• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 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 January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

Initial thoughts on the "upgraded" Carpenters Christmas album

Kyle Thomas

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I am beyond excited to hear that Richard will be doing a significant "upgrade" of Carpenters Christmas music. Here's what we know so far from the Talk Shop interview. (I realize Chris and Mike know more than we do. Feel free, guys, to interject and correct any of my assumptions.)

  1. While this won't be a fully re-recorded album with the RPO, it will be given the "RPO treatment," bringing Karen's voice up in the mix and restoring/enhancing the sound so as to eliminate any flaws from the original.
  2. The "Merry Christmas Darling" RPO version will be the version used on this album.
  3. The 1984 "Overture" will be part of this release, leading some to think that perhaps Richard plans to rework the Christmas Portrait Special Edition, which included selections from both Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas.
  4. BUT... Richard talked briefly about plans he had for the ballad version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which didn't appear on Special Edition. I was thrilled to hear this news because I believe "Santa Claus" is underrated. It's one of Karen's very best vocal performances. The mix of jazz, instrumentation, and harmonies perfectly suit her low-key, easy-going delivery. I can't wait to see how Richard makes that stunning single even better.
Since "Santa Claus" will find a home on this new album, it's likely that the release will be something new, NOT a reworked Christmas Portrait, Old Fashioned-Christmas, or Special Edition. Now, it's possible that he's doing both Christmas Portrait and Old-Fashioned Christmas (a rework of 1996's "Christmas Collection"), but I doubt they're doing a double-album. That means we're in for a treat... a new compilation of Carpenters Christmas music given the RPO treatment.

Personally, I hope that Richard will forgo a few of the instrumental tracks (there's no need for a rework of the Nutcracker medley, My Favorite Things, Here Comes Santa Claus medley), keep the gorgeous "O Holy Night," and then include most of the Karen-songs left off Special Edition: the ballad version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (of course!), "First Snowfall/Let It Snow," "Jingle Bells," "He Came Here for Me," "Do You Hear What I Hear?", "I Heard the Bells," etc. I'm not sure all of that will fit on one CD if he uses the 1984 Overture instead of the shorter Christmas Portrait preliminaries, but I'm hoping for as much of Karen as possible.

Long-shot possibilities: The "Sleep Well Little Children" version that features Perry Como in duet with Karen? "Ave Maria" in its original choir-less form?

What about you? What are you all hoping to see on this brilliantly restored collection of Carpenters Christmas music?
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Let's please not confuse the issue further by calling it the "RPO" Christmas Album. The RPO will have nothing to do with it. It is being given an audio upgrade LIKE the one that was done on the Carpenters' previously-recorded material that was on the RPO album, but the RPO, itself, will not be involved more than they already were with the aforementioned "Merry Christmas Darling" rework. (At least, according to information that we have today.)
 

Kyle Thomas

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
That’s a good point, Mike. If you want to retitle this thread with “coming” Christmas album instead of RPO, that might work. (I don’t know how to change it myself.)

I put RPO in quotes, since it’s not a project with them, but I see why the title could be misleading.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
What makes it even more confusing is if MCD with the RPO is used they will have to give credit to the RPO orchestra in the credits and it makes no sense to me to have 1 song with the RPO and the rest are not. Unless the tracks are not joined together and cohesive and that’s what makes CP so special. So I’m pretty confused about this whole project but still really looking forward to its outcome.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I am beyond excited to hear that Richard will be doing a significant "upgrade" of Carpenters Christmas music. Here's what we know so far from the Talk Shop interview. (I realize Chris and Mike know more than we do. Feel free, guys, to interject and correct any of my assumptions.)

  1. While this won't be a fully re-recorded album with the RPO, it will be given the "RPO treatment," bringing Karen's voice up in the mix and restoring/enhancing the sound so as to eliminate any flaws from the original.
  2. The "Merry Christmas Darling" RPO version will be the version used on this album.
  3. The 1984 "Overture" will be part of this release, leading some to think that perhaps Richard plans to rework the Christmas Portrait Special Edition, which included selections from both Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas.
  4. BUT... Richard talked briefly about plans he had for the ballad version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which didn't appear on Special Edition. I was thrilled to hear this news because I believe "Santa Claus" is underrated. It's one of Karen's very best vocal performances. The mix of jazz, instrumentation, and harmonies perfectly suit her low-key, easy-going delivery. I can't wait to see how Richard makes that stunning single even better.
Since "Santa Claus" will find a home on this new album, it's likely that the release will be something new, NOT a reworked Christmas Portrait, Old Fashioned-Christmas, or Special Edition. Now, it's possible that he's doing both Christmas Portrait and Old-Fashioned Christmas (a rework of 1996's "Christmas Collection"), but I doubt they're doing a double-album. That means we're in for a treat... a new compilation of Carpenters Christmas music given the RPO treatment.

Personally, I hope that Richard will forgo a few of the instrumental tracks (there's no need for a rework of the Nutcracker medley, My Favorite Things, Here Comes Santa Claus medley), keep the gorgeous "O Holy Night," and then include most of the Karen-songs left off Special Edition: the ballad version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (of course!), "First Snowfall/Let It Snow," "Jingle Bells," "He Came Here for Me," "Do You Hear What I Hear?", "I Heard the Bells," etc. I'm not sure all of that will fit on one CD if he uses the 1984 Overture instead of the shorter Christmas Portrait preliminaries, but I'm hoping for as much of Karen as possible.

Long-shot possibilities: The "Sleep Well Little Children" version that features Perry Como in duet with Karen? "Ave Maria" in its original choir-less form?

What about you? What are you all hoping to see on this brilliantly restored collection of Carpenters Christmas music?
I’m kind of at a loss here since I’m not aware of your full reference. (Is this coming this year or in 2022?)

But if it is a RPO-style Christmas album, maybe with “Santa Claus” he’s planning on doing something on the order of “Baby It’s You” in order to integrate it into the album more, as the single version of Santa never really fit well on AOFC or the Time-Life Christmas album, since it was originally a one-off and self-contained and it’s style was slightly different to the other Christmas tracks.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
His words were "I only need a few bars of it" referring to AOFC which makes me think he might be crafting a little overture using existing music to set up this new collection.

What I really want to know is, as others have said, will there be an RPO2. On a bbc radio show last Xmas (I think it was last xmas) he was mentioning tracks that he'd include in such a sequel collection. Surely last week's Interview would have been the perfect time to mention it...but he didn't.

I've got a feeling that maybe universal are no longer pursing these RPO projects...I don't know if Carpenters were the last ones to get the treatment. Maybe that's why he's turned his attention to the solo piano album and a cleaned up Christmas portrait.

I'm guessing Chris' hands are tied in what he can and can't share.
 

Kyle Thomas

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
His words were "I only need a few bars of it" referring to AOFC which makes me think he might be crafting a little overture using existing music to set up this new collection.

What I really want to know is, as others have said, will there be an RPO2. On a bbc radio show last Xmas (I think it was last xmas) he was mentioning tracks that he'd include in such a sequel collection. Surely last week's Interview would have been the perfect time to mention it...but he didn't.

I've got a feeling that maybe universal are no longer pursing these RPO projects...I don't know if Carpenters were the last ones to get the treatment. Maybe that's why he's turned his attention to the solo piano album and a cleaned up Christmas portrait.

I'm guessing Chris' hands are tied in what he can and can't share.
Compared to other RPO projects, I don't think the Carpenters one did all that well. Certainly not well enough to justify a second volume.

My assumption at this point is that the only way we will hear those other tracks is if they were to be released on their own via streaming on Apple Music (the way many artists are doing it these days). If anyone can ask or push for this, it would make a lot of Carpenters fans "Happy."
 

Carl

Well-Known Member
His words were "I only need a few bars of it" referring to AOFC which makes me think he might be crafting a little overture using existing music to set up this new collection.

What I really want to know is, as others have said, will there be an RPO2. On a bbc radio show last Xmas (I think it was last xmas) he was mentioning tracks that he'd include in such a sequel collection. Surely last week's Interview would have been the perfect time to mention it...but he didn't.

I've got a feeling that maybe universal are no longer pursing these RPO projects...I don't know if Carpenters were the last ones to get the treatment. Maybe that's why he's turned his attention to the solo piano album and a cleaned up Christmas portrait.

I'm guessing Chris' hands are tied in what he can and can't share.
You make a good point here, I always heard that Carpenters RPO did quite well. Would that success warrant a second release ? Who knows... I've been listening to the RPO album a lot lately because its such a great album
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
  1. BUT... Richard talked briefly about plans he had for the ballad version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which didn't appear on Special Edition. I was thrilled to hear this news because I believe "Santa Claus" is underrated. It's one of Karen's very best vocal performances. The mix of jazz, instrumentation, and harmonies perfectly suit her low-key, easy-going delivery. I can't wait to see how Richard makes that stunning single even better.
...
I agree with this completely - low-key and easy-going is a great description, and I would also add subtley sexy...just a wonderful vocal interpretation by Karen & arrangement by Richard...
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
You make a good point here, I always heard that Carpenters RPO did quite well. Would that success warrant a second release ? Who knows... I've been listening to the RPO album a lot lately because its such a great album
I mean it got to No 8 in Dec '18 and then No 10 in March '19. That must count for something.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Compared to other RPO projects, I don't think the Carpenters one did all that well. Certainly not well enough to justify a second volume.
Actually, it has sold VERY well. The bigger issue here would be having enough hit material to warrant the budget it would take to put out a second album in this series.

This is always the bottom line for any label. 😀
 

Kyle Thomas

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Actually, it has sold VERY well. The bigger issue here would be having enough hit material to warrant the budget it would take to put out a second album in this series.

This is always the bottom line for any label. 😀
I'm so glad to hear that! Sorry for being wrong on it... I had heard somewhere that sales hadn't compared with Orbison, Elvis, and others who had had the same treatment, but those numbers apparently weren't the benchmarks for success anyway. Thanks for setting the record straight, Chris (pun intended!).
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
I'm so glad to hear that! Sorry for being wrong on it... I had heard somewhere that sales hadn't compared with Orbison, Elvis, and others who had had the same treatment, but those numbers apparently weren't the benchmarks for success anyway. Thanks for setting the record straight, Chris (pun intended!).
Not a problem! :)
 

WYBIMLA

Well-Known Member
Actually, it has sold VERY well. The bigger issue here would be having enough hit material to warrant the budget it would take to put out a second album in this series.

This is always the bottom line for any label. 😀
Is there not enough material? Lol I've seen a lot of fans come up with their own lists for RPO2 and sounds good, and in fact they won't really know if it'll sell until they put it out.
So, it would be more like a gamble in ways with the sequel I suppose. But they have to know they have the core fanbase and they certainly can tie RPO2 back to the original release in some way. I don't see how it's a losing situation for the label or Rich.
There's no doubt in my mind that it could work relatively the same as the first time. I'd presume with some of the songs they'd be hitting upon tunes that were already well orchestrated, so perhaps by the time we get into their Singles 1974-1978. I guess it seems like re-doing a lot of the hard work that was already done after technology had started to catch up with the C's. If that makes sense. So I understand hesitation there for something like "Calling Occupants" or even others from MIA, etc.
I think the thing that would need to be done is attaching "never before heard Carpenters" to the sequel. I know that's taboo in CarpentersLand here, but we've known for a long time there were other plans for Lovelines and several selections that weren't finished of course, but could possibly be segued or using technology of today to finish long awaited Karen leads that were always great the first time.
We know some of those titles and that would be the selling point for Universal and Rich, imo. If they really don't want it to feel like a gamble, then there might be a gentle reminder that there's either unreleased songs OR demos/alternative takes that would do a sequel just fine and get them on par with results the business side like to see.
That's just my two cents, for what it's worth. As well possibly add in something unique to it or ever more stripped down. I think of Akiko Kobayashi's cover of "Lovelines" and it has this nice orchestral sound, but a lot different from what fans are used to hearing. I'd think something along those lines would really do the RPO2 well. So, I don't think there's a shortage of ideas to make it worth the budget.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
Hell, yes. I've got seven physical copies myself plus at least one download!
How many of those are defective vinyl copies? :laugh:

I've only bought the RPO album four times... standard CD, Japan CD (for Postman), original (further tinkered with) download, and the final (fully tinkered with) download. I'm such a poor excuse for a fan, I don't know how I can look myself in the mirror! :wink:
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
  • Regular CD, 18 tracks, B0029140-02
  • Target CD, 19 tracks, B0029419-02
  • Japan CD, 19 tracks, UICY-15801-02
  • Another Target CD, 19 tracks, bought later to see if it was tinkered with - it wasn't
  • Standard black 180 gram LP, 18 tracks, B0029144-01
  • White vinyl 180 gram LP, 18 tracks, also numbered B0029144-01
  • downloaded files with initial 2018 updates
  • downloaded files from Amazon after the LP was released 2019) (included with LP purchase)
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
My vinyl copies play acceptably, though there are some clicks here and there. At least they're flat and fit on the spindle!
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
There's no doubt in my mind that it could work relatively the same as the first time.
I don't think so.... because the first one, as you know, consists mostly of major chart hits. Another volume would not have nearly as many hits, and the hits are always the driver for sales of compilation albums. (I know most of us here don't consider the RPO album to be a compilation album, considering a lot of it was re-recorded.....but it's still a compilation album in the strictest sense.)
 
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