• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline for October 2021! The new book Carpenter: The Musical Legacy will be available on October 19 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released October 22, and is available for ordering here.

Carpenters Top 10 Albums

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Must Hear This Album

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Forgive me if this has already been a thread, but I wanted to weigh-in with my “Top 10” Carpenters albums, in order of excellence. I’d be interested in hearing yours, and I’d be VERY interested in hearing Richard’s. I wonder if he ever drops-in on this forum? Also, does anybody have information on the sales of each album? It would be interesting to compare our lists to the Carpenter albums which sold the most / least.

Okay, so here goes:


1.) A Song For You: It’s simply the best: young artists brimming with creative ideas and in love with life. It’s practically a greatest hits album in itself. Non-singles standouts include: “Road Ode,” “Crystal Lullaby,” and the title track. Timeless.

2.) Singles 1969-1973: Like it or not (as I would argue that the Carpenters were much more than “singles artists”), this album represents the duo’s tremendous talent and was deservedly a #1 album in the 1970’s. It also foreshadowed Richard’s penchant for remixing his already excellent work. That said, I must concede that the remixes of “Ticket To Ride” and “Top Of The World” vastly improve the original album cuts.

3.) Christmas Portrait: It has been said, and I’m inclined to agree, that Carpenters were made to make Christmas music. The original Christmas Portrait LP is the best holiday album ever. Period. The best. Step aside Phil Spector, Beach Boys, and Bing. Carpenters. Own. This. Genre.

4.) Close To You: The one that started it all. There’s so much to love about this remarkable album. Arguably, it was the last Carpenters LP with any aspiration to rock-and-roll credibility, and it contains so many “hits” that should have been (e.g., “Baby It’s You,” “Maybe It’s You”) and actual “rock” songs, like “Another Song.” Easy to understand why this album remains their favorite and ranked (quite highly, I might add) on the Rolling Stone list of “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.”

5.) Horizon: This is the last “great” Carpenters album. A departure from their tried and true style of their first hit albums, Horizon demonstrates the young artists at the very height of their creativity and powers and was sorely under-appreciated. Karen’s voice was at its peak on this album, and Richard’s remarkable gifts are most apparent on these carefully crafted songs. Sad that it wasn’t more popular…

6.) Offering/Ticket To Ride: There is so much that I love about their debut album. It’s feisty, counter-culture, and a quintessential Polaroid of that musical period. I’ve always believed that Richard was a master at capturing the zeitgeist of the day and delivering it to the masses in the form of smart, pop records (most deftly demonstrated by his sadly ignored debut solo album, Time), so much so that he delivered the late-1970’s crap of the television specials and the credibility / career-killing album, A Kind Of Hush. But in his defense, AKOH was exactly the type of tripe for which the masses clamored at the time (e.g., The Captain & Tennille, KC and the Sunshine Band, Bay City Rollers, etc. Ugh.).

7.) Carpenters: While this album signifies the duo’s official departure from anything resembling rock-and-roll of the time, the hits, the Bacharach/David medley, and key album cuts, like “Let Me Be The One,” “(A Place To) Hideaway,” and “One Love,” make this album essential listening.

8.) Now & Then: While the oldies medley that dominates side two demonstrated the last-minute, thrown-together nature of this project, it is the last album with the “classic” Carpenters sound. Best album tracks are “Jambalaya (On The Bayou),” “I Can’t Make Music,” and Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade,” which featured some of Karen’s very best drum work.

9.) Passage: This album gets a bad rap, and understandably so, as it’s pullout-all-the-stops, shotgun approach to record making smacked of desperation and audience pandering. The duo was desperate for a hit record that year and made an album designed to appeal to everyone and, ironically, appealed to no one. While featuring a fun, stylistic vocal departure for Karen, the album opener, “B’Wana She No Home,” was cringe-worthy, privileged racism. Of the bajillion funky songs out there at that time, why’d they pick that one? The other two head-scratchers were “Man Smart, Woman Smarter,” and “Calling Occupants…” The remaining songs on the album, however, hold together quite well and have aged beautifully.

10.) Made In America: The “comeback” album that turned out to be the duo’s bittersweet farewell. Richard’s subsequent production work seems to return to the blueprint laid out on this album: synthesizers, Anita Kerr-styled backing vocals, and that instrument (wind chimes?) that sounds like a magician is sweeping a wand over the proceedings, leaving a trail of sparkly glitter (am I right?). That said, Karen’s voice sounds smooth and sultry on these songs, although it was showing signs of wear and tear from her deteriorating health. I remember catching the duo on a few talk shows around that time to promote the album, and my sister gasping at how thin Karen looked. Boy, we had no idea…
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Great summary! Very concise.

I have come to really appreciate "Passage" through the years. In fact, I liked it a lot when it was released ('Man Smart, Woman Smarter' and the operatic opening of 'Argentina' excepted), but it sounds even better now. I know several people who think 'B'Wana, She No Home' is great! Hey, at least it's different. :wink: That being said, 'Passage' was sort of the 'jumping over the shark' album for Carpenters. But they sure as hell rebounded with 'Christmas Portrait'.
 

Must Hear This Album

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Thread Starter
True, that, regarding the stunning rebound. "Portrait" was almost my #2 pick. Sadly, compiling this "top 10" list is almost a process of ranking the precious, few albums the duo had a chance to release during Karen's short lifetime. Thanks for your note.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
A few comments about the above list:

SINGLES 1969-1973-while this was a big selling compilation back in it's day,it remains a "dated period piece" today-focusing only on K&R's early single material.With several comprehensive career-spanning compilations available today,it would be hard to consider this as a top-10 Carp album,especially being that some of the material on this package("Sing","It's going to Take Some Time") is now regarded as "inconsequential".Sales of "The Singles" plummeted after the release of "Yesterday Once More" in 1985,and "Love Songs" put "The Singles" out-of-print fifteen years later.

NOW&THEN-this was not the last album with the "classic" Carpenters sound."Horizon","A Kind Of Hush" and "Made In America" all featured K&R's signature sound.

A KIND OF HUSH-this wasn't a "career -killing" album.AKOH was certified gold the day of it's release,has sold approximately one million copies to date,and managed to stay in print for 30 years!While the material is more "lightweight" than their previous albums,it features some of Karen's best vocals and the album has always been a fan favorite.The term "tripe" is something I would reserve for Karen's solo album(or side two of "Now & Then").
 

Must Hear This Album

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Thanks, mr J., for your good comments. Some compelling points. While I concede Singles 1969-1973 is not the most comprehensive collection, I include it in my top 10, over Gold, 40/40, etc. for the following reasons: 1.) It captures the moment in time when the duo were at the top. Nobody was hotter, save for Elton John, maybe, but it was close. 2.) While more "complete," the newer compilations aren't as satisfying to me. Probably because the later songs lose the "classic" Carpenters sound - more on that, below. 3.) The album is completely listenable from side-to-side; there's not a weak moment on Singles 1969-1973, including "Sing," which might have been "vanilla," but as Paul Williams has so famously pointed-out, "what an exquisite flavor, vanilla."

When I refer to the "classic" sound, I'm referring to the duo's familiar vocal and instrumentation style on their albums between Close To You and Singles 1969-1973. The approach to the production. Yes, on the later albums it's still them singing, technically, but the production technique changed dramatically on Horizon, as noted in the 1975 Rolling Stone review, where the reviewer called it, "...the Carpenters' most musically sophisticated album to date." While each had its moments of greatness, every album after Horizon felt "lighter" to me. Pithier. Made In America, while lovely, as a whole, practically floats off the turntable. Gone was the rich, robust music the duo created in the early part of the decade. The classic Carpenters sound.

Regarding A Kind Of Hush, while I don't have sales figures (would be grateful for your source), if the album shipped gold, then isn't that more a testament to the duo's previous work and not, necessarily, the quality of that particular album? I mean, fans hadn't even heard it yet, but pre-ordered it on the momentum of the duo's work leading up to that point. That it eventually sold a million over the course of the next 30 years doesn't seem surprising to me (have any Carpenter albums not sold at least a million?), since they were one of the top selling artists of that decade. I call AKOH "career killing," because it was. Christmas Portrait excepted, nothing released by the duo after AKOH took hold or really even mattered to the general public (yes, yes, there are a few, cherry-picked songs that hold up, see #9 and #10, above), and the later songs are certainly not the ones by which the duo is most remembered. To wit, on iTunes this morning, besides the Christmas songs, only five songs released after Horizon rank in the top 40 Carpenters songs. None in the top 10.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
As much as I love it, I also see Hush as a career killer. Passage sealed the coffin shut. Portrait gets a pass due to its holiday nature, putting it in a different category.
 

Song4uman

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The thing to remember in this thread is that everyone has their own opinion. As with other threads dealing with "best" or "favorites", you have to remember that everyone has their own idea of what is good/bad/wonderful/horrible, etc. Music is subjective. No one crosses the finish-line first. :)

A great place to share thoughts...

Jonathan
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
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Site Admin
If I were to do a list patterned after "Must Hear This Album", it would look like this:

1.) Offering/Ticket To Ride: For me, the first is the best. I hadn’t heard it until I heard CLOSE TO YOU, but once I did, I found it irresistible. Not too many agree with me here, and that’s fine, but I love the early, raw sound of Carpenters. The inclusion of Richard’s leads alternating with Karen’s leads gave the album a “group” sound that I truly loved and appreciated. I was also blown away by the number of compositions by Richard Carpenter here.

2.) A Song For You: This one’s hard to not place near the top. It’s just so good, with so much hit material, and even the best of “fillers” ever to be found on a slab of vinyl. They were at their peak here, for sure.

3.) Close To You: Traces of the early, raw sound remain on this one with the duo’s two “signature songs” bookending Side One. Sumptuous overdubbed harmonies abound.

4.) Singles 1969-1973: A remarkable hits album package. They don’t get any better than this. Not only does it place all of the familiar hits to this point, but arranges them in a logical and flowing order for a seamless experience. A true “album”.

5.) Carpenters: If all this album did was introduce the logo, it would be noteworthy, but it also featured two more “signature songs” in “Rainy Days And Mondays” and “Superstar”. They were so overflowing with ideas at this point that a song like “Let Me Be The One” was passed over as a single.

6.) Christmas Portrait: In a class by itself as a Christmas album, and good enough to be considered with their year-round stuff.

7.) Now & Then: Any album that contains “Yesterday Once More”, even though the rest is not quite up to snuff deserves to be mentioned here. There are some nice and fun moments elsewhere, but the oldies medley pales after repeated listening.

8.) Horizon: This one’s not up there. It’s well produced, quite polished, and contains the outstanding “Only Yesterday” masterpiece, but its collection of slow tunes bogs the album down, IMHO.

9.) A Kind Of Hush: Hardly a shark-jumping moment, but an album with problems along with some high points. The whole “oldies” thing was way overdone by this time, and this one dredges up two more in the title tune and “Breaking Up…”. A lot of folks find “Goofus” strange – it is –but I still like it. Was it a good choice for a single? Probably not. But some nice album cuts keep the album from totally sinking.

10.) Lovelines: A patchwork piece of reworked solo stuff and leftovers, this one hangs together better than some of the later albums.

That leaves off PASSAGE, MADE IN AMERICA, the second Christmas album, AS TIME GOES BY and VOICE OF THE HEART, which are my least-played Carpenters albums.

Harry
 

Must Hear This Album

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Harry, I must confess, it was difficult to not put Offering/Ticket To Ride in my top 5. Well said on that oft-overlooked album. I haven't listened to Lovelines since I had a tape deck. I'll give it another try ("You're The One" should have been included on Passage and would have improved the album significantly). Thanks for the comments.
 

Must Hear This Album

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Thread Starter
A few comments about the above list:

The term "tripe" is something I would reserve for Karen's solo album(or side two of "Now & Then").

Couldn't agree more on Karen's solo album. Maybe the album I've most wanted to love, but I could never get into it. Richard and Herb nailed it. Mediocre songs and ill fitting for Karen. Can you imagine what would have been had she not tried so hard to be "hip" and recorded an album reminiscent of Norah Jones' debut? Sigh...it wasn't meant to be. Thanks again for your good comments.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
Couldn't agree more on Karen's solo album. Maybe the album I've most wanted to love, but I could never get into it. Richard and Herb nailed it. Mediocre songs and ill fitting for Karen. Can you imagine what would have been had she not tried so hard to be "hip" and recorded an album reminiscent of Norah Jones' debut? Sigh...it wasn't meant to be. Thanks again for your good comments.

Disagree. Wasn't the great LP she was capable of, but people always forget the context. She was aiming to regain some commercial footing and the selections were consistent with what radio was playing. She also included a few EXCELLENT songs ("Still Crazy" is NOT a mediocre song) that hold up today. At the very least, it was an interesting effort, which Made in America failed to be. I agree with the "ill fitting" comment regarding a few of the cuts, though...but I never thought Olivia was particularly credible on stuff like "A Little More Love" and she did quite well with those songs. Impossible to say today what the 1980 audience would have responded to. And regardless, Herb and Richard should have respected Karen's wishes as an independent artist and left her the hell alone.

As far as the list that opens this thread, I'd agree with everything except the rankings of Christmas Portrait and Passage. Portrait excels when it's Karen singing. When the chorale takes over, which it does much too often, the album sinks into sounding exactly like any other easy listening Christmas LP you hear over the sound system in your local shopping mall. Passage, like Karen's solo record, was about half a great album with other cuts that at least were (again) interesting departures.
 

Must Hear This Album

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I think this is a first for me, Toolman: a Carpenters fan who is less than gushing about Christmas Portrait. *grin. Seriously, though, I have to ask: are you referring to the original vinyl version, the CD "Special Edition," or the Christmas Collection version (are there more iterations, out there?)? It does make a difference. Oh, and relevant sidebar, I downloaded Spike Jones' Christmas album, which served as the inspiration for Portrait, and I was surprised at how much the duo actually lifted from Jones, in terms of song selection, vocals, and instrumentation. Fascinating.

Good point about "Still Crazy..." Great Paul Simon song. Not mediocre by a long shot. And yes, I agree Karen's album should have been released and allowed to do what it would have done. Still can't get into it, though. Even her take on the sublime, "Still Crazy..."
 

Harry

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"Still Crazy After All These Years" is indeed a great Paul Simon song. In fact, given its status as a song AND album title, and an early entry in the Simon-as-solo-artist canon, it is perhaps a "signature song" for Mr. Simon. As such, Karen's take, as good as it might have been, simply becomes a cover of someone else's tune. It's the same as anyone else singing "Merry Christmas Darling" - it may be nice, but it will always evoke and be compared to Karen Carpenter's signature version.

Harry
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I can't get enough of threads like these! :)
Here's mine, in reverse order:
(11.) “Ticket to Ride”- Adventureous first album. Standouts: title song, “All of My Life”, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”

10. “Passage”- When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s awful. Standouts: “Bwana She No Home”, the underrated “All You Get From Love is a Love Song”, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”, “Sweet, Sweet Smile”

9. “Made in America” – Same as above. Really- At first listen, I despised the “Wedding Song” long before I knew the behind the scenes story. No love for the Broadway style. Standouts “Strength of a Woman”, “Somebody’s Been Lying”, “Touch Me When We’re Dancing”.

8. “Now and Then” - Mixed bag. The Oldies did not wear well over time. Standouts: “This Masquerade”, “Yesterday Once More”, “Our Day Will Come”.

7. “A Song For You” - Great singles mixed with toss away tracks (“Intermission”, “Crystal Lullaby”, “Piano Picker”) which move it lower in ranking. Standouts: “Hurting Each Other”, “Goodbye to Love”, the title song.

6. “Voice of the Heart”- Sentimental favorite. Would be ranked higher if not for chorale vocals. Gorgeous photo of Karen. Very tasteful presentation under the circumstances. Standouts: my favorite Carps song of all time “Ordinary Fool”, “Now”, “Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore”, “Look to Your Dreams” (an exception to the Broadway rule), “Sailing on the Tide”.

5. “Carpenters” – Warm, by the fireplace music. Would rank higher if not for the barrel bottom “Druscilla Penny”. Standouts: the three single releases plus “Let Me Be the One”, “Hideaway”, “Sometimes”, “Bacharach Medley”.

4. “Lovelines” - Strong and Weak. Standouts: “Lovelines”, “If We Try”, “Where Do I Go From Here?”, “When I Fall in Love”, “Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night”, “If I Had You”.

3. “A Kind of Hush”- Best overall package, music and art. Very soft but beautiful. Second place for “Worst Carpenters song: Goofus”. But it comes with the award for “Happiest Personal Memories Associated with an Album”. Standouts: “Boat to Sail”, “I Need to Be in Love”, “One More Time”, “I Have You”, plus the title song is my ultimate guilty pleasure.

2. “Close to You”- the one that started it all for me. Still stunning after 40 years. Standouts: “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Baby It’s You”, “Love is Surrender”, “Maybe It’s You”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”.

1. “Horizon”- elegant, classy, best recorded sound of Karen’s voice ever. Standouts: “Only Yesterday”, “Desperado”, “Solitaire”, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?”, “Aurora/Eventide”, “Love Me For What I Am”.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
There's alot of conversation here about "career-killing" albums-K&R never had a "career-killing album".They had an amazingly successful career way beyond Karen's passing.Even their poorest selling albums did very well.(PASSAGE,their worst seller,sold a healthy 400,000 copies).And the three posthumous 80's albums did better than "Passage" and MIA.

Actually,the term "career-killer" would be a good description for Richard's "Time"-One of the worst-selling albums in A&M history.And,if Karen's album had been released in 1980,it would have been a career-killer for her,as well.Karen fared better than Richard in this regard in that she was spared the personal and music-industry embarrassment of a failed solo album.

Also,some of the comparisons here between Karen & Olivia Newton -John have no merit.Olivia is top-40 pop,Karen is classic pop.Different genre/different market.What works for Olivia(or Cher,or Donna Summer) could never work for Karen.Karen could never succeed with something like "Xanadu" or "Make A Move On Me".And,likewise,Olivia could never attempt recording something like "This Masquerade " or "Ordinary Fool".
 

toeknee4bz

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"Career-killing" album... When people use this term in reference to Carpenters albums (take your pick), they fail to consider something that nobody wants to acknowlege or admit: They were a dated band. Don't get me wrong. I love them too. I have every album except the Christmas albums, and I cherish every one of them in different ways. But let's face it: By the time Karen had recorded her solo album, the heyday was over anyway... no matter what they put out. And it's a well-known fact that Richard, with all of his musical genius, was resistant to change. I would congratulate him, however, for doing something fresh for 1987 on TIME. But unfortunately, even this album wasn't 'hip' enough for the period in which it was released, and "too mod" for the old timers. In other words, it fell through the cracks comercially.
If Karen had lived, and Carpenters continued to record music throughout the 80s and possibly even the 90s, their popularity as it was known would be virtually non-existent. "Touch Me When We're Dancing" was a hit in 81 because it sounded contemporary for the time. But the only reason "Make Believe It's Your First Time" even cracked the charts is because everybody knew about Karen's death. Bottom line: If she had lived, and they continued, they could've come out of the slump they were in, but drastic changes would've been required. Many artists/groups recover from a slump, and Carpenters may have been no different. Who knows? I just don't care to label any of their efforts as a "career killer", when it was ultimately and sadly the loss of Karen that killed it for Richard as well.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I disagree wholeheartedly about Karen's solo album being a 'career killer'. Maybe you should listen again. I'm not saying it's the best album ever recorded, but it certainly holds its own compared to ANYTHING the Carpenters were recording at the time. And, most importantly, it was DESIGNED to repair the image problems that had dogged them from day one.

There are many strong cuts on the album that were fine choices for singles: "If I Had You", "Making Love In The Afternoon", "If We Try" and "Still Crazy After All These Years" all come to mind.

Karen's solo album was shelved out of deference and respect to Richard, while ensuring "Carpenters" were not a thing of the past. Abandoning Richard and "Carpenters" was the last thing on her mind. She did that album for both of them and to extend their careers. Period. And she got the shaft for trying.
 

Must Hear This Album

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"Career-killing" album... When people use this term in reference to Carpenters albums (take your pick), they fail to consider something that nobody wants to acknowlege or admit: They were a dated band.

Good point, toeknee4bz. In fact, I've always suspected that, had Karen lived, the duo's legacy would be relegated to "Captain & Tennille"-level, "whatever happened to...?" footnote of music history (similar to Air Supply, Kenny Loggins, Starland Vocal Band, etc.). Karen died in early 1983, shortly after the release of MJ's Thriller, which completely changed the rules of pop music. Like you, it's hard for me to believe the siblings would have been able to compete in the MTV market.
 

Must Hear This Album

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I disagree wholeheartedly about Karen's solo album being a 'career killer'...There are many strong cuts on the album that were fine choices for singles: "If I Had You", "Making Love In The Afternoon", "If We Try" and "Still Crazy After All These Years" all come to mind.

I have to confess, I would like to have seen A&M compromise with the solo album, releasing only singles initially ("If I Had You" or "If We Try"), to test market response. If they tanked, then no album, if they hit, then they would have released the album. Thanks for posting.
 

Actorman

Well-Known Member
Good point, toeknee4bz. In fact, I've always suspected that, had Karen lived, the duo's legacy would be relegated to "Captain & Tennille"-level, "whatever happened to...?" footnote of music history (similar to Air Supply, Kenny Loggins, Starland Vocal Band, etc.). Karen died in early 1983, shortly after the release of MJ's Thriller, which completely changed the rules of pop music. Like you, it's hard for me to believe the siblings would have been able to compete in the MTV market.

I respectfully disagree. I think they probably would have had some "lean years" sales and popularity wise into the early and mid-80s, but I think they would have had a resurgence by the late-80s or early 90s. Bette Midler's career comes to mind. With the exception of "The Rose" single and soundtrack album in 79/80, Bette barely had an album or single crack the Top 40 between 1976 and 1989. She then scored back to back smashes with "Wind Beneath My Wings" (#1 hit, Song and Record of the Year Grammys) and "From A Distance" (#2 hit, Song of the Year Grammy) and has racked up a few other gold and platinum albums in the years since.

Another example (and probably a better comparison than Bette) is Barry Manilow. His Hot 100 hit singles dried up around 1983, most likely a casualty of the Thriller/MTV era you mentioned above. His 1981 album If I Should Love Again was his last album to make the Top 20 until 2002's Ultimate Manilow compilation hit #3. During the 21 years in-between, he released 11 studio albums, only 3 of which peaked at #40 or higher. Then, between 2006 and 2011 he released FOUR studio albums that made the Top 5 (including one #1) and one that hit #7. His Vegas show also does huge box office.

Tony Bennett is another example. After his 1968 Christmas album Snowfall peaked at #10, only 4 of his next 26 studio albums charted highter than #100 (a #67, #96, #50 and #41) with 11 faling to chart at all. Then in 2006 his Duets album goes all the way to #3, followed by Duets II (#1 in 2011) and Viva Duets (#5 in 2012).

Also, look at Barbra Striesand. She was pretty much radio poison after about 1982, yet still managed a few one-off hit duets with Don Johnson ("Till I Loved You" #25 in 1988), Brian Adams ("I Finally Found Someone" #8 in 1996) and Celine Dion ("Tell Him" #5 AC in 1997). However, her album sales have always been strong with number one albums in 1985, 1993, 1997 and 2009. Artists (especially older, well-established ones) can still have great careers without "hits." Hits aren't the only measure of success.

And speaking of Bryan Adams and Celine Dion, their mega-smash, over-the-top movie theme ballads from the 90s were far more schmaltzy and sappy than anything Richard and Karen ever did. Karen singing some Diane Warren-written power ballad theme song to some high-profile "chick flick" (Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, etc.) could easily have been a smash back then.

A "Manilow" career trajectory is what I truly believe Richard and Karen would have had if Karen were still with us. They would probably have never had another Hot 100 hit single (although they probably would still have hit the AC charts regularly), but they would have continued to release albums every year or two that sold enough to keep them under contract but probably didn't climb too high on the charts. Then at some point, with the right combination of timing and marketing, they would have become "cool" again enough to snag a couple or three big selling and high charting albums.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
"Still Crazy After All These Years" is indeed a great Paul Simon song. In fact, given its status as a song AND album title, and an early entry in the Simon-as-solo-artist canon, it is perhaps a "signature song" for Mr. Simon. As such, Karen's take, as good as it might have been, simply becomes a cover of someone else's tune. It's the same as anyone else singing "Merry Christmas Darling" - it may be nice, but it will always evoke and be compared to Karen Carpenter's signature version.

Harry
Harry, I just heard "Still Crazy" today after not hearing it for awhile. I think I have to disagree with your assessment. I think Karen and Phil reinterpreted the tune, taking it from a stark number to a sultry, jazzy, rich one. Sounds like an entirely different song with just as much oomph behind it. Certainly one of my favorites on her solo album. Just one man's opinion.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Karen and Richard certainly hadn't 'dried up' by 1983. Sure, they went through a fallow period, as most artists do. But there was plenty left in them, and they would ALWAYS have had an audience. They loved performing too much to just fade away, and Karen's talent was far too formidable to just be forgotten.

I'm sure she would have been one of the vocalists on 'We Are The World'. Michael Jackson (who in 1983 proclaimed Carpenters one of his three biggest influences on 'Entertainment Tonight') was a huge fan, as was Quincy Jones. They would certainly have invited Carpenters to sing on that tune. And it was recorded at A&M.

Another side note: Karen and Richard were also scheduled to be presenters at the 1983 Grammy Awards show, which aired just 3 weeks after her passing.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Wow, I'm quite suprised at the comments!!

The term "tripe" is something I would reserve for Karen's solo album(or side two of "Now & Then").

Worthless, no value? I can't even believe that someone could say that. Of course I respect how others feel yet I just don't agree. I just don't understand how a fan of someone's music could say that a piece of an artists work is rubbish or worthless. There are some albums of Olivia's that I don't care for as much as others yet I would never in my life say her work was worthless. I wonder if this is something a fan could actually say in person to their favorite artist face to face, sorry Karen but that album was worthless. It's like sticking a knife into a wound that is already sore. I don't get it but I do respect that's how you feel.

As much as I love it, I also see Hush as a career killer. Passage sealed the coffin shut. Portrait gets a pass due to its holiday nature, putting it in a different category.

I hear what your saying...oh but I just don't agree :) I just don't think "career killer" would be a term to use for Carpenters. Yes, Hush not the best material but let's face it only 2 more LPs came out after this one and you really can't count 1 of them since it was a Xmas album. I agree that MIA was suppose to be the comeback album but it was not, yet it doesn't mean their career was over, not by a long shot. Every artist goes through rough patches. This duo was not a one hit wonder.

Couldn't agree more on Karen's solo album. Maybe the album I've most wanted to love, but I could never get into it. Richard and Herb nailed it. Mediocre songs and ill fitting for Karen. Can you imagine what would have been had she not tried so hard to be "hip" and recorded an album reminiscent of Norah Jones' debut? Sigh...it wasn't meant to be. Thanks again for your good comments.

Oh my....:) how I so disagree with this, I respect your opinion, just do not agree.
Think about it, Karen should be praised, she was the only one of this duo who wanted to take a chance, think outside of the box. In a strange way, it was the right time for her with Richard in his down time yet Karen was in terrible shape and it only made her worse with the response she obtained. I am a firm believer that if the album has been released, Karen would have received some praise from her fanbase and for her...it may have been "enough encouragement" even if the album had failed. It was a different side of Karen interpreting lyrics that were unlike any Carpenters track. This was the whole idea.

As far as the list that opens this thread, I'd agree with everything except the rankings of Christmas Portrait and Passage. Portrait excels when it's Karen singing. When the chorale takes over, which it does much too often, the album sinks into sounding exactly like any other easy listening Christmas LP you hear over the sound system in your local shopping mall.

For me, Christmas Portait signifies what a Christmas album is really all about, arrangement, vocal, production, it's perfection. I don't agree that just because the chorale exists, it causes the album to sink. For me, it's not like every other Christmas album, it stands out and brings more emotion to the holidays. I've often wondered why I buy other artists Christmas Cd's, I'm never fulfilled....I always find myself coming back to Christmas Portrait!!

Good point, toeknee4bz. In fact, I've always suspected that, had Karen lived, the duo's legacy would be relegated to "Captain & Tennille"-level, "whatever happened to...?"

I'm sorry but I feel just the opposite. I believe had Karen lived, she could have became more popular than ever. If she had been a spokewoman on this terrible illness, she would have touched more lives than possibly her music career. Karen could have had the opportunity to touch other women's lives much in the way the princess diana affected the lives of those around her. I also think she would have recorded more solo albums and recorded duos with other artists that would have had radio play and much recognition. I think the duo was smart enough to realize they needed to change something after MIA, it would have happened if they had more time.

There's alot of conversation here about "career-killing" albums-K&R never had a "career-killing album".They had an amazingly successful career way beyond Karen's passing.

OMG...I agree!!!

Also,some of the comparisons here between Karen & Olivia Newton -John have no merit.Olivia is top-40 pop,Karen is classic pop.Different genre/different market.What works for Olivia(or Cher,or Donna Summer) could never work for Karen.Karen could never succeed with something like "Xanadu" or "Make A Move On Me".And,likewise,Olivia could never attempt recording something like "This Masquerade " or "Ordinary Fool".

I'm sorry, but this makes no sense to me. What comparisons? Of course they have different genre. After Karen's first solo album material, I could absolutely hear Karen sing something like "Make a Move on Me" on her 2nd solo album. So you saying Olivia could not sing and record a track like "Ordinary Fool" or "Masquerade"? huh? I'm not following this....these are ballads, Olivia excels in ballads, even with Olivia's pop/rock albums that were a huge sucess she always left room on the CD for a ballad or 2.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
As is the case with most artists the hot selling singles come and go. Karen solo or duo would've taken her voice to new genres. Say a country outing, an album of show tunes, a Cole Porter cover. The Nelson Riddle sessions from Music Music Music indicate that. The continued top-o-the-charts action waned. Accepting this and being satisfied with the occasional hit and miss chart position would've given freedom to express artistically. The deep fan base and the publics quest for sheer perfection would be putting dinner on the table to this day. It's unreasonable to assume that a career at its peak could sustain that momentum thru the decades. I'm paraphrasing here but I've heard, read several times how K&R obsessed on their chart positions. Seems that by the t.v. special MMM they were headed in the right direction. All that said, to this day Karen would be holding her own against any of her contemporaries. Just hearing Karen's instrument mature over a decade only makes me wonder more how it would sound today? Smokier? Huskier? Silkier? The Knowing When to Leave medley from MMM showcases her vocals flawless ease into the "basement". If I was to never hear another piece that recording embodies the best of everything she had to offer and I'd need hear no more.
 
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