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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 34.4%
  • ⁕⁕⁕⁕

    Votes: 43 46.2%
  • ⁕⁕⁕ (Average)

    Votes: 15 16.1%
  • ⁕⁕

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • ⁕ (Worst)

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

    Votes: 1 1.1%

  • Total voters
    93

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Little did I suspect that expressing an opinion about my lack of preference for - of all things - French horns would cause anyone consternation or frustration...

However, I stand by that opinion, but now that I think about it a "fuzz guitar" solo at these two points in the song by Tony P. would have been ideal since she makes reference to the sweet and sad guitar in the lyrics...

Besides, the "French horns" that we hear on the record are not actually real French horns being played by a small ensemble of live brass musicians - no credit is given for any such French horn players in the album details on Richard's website - I suspect that sound was produced by a "voice setting" on his Wurlitzer Electric piano - i can create the same sound on my Yamaha Digital piano.

The French horn sound is also used during the live BBC concert, but there are no players there in the band.

I'm not sure but I do think that real French horns were actually added for the RPO album since that orchestra has a full compliment of them.

French horns for you - a fuzz guitar for me - it's all good - Karen is going to start singing any second now...
I didn’t know that a Wurlitzer Electric Piano back in 71 would have had french horn sounds/settings available. Interesting to know that technology was around then. Learn something new every day!
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
I didn’t know that a Wurlitzer Electric Piano back in 71 would have had french horn sounds/settings available. Interesting to know that technology was around then. Learn something new every day!
Well, I don't know for sure - its just an educated guess - it might have been a separate early synthesizer of some kind...I would think real FH players would have gotten credit ( not to mention pay) - the same considerations apply to the trumpet sounds on the choruses of the song also...
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Well, I don't know for sure - its just an educated guess - it might have been a separate early synthesizer of some kind...I would think real FH players would have gotten credit ( not to mention pay) - the same considerations apply to the trumpet sounds on the choruses of the song also...
I think the trumpet blasts on WOJB on the 1971 BBC TV special are from a live brass section. I’m only going from memory. The 1972 Australian TV concert also has a live orchestra, just visible behind the gauzy curtain backdrop in one shot. Same with 1976 ‘Live at New London Theatre’ TV show, from memory - the orchestra is hidden behind the curtain at the back. Richard later lamented that they had spent so much on hiring orchestras throughout their touring life when a lot of people probably wouldn’t have minded whether they had one or not.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Same with 1976 ‘Live at New London Theatre’ TV show, from memory - the orchestra is hidden behind the curtain at the back. Richard later lamented that they had spent so much on hiring orchestras throughout their touring life when a lot of people probably wouldn’t have minded whether they had one or not.

I never understood why the orchestra was hidden completely from view on raised rostra until the very end of those 1976 shows. What a waste of money and effort. There’s nothing better than a live band that also features a full orchestra on stage - it would have turned a fairly middle of the road live show into a feast for the eyes. It’s now routine practice for many headline artists when on tour to have an orchestra on stage with them.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
I think the trumpet blasts on WOJB on the 1971 BBC TV special are from a live brass section. I’m only going from memory. The 1972 Australian TV concert also has a live orchestra, just visible behind the gauzy curtain backdrop in one shot. Same with 1976 ‘Live at New London Theatre’ TV show, from memory - the orchestra is hidden behind the curtain at the back. Richard later lamented that they had spent so much on hiring orchestras throughout their touring life when a lot of people probably wouldn’t have minded whether they had one or not.

"The 1972 Australian TV concert also has a live orchestra, just visible behind the gauzy curtain backdrop in one shot."

Yes that was weird. The duo brought Frank Pooler on the road with them and he was conducting that orchestra with his back turned (maybe even turned sideways as I recall) to the audience standing at the curtain opening. And that metal chair being there on stage. I think it was for Frank to sit down between orchestra breaks. Very awkward.
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The duo brought Frank Pooler on the road with them and he was conducting that orchestra with his back turned (maybe even turned sideways as I recall) to the audience standing at the curtain opening. And that metal chair being there on stage. I think it was for Frank to sit down between orchestra breaks. Very awkward.

I’ve never heard the details of that 1972 stage set up before but it does sound bizarre. It’s almost as if Richard or Karen themselves came up with the idea and just said “we’ve got a chair for you to sit there Frank between orchestral sections”. It illustrates that their stage shows just weren’t thought through properly. They deserved better.
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
I never understood why the orchestra was hidden completely from view on raised rostra until the very end of those 1976 shows. What a waste of money and effort. There’s nothing better than a live band that also features a full orchestra on stage - it would have turned a fairly middle of the road live show into a feast for the eyes. It’s now routine practice for many headline artists when on tour to have an orchestra on stage with them.
The orchestra appeared towards the end of the drum medley. It's a great part of the show when the curtain lifts as the orchestra join the drum medley.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
It is, Chris, but I can also see why some feel seeing the full orchestra from the beginning would be a plus.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
My own recording of the 1972 concert in Philadelphia that had an orchestra on stage, has Richard introducing the orchestra conductor as Ray Bloch, conductor of TV orchestras for both Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The orchestra appeared towards the end of the drum medley. It's a great part of the show when the curtain lifts as the orchestra join the drum medley.

I stand corrected - they unveiled the orchestra at the end of the drum medley as Chris says and I checked the video clips of the rest of the 1976 New London Theatre concert and they remain in sight right until the end. It would still have been nice to have them featured throughout - Richard should have conducted the orchestra at the beginning of the concert instead of that awful fake tape machine.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
I’ve never heard the details of that 1972 stage set up before but it does sound bizarre. It’s almost as if Richard or Karen themselves came up with the idea and just said “we’ve got a chair for you to sit there Frank between orchestral sections”. It illustrates that their stage shows just weren’t thought through properly. They deserved better.
the stage shows probably weren't that well thought out, remember, we are reflecting on these shows with 50 years of development of stagecraft and showmanship.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
the stage shows probably weren't that well thought out, remember, we are reflecting on these shows with 50 years of development of stagecraft and showmanship.

I see your point but I would suggest that even for the standards and expectations of the time, this whole "chair sitting there in the open" thing is really bush-league.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
According to Randy Schmidt in LGB it wasn't until 1975 that Terry Ellis, founder of Chrysalis Records and manager of several British acts - and then current boyfriend of Karen - saw their stage show and later told Karen how bad it was, including her performance. It wasn't her singing, of course, but her stage presence and mannerisms - basically, how unprofessionally she conducted herself during the performance. His chief complaint was that she was hardly interacting with the audience at all. For example, she was turning her back on them during solos by band members. He then walked her through a series of "lessons" designed to change and improve all of these non-singing aspects of her performances. She resisted at first, then tried them and soon learned to use them and love them. It seems that Richard was not happy with the changes at first, but then Terry gave him some pointers to bring more well-deserved attention to himself, and he stopped complaining for the most part.
 


Catalog number: B0029140-02
Digital single released November 1, 2018: “Merry Christmas Darling” / “Yesterday Once More”
Digital single released November 16, 2018: "Ticket To Ride"

1. RPO Overture
2. Yesterday Once More
3. Hurting Each Other
4. I Need To Be In Love
5. For All We Know
6. Touch Me When We're Dancing
7. I Believe You
8. I Just Fall In Love Again
9. Merry Christmas Darling
10. Baby It's You
11. (They Long To Be) Close To You
12. Superstar
13. Rainy Days And Mondays
14. This Masquerade
15. Ticket To Ride
16. Goodbye To Love
17. Top Of The World
18. We've Only Just Begun

Please use this thread to post published reviews. Also, when you've personally listened to the new CARPENTERS WITH THE ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA album in full, place your reviews and comments here.

For all matters related to ordering, purchasing, shipping, availability, and delivery, please use the other thread created for that purpose.
I loved the Target only version of Please Mr. Postman and Wish it had been included on the regular CD/LP version
 
Yes, I agree. And "Baby It's You" is a close second for me. I love what he did with that song. But I have to say I'm not at all a fan of the overture. I had really high expectations for it, and the choir just ruined it for me. Otherwise, I'm very happy and will be playing the heck out of this album for a long time to come.
[
As soon as I heard that chorale I got a feeling of dread, wondering if they were going to pop up all over the place. Thankfully they don't. I don't think they're needed, not even on the overture.
The choir ruined it for me, ugh
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I have been listening a good bit to this album lately.
One thing I noticed with my cd ( Japan pressing/Postman included) is that my ears pick up on
interesting little things with the volume turned up...for example, the harp in "I Believe You" seems more prominent.
Actually, the song "I Believe You" seems to have gotten more favorable to me with this mix.
Now, when I listen to "Superstar" on the Love Songs compilation, I much prefer that mix to this new one.
On the other hand, the guitar flourishes on Superstar--the RPO mix--add a nice touch.
Anyway, seems as if the 'album' does make a pleasant, worthwhile, "all-at-once" listen.
It grows on me.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
I have been listening a good bit to this album lately.
...
Anyway, seems as if the 'album' does make a pleasant, worthwhile, "all-at-once" listen.
It grows on me.
Yes, I've been listening to it a lot myself lately (6 times thru) and I agree. It took this many listens to finally hear some of the changes that Richard made to the orchestration - the enhancements and substitutions, a few major but most minor. It was hard enough to compare these versions with previous versions for each song in and of themselves, but when you factor in the ever present and compellingly beautiful distraction of Karen's voice it was almost impossible to concentrate on arrangement details (especially with how very good she sounds on many of these tracks).

Here are some random thoughts about the RPO album:

The most impressive result of this project - the feature that made it all worthwhile for me - was what I mentioned above: how much better Karen sounds on many of the album's tracks - much more present or resonant, and thus, even more gorgeous than ever! Here's what Richard says about this in the album notes:

Above all is the absence of the ambient noise, such as A/C rumble that made it's way into Karen's lead vocals among other things. This room noise was a bugaboo in the finest of studios, and by and large didn't seem that apparent until CDs cam along...and that, along with dialing back the amount of reverb used in our later recordings and remixes makes Karen's lead sound cleaner, closer, warmer and better than ever".

If nothing else had been accomplished this would have been more than enough to justify the project - but then the RPO wouldn't have really been needed at all. Of course, the only other technical thing that he could have done to maximize "the Karen factor" would have been to eliminate those instances on each song where it occurs her "oversinging" of herself on the lead vocals (but we've covered that highly desirable possibility in other threads, haven't we?).

In general, I liked Richard's overture and the orchestral interludes between songs. Some of them flowed smoothly or seamlessly into the following songs, serving as a delightful intro. The ones I especially enjoyed were those employing chorales (even though the Chorale was not identified in the album credits) - in particular during the intro to "Yesterday Once More" and then at the end to "We've Only Just Begun". In fact, I would like to have seen and heard the use of the chorale in more songs throughout the album, such as for "I Need to Be in Love" and "I Just Fall in Love Again" (although these both contain choral work within them).

One other aspect of their recording style in general that impressed itself on me again was their overlapped, overdubbed harmonies on so many of these songs - just Richard and Karen creating a beautifully layered accompaniment sound that was always tastefully used. The skill, training, talent and hard work it took to do this, and do it so well, is truely amazing! Almost every time over the years when I've looked to see who the Chorale was providing backup vocals on this song or that song it turned out to be just these two by themselves. It would have taken 6 or 8 or more individual singer to do the same thing - and it probably wouldn't have sounded half as good...all of this tends to get buried under considerations of Karen's wonderful vocals and Richard's creatively brilliant arrangements.

Some songs on this album that really jumped out at me (some for the first time, and others for the first time in a long time were):

"For All We Know" - the intro, the lyrics as always, and Karen's incomparable vocal performance (now enhanced!)

"Touch Me While We're Dancing" - what a sweet song/arrangement this is, and her singing here is super sexy and right into my ear as I dance with her...

"I Just Fall in Love Again" - always one of her most beautiful vocals, but now buried even deeper under an orchestral arrangement that seems more suited for a "showstopper" in a Broadway musical - I think the arrangement that Anne Murray used is still much better suited for this lovely song.

"Merry Christmas, Darling" - one of the few songs on here that might have benefited from the enhanced strings and reeds - but any version is great! I just finished memorizing an early intermediate version of this beautiful song on my digital piano.

"Baby, It's You" - it's almost like I heard this for the first time & what a great song this is - why hadn't I heard it like this before? Love this!

"This Masquerade" - I don't know what he did to this & it doesn't matter - just like with "Rainy Days..." nothing needed to be done - it was perfect as it stood and couldn't really be improved - can't hear this enough!

"Ticket to Ride" - I'd swear this is a whole new recording and it sounds so good here - again, like hearing it for the first time and loving it - what a vocal at that age and sounding so much better now!

"We've Only Just Begun" - really liked the intro with the chorale echoing the song's chorus - beautifully done!

Finally, and as others have said, it's really hard to improve on perfection and I'm not sure all of the enhancements here - other than the improvement in the sound quality of Karen's vocals - were successful in achieving what Richard might have had in mind when he started. But I'm glad I have it.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Above all is the absence of the ambient noise, such as A/C rumble that made it's way into Karen's lead vocals among other things.

I don’t think anyone would have ever noticed the aircon rumble unless Richard had mentioned it himself. It was virtually inaudible and nobody had ever mentioned it until he did himself in interviews for the RPO project.
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
I don’t think anyone would have ever noticed the aircon rumble unless Richard had mentioned it himself. It was virtually inaudible and nobody had ever mentioned it until he did himself in interviews for the RPO project.

While it's true that no-one of us out here in the real world might have noticed the A/C rumble, Richard would have been able to hear it when he stripped all else away in prep for remixing with the RPO. Once he was able to filter that noise out, the result was a cleaner track for Karen's vocals with which to work.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
We read from the TIMES interview above, that:
"He (Richard) spent eight months on the project, often listening to his sister’s extraordinary voice in isolation."
The experience was “upsetting and it was pleasurable, all at the same time”.


T
hose words from Richard "upsetting and pleasurable, all at the same time" speak volumes.
Quite frankly, I appreciate Richard more and more for being able to do what he is (has been) capable of achieving !
It has to be incredibly difficult.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
In the album notes Richard gives an extra special thanks to associate producer Nick Patrick who he calls "a wizard of modern technology" ...who "partnered with me in making these recordings as fresh and new as they deserve to be".

I'm not sure if it was the removal of A/C rumble, or the reduction in the use of reverb, or some other form of technical wizardry utilized by Richard and Nick but whatever they did Karen sure as hell sounds very up close and personal and more compellingly beautiful than ever.

I wonder if that A/C rumble can be isolated and I wonder if it is felt as much as it is heard, sort of like distant bass notes thru a wall...
 
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