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"Merry Christmas Darling" with the RPO

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Kyle Thomas, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. Kyle Thomas

    Kyle Thomas Member Thread Starter

    USA
    Since we are being treated to some delicious sneak peeks before this album releases officially on December 7, I thought it would be a good idea to begin separate threads on the songs, as we hear them with the RPO. I'll kick off some thoughts on Merry Christmas Darling.

    -- The strings and additional instrumentation sound fresh, without overwhelming Karen's vocal or being so different as to be distracting from the original.

    -- The differentiation between Karen and Richard's voice at the harmonic end (together with added strings) is striking to me, something that seems more of a blend in the other mixes.

    -- This is so far superior to the dreadful 1992 version, even though the piano does appear to have been rerecorded on this track.

    Overall, I think this version is strong. The arrangement is crisp and Karen's voice sounds clearer than ever. I've been listening on my Sonos and I'm in awe.
     
  2. Tony

    Tony Active Member

    I agree with all of your points. The harmonies at the end sound fantastic, and I feel as if I'm hearing them for the first time. And Karen sounds incredible!
     
  3. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It sounds to me like the harmonies at the end have been remixed, as Richard is louder on certain phrases.
     
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  4. no1kandrfan

    no1kandrfan Active Member

    Sounds the same to me. I finally heard what Richard was singing - it was always garbled to me.
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  5. CARPENTERS-COLLECTOR

    CARPENTERS-COLLECTOR Active Member

    U.K
    I tell you the bit I love and gets me every time I listen, 25 secs in, is that a flute? LOVE IT!
     
  6. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I was wondering if Richard had re-recorded his vocals. They don’t sound like his 70’s vocals. Or maybe he “beefed” up his vocals with some new vocals.
     
    goodjeans likes this.
  7. Tony

    Tony Active Member

    I've listened to this over and over and I love it. The ending seems fresh and clear. Richard's vocals in particular stand out more and his lowest notes sound beefier. I'm hoping (and expecting) this version gets a lot of attention this coming holiday season.
     
    no1kandrfan and Jamesj75 like this.
  8. John Adam

    John Adam "We are observing your Forum".........Baby

    I'm not planning on listening to this until the entire CD is released. But I can imagine that is must have an abrupt ending being part of an orchestrated segue. Hard to pull songs without some clever editing. Or is it a true single?
     
  9. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Actually “Merry Christmas Darling” ends quite nicely. It’s “Yesterday Once More” that has the abrupt ending.
     
    John Adam likes this.
  10. Kyle Thomas

    Kyle Thomas Member Thread Starter

    USA
    It ends better than Yesterday Once More, but it still cuts off, I suppose because it's jumping right into "Baby It's You" as the next song. A pairing I look forward to hearing once the album is out.
     
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  11. John Adam

    John Adam "We are observing your Forum".........Baby

    Thank you. Yes, me too!!!!!!!
     
  12. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I didn't find that it cut off. I found that it ended very similar to the 1970 & 78 versions
     
  13. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    There’s a sharper fade at the very end after the last “darling”.
     
  14. CARPENTERS-COLLECTOR

    CARPENTERS-COLLECTOR Active Member

    U.K
    I listened to these two tracks properly last night, because so far, I`ve been playing them through the computer on the monitor. I have a 55 inch smart t.v, but the problem is with a lot of these, the speakers are terrible on them. I know a lot of people use sound bars, but I decided to go with a 5.1 surround sound for mine. Anyway, sat down last night to listen to my carpenters stuff, but before I did, I went onto YouTube and played these two tracks ........... OMG!!
    Simply beautiful to listen to and amazing sound, sharp and crisp and a real pleasure. I cannot wait for this album, I really can`t :)
     
    CraigGA likes this.
  15. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Legend Al Schmitt mixed this album (also credited on the 2004 SACD release), so you're guaranteed to hear everything with tremendous clarity!
     
  16. I played around with Audacity and compared the RPO recording as it comes from YouTube with the 1978 version of "Merry Christmas, Darling". So, here are a few analytics that I've gleaned:

    • To properly match the two recordings, I had to speed up the 1978 recording by a slight factor of .35%. That's an undetectable amount and could simply be the difference in a tape machine's speed somewhere.
    • The ending is slightly faded earlier, but only by a second or so. It still fades at the same point, it just reaches zero quicker.
    • Karen's vocal matches perfectly with the 1978 version with just one exception - the final word "...you" seems to be flown in from a different take. All other vocals are exactly the same as 1978.
     
  17. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    That's interesting Harry...I haven't listened yet but I wonder if the last word was used from a different take due to it flowing into Baby It's You? I have always said that I felt something was different about the very ending of MCD on the Time Life Christmas with the Carpenters. I wonder if what your hearing is a stacked vocal of Karen's was wasn't so audible before but is now on that particular word.
     
  18. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    With Merry Christmas Darling, its interesting as well that it seems to be the only track that escaped the deteriorated Christmas Portrait tapes and has shown up in its 1978 mix the most (I wonder if the 1978 mix was mixed to stereo on it's own tape and then just copied to the Christmas Portrait master with the intention of using it on licensing on "Goodyear" and "Ace Hardware" and other compilation albums, hence why the 1978 stereo mix is still available and being used), while the 1992 remix only appeared once and has not been seen in the last 26 years on any compilation or reissue of Christmas Portrait, and the only other mixes of the track have been the original 1970 mix and the 2004 5.1 surround mix. So with Merry Christmas Darling, this is really the third time since 1978 that Richard has touched it for any reason.
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  19. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Most all of the 16 and 24 track multi-track masters were transferred to hi-res digital, so retrieving this stuff for remix is still possible.

    Merry Christmas, Darling
    and For All We Know were orchestrated on the same evening - November 13, 1970 and I believe stored on the same master. When Karen re-recorded her lead in '78, I believe it was recorded onto the original 16 track multi, so even if the grand master was destroyed in the Universal Fire, the hi-res back up still exists and can be used for future remixing if that makes sense.
     
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  20. Tony

    Tony Active Member

    And speaking of Al Schmitt, here's an article in Billboard about him and it includes a brief mention of his work on the Carpenters RPO project.
     
    Chris May likes this.
  21. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member


    I know the multi-track is still around. But it’s the 2-track stereo master. Because MCD was recorded years earlier, was MCD’s 2-track mix, with the 78 vocal, mixed to the 78 CP master, or was the 78 MCD mixed to its own 2-track master tape for possible use on compilation albums or even reissuing it as a 45, since MCD seems to be one of only three CP tracks that still have its 1978 mix in A&M’s vaults (the other 2 are “The Christmas Song” and “Silent Night”.) . And it’s even appeared on other comps, even though the 1992 remix was available to be used or even remixed again in 1996 to feature a better balance of 70, 78 and 92 elements.
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  22. CloseToYou10

    CloseToYou10 Member

    Very interesting. Now that you've pointed this out about the final word "...you" Harry I took a listen to the endings of the original 1970 mix, the 1978 remix, the 1992 Time/Life mix and the new RPO mix:

    1970 mix: Karen pronounces you like "yoo" with more force on the Y.
    1992 Time/Life mix: Karen pronounces you like "yew" with less force on the Y.
    1978 remix: This sounds like the "yoo" from the original 1970 mix.
    2018 RPO mix: This sounds like the "yew" from the 1992 mix.

    Hearing these it is my conclusion that the 1992 mix contains the full re-recorded 1978 vocal and that the 1978 version is the one that actually flies in the final "you" from Karen's original 1970 vocal, probably because Richard preferred the sound of "yoo" over "yew". I seem to recall reading in the Colman book that there were issues with Karen pronouncing "you" like "yew", I think during the recording of "Close to You" that weren't going over very well. Does anyone remember this?
     
    newvillefan likes this.
  23. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Not entirely sure I understand your question, but I'll try to clarify. As far as a 1978 2-channel MIX of the tune, that has always existed along with most of the rest of the individual tracks from Christmas Portrait. In fact, A&M/UMe England is the best source for these. Now as far as the sequenced 2-channel tape containing the entire album, that tape was decimated and could not be baked. But even the songs that were compiled onto that cross-faded A/B side sequence for Portrait were taken from original first generation 2-channel mixes. So yes, Merry Christmas, Darling does exist on a 2-channel master mix tape - both the original mix from 1970 as well as the first remix in 1978.

    What I'm trying to explain is that the master used for the RPO album was the digital backup of the 16-track multitrack tape. This isn't a 2-channel mix flown into a new master. These are original individual master tape stems that have had additional orchestration added alongside them, and then mixed.
     
  24. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Well if seperate stereo masters exist for most of the CP album, why were they not used for the CC or even the Time-Life album or the different comps.
     
  25. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Richard told me a few years back that he wanted to remix most of it to help better the quality. I sort of get that, given the state of mind he was in when the original mixes were created. I do think however that he went overboard a little with the reverb on several of the tracks, but to each his own LOL
     
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