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Original Versions of Carpenters Covers

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
Recently, “Voice of the Heart” has been getting a lot of play on my computer. I was surprised to learn that a fair number of tracks on there were covers of other contemporary songs.

Bonnie Raitt — Two Lives

Jess Roden — Prime Time Love

Bobby Vinton — Make Believe It’s Your First Time

Not from “Voice of the Heart,” but the only cover that I didn’t hear the Carpenters’ version first was “Desperado.” I was so used to the Eagles’ version as a child that it took me some getting used to when putting on “Horizon.”

Desperado (2013 Remaster)
 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
It's amazing how little of "Prime Time Love" Richard changed. Quite a few of Richard's covers hover very closely to the originals - even leaving them in the same keys. Some are outright copies (the original "Man Smart/Women Smarter").

Ed
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
It's amazing how little of "Prime Time Love" Richard changed. Quite a few of Richard's covers hover very closely to the originals - even leaving them in the same keys. Some are outright copies (the original "Man Smart/Women Smarter").

Ed
Ed, did you read my mind? "Prime Time Love" literally came on in my earbuds as I received your notification!
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I have to say, I like many of Robert Palmer's singles, and it was a trip to hear that the first time because it was so similar to the Carpenters' arrangement and instrumentation.

From the same album, the original version of "B'wana He No Home," written and performed by Michael Franks:

 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I have to say, I like many of Robert Palmer's singles, and it was a trip to hear that the first time because it was so similar to the Carpenters' arrangement and instrumentation.

From the same album, the original version of "B'wana He No Home," written and performed by Michael Franks:


This is another one Richard didn't radically change. 'Course the key is different. I'll also say that Carpenters' version grooves mightily. Pete Jolly was clearly having way too much fun and Tom Scott was too. Karen sounds wry like she should and it sounds great. Add Gene Puerling's background vocal arrangement and it's just so money.

In short, Michael's is fine and I do like it but Carpenters' murders this.

Ed
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I'm not sure if this is the first recording, but Eloise Laws released "Strength of a Woman" in 1980:


Not a big of this arrangement. Ms. Laws did a good job with the vocals, but the instrumentation choices are... interesting.
 
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Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I'm not sure if this is the first recording, but Eloise Laws released "Strength of a Woman" in 1980:


Not a big of this arrangement. Ms. Laws did a good job with the vocals, but the instrumentation choices are... interesting.

The song is just beyond wretched from a premise standpoint. Like...I've never known a woman who would think like this. If I meet her, I'll suggest therapy...LOL!

Okay, this version. It's not terrible, though I get why it might be everyone's cup of tea. The verses are musically odd for sure. The choruses work pretty well, though the tune is taken at a pretty fast clip.

Ed
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
It's amazing how little of "Prime Time Love" Richard changed. Quite a few of Richard's covers hover very closely to the originals - even leaving them in the same keys. Some are outright copies (the original "Man Smart/Women Smarter").

Ed
Robert Palmer's recording of "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)" wasn't the original by a long shot. The song was written in the 1930s, and covered by many singers. The most well-known version is by Harry Belafonte, recorded twenty years before Palmer's cover.

 

Vinylalbumcovers

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
Robert Palmer's recording of "Man Smart (Woman Smarter)" wasn't the original by a long shot. The song was written in the 1930s, and covered by many singers. The most well-known version is by Harry Belafonte, recorded twenty years before Palmer's cover.


True. Still, Robert's came before Carpenters' and Richard clearly heard it and that's the one he copied pretty much note-for-note.

Ed
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
Thread Starter
I should clarify — my intent in starting this thread was to discover both of what you two mentioned. There are originals (like Harry Belafonte’s) that give great contextual/historical info, and there are more covers of covers that may be closer to the Carpenters (like Robert Palmer) that also give great contextual/historical info. I am very much interested in hearing the progression from recording to recording.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
True. Still, Robert's came before Carpenters' and Richard clearly heard it and that's the one he copied pretty much note-for-note.

Ed
The "Passage" album seemed to mark a creative low point for Richard in a way. He didn't do much arranging (copying others arrangements nearly note-for-note, or bringing in Peter Knight), and didn't compose any of the songs. He even brought in other pianists on some tracks, when he'd always handled all the piano duties in the studio on prior albums. I have to wonder if he was feeling tired / burnt out, after the whirlwind of the previous years?
 

JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
From the days of "Nick of Time" and "I Can't Make You Love Me" I've always been an admirer of the vocal work of Bonnie Raitt, and her version of "Two Lives" is just as good as one would expect - but again even here the song is a "near miss" - it just simply needs a better bridge - the one it has seems to give the feel that the song is stalling and that the composer simply gave up after repeated attempts to come up with something more melodic or dynamic...even Karen couldn't salvage this.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
From the days of "Nick of Time" and "I Can't Make You Love Me" I've always been an admirer of the vocal work of Bonnie Raitt, and her version of "Two Lives" is just as good as one would expect - but again even here the song is a "near miss" - it just simply needs a better bridge - the one it has seems to give the feel that the song is stalling and that the composer simply gave up after repeated attempts to come up with something more melodic or dynamic...even Karen couldn't salvage this.
The bridge in 'Two Lives' isn't all that in the Bonnie Raitt version, but I really like the bridge in the Carpenters' version. Karen's performance of the line 'And I love you more than ever ... and ever' - there's something quite special conveyed in that short pause!

'Sailing on the Tide' is an example of a song that couldn't find a way to end itself satisfactorily - that strange insturmental play-out after the vocals that's almost a minute long doesn't feel like it has any connection with what preceded it and nearly ruins the whole track.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The aforementioned original copied for "Passage"


Ed

“Copied” is right. Richard once said that’s something he just doesn’t do, and whilst he can be forgiven for his own personal struggles around that time, that statement doesn’t tally with much of their recorded output from 1977 right through to 1981.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I will say Bobby Vinton's Make Believe It's Your First Time is difficult to listen to (terrible, imho).
I see the Carpenters' interpretation changed the lyric from "leave your memories behind...." to leave your "sadness" behind.
While the VOH version of MBIYFT is not my favorite (Karen's solo version is),
at least Richard's arrangement is different (plus, RC requesting the writers to include a bridge--much improving the song).
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Here are two that came to mind:





I’ve always really loved Kristy McNichol’s take on ‘Slow Dance’. She’s not really a singer but she has such a cute voice that suits the innocence of the song. On the liner notes from Lovelines, there’s a note in the song credits:

Music and Lyrics by Mitch Margo, Thankyouthankyouthankyou Music, Inc. (ASCAP)

I always thought that was repeated “thank you” was some sort of humorous note from Richard to the songwriter Mitch Margo to thank him for giving the go ahead to release the song, but it wasn’t until I saw the same note on Jimmy and Kristy McNichol’s first version that I realised it’s actually the name of Margo’s publishing company.
 
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JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
...

'Sailing on the Tide' is an example of a song that couldn't find a way to end itself satisfactorily - that strange insturmental play-out after the vocals that's almost a minute long doesn't feel like it has any connection with what preceded it and nearly ruins the whole track.
I agree, and my thought is that it's mostly the fault of the choice of instrumentation used...but my chief complaint about "Sailing..." is, as many of you to your chagrin have come expect, the fact that Karen's voice is "sonically altered" from beginning to end, to the extent and effect that it's not only hard to tell that it's her singing,, but she sounds like she's singing way down in the hold of the ship she's sailing on...
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
my chief complaint about "Sailing..." is, as many of you to your chagrin have come expect, the fact that Karen's voice is "sonically altered" from beginning to end, to the extent and effect that it's not only hard to tell that it's her singing,, but she sounds like she's singing way down in the hold of the ship she's sailing on...

Completely agree - it’s not double tracked I don’t think, it’s some sort of processing that’s been added to Karen’s lead. Awful.
 

JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
Completely agree - it’s not double tracked I don’t think, it’s some sort of processing that’s been added to Karen’s lead. Awful.
Yes, exactly my thoughts - it's too perfect of a duplication to be a mere "double tracking" by Karen - it's almost like they recorded her original on two separate recorders and then synched and merged them in the final mix...I got this same impression on "Hush", "Mr. Postman", "Sweet, Sweet Smile" and several others...
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure if this is the first recording, but Eloise Laws released "Strength of a Woman" in 1980:


Not a big of this arrangement. Ms. Laws did a good job with the vocals, but the instrumentation choices are... interesting.
I remember being very smitten by this album cover!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Time to remember the great Tony Peluso (and, purportedly, his demo of) Sailing On The Tide:

I notice there was a small lyric change between Tony’s demo and the Carpenters’ recording:

“Open sea and good clean air”

turned into

“How I love that salty air”

And interestingly it seems Tony couldn’t come up with anything other than a long, meandering ending for the song either…
 
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