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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: 32 35.2%
  • ⁕⁕⁕⁕

    Votes: 42 46.2%
  • ⁕⁕⁕ (Average)

    Votes: 14 15.4%
  • ⁕⁕

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • ⁕ (Worst)

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • Did not listen to this album yet

    Votes: 1 1.1%

  • Total voters
    91

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
.... The digital tape recorder had a tendency to cut off all sounds very sharply, leaving little in the way of lingering notes or delay. This gave the recordings a very dry and cold sound ....
This is a classic example of lower resolution digital--the reverb trails and quieter decays on notes (aka the "lingering notes or delay") get lost in the dither due to distortion. I first realized how bad CD sound was when I listened to the first A&M CD release of Synchronicity (The Police) over headphones, way back in the mid 80s. When "Tea In The Sahara" faded out, the last half of the faded-out ending of the song faded away into a fuzzy distortion--there simply isn't enough resolution there to handle it. That is part of the reason I try to buy music in hi-res these days (and also why I had to spend a small fortune to buy a DAC that would make CD-resolution digital listenable to me).

Studios these days use 24-bit/96kHz as a standard for a reason--not only the resolution for recording/playback, but also because any manipulation done in digital (even a level adjustment) causes rounding errors which leads to distortion when many digital operations are applied in a row. Digital equipment was crude back then. And engineers knew it. The advantages of low noise and stable pitch were offset by the sonic limitations, and they had to find ways to overcome it to make the end product listenable. I know of a few digital multitrack albums from the 80s that have always had a very harsh sound to them. Very typical of the era.
 

Martin Medrano

Well-Known Member
Thank you i remember listening to this interview the whole way through. I really enjoyed it. Its the a song for you interview. Does anyone have the full length version.
 

Martin Medrano

Well-Known Member
So something that i caught the second time around listening to this interview is that richard considered including calling occupants of interplanetary craft in the rpo album. He also mentioned that he left out some songs in case he ever did another album with the rpo. Oh how im hoping he remixes the Christmas album the same way he did the rpo album. Imagine little alter boy remixed with all new orchestration and stereo piano. Some of Karen's best work was the Christmas album.
 

goodjeans

Well-Known Member
So something that i caught the second time around listening to this interview is that richard considered including calling occupants of interplanetary craft in the rpo album. He also mentioned that he left out some songs in case he ever did another album with the rpo. Oh how im hoping he remixes the Christmas album the same way he did the rpo album. Imagine little alter boy remixed with all new orchestration and stereo piano. Some of Karen's best work was the Christmas album.
Great idea.
 

scottb

Well-Known Member
I've come to revisit this album.
I had not listened to this for a long time and realized that I never ripped my vinyl. It didn't help that I had a very bad experience with numerous purchases. In the end, Universal refunded my entire purchase price, I assume they knew something was wrong. So I ended up with 3 copies of the white vinyl. I still have them labeled with sticky notes, 1st set, 2nd set and 3rd set.

At the time of getting each set of white vinyl, I ended up writing extensive notes about each track, each interlude and what was good and bad about each. For instance, this track or interlude had 4 major loud pops or this one had surface noise on part of the song or this track had too many rough spots or this track was nice and quiet and so on. I'm no stranger to vinyl so I can take some imperfections in the quest that I can usually get rid of some stuff through audacity without removing quality. However this vinyl from Ume was much worst than I had ever experienced. So it ended up becoming a much more time consuming experience in my quest for a near perfect performance of this entire album on vinyl.

I literally had to jump around from the 1st set to the 2nd and to the 3rd in finding which one had the most listenable version of each interlude and track, then piece them back. It became a challenge with the interludes. I was lucky that I only had to split one of the interludes and piece it together with the next track from another set in order to get the best version. I ended up getting it to work perfectly with Audacity. However since I'm an amateur, it took me hours to accomplish the entire project.

So I'm happy to finally finish this project and have a very nice vinyl rip for my collection on the go. It worked out better than I had expected. Revisiting this collection has made me appreciate it more, this collection of work has allowed me to hear Karen's vocals in a whole new listening experience. It's something I will treasure more with time.

I've never had an album that I bought so many copies of in such a short period of time :laugh:
Digital Download
iTunes Download
Target CD
Japan CD
3 sets of the White vinyl
1 set of the Black vinyl

So now I'm ready for RPO II on vinyl :bangwall::laugh:
Is there any difference in the digital download and the itunes download? I believe there are 2 other versions. The first one that came out on CD and then the first tweaks that Richard did after the CD's were pressed and one more tweaking in July 2019. Do you know if there are other tweaks that came out after July 2019?
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Just ordered the CD so I can hear it up close and personal in my own, private, mobile listening booth - the cab of my pickup truck - it's like one gigantic, dynamic headphone in there! Can't wait to catch all of the glorious nuances of Richard's arrangements and Karen's voice...
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Just ordered the CD so I can hear it up close and personal in my own, private, mobile listening booth - the cab of my pickup truck - it's like one gigantic, dynamic headphone in there! Can't wait to catch all of the glorious nuances of Richard's arrangements and Karen's voice...
You'll love it! Be prepared for an emotional listening experience.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
You'll love it! Be prepared for an emotional listening experience.
I have that every time I listen to them - sometimes its Richard's innovative arrangements - like that "pregnant pause" at the very end of Superstar when there's a brief moment of silence and then the strings softly play the final chord...he does this at the end of You're the One also...brilliant conceptions! There are lots of these touches.

But mostly - like with everyone else - it's Karen's voice. Not so much her singing style, although that's wonderful, but much more her tonal quality, which has a unique and irresistible way of cutting through all of one's brain clutter and penetrating right to one's heart and soul...why else do grown men tear up while smiling from ear to ear?
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
^^ I definitely would purchase a Vol. 2. Hopefully, it would also come in the white 180 gram vinyl.

This album gets better with every play, and I believe Richard did a good job with it.

I guess the question is, did he sell enough volume 1 to warrant another go?
 
Last edited:

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
The RPO album has been with us for two years now. It was an amazing experience when it was first out. I recall listening to it quite a few times, made copies for the car, my laptop, my phone, - it was all over the place. And then I just stopped listening to it. One exception was when the vinyl finally appeared a year later. After a quick listen to that, it got filed away and I haven't much listened to more than a track or so over the last year, usually in conjunction with a comment here on the forum.

I had a rather busy time earlier today and this afternoon settled down, took a nap that felt great, and then looked on the computer and saw JohnFB's post that he'd ordered a copy of the RPO album. Suddenly, I had an urge to give the album another full listen. It had been awhile since I gave it a spin.

So while listening to the online/download version - what I believe to contain the latest of the tweaks - I decided to read along with the early parts of this thread, starting back on page 2 or so. It made for interesting reading as I listened to the album, almost like reading liner notes while listening the first time to a new album.

Something hit me as I did so. There are many early comments that dismiss the "chorale" vocals as being not necessary, not good, out of place. I can't say that I love those vocals, but they really only show up as the beginning and ending of the album, so they're not that obtrusive overall. What came to me though, was the actual vocalists chosen. I think Richard could have chosen virtually anyone he wanted to do those chorale vocals, but he picked the ones that he did. Why? Was it an effort to place those light, airy, and rather inconsequential vocalists in direct contrast with the sublime and incomparable vocals from Karen? If so, I think it works. We get to hear some competent, but ineffective vocalists in juxtaposition with the uniqueness of Karen.

Anyway, it was great to revisit the RPO album again. I liken the experience where you get a new album, listen to it a bunch of times and then move on, maybe almost forgetting it. And then somehow you find it and play it and reunite with what you liked about it the first times.

I think I'll always gravitate towards the original recordings of Karen & Richard, but the RPO album is a great updating, and a fun listen once and again.

And a little thank you here to our members, whose verbiage kept me company on this latest ride through the album. Fun stuff.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
There are several things I want to say...

First, I'm sorry I wasn't here 2 years ago for the start of this thread - I've been trying to read through it from the beginning, but its now 50 some pages & it's a daunting task - I've seen many comments that I would like to have responded to - not sure if I'll catch up since I have limited time & mental energy...in fact, I'm sad that I wasn't here for the whole forum from it's inception...

Second, as I posted briefly & recently in another thread I have listened to the album online a couple of times now (and have some serious impressions & a few favorites) I really need to hear the CD in my best listening environment- my truck.

Third, with reference to Harry's comments above, I've always been a big fan of chorale music in general, attending many concerts of various groups over the years - and have always considered Richard's use of them very tasteful and highly listenable, such as in the songs "Now" or "I Can Dream, Can't I " or "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or in the intro to "Begun" on the RPO album (which is really lovely) - in fact, I've always thought he should have used them more often to give their records an even more classy sound - and I always thought that he should have used live, individual backup singers on more of their recordings too, rather than relying so much on multi-layered overdubbing by himself & Karen so much...

The level of knowledge and insight and expertise here is so much higher than that found on the typical Carpenters group Facebook page that it staggers the imagination!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I still play the RPO cd periodically--for instance, this morning. I still get a charge from the bonus track--Please Mr. Postman.
The chorale has a tendency to turn listeners away. Too elevator-ish (chorale needs more male voices).
The instrumental interludes between songs are nice.
The added violins to Yesterday Once More give the song a nice touch (the additional flute, not so much).
(However, the 1985 YOM is superior to my ears).
Hurting Each Other is good (especially, the abrupt ending), but, the original is superior to my ears (especially where drums are concerned).
Why is the original piano (KOH LP) intro for I Need To Be In Love still being neglected ? I love that LP version.
For All We Know sounds nice. The additional strings are nice (again, the additional flute not so much).
Touch Me When We're Dancing makes a good listen. I might prefer this version to all previous versions.
I Believe You is still a sleeper cut for me--has been since 1978. I prefer the 1978 lead vocal, but the alternative
vocal on my cd is nice to have. On the whole, Richard's preference for this inferior song still puzzles me.
I Just Fall in Love Again is the real gem. Thankfully, it is here for all to admire, as I do. A beautiful cut.
Nothing beats the 1970 Merry Christmas Darling (imho) but, it is nice to have this newer incarnation with its 1978 lead.
Baby It's You is a pleasure and this newer cut is well-worth a listen.
I really would have liked the album version of Close To You, but, I guess that is asking too much.
Otherwise, it's a pleasant listen, but the song itself has never been one of my favorites (except for the 1970 album cut !).
Superstar, on my cd, sounds as if the drums are slightly off-time. So, I do not prefer this cd version at all.
Rainy Days and Mondays, the intro and outro violins are a nice touch. Again, the drums are not sitting well with me.
This Masquerade, thankfully, does not touch Karen's drumming or lead vocal. So, a winner. The added strings are okay to my ears.
Ticket To Ride--another standout. I might prefer this cd version. Hard to say, as I like all the versions (especially, 1969).
Leave Goodbye To Love as it was in 1972--no piccolo trumpet for me. But, there are those who like that addition.
Top of the World--I prefer the 1972 album cut and I love the 1973 single. This cd version, not so much. Still, love the song.
I am glad that Richard snuck a little bit of his second solo instrumental into the next interlude as prelude to...
We've Only Just Begun, a fitting finale. Of course, I prefer the 1970 original. Again, tampering with the drums here is not good.
So, I got my two cents in for the day.
I like this cd overall.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The chorale has a tendency to turn listeners away. Too elevator-ish (chorale needs more male voices).

The inclusion of that chorale was one of the biggest turn off for me on this album - schmaltzy and totally unnecessary. It sounds exactly like the chorale from the 1980 TV special closing medley. It felt as if Richard hadn’t moved on at all, but regressed where that was concerned.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member

The inclusion of that chorale was one of the biggest turn off for me on this album - schmaltzy and totally unnecessary.
As I've said I love the sound of a good, well-trained chorus or chorale - the human voice can be the most beautiful of all instruments, and to incorporate a group of these "instruments" strategically and tastefully into the arranged mix with other orchestral instruments, and have them all serving the sole purpose of supporting and enhancing the most beautiful instrument of all - Karen's voice - is a sound to be thoroughly savored.

What I find a "big turn off" and "schmaltzy and totally unnecessary" in the Carpenter recordings has always been and always will be Karen's double-tracking or overdubbing of her own voice on the lead vocals of all the songs where they employed this highly irritating technique... but, please, don't get me started...
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I can think of places where I enjoy the chorale sound--
"Look To Your Dreams" springs to mind.
I can think of places where the choral sound intrudes upon Karen's voice--
the later-mixed "Ave Maria" springs to mind. That chorale interferes majorly with Karen's beautiful 1978 vocal-ending.
Now, the chorale sound on "Silent Night" is perfect to my ears.
Then, again, the chorale-sound on the song "Now" grates on my ears.
It's all subjective.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Since I have not commented in quite a while, I’ll add my two cents. I agree with GaryAlan about I’ll Just Fall In Love Again and Postman and listen to them more often than not. Hurting Each Other is another I rather prefer. I like the new instruments added in Superstar, and of course, I can’t listen to it without Rainy Days. At times, the drums do get on my nerves as GaryAlan pointed out - but I focus on the good and try to find the drums patterns that I do like. With Top of the World, nothing beats the Single 1973 version. I would like a Volume 2, but if I could vote, I would like more emphasis on the orchestra and just not a cleaner arrangement of the same or similar. I might like a reworked Christmas project as long as we don’t get another set of smaltzy orchestral music that goes on and on as we did with Old Fashioned Christmas. I prefer the original Christmas Portrait selection on the instrumental sections. I enjoy the SACD CD of the Singles project and would like something similar in a reworked Christmas. As you know, I prefer Karen to any of the other (instrumental and other voices) and her voice is what creates the emotion that excites me to purchase! Any of the other is nice but I would rather have it on a separate and different project for optional purchase. In fact, my personal playlist contains the Karen songs from both albums with just My Favorite Things and the Santa jazz influenced instrumental piano pieces added to the instrumental selections on the original Christmas Portrait in between what Karen sings.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Yes--More emphasis on the orchestra !
After reading comments on Amazon from consumers, the same complaint keeps appearing:
the "new" arrangements are almost identical to the originals with the subtle changes adding too little of interest,
while the addition of orchestra--the Royal Philharmonic--is hardly perceptible.
If there is to be a next time, a volume two if you will,
it needs to be a clean break from the past with much fuller orchestra and no chorale.
If I did not have the bonus track--Please Mr. Postman--I would rarely listen to the cd,
preferring the originals.
But, to each his own.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
^^Yes--More emphasis on the orchestra !
After reading comments on Amazon from consumers, the same complaint keeps appearing: the "new" arrangements are almost identical to the originals with the subtle changes adding too little of interest, while the addition of orchestra--the Royal Philharmonic--is hardly perceptible.

^^^ Which is pretty much what I said after first listen of the album two years ago. It didn’t do much for me then and it still doesn’t now. Compared to the vision that other producers had for other artists in the series, this one was unadventurous and sorely lacking.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I remember when Old-Fashioned Christmas LP came out, I was ecstatic and could not wait to get that vinyl played.
I remember being a bit disappointed on first play. On the other hand, I loved having that album to play on occasion.
Now, a few mornings ago I played the album from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, I figure, eventually the same will transpire with this RPO cd. It'll take some more time.
But, I reiterate, I thoroughly enjoyed that entire 1984 Christmas LP this year !
 

David A

Well-Known Member
My opinions regarding this album are already here in the thread. I'll instead postulate that if it's accurate that a significant number of the buying public actually feel this album wasn't "changed" enough from the original songs - "hardly perceptible" additions and such - then we'll not see another RPO album, in my view. I can't see Richard ever doing that; at the risk of speaking for Richard (hah!), and also agreeing with him, the songs are too close to perfect as-is, and while major alterations would check the "adventurous" and "different" boxes, the songs would ultimately be lesser for it.

One "new" thought on this, does occur; I'm not sure how the focus could possibly remain on Karen's vocals and their harmonies, if there was a big, bombastic orchestral alteration to the songs. I'll add the caveat that maybe it can be done; I'm not a musician. But it seems fundamentally contradictory to me. If I'm right, I think you'd read a lot more negative reviews that you do with this album, now.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
There are a multitude of different directions for another RPO that do not detract from Karen's leads or the harmonies.
One of the best songs of the entire project was Please Mr. Postman....absolutely inspired,
and more people should hear it. I love it.
To be fair, most reviews are not entirely negative, they merely point out the negative and the positive aspects.
So, do not "throw the baby out with the bathwater."
The big issue which can never be surmounted is that the originals are virtually perfect as they stand.
 
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