, and are probably actually mixed differently. There is a change of lead vocal just before the drum break. The drums are the original drums, by the way. There is a sense of snippets of different takes being punched in and out, rather than the complete version being a different vocal. The flugelhorn after the drum break is just a bit overpowering, maybe. It sounds a bit like a fox-hunt..or at least a Greek God on Mount Olympus blowing a conch to herald heavier lovin' action. That's the first bit that's sounded just a bit out of place. There are music-box lullaby-type keyboards towards the end, which is nice.

There is a nice 1978 Carpenters-style piano and oboe / flute, (not sure of my instruments here), introducing 'I Just Fall In Love Again'. The piano part is different. Karen's vocals are very much at the front. There is lots of orchestra coming in just before the first chorus. This mix sounds quite 1950s blue-birds, soft clouds and Valentines, but I think the song was always meant to sound that way, and I like that. The drums are the original recording - at least, in some sections. Oh-oh, there's a choir coming in during the second chorus. Don't worry, it didn't steam, stayed very much in the background and then left the party. There's the original fuzz-guitar solo, thank goodness. The vocal sounds different, but I think that's only because it's so much at the fore-front. It is slightly possible that parts of Karen's lead are a different take....but I don't think so. Well, on "I Just Fall in Love Again", the orchestra definitely makes its present felt more, but so do Karen in her vocals and Richard on piano.

The orchestra over the piano introduction to "Baby It's You" sounds good. There's some nice harp in there. Sections of the oboe part at the beginning of the song are from the original arrangement, but with a couple more flourishes. Dramatic string work emphasises Karen's exclamation, "They say you've never, ever been true!" The original sax sounds in all its glory. The vocals sound very much the same as always.

The beginning of 'Close to You' sounds very much the same. Bass and drums coming in very prominently when they begin. The main change in the first half of this, Carpenters' very first hit, is mainly in the bass and drums department. Original trumpet part. Well, how could you change that? Karen's angelic "Ah-ah-ah" just after the trumpet break sounds different. Mixed differently, perhaps? The 'Wa-ah-ah-ah-ahhhh' at the end of the song are mixed differently, or might have some parts of different takes in there. The song finishes the way Carpenters used to end it in concert around '74.

And straight into 'Superstar'. The introduction is virtually the same arrangement as the original. Some more prominent guitar...in fact some prominent acoustic guitar. Nice! Also, some 1971-Richard-on-electric-piano sounds. Equally as nice! Couldn't do without them! The orchestra is very strong on this song, but probably using a very similar arrangement to what was used in 1970s concerts by Carpenters, when they had orchestra backing them. The whole effect, with Karen's longing, insistently vocals, definitely adds a sense of drama - if you ever could add drama to the brilliant original! I like and the harp, slowing to a halt at the end, gives the sense of...dot..dot..dot..., that you have at the end of stories when you're left to ponder over what might have happened.

'Rainy Days and Mondays' includes a mist-storm of strings, to add pathos to Karen's dark but warm reading. Yes, there are changes to the piano parts and drums, but the alterations are very much in keeping with the mood of the original. Richard is really hitting his stride here, with 'Superstar' and 'Rainy Days and Mondays'. Karen is given space just before the instrumental break, so that the note that she holds, '...always get me down....' sounds different and more angst-filled.

All-in-all, 'Carpenters with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra' will seem like a new listening experience for the long-term fans, without turning them off with stark changes. I very much got a mental picture of attending a concert with Karen and Richard appearing as holograms, mainly using the original vocals and backgrounds, but with some new rhythm parts, sections for other instruments and an orchestra behind them, playing partly original arrangements, but embellished with new sections of arrangement. I look forward to listening to this album many more times and better-noticing all the changes and additions.

Sorry that I haven't had time to answer anybody's questions. I have to rush to work now!! I haven't even got time to re-read this, or finish listening to the songs!

Brian.
i too didnt care for the choir but overall happy with it..still a country album should come out.. remade.collection
 
I can assure you those are real strings. Perhaps it sounds synthesized because those 16th notes are marked "marcato", causing the strings to dig in. It also seems they're more out front in the mix. As for adding ideas after leaving the UK, Richard did exactly that with a pickup date at Capitol Records. I can't remember if Baby, It's You was one of the songs that was modified in that session, but the score contained those figures in London.

Maybe we'll need to remind the string players next time not to sound so synthesized. :cool:
Thanks for the explanation. To my ears....and to be clear I am talking about the string figures played between the lines “you should hear what they say about you..” and “cheatin’”....these sound electronic. But you are the expert and I was not there, so I appreciate your clarification John.
 

John Eidsvoog

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the explanation. To my ears....and to be clear I am talking about the string figures played between the lines “you should hear what they say about you..” and “cheatin’”....these sound electronic. But you are the expert and I was not there, so I appreciate your clarification John.
The sampled strings that sound the most real are the short attack, or marcato samples. Basically, they sound so real that it's easy to mistake real strings for samples.
 

ericzs

New Member
Greetings Carpenters Fans!
I am a new member to this site, yet I have been reading it from 'a far' for several years now.
I felt like now's a good time to chime in as I have some thoughts about this recording.
I wish Richard would have made more adjustments with the original recordings, ie: Please Mr. Postman and it's playful break in the middle. Other than that (except for the choir!), its a great work.
 

gfac22

New Member
Been lurking for a while, finally registered so I could post. I've had the iTunes version for a while now and decided to pick the CD up at Target today. Much to my surprise, the CD has the correct mixes and is identical to the iTunes download, just with the added bonus track. It appears Universal has corrected the cds with the current printing. Of course I don't believe there's any way to tell if the CD is the correct version or not, but they are out there. 👍
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Morning Opens Quietly...
^^Thanks for the update...I wish there was a way to confirm on the outside packaging if stores are selling the old version CD (without the corrections/enhancements) or the new updated CD version. I would be willing to re buy the CD if it was the digital version with the updated/final mixes.
 

scottb

Member
Been lurking for a while, finally registered so I could post. I've had the iTunes version for a while now and decided to pick the CD up at Target today. Much to my surprise, the CD has the correct mixes and is identical to the iTunes download, just with the added bonus track. It appears Universal has corrected the cds with the current printing. Of course I don't believe there's any way to tell if the CD is the correct version or not, but they are out there. 👍
I'm curious as to what state you live in? I'm in NY(well 30 minutes north of New York City) and I have a Target 5 minutes away from me but I have no idea if the stock they have is old or new like the disc you bought. I really would like to have the physical disc even though I have the download.

Thanks for posting and welcome to the forum.

Scott
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Regarding: This Masquerade, as presented on the RPO.
I am unable to listen to it. There is a noise, from about 56 sec to 60 sec,
that sounds like a train putting on its brakes, screeching on the tracks.
Am I the only person who hears that sound ?
Other than that, I love the song.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
Regarding: This Masquerade, as presented on the RPO.
I am unable to listen to it. There is a noise, from about 56 sec to 60 sec,
that sounds like a train putting on its brakes, screeching on the tracks.
Am I the only person who hears that sound ?
Other than that, I love the song.
Interesting. On the updated files, that part is filled with wind-chimes. Those wind-chimes are NOT present on the old standard RPO CD or the old standard Target RPO CD. I also hear a scratchy-staticky sound under Karen's vocal at that point. Another difference!
 
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GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Thanks for that, Harry !
I have hearing problems and was quite unsure as to whether that difference at 56-60sec, truly existed.
The wind-chimes, I could not put my finger on the instrument !
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Is that only on the iTunes download or is there an actual newer release on CD as well? How can we tell the difference if so? Thanks Harry.
 
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