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Christmas Portrait: Special Edition (1984)

How Would You Rate This Album


  • Total voters
    39

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Itunes Price for the Special Edition stands at $11.99,
Carpenters at #44 (as of 11/21/2106).
UMG...or, whomever decides on these retail prices,
needs to adjust the price accordingly,
and perhaps sales will trend greatly upward....
....my two cents worth.....
I usually find that ITunes is more expensive than buying the actual CD. I've seen copies of the 69-73 album in Walmart for $5 (before tax), whereas on ITunes (and I just checked) the album in going for $7.99, with the average single track price being $1.29.
 

Rudy

ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ
Staff member
Site Admin
I probably mentioned this in another thread here on this release, but I probably played mine only a couple of times since I felt it completely upended the perfect sequencing of the original Christmas Portrait album. And that new overture...that really spoiled it for me.

As an experiment, I made up my own "special edition" by using the original album configuration, then inserted the remaining KC tracks (there aren't many...Old Fash was high on filler content and padding) and maybe one of Richard's instrumentals into the running order, clustered together in a couple of spots in the original album (I think it was somewhere in the original LP's side two). Works perfectly. Why A&M didn't do this originally, I don't know. It dumps so much of the filler.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I was just listening to this CD in the car over the past two days, and I must say, to me it sounds more complete than the original "Christmas Portrait". I can see why the 1974 "Santa Claus" or the 1984 "Do You Hear" singles or "I Heard The Bells" were not included, as those three songs are really slow festive songs, and even in this expanded edition, would not have worked properly like "Home For The Holidays".

Plus Richard's voice on "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" sounds more brighter and more festive than his voice on "O Come, O Come Immannuel". It could also just be that Immanuel was written in a lower key, whereas Midnight is in a higher key, but I think Midnight just gives a more festive opening.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I think Midnight just gives a more festive opening.
I love the opening and it's far better than the one on the original 1978 album, my issue with it is that we have to wait around 13 minutes before Karen sings a note. If the opening instrumental medley had been limited to around 4 minutes, it would have made that side of the album a lot more palatable.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I love the opening and it's far better than the one on the original 1978 album, my issue with it is that we have to wait around 13 minutes before Karen sings a note. If the opening instrumental medley had been limited to around 4 minutes, it would have made that side of the album a lot more palatable.
Do we know for sure that there are no Karen vocals in the Overture? When comparing the two Overtures it's odd that if Richard was going for a duplicate style that he put vocals into the OFC Overture when the CP overture was just instrumental. And I always thought that I could hear some Karen mixed into the choir, almost like she had recorded snippets for an Overture that was dropped from CP or just snippets from other Christmas projects.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Do we know for sure that there are no Karen vocals in the Overture? When comparing the two Overtures it's odd that if Richard was going for a duplicate style that he put vocals into the OFC Overture when the CP overture was just instrumental. And I always thought that I could hear some Karen mixed into the choir, almost like she had recorded snippets for an Overture that was dropped from CP or just snippets from other Christmas projects.
Karen's not featured anywhere in the overture on An Old Fashioned Christmas. We know that because a) Richard has confirmed that there were seven songs Karen sang on, which are all represented elsewhere in the tracklist and b) Karen never performed as part of the choir on any of their studio albums. I think the reason for the added vocalists was to make up for the fact she was nowhere to be heard for the first quarter of an hour of side 1 :laugh:
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Karen's not featured anywhere in the overture on An Old Fashioned Christmas. We know that because a) Richard has confirmed that there were seven songs Karen sang on, which are all represented elsewhere in the tracklist and b) Karen never performed as part of the choir on any of their studio albums. I think the reason for the added vocalists was to make up for the fact she was nowhere to be heard for the first quarter of an hour of side 1 :laugh:
As to your part B we know that when Richard wants to, he is able to blend Karen's voice into a choir, as he did on "Sandy" for his solo album. Also her voice has been blended into other mixes quite well, as on the Perry Como special when she was singing "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas". And even earlier she was part of the choir on those couple of Jesse James tracks. Plus, isn't she apart of the vocals on "Silver Bells" or is that all choral?
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
So we were putting up the tree last night and I had this CD playing. Really brought back the Christmas Memories.
 

Must Hear This Album

Well-Known Member
This RollingStone rock list baffles; it ranks the “25 greatest Christmas albums,” with Carpenters coming-in at 16, but not with Christmas Portrait (1978), nor with CP Special Edition (1984), but with Christmas Collection (1998), except they list it as released in 1984.

A quote from the RS blurb: "It's almost like Christmas was invented for Karen Carpenter to sing about; her milk-bath vocals fit "Sleigh Ride" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" like a reindeer sweater. Richard's soft-rock production and gloppy orchestral arrangements aren't bad either – a kind of warmed-over, sunken-den-Seventies version of Forties merriment.”

The 25 Greatest Christmas Albums of All Time
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I rarely listen to the cd "Special Edition."
I really do not care for the cd "Special Edition."
Instead, I either listen to the 1978 Vinyl Christmas Portrait or the 1984 Vinyl An Old-Fashioned Christmas.
Special Edition has 39 minutes 30 sec of Karen's vocals, Christmas Portrait LP has 40 minutes 2 sec of Karen's vocals.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
It’s still amazing just how well this album flows together, considering that it’s a “best of” album from the 2 Christmas albums. I wonder, had the CD been out in 1978, would the Christmas Portrait: Special Edition have been the album that came out? Considering how much work Richard did in 84 on this sequencing, could this be the album that he had had in mind originally? The album really works together very well, whereas a lot of “best of albums” or even Christmas albums in general, seem to start and stop with every track, whereas with CPSE, when it starts with “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” it doesn’t stop until it’s final track, “Silent Night”.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I think that if Richard hadn't started the Special Edition with the Old Fashioned Christmas opening and medley, that more fans would embrace it. The newer medley and opening just screams that it's from the later album - the one Karen wasn't around for.

He should have started it with O Come O Come Emmanuel and the first medley and later woven in the AOFC stuff, but I understand that he was proud of his newer composition that dominated the second album.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
It’s still amazing just how well this album flows together, considering that it’s a “best of” album from the 2 Christmas albums. I wonder, had the CD been out in 1978, would the Christmas Portrait: Special Edition have been the album that came out? Considering how much work Richard did in 84 on this sequencing, could this be the album that he had had in mind originally? The album really works together very well, whereas a lot of “best of albums” or even Christmas albums in general, seem to start and stop with every track, whereas with CPSE, when it starts with “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” it doesn’t stop until it’s final track, “Silent Night”.
Both Christmas albums were structured similarly though, which would make it easier to combine by substituting similar elements of the flow (instrumentals, medleys, vocal tracks) to make a 'best of' of the two. Whether that new flow was as good as the original is a matter of taste.

The Special Edition was my only point of reference for many years until I eventually found a vinyl copy of the original Christmas Portrait. After listening to that, there was no question in my mind that the original sequencing was much better - and I'd agree that the opening tracks before 'Christmas Waltz' on the original 1978 album are in particular more effective.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I think the AOFC opening sounds better, more joyful than the original CP opening. Both Immanual and Midnight Clear are great songs in their own right, but Immanual is written in a lower key and doesn’t work as well for an opening about Christmas. And the overture, it’s more interesting on AOFC because it’s got the few lines of singing. For me CPSE was the on CP I knew until I got the CC, and I still think of CPSE as “The” CP.

But with AOFC the album, while the structure overall appears similar it doesn’t flow like the original CP or the SE. There are a lot of stops, and some songs just sound like they were put in their order just because. With AOFC, it’s surprising that Richard didn’t segue the tracks together better and make a better flowing album, and yet he managed to do just that on CPSE.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I think the AOFC opening sounds better, more joyful than the original CP opening. Both Immanual and Midnight Clear are great songs in their own right, but Immanual is written in a lower key and doesn’t work as well for an opening about Christmas. And the overture, it’s more interesting on AOFC because it’s got the few lines of singing. For me CPSE was the on CP I knew until I got the CC, and I still think of CPSE as “The” CP.

But with AOFC the album, while the structure overall appears similar it doesn’t flow like the original CP or the SE. There are a lot of stops, and some songs just sound like they were put in their order just because. With AOFC, it’s surprising that Richard didn’t segue the tracks together better and make a better flowing album, and yet he managed to do just that on CPSE.
The problem with An Old Fashioned Christmas though is that Richard only had a few Karen vocal tracks to work with (and they were leftovers from an earlier project rather than being recorded specifically for a 'new' Christmas album), so it was always going to be not as well balanced as the original Christmas Portrait. The Special Edition is largely Christmas Portrait with a few bits taken out and some of An Old Fashioned Christmas dropped in, so was always going to flow better as a result.

Whether those changes create a better flow compared to the original 1978 album is really a matter of taste. Of course, you're entitled to your opinion, but even though I too started out with the Special Edition, once I heard the original tracklisting, I instantly preferred it.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
The Special Edition is without First Snowfall. So, it is not my favorite collection. I agree with Harry and also include The First Snowfall!
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Staff member
Moderator
The Special Edition is without First Snowfall. So, it is not my favorite collection. I agree with Harry and also include The First Snowfall!
My thoughts exactly as well.

I always felt when listening to this version of Portrait on CD (before the complete collection became available) that it was like having a close relative that has passed away. Everyone shows up to enjoy Christmas together, but the void is undeniable and bittersweet when realizing that something is still missing. Sounds cheesy but oh well LOL
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The Special Edition is without First Snowfall. So, it is not my favorite collection. I agree with Harry and also include The First Snowfall!
I remember being so disappointed that Do You Hear What I Hear? was not included on this edition.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
From one who was around when both AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS was released on LP, and then in short order, CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT: SPECIAL EDITION appeared on CD, it was quite a time. First off, I don't think anyone anticipated AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS. Karen had just passed on and after VOICE OF THE HEART, it was just assumed that there wasn't anything else. But here was a new Christmas album and Karen, though delayed, was indeed on it.

Then the industry was changing around. LPs were about to fall by the wayside in favor of this new Compact Disc thingy, and Richard seemed on the forefront with this new CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT: SPECIAL EDITION. It combined, supposedly, the best of both Christmas albums onto one (at the time) extra long CD. And we fans scooped it up.

But then came the realization that it was neither fish nor fowl, but rather a compilation of the two that necessarily left some stuff off. So while we were happy to have the CD, the fact that so much was missing was a bit of a downer. And back to the original LPs we went. Some of us delighted in finding the West German CD of CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT - at least THAT album was now complete on CD.

Then when the TIME-LIFE Christmas set appeared, I know I thought that this would tidy things up and we'd get all of the rest of the missing stuff. But that wasn't true either. It wasn't util the mid-90s when they released the CHRISTMAS COLLECTION that we got all of the songs from both LPs, but here was CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT all mired in heavy reverb. So, back to the West German CD again.

But here's where CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT: SPECIAL EDITION can prove to be of value. It contains a number of tunes from the original CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT, but without the added reverb, so if you don't happen to own the West German version, you can find some of the unaltered tracks on CP:SE.

It's never too easy being a Carpenters fan.
 
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