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Christmas Portrait: Special Edition (1984)

How Would You Rate This Album


  • Total voters
    47

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I was one of those fans who experienced it the first time around, as well, and Harry's description is precisely what we experienced. I was dumbfounded that 'He Came Here For Me', 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town', 'First Snowfall/Let It Snow!', 'Jingle Bells', 'What Are You Doing New Year's Eve', 'I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day' AND 'Do You Hear What I Hear' were omitted from the 'Special Edition'. It made no sense to me....especially considering the fact that many of these were previously unreleased Karen tracks.

I remember creating cassettes for friends with all of the music from both albums. It was a feat using my mixer and utilizing all of the different source material (CDs and vinyl) to get it all on there. And if you screwed up the transition from one track to another, it sucked because you'd practically have to start over the way everything flowed.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
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.
Even with the original CP, Richard and Karen were compiling a bunch of tracks from over an 8 year span, and some of the tracks had originally been recorded for just TV (I.e.Carol of the Bells on the 74 Perry Como show) and yet they managed to make all those tracks flow together rather seamlessly, whereas on AOFC I think Richard could’ve arranged for some bridging material between tracks, so that “O Holy Night” didn’t sound like something that was stuck there to take up space.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Even with the original CP, Richard and Karen were compiling a bunch of tracks from over an 8 year span, and some of the tracks had originally been recorded for just TV (I.e.Carol of the Bells on the 74 Perry Como show) and yet they managed to make all those tracks flow together rather seamlessly, whereas on AOFC I think Richard could’ve arranged for some bridging material between tracks, so that “O Holy Night” didn’t sound like something that was stuck there to take up space.

I have to say I don't think this is a valid comparison. Nearly all of what ended up on the 1978 version of Christmas Portrait was recorded in 1977-78 for the specific purpose of a) the TV specials and b) an accompanying album. Even 'Merry Christmas Darling' was rerecorded to better fit into the project (in terms of style, the 1970 original would have stuck out like a sore thumb) and they didn't even bother trying to include the single version of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' from 1974. The situation with An Old Fashioned Christmas was completely different.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
^^Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas are really two entirely different entities.
In fact, if I listen to the later LP without comparing it to the earlier LP, the listening experience improves.
Here is why: Christmas Portrait is brighter and sequenced perfectly. It is a purposeful entity (which explains why the 1974
Santa Claus was omitted, it simply would not have made a proper "fit" ). On the other hand,
An Old-Fashioned Christmas is actually darker (ignoring the awful cover artwork, too).
Karen's vocals on the later are not as "bright" (cheery, upbeat) even though they are incredibly awesome.
Combing the two for the "special" edition is simply misguided (imho).
The much later two-disc "collection" was the best way to go (imho).
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
An Old-Fashioned Christmas is actually darker

I love the title track precisely because it is so achingly melancholic and sad. I often wonder if Richard and John wrote it with Karen in mind, knowing that she loved Christmas and was already gone when he came to put the album together.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I have to say I don't think this is a valid comparison. Nearly all of what ended up on the 1978 version of Christmas Portrait was recorded in 1977-78 for the specific purpose of a) the TV specials and b) an accompanying album. Even 'Merry Christmas Darling' was rerecorded to better fit into the project (in terms of style, the 1970 original would have stuck out like a sore thumb) and they didn't even bother trying to include the single version of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' from 1974. The situation with An Old Fashioned Christmas was completely different.
Sorry, but Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas are very similar. They both open with a short religious song, then the go into Overtures, followed by a ballad song, and move through more Christmas songs, and both Side 1’s close with a religious song, while Side 2 opens with a secular song, then goes into an instrumental, followed by a mix of secular and religious ballads and medleys, and then both albums finish with a religious number.

Also both albums contain tracks from the TV specials and beyond. “The Nutcracker Suite” is from the “Christmas Portrait” TV special, and “O Holy Night” is from “The Carpenters At Christmas”.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Sorry, but Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas are very similar. They both open with a short religious song, then the go into Overtures, followed by a ballad song, and move through more Christmas songs, and both Side 1’s close with a religious song, while Side 2 opens with a secular song, then goes into an instrumental, followed by a mix of secular and religious ballads and medleys, and then both albums finish with a religious number.

Also both albums contain tracks from the TV specials and beyond. “The Nutcracker Suite” is from the “Christmas Portrait” TV special, and “O Holy Night” is from “The Carpenters At Christmas”.

I think you misunderstood the point I was making, which was that Christmas Portrait was not cobbled together from a wide range of tracks recorded over 8 years.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I think you misunderstood the point I was making, which was that Christmas Portrait was not cobbled together from a wide range of tracks recorded over 8 years.
No I didn’t. It was you. “Christmas Portrait” features tracks from an 8 year period ‘cobbled together’, however it was done better. MCD is from 1970 (with a new lead), “Carol of the Bells” is from 1974 (minus the background singers) and then you have the tracks from 77 &78.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
No I didn’t. It was you. “Christmas Portrait” features tracks from an 8 year period ‘cobbled together’, however it was done better. MCD is from 1970 (with a new lead), “Carol of the Bells” is from 1974 (minus the background singers) and then you have the tracks from 77 &78.

So only 2 out of 17 tracks on the album come from outside the 1977-1978 recording sessions and 1 of these 2 tracks was rerecorded - really there's only 1 genuinely 'old' track on there. That wouldn't even remotely classify as 'cobbled together' in my opinion. But I see we're in danger of going round in circles here, so I'd propose we agree to disagree on this.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
To my ears, Carol of the Bells sounds as if the version on the television special is different from the one that was recorded. @Chris May ?
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
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.
For me, it had nothing to do with "later album," as at that point, I wasn't even aware there was a second album (and didn't really care, either, at that point in my life). That sappy choir and instrumentation was so wretched and dated (this wasn't 1958!) that I skipped it every time after the first time I played it. Total dreck. All it ever did was push me back to the vinyl, which was so perfectly sequenced and played.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Well it’s that time of year and All Christmas Music stations have appeared here this week. The i❤️radio went first on Monday the 12th. They are not playing any Carpenters Christmas at all. So I don’t 💔them much at all. The locally owned station switched this morning. They just played Carpenters Home For The Holidays. Playing the station at work, and turned it up very loud! So good to hear them over the air at least a few weeks a year.
 

Greg

Well-Known Member
It's interesting how times change, I love Christmas Portrait in all its forms, but as a YouTube addict I prefer to watch the highlights from the Christmas specials on the screen.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Home For The Holidays seems to be the most well known track from An Old-Fashioned Christmas.

I imagine that's because it's one of only two Karen vocals from that album to have been included on the Christmas Portrait Special Edition, hence it's been exposed to a much wider audience. Plus it's upbeat, so is more suited to radio Christmas playlists ('Little Altar Boy', the only other vocal track that appears on both, is too dark to have attracted much radio play).
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
As a sidenote, this christmas show is featuring the Carpenters:

WPBS-DT out of Watertown is airing it tonight, from 8-10, so people in the Ottawa-Ottawa Valley and Kingston regions of Eastern Ontario can see it as well.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I haven't seen this - only the promo - but I'll bet that Carpenters will be represented by the "Merry Christmas Darling" clip that was on the most recent DVD. The rest of the time will likely be devoted to the many other artists' Christmas selections. But I'll tune in tonight for sure.
 

crescentnoon

Active Member
I agree it will probably just be Merry Christmas Darling. My wish is that they show Ave Maria. Something to really wow people who might not have heard Christmas Portrait before.
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
I heard "Special Edition" long before I realized there were actually two separate Carpenters holiday albums. Since I grew up with it, it always seemed natural to me. But hearing the individual albums made me realize there's more stuff to be heard! So that was a wonderful event for me.

I am going to post this Richard solo recording "Home For The Holidays" (1984) wondering if anyone has any back story on this, and if it has been told previously, direct me to where it is! Thanks. :)

 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I imagine that's because it's one of only two Karen vocals from that album to have been included on the Christmas Portrait Special Edition, hence it's been exposed to a much wider audience. Plus it's upbeat, so is more suited to radio Christmas playlists ('Little Altar Boy', the only other vocal track that appears on both, is too dark to have attracted much radio play).

Does anyone know why Richard (or someone) didn’t put Home for the Holidays on the original CP, it would have fit there so much better given that it’s a more “mainstream” Christmas tune.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Does anyone know why Richard (or someone) didn’t put Home for the Holidays on the original CP, it would have fit there so much better given that it’s a more “mainstream” Christmas tune.
They ran out of time. Originally “Christmas Portrait” was to be a Double LP, but the only had time to mix one disc.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
I did NOT got the CD of "Christmas Portrait" until the second week of December 1986 because my late parents could not afford a stereo system for me. It was the Japan made.
 
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