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Merry Christmas Darling - 1992 mix

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Simon KC1950, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. Simon KC1950

    Simon KC1950 Active Member Thread Starter

    Merry Christmas Darling was remixed in 1992 by Richard Carpenter and was included on the Time life Christmas CD.
    Did Richard specifically record this specifically for this CD? I find it strange that he would go to that effort and not release it as an official Carpenters release.
  2. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It was recorded specifically for that collection but I'm not surprised it wasn't included elsewhere. The newly-recorded electric piano is too intrusive and the distortion is diabolical in places. I'm surprised the mix was ever sanctioned for release.

    It's not unusual for Richard to remix or re-record parts of a track just for one collection. He's done it a couple of times before, notably Road Ode for the British compilation "Treasures" and One Love for the Japanese multi-disc compilation "Sweet Memory".
    Simon KC1950 likes this.
  3. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Although the electric piano really gets rid of that dated sound that the original has.
    Chris Mills and Simon KC1950 like this.
  4. My personal view has always been that Richard did a major round of remixing of all of the tracks he felt needed a remix back in the 1990-1991-1992 time frame. Certain tracks were not needed for the compilations being made then and were essentially shelved until needed. When TIME-LIFE was licensed the Christmas tracks for their compilation (an "official" sanctioned compilation, by the way), the new mix of "Merry Christmas Darling" was given life.

    I'm not a big fan of the remix, but have mentioned that after hearing both the single and album versions over and over during the Christmas music month of December, it's nice to kind of wrap things up with yet one more version - keeping it on the fresh side.
    Jeff and Simon KC1950 like this.
  5. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I actually feel just the opposite, this remix on Time Life sounds dated to me. I don't like the piano sound. The original is a classic and the re record by Karen is modern and fresh and even plays well on radio today.
    Simon KC1950 likes this.
  6. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    You know, I never gave this much thought until now. But I'm almost wondering if Time Life was delivered the wrong master for Merry Christmas Darling. There were several masters being utilized that were remixes of most of the Portrait soundtrack.

    For starters, there's audible distortion on there which is enough to rule it out for inclusion. I also echo the sentiments of others here that I just don't care for the stereo re-record on the piano.
    Chris, newvillefan and Simon KC1950 like this.
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I've never thought of that being a possibility. There is not much info on the web about this release, I'm pretty sure I ordered mine when it aired on tv and called up on the phone to order and have it mailed to me. There are no liner notes inside and lined with 3 logo's Time Life, Polygram Special Markets and A&M.

    It does state under the CD: Remix Engineer Roger Young, Mastered by Arnie Acosta at A&M Mastering Studios. Christmas with the Carpenters was produced by Time Life Music in cooperation with Polygram Special Products. 1992 The physical discs are stamped Made in the USA.

    One would think that we would have some more information about all the edits they used in bringing this collection together. In edits, I mean for instance disc 2 is completely all Karen from start to finish. We have never had a Christmas Collection CD that is quite like this one.
    Jeff likes this.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    The other thing I forgot to mention about this remix is that it’s got that awful “thumper” kick drum effect done through Richard’s keyboard, similar to the one we hear on the 1987 remix of Love Is Surrender and the 1991 remix of Top Of The World. At least on this track it’s in time.

    Do any of the other 1992 remixes on the Time Life collection have the same effect?
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  9. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    I prefer the 1970 original. Karen's vocal is more "edgy" and the 92 remix is overwhelmed with piano. I listened to the 92 version today on YouTube and the piano is blaring through my right speaker as I am struggling to hear Karen's vocal on the left. Sometimes we just have too many choices!
  10. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Not that I'm aware of. And from what I understand Richard went in and re-did some of those kick drum tracks to give them more punch, but I REALLY can't listen to those mixes.

    Going back to the Merry Christmas Darling remix, it's also possible that this was a remix in the overall batch that he'd initially made the decision to include when the Time Life set came out, then changed his mind later on. I really don't know the definitive answer, but just knowing how he's handled these kinds of things, seems like a logical conclusion.
    newvillefan likes this.
  11. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    "Love Is Surrender" is probably the only remix I can't stand. There are some I don't necessarily like, but at least I can listen to them all the way through. It's a shame, because "Surrender" is one of my favorites on the Close to You album. It's awesome performed live on the BBC show, too.

    I really don't think I've heard the '92 mix of "Merry Christmas, Darling". The '78 is great, but the '70 version is the standard for me.
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Chris Mills and Simon KC1950 like this.
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Too much reverb, too much bass EQ on the bassline...why mess with perfection? :shake:
    Chris May likes this.
  14. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I always thought this was a great video for a classic song!
  15. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

  16. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I just listened to this remix and and I think I've finally figured out why I dislike it so much along with the piano and pedal that is over bearing.

    If you listen closely to the very end of the track (it's especially noticeable with headphones on) the very end when Karen sings, I wish I were with you....then you hear 3 Merry Christmas's....on the German CD the first Merry Christmas comes in on the left side, then the 2nd Merry Christmas comes in on the right side then the final one is centered. It's the exact same way on the original Christmas Portrait LP.

    However if you listen to the same exact ending of 3 Merry Christmas's on the remix, you will hear the first Merry Christmas centered then the 2nd one comes in on the right side and the final one on the left side with a quick blend to the center. This final ending is all backwards to me and I don't like it. It should always be Left side, Right side and then centered.

    I believe that along with some of Richard's vocals being brought up close in the mix (right before Karen sing the final note Darling) is also what throws me off and why I don't like it.
  17. Chris Mills

    Chris Mills Well-Known Member

    I like this remix, the strings and background vocals and percussion are not so hidden and create a clearer sounding experience, and with the added reverb and enhanced bass, it’s a winner for me.
    motownboy likes this.
  18. michiganguy

    michiganguy Member

    This remix is not bad but I am a sucker for the 1970 and 1978 versions. My favorite Christmas song.

    WYBIMLA Active Member

    I've heard this remix before from the link posted. I've only heard it maybe twice or three times now. Nothing really jumped out at me before, but I knew it wasn't my favourite mix. Upon reading criticisms here I gave it another listen.

    I agree; although, nit-picking isn't my favourite thing to do...
    If it's playing in the background there's not really a lot of issues you'd notice unless you're playing attention to it.

    Unlike other Carpenters mixes the piano, bass and backing vocals jump out, but not in a way that feels consistent with the rest of the song. If you hadn't mentioned the bass EQ I wouldn't have picked up on that, but it sounds like everything was separated and forgotten to put them together again. It feels more like a fight for each element to be heard which is really odd if you think how well Carpenters music blends generally speaking (save for the acquired overuse of choir in posthumous releases). It's true the ending of the "Merry Christmas" with Richard's part poking out kind of takes over. You can always tell his voice in the back even when it's mixed down. I didn't mind the re-arrangement of stereo output, but changing levels on top of that throws the the listener off.

    In all fairness I think the levels were probably looking okay. A grand piano has a way of sounding way more harsh than intended, and perhaps this song is less orchestral than those who wrote it would like it to be. It feels more jazzy to me much like "The Christmas Song." Having all that instrumentation playing under Karen's voice I think is preferred than making it anymore expansive or rock influenced.
    I agree this may not have been the final master Richard approved or at that time things were heading towards being digitized or some kind of upgrade was happening in the studio that Richard wasn't used to.

    This kind of mix reminds me of how contemporary music makes things sound too "clear" and not as nice, warm as older recordings tend to be.

    I don't blame Rich at all for any criticisms we're having.
    It exposes how difficult mixing can be especially when re-doing it to classic songs like these.

    Love the song anyhow! :)
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
    Simon KC1950 likes this.

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