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Christmas Portrait: Special Edition (1984)

How Would You Rate This Album


  • Total voters
    47

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
The Liner Notes for the Reader's Digest Collection includes the interview (1978) where Karen says:
"we wanted to make it (Christmas Portrait) a double-album, but ran out of time."

Now, here is the Official website where Richard writes: “I had the album pictured the way I wanted it – and it took time to get it right.”
Because of all the studio time, plus the cost of a full orchestra and a large choir, Christmas Portrait became the Carpenters’ most expensive album to that point. Richard remembers that A&M at one point registered some concern about the mounting bills...."

So, I really wonder how it is that serious consideration for a double-album could have been originally intended.
Musically, I can not imagine an amalgamation of the remaining (OFC) lead vocals being sequenced onto Christmas Portrait in 1978.
And, as Richard now says, he was doing little more than production work and very few keyboard duties,
I simply can not imagine that a double-album was intended for completion in 1978.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I don't think A&M wanted to release a double LP at that point in time. As it was, Christmas albums from current artists were not that popular back then, and if I recall correctly, as it was, it didn't sell all that well in its first couple of years or so. So it would have been natural to simply shelve that which didn't fit.

There wasn't all-Christmas-radio back then. Most popular music stations played a few Christmas tunes an hour as the big day got closer, and might have gone all-Christmas on Christmas eve through Christmas day. But that was about it. Some of the beautiful music stations would go all-Christmas in that last week before the holiday, but they were playing things like Percy Faith, Boston Pops, and other orchestral treatments.

Once CDs came along, then A&M wanted a fuller disc, so Richard obliged and sequenced the Special Edition.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I'd guess probably not. They and the label were likely focused on future projects, not digging through vaults of unreleased stuff. Once Karen died, then the vault stuff became more important. But while she was alive, there were no perceived limits on what they could have done in the future.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Once CDs came along, then A&M wanted a fuller disc, so Richard obliged and sequenced the Special Edition.
I made a much better "special edition" of my own. Besides one flub on a segue (it contains part of one of the removed tracks), all the KC tracks are there, along with one RC instrumental feature. It loses all the drecky choral garbage that turns my stomach.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
The West German original mix CD sounds fine if you play it straight through, but I've found that the track indexing is a little sloppy for my tastes. I usually compile my own Christmas disc for use in the car and when these tracks are set in random mode, they start and end improperly.

So I put the whole disc into Audacity and adjusted the starts and ends so that they sound as good as they can as individual tracks.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I don't think A&M wanted to release a double LP at that point in time. As it was, Christmas albums from current artists were not that popular back then, and if I recall correctly, as it was, it didn't sell all that well in its first couple of years or so. So it would have been natural to simply shelve that which didn't fit.

There wasn't all-Christmas-radio back then. Most popular music stations played a few Christmas tunes an hour as the big day got closer, and might have gone all-Christmas on Christmas eve through Christmas day. But that was about it. Some of the beautiful music stations would go all-Christmas in that last week before the holiday, but they were playing things like Percy Faith, Boston Pops, and other orchestral treatments.

Once CDs came along, then A&M wanted a fuller disc, so Richard obliged and sequenced the Special Edition.
I don’t see why there was not more insistence placed on more Karen’s tunes rather than orchestral fluff. First Snowfall and Do You Hear What I Hear and all her others would have sold more.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
The West German original mix CD sounds fine if you play it straight through, but I've found that the track indexing is a little sloppy for my tastes. I usually compile my own Christmas disc for use in the car and when these tracks are set in random mode, they start and end improperly.

So I put the whole disc into Audacity and adjusted the starts and ends so that they sound as good as they can as individual tracks.
That is one downfall to the album--even if I program my own playlist, and aside from the indexing, there are so many segues that it's really not all that adaptable to playing the tracks separately. But that is a rather limited use case, so it's not a fault of the album--it was programmed in order to be listened to straight through.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
I know we all know that Karen’s breath control was otherworldly, but hearing Do You Hear WIH just now again and that last note - she doesn’t just sustain it, she makes it blossom and reach to the heavens without over-singing in the slightest. Just breathtaking.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I know we all know that Karen’s breath control was otherworldly, but hearing Do You Hear WIH just now again and that last note - she doesn’t just sustain it, she makes it blossom and reach to the heavens without over-singing in the slightest. Just breathtaking.
Not only the above but when Karen comes in on the second verse it’s like the listener is absorbed into her voice as soaking in a relaxing warm bath. It just doesn’t get any better!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Not to sure what the exact date was in 1984 that Christmas Portrait Special Edition came out, but it was probably the same as An Old-Fashioned Christmas which was October 26, 1984. So happy 36th anniversary to this compilation which hit #56 on the Billboard charts just 10 months ago in January 2020, it’s highest charting position ever! Maybe this year it can go to #1!😅
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I like to hear the album as it was originally released, with the original song sequence. The mix of songs on 'Special Edition' doesn't sound right, somehow.

Speaking of Christmas albums, I recently bought a second copy of Benjamin Britten's 'A Ceremony of Carols', by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge. I like it a lot. (Haven't seen my original copy for a while).

I like a whole range of music. Carpenters synthesise a few different styles / genres, as we know.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
For me, the original Christmas Portrait sounds odd and short, since the Special Edition was the first version that I heard. And for the past 30 years I would say that the SE has become THE Christmas Portrait, as the original has essentially been out-of-print since the vinyl LP was discontinued in the early-1990’s, and cassette’s popularity waned to where the cassette was discontinued around 2000.
 
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