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Karen's Solo album

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by goodjeans, Mar 26, 2008.

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  1. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I can see A&M going back and forth on it, but the version I saw in person was similar to what we ended up getting i.e., similar to that eBay item above.
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    The VOTH cover would have been perfect for the solo album as a cover: warm, expressive, close up and intimate, just like the material it contained and the image she and Phil wanted to project for her first solo venture.

    As an aside, I noticed this week that Karen's album isn't available on Spotify while the rest of the Carpenters catalogue is. It was released on A&M just like all the others, so I wonder why?
  3. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    Really? Wow. :shock: I read all the letters (albeit, some time ago), but I somehow missed that.
  4. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    That's so cool that you got to see it! Me? Envious? Uh...:whistle:
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I could barely believe it myself! If ever I wanted to steal something, that would have been it. :wink:
    K.C. Jr likes this.
  6. K.C. Jr

    K.C. Jr Well-Known Member

    Oh, no, it would have merely disappeared.....no stealing at all. :D :wink:
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Actually I have that newsletter, it was from June 1990 Carpenters Fan Club Newsletter run by Jerry Crenshaw. This June 1990 issue has a couple pages of discussion of Karen's solo album and on the 2nd page shows a photo of Karen (the curled up photo in purple chair with her head in her arms, not the one with her head tilted back on her solo poster) and under the photo it says "Proposed cover to the album Karen Carpenter" So according to this newsletter it was the curled up photo of Karen not the cover of VOTH. Still I can't imagine that one being used for the cover, I lean more toward the cover of VOTH as what she chose as the cover only because of what was reported in a major newspaper and then that LP signed to Itchie Ramone.

    This is the photo they used in the June 1990 Carpenters Newsletter that says this was the proposed cover of the album, this is a more close up shot where the photo in the newsletter showed the entire purple chair and was farther away.


    This is the interview that Itchie Ramone gave to Entertainment Tonight and she is holding what appears to me to look like the size of an LP cover, it's interesting to note that Karen signed this to Itchie and it had to be presented to Itchie around the time of Karen's solo album in 80, this was well before the release of Lovelines in 1989 so the Carpenters logo is not present on this cover to Itchie. It's a shame Itchie did not talk about what she was holding in this interview. I'd like to someday put this all to truth and only Itchie could answer these questions, is what she's holding the actual cover of Karen's solo album signed by Karen to Itchie as it sure looks like the size of an LP jacket, or is this just one of her solo photos blown up to the size of an LP. One has to go back in time and think what Itchie is holding signed by Karen is something Karen actually presented to Itchie and it had to be around 1980. If you were to put an LP in your hand and then look at the photo again of Itchie's hand hold this, it sure looks like an LP size cover. It's not just an 8x10 photo.

  8. JBee

    JBee Active Member

    Great points, Chris. I think the part about "we will never know" is the reason its discussed.

    Personally, I am somewhat conflicted on the solo album. I'm happy we have it, but I agree with Richard that KC should have gone into therapy at the same time as he did in 1979, and they could have started the 80s afresh. As it was, depending on what you believe, by the time she waited in 1981-82 it may have been too late. On the other hand I really do think the solo album is so loved because it is one of the few ways we have to get into Karen's psyche and personality (both musically and personally, think of how many people, including the Ramones, who have shared Karen stories from working on this project). Richard and most of the people involved with the C's have given many interviews over the years so we know what was going on for THEM, but Karen held her cards close to the chest (to the point that even many close to her didn't really understand what was going on with her).

    The experience of the solo album, away from Richard, with Karen personally picking the songs that were recorded and ultimately appeared, and the sound on it, are one of the only ways we as fans can see who Karen was internally, which (based on the album), was an artist who wanted to move in a very different direction than what would become Made in America. For all its uneveness (some of the songs are mediocre, while others such as "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", or "If We Try" or "If I Had You" or the unreleased "Love Makin' Love to You" are not only catchy but possibly top 20/40 material in '79-'80) it did show that Karen, to a degree unlike Richard with MIA, was willing to get away from the MOR sound Carpenters was stuck in. It is one of the few insights we have into the kind of material that could have been had KC chosen more (heck, ANY, apart from "Sweet Sweet Smile") of the Carpenter songs.

    As for what would have happened had it been released, that is up in the air. KC was seemingly not going to get help (or acknowledge the problem?) yet in 1980, but on the other hand it would have, in one blow (even if did badly sales-wise) demolish the "goody-two shoes" "squeaky clean" image the media was obsessed with, and it would have provided fresh Carpenter material before MIA for public consumption and kept the C's in the public eye (aka no questions of "where have you been?" like they got in 1981). KC was certainly in a better physical state to do publicity, guest appearances on TV, and even music videos in 1980 than she was in 1981. She also might not have married a certain someone, which given how quickly she physically deteriorated after the marriage would have been only a good thing.

    The fact that the album is a great “What-If” is the reason it sparks debate. If it had been released could KC have been saved from her fate? If had been released would it have signaled a change in the Carpenters sound and the public perception of them? The conflicting stories from Richard, Herb and Jerry and the continued insistence on the now discredited line that “she didn’t like it” only adds to the mystique. Why continue to say things that the public now knows to be half-truths at best? Perhaps guilt plays a part, but that is only conjecture. We do know that for at least two of those men (RC and Herb) Karen’s absence is still clearly felt 30+ years later. And for an album that was so clearly rejected, one of the 11 original songs (“Make Believe It’s Your First Time”) ended up differently arranged on MIA, and not one, not two, not three, but four album cuts made it to Lovelines in 1989, when Richard had at least enough vaulted material at that point to put in non-solo Carpenters outtakes/material instead. Perhaps even RC and/or A&M had a change of mind about the worth of some of the material they supposedly listened to in “stony silence” (according to Phil Ramone) less than a decade before? Who knows?

    My question is - if Karen hadn't passed on, would any of the material of the album have seen the light of day? On one hand, she continued to love it (as she stated to Phil in 1983), but on the other, much of the material is dated and would not have found a receptive audience if released later (as 1996 showed). Would Karen herself, being the perfectionist she was, have kept it (or at least most of it) on the shelf forever? Sometimes tells me she would have.
    Chris Mills and byline like this.
  9. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    That's a good question and I agree with you - I don't think it would have ever seen the light of day. Out of respect for Richard, I think the bastard love child that is her solo album would have stayed locked away forever.
    JBee likes this.
  10. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    If you look closely at the first ET photo, it looks like what she is holding is in a clear lucite frame.
  11. Eyewire

    Eyewire Well-Known Member

    It's still on Spotify, at least here in Canada.
  12. byline

    byline Active Member

    For me these "what if"s could go so many different ways. We think we can project a particular outcome based on what actually did happen. So it's very easy to think that, had the solo album been released, it would have changed the outcome. But I'm not convinced that's the case at all. Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part. But if the solo album had been released, and remembering the especially cruel environment into which it would have been released (SNL and its ilk, with increasingly cynical comments being made by comics and celebrity reporters), one wonders if the kind of media bashing and/or lack of commercial success that could have resulted would have been equally devastating to Karen ... just in a different way.

    I know what people will say: Karen was used to media rejection and slippage in commercial sales. True, but she was used to that with the Carpenters. This solo album was her baby. So I believe that any kind of rejection of her baby would have been hurtful to her. If that's the case, then the outcome might have been the same either way. She still might have ended up with Mr. Wrong, with the subsequent deterioration in her health. There are just too many variables that we will never know. I'm as guilty as the next person of wanting to project a "happy ending" for Karen, but I also believe there's no way of knowing what, if anything, would have fundamentally changed had her solo album been released.
    Jamesj75 and JBee like this.
  13. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I think that's the point though. The possible 'what if?' path that might have resulted if the solo album had been released couldn't have been any worse than the scenario that ended up playing itself out following the cancellation of the album.

    It's possible that it may have been equally bad (although that's the worst-case scenario), but it would certainly have been different, and with each difference in the scenario, there's a chance each facet that did go wrong (disastrous marriage, commercial failure of Made in America and the ultimate sadness of 1983) might have gone better or at least less wrong. One thing's almost certain is that while Karen may still have ended up with a Mr Wrong if the solo album had been released, but in all likelihood she wouldn't have ended up with *that* Mr Wrong at that particular time.

    I appreciate this is something of an exercise in futility, as what happened happened, for good or (as it seems) ill, but to say that things would have been no better had the solo album been put out is to me like saying that if Karen had rolled the dice again at that stage, she was guaranteed to throw a 1. She might have thrown a 1 again, but there was a much better chance of her throwing a 2 or higher.
  14. goodjeans

    goodjeans Active Member Thread Starter

    ...the album should have been released. We would not be playing the what if game so many years later. Thank you.
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  15. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    1977 Passage....Richard Carpenter is credited with Piano performance on 4 Songs=50% of the Album's Song Total.
    1978 I Believe You arranged by Paul Riser and Richard Carpenter is credited as arranger/pianist twice on Christmas Portrait.
    Karen--alone-- wings it to the UK to promote The Singles 1974-1978; and, alone on radio for Christmas Portrait in the USA.
    December 1978 Long Beach Performance sliced due to Richard's performance issues.
    1979 Richard Carpenter chooses to take the entire year off.

    The "die" was cast.
    Given the previous three years,
    I can not imagine what was going through Karen Carpenter's mind at this juncture,
    let alone after May 1980.
    Chris Mills and goodjeans like this.
  16. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know if this was a promo issued to radio stations before Karen's solo album was officially released? I've never seen a cover for Karen's solo album look like this one and there is no mention on the front or the disc front of any promo markings. The disc looks exactly like the U.S. release. I wonder if Karen's photo is on the back of this jewel case?

    K.C. Jr and Chris Mills like this.
  17. Looks like a promo before the artwork was settled on.
  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Wow nice find! It looks as though the font style had been settled on, just not the abominable artwork at this point. I've seen lots of promo versions of the album listed on sites like eil.com and eBay but always with the finished artwork.
  19. I've spent a little time analyzing this and have come to a few conclusions.
    • The cover art is probably a generic sleeve for A&M in the mid-90s. They were able to utilize the rectangular area for the actual font of whatever they were promoting - or they could use a generic font if that's all they had.
    • The artwork is a single sheet with likely nothing on the reverse, or perhaps a quick tracklist. This one looks plain since there's nothing in the center hole underneath the backwards disc.
    • The jewel case is a standard clear jewel case and there is no rear-insert at all, so no artwork there.
    • The disc in the picture is turned backwards in the clear jewel case to show the disc's tracklist on the face of the disc, much like a CD single.
    So, in the event anyone considers this a super-rare rarity, well it may be, but in the end it will likely be a 4.75" x 4.75" piece of paper that's the rare part.

    Record companies often had a style of generic artwork that they could use when necessary. By 1998, Polygram A&M issued this oddity with generic A&M artwork:


    Polygram had ABBA under A&M distribution at that point, and even though the disc in that case had a Polar logo, the card sleeve had A&M all over it.

  20. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I have sent an email to the ebayer asking if they could upload a photo of the back of the jewel case. I'm curious if there is a photo at all of Karen.
    Is it odd that the artwork would have been decided on so late before release or maybe this is a months in advance copy.
  21. Yeah, my point is that I believe the second picture IS the back of a closed jewel case, with the CD facing outward instead of inward.
    Look at the right side. It's just a standard clear spine - on the right side. The white area underneath is just the backside of the green front insert.

  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Chris Mills and Harry like this.
  23. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Ahh I didn't catch that yeah you may be right, I also asked the seller what they know about this release so we'll see if they respond.
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