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Richard Carpenter - Re-imagining The Carpenters Legacy

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Starting in 1984-5 Richard very aggressively started re-recording instruments, remixing songs. As a producer/arranger bringing things up to a level he probably only imagined, that was not possible at the time they were originally recorded. The original recordings and single mixes are charming and timeless. However, starting in the early days, he (and Karen) thought some recordings could use improvement. Examples like “Ticket To Ride and Top of the World” released on The Singles 1969-1973.

Throughout the decades, Richard’s creative mind never stopped expanding on what a Carpenters recording could sound like! For the first time (in 1985) when the “Yesterday Once More” collection was released, he shared the Carpenters songs in a new way, opening up the doors to for another generation. Something he’s been doing ever since, keeping the legacy of the Carpenters alive.......while still keeping the originals available for a generation who already loved them.

Lets discuss some "positive" changes that Richard has done musically to expand the Carpenters Legacy since the loss of Karen. Things that we appreciate about the changes, notes about how it affects/improves a particular recording for you, for example.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
From three different decades. Some of my notes.

I Won't Last A Day Without You
From 1985‘s “Yesterday Once More.” The remix (louder guitars) make this gentle ballad come alive for me.

Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again
1995 “Interpretations” version. 1970‘s vocal meets 1990‘s production. Richard really made a “classic" from a work lead that would have never been as good of a recording had it been completed in the 1970's. It shows Richard hadn’t lost his touch!

Touch Me When We’re Dancing
2019 “I-tunes RPO” track that benefited from the additional “tweaks.” We can hear Karen in this production, after the background vocals and reverb were scaled back. Made me like this song!
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
Let Me Be The One remix for From The Top just eclipses the original recording from 1971. The original sounds flat merely by the limitation of recording standards in the studio during that era. The remix for From The Top adds depth and excitement. Also the remix for Our Day Will Come, just creates this almost gorgeous dreamy quality to the song.
 
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motownboy

Well-Known Member
"Ticket To Ride" on the RPO album... Richard managed to make a recording that parts of it were 50 years old sound as fresh as something in done in 2018 and in 2020, it still sounds newly minted. Karen's 1973 vocal was already a big improvement over the 1969 original.

The first RPO version used the original piano and I was so disappointed. it still sounded dated at this point. The rerecording of the piano and the drum updates of the final version transformed this into perfection for me. Finally, the arrangement of instruments was as or almost as good as Karen's wonderful vocal.

Many of the RPO tracks are absolute masterpieces.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
"Ticket To Ride" on the RPO album... Richard managed to make a recording that parts of it were 50 years old sound as fresh as something in done in 2018 and in 2020, it still sounds newly minted. Karen's 1973 vocal was already a big improvement over the 1969 original.

The first RPO version used the original piano and I was so disappointed. it still sounded dated at this point. The rerecording of the piano and the drum updates of the final version transformed this into perfection for me. Finally, the arrangement of instruments was as or almost as good as Karen's wonderful vocal.

Many of the RPO tracks are absolute masterpieces.
I agree motownboy. :)
Ticket To Ride (final version) turned out amazing! Now the production equals the vocals!
 

Mr. Guder

Member
Let Me Be The One remix for From The Top just eclipses the original recording from 1971. The original sounds flat merely by the limitation of recording standards in the studio during that era. The remix for From The Top adds depth and excitement.
For me, nothing will ever top the original mix. Such a daring arrangement to slow the tempo midway through the song - enough to come to a literal pindrop standstill - leading to the soft soothing verse of just Karen and pianissimo piano chords. It's my desert island Carpenters moment and the feeling just isn't the same on the later remixes with re-recorded keyboard tracks.
 

Martin Medrano

Active Member
for me an original mix that comes to mind that was improved by richard has to be the remix of bless the beasts and children. i say that because i really enjoy the reworked bass line and the cold ending after the last "the children" i am also quite fond of the remix of all of my life which is one of my favorite tracks. i love that karen played bass on the original recording but i have to give it joe osborn for redoing the bass line and richard for doing the piano over.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
i am also quite fond of the remix of all of my life which is one of my favorite tracks. i love that karen played bass on the original recording but i have to give it joe osborn for redoing the bass line and richard for doing the piano over.
All Of My Life is one of those tracks that now sounds so good and polished, along with the song Ticket To Ride. (2019)
All Of My Life was recorded when Karen was a teen!!!
You would never imagine with the sound they have now that they were originally from a 1969 album!
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Except he took out the tambourine in the RPO mix. That bothered me a little, I still hear it in my head when I listen to it. But otherwise you are correct!
I guess he doesn’t like tambourine’s anymore as he deleted it on “Hurting Each Other” in 85, but the music video has a tambourine player and is synched to the “No Tambourine” 85 mix.
 

Martin Medrano

Active Member
another song he redid was rainy days and mondays. My favorite mix is the 85 remix as it brings up the drums up more in the beginning as compared to the original mix . But the 91 remix is probably the he was inspired by for the rpo version as the strings are missing in both the 91 mix and the rpo version.
 

ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
For me, his remixes either go from okay to really bad. While I do sometimes like "Bless the Beasts..." and I very much enjoy what he did with Karen's tracks - especially "If I Had You". He was totally right to end it the way he did rather than just fade it out like it is on her album. I also love his version of "Lovelines". He brings her vocal further forward and that needed to be done. Why she okay'd a mix with her voice so far back is just odd. He really got it right on the RPO album. He finally realized that she didn't need all that reverb and that the kick drum didn't need to be turned up to "10". The result is a great-sounding record. Makes me wish for more remixes that are done properly the way those are.

As for most of it, though. I very rarely like the way he treated Karen's vocals. He drowned her in reverb more often than not and I never liked it myself. He also had this tendency to overdo the kick drum. Listen to "Love is Surrender". Not only is it too loud, it's actually "off" quite often. "It's Going to Take Some Time" as presented on the Carpenters SACD is truly awful in every way. Why he chose to add a Roland DX-7 piano instead of just re-recording an acoustic mystifies me. The result is just terrible and I avoid it like the plague when playing that SACD.

In truth, Richard was likely just doing the remixes so he could continue to work. Had he not done any of them, he'd have been essentially out of action by about 1990. He's been able to keep busy and, possibly, keep Karen around for himself in some day, though I can't say for sure that's what he was doing.

Ed
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I happen to enjoy the SACD of Its Going To Take Some Time. My favorite of Rainy Days and Mondays is the original version. Most of the songs before 1973 are best left as they were. For instance, Rainy Days at the end has the drumroll that I really like and that is recaptured in the RPO version. The the last ‘hanging around of Karen’s overdubs is more forward as they all are in the original. The end of the song on the word ‘down‘, gets me every time. There is so much emotion in the one sentence at the end of the song. It’s perfect! The RPO version of Rainy Days is my next favorite. On all of the RPO it’s nice to have the newer recorded instruments with the use of stereo and Karen’s vocals brought forward without so much reverb. The remixes of all the songs would have sounded better if the entire song had been re-recorded. Maybe then, the drums in the 85–90 versions would not sound so amplified. I am thankful for all versions, for sometimes it gives the songs a fresh appeal, but nothing Is as sweet as the originals, with few exceptions as most here have mentioned.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
He also had this tendency to overdo the kick drum. Listen to "Love is Surrender". Not only is it too loud, it's actually "off" quite often.
That’s because he did the kick drum himself on his keyboard. The timing is terrible, it’s all over the place as well as being so loud it’s intrusive. Same goes for the awful 1991 remix of Top Of The World.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I very much enjoy what he did with Karen's tracks - especially "If I Had You". He was totally right to end it the way he did rather than just fade it out like it is on her album. I also love his version of "Lovelines". He brings her vocal further forward and that needed to be done. Why she okay'd a mix with her voice so far back is just odd. He really got it right on the RPO album. He finally realized that she didn't need all that reverb and that the kick drum didn't need to be turned up to "10". The result is a great-sounding record. Makes me wish for more remixes that are done properly the way those are.
I really appreciate this part Ed! :)

(From post #1)
Lets discuss some "positive" changes that Richard has done musically to expand the Carpenters Legacy since the loss of Karen. :)
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
The entire "A song For You" album remastered for release on (A&M) Mobile Fidelity CD in 1989.
Some songs were the '85 remixes. I remember" It's Going To Take Some Time and A Song for You" sounding really nice.
Did any of their other releases get the Mobile Fidelity treatment?
 

motownboy

Well-Known Member
The entire "A song For You" album remastered for release on (A&M) Mobile Fidelity CD in 1989.
Some songs were the '85 remixes. I remember" It's Going To Take Some Time and A Song for You" sounding really nice.
Did any of their other releases get the Mobile Fidelity treatment?
No, no other releases got the MFSL treatment. I would love it if MFSL/MOFI or Audio Fidelity would do the entire catalogue.
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
"From The Top" was home of further remixed product.
Richard says there are 40 remixed tunes in that set. Maybe It's You, For All We Know, Superstar, Hurting Each Other, This Masquerade, I Need To Be In Love, Calling Occupants and some Holiday tunes are among the newly remixed batch. I think that box set was amazing and sounds equally amazing!
 
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