• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

Seasonal Album: Carpenters OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS SP-3270

What is your favorite track?

  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Overture

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • An Old-Fashioned Christmas

    Votes: 2 6.3%
  • O Holy Night

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Home For The Holidays

    Votes: 5 15.6%
  • Medley

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Little Altar Boy

    Votes: 8 25.0%
  • Do You Hear What I Hear?

    Votes: 3 9.4%
  • My Favorite Things

    Votes: 1 3.1%
  • He Came Here For Me

    Votes: 1 3.1%
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

    Votes: 4 12.5%
  • What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

    Votes: 5 15.6%
  • Selections From The Nutcracker

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

    Votes: 3 9.4%

  • Total voters
    32
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
Carpenters
AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS
A&M SP-3270

oldfashionedxmas.jpg


Year of Release: 1984
Chart Position: U.S.: #190
Album Singles: "Little Altar Boy"/"Do You Hear What I Hear"
Medium: Vinyl/Cassette/CD
Portions released as part of CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT Extended Edition
Included as half of the CHRISTMAS COLLECTION
Included in 35th Anniversary Box Set in Japan


Track Listing:

1. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear :43 (Sears/Willis)
2. Overture 8:13

a. Happy Holiday (Berlin) Irving Berlin Music Company, adm. by Williamson Music Company (ASCAP)
b. The First Noel (P.D. Trad. Old English Carol)
c. March Of The Toys (Herbert) Warner Bros., Inc. (ASCAP)
d. Little Jesus (P.D. From the Oxford Book Of Carols)
e. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Connor) Jewel Music Publishing Co., Inc. (ASCAP)
f. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (P.D. L.H. Redner) Longitude Music Co. (BMI)
g. In Dulce Jubilo (P.D. 14th Century German melody)
h. Gesu Bambino (The Infant Jesus) (Yon) Beam Me Up Music (ASCAP)
i. Angels We Have Heard On High (P.D. Trad. French Carol)


3. An Old-Fashioned Christmas 2:34 (Carpenter/Bettis)
4. O Holy Night 3:31 (P.D. Adolphe Adam/Adapted by Richard Carpenter)
5. (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays 2:13 (Allen/Stillman)
6. Medley 3:43

a. Here Comes Santa Claus (Autry/Haldeman) Gene Autry's Western Music Publishing (ASCAP)
b. Frosty The Snowman (Nelson/Rollins) Chappell & Co. (ASCAP)
c. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Marks) St. Nicholas Music Inc. (ASCAP)
d. Good King Wenceslas (P.D. John Mason Neale, Adapted by Richard Carpenter) Almo Music Corp./Hammer and Nails Music, adm. by Almo Music Corp. (ASCAP)


7. Little Altar Boy 3:43 (Smith)
8. Do You Hear What I Hear? 2:53 (Regney/Shayne)
9. My Favorite Things 3:53 (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
10. He Came Here For Me 2:12 (Nelson)
11. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4:04 (Gillespie/Coots)
12. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? 2:51 (Loesser)
13. Selections from “The Nutcracker” 6:14 (P.D. Peter Illych Tchaikovsky, Adapted by Richard Carpenter)

a. Overture Miniature
b. Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy
c. Trepak
d. Valse Des Fleurs


14. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day 2:21 (Marks/Longfellow, Adapted by Johnny Marks)

Album Credits:

Conceived and Produced by Richard Carpenter
Lead vocals: Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter
Piano: Richard Carpenter
Arranged by: Peter Knight (#2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14), Richard Carpenter (#1, 11) and Billy May (#10)
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter & Pete Jolly
Upright Bass: Pete Morgan
Electric Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt & Barry Morgan
Harp: Skiala Kanga & Gayle Levant
Tenor Sax: John Phillips
Vocals: The O.K. Chorale Conducted by Dick Bolks, The English Chorale Conducted by Robert Howes, Karen & Richard Carpenter
Recorded at:
A&M Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
Engineered by Roger Young, Ray Gerhardt and Robert De La Garza
EMI "Abbey Road" Studios
Engineered by Eric Tomlinson
Assistant: Allan Rouse
Mixed at:
A&M Recording Studios
Engineered by Roger Young
Assistants: Clyde Kaplan & Jim Cassell
Evergreen Studios
Engineered by John Richards
Assistants: Dave Marquette & Mike Hatcher
Mastered by Arnie Acosta at A&M Mastering Studios, Hollywood CA
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Produced by Jack Daugherty and Richard & Karen Carpenter
Art Direction: Chuck Beeson
Album Design: Melanie Nissen
Illustration: Robert Tanenbaum
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dedication:

This album lovingly dedicated to the memory of my late sister and friend Karen, who was extremely fond of both Christmas and Christmas music. - Richard Carpenter
 

JAZZ4JEFF

Active Member
While I love Richard's arrangement of "Santa Claus is coming to town", I do prefer the original single sax solo over the LP version. It's much more sultry than the LP.
 

no1kandrfan

Well-Known Member
While this collection doesn't even come close to Christmas Portrait (for me) there are a few gems. All of Karen's vocals are great, and I really enjoy Richard's piano solo's on the medley and Nutcracker suite.

My favorite song on this collection is "Home for the Holidays".
 
Oh boy, here it is. My all time favorite Karen performance. Don't know what else to say. Absolutely extraordinary and inimitable. I get chills and tear up every time I listen to Little Altar Boy.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Love the spiritual songs- but I am a sucker for the Christmas romance stuff- "What are You Doing New Year's Eve?" wins. That said, "Oh Holy Night" is my favorite Christmas song period- and Richard's arrangement and playing is just beautiful.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
First, I need to thank our wayward moderator, Chris May, who assembled most of this data in the older "review" threads. I wanted to get this thread up before Christmas and didn't have the time to type it all in, so thanks Chris for letting me "borrow" your text as a template.

I agree with the sentiment on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". I loved that single and was profoundly disappointed twice when it wasn't included on CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT and was remixed on AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS. Thankfully, I've always had the single and now have the Japanese single box set in which its included.

I think I really like the "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" track the best. Karen's use of the "basement" vocal range is outstanding here. I also really like the composition of "An Old Fashioned Christmas". Richard and John Bettis' song is outstanding and I wish Karen had been around to sing it.

Harry
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I like this album and to be honest, I didn't really pick up on the fact that the "pre-Karen" section is so long until it started getting discussed here on the Corner. I've written before about how I enjoy Richard's occasional vocals on the earlier albums, so I was just fine with hearing him on the title tune - it just builds anticipation for when Karen finally comes in. So while I will readily agree that this album is not the work of art that CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT is, it does have its own charms.

I agree with the above sentiments on "Little Altar Boy." I'd never heard this song until I heard the Carpenters version. I've heard a few others since, but this one is the definitive version in my book.

"O Holy Night" - I wonder if Richard always planned to have this as an instrumental. I'm sure Karen would have pulled it off in style, but it is really a piano highlight too.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
My favorite track is "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" even though I like the single version better I still like the song either way. It plays almost like a Carpenters song instead of a only Christmas song. I like the way Karen sings it and the way she phrases her words. The song is so crisp and bright and it uses both Karen and Richard and I love the ending and harmonies.

But like CP, this one is almost impossible to choose just one. I really really love Karen's vocal on Do You Hear What I Hear, that 2nd verse when she comes in is just so amazing to me, her vocals are like butter, so smooth and so rich, I can only imagine what the first verse would have sounded like, even the hum hum would have been nice lol Then there is Little Alter Boy, OMG talk about amazing vocals. Even though Richard doesn't get alot of credit I just love the song An Old Fashioned Christmas and often find my self humming this to myself during the day at work.

I was listening to a radio clip from Youtube the other day of Karen being interviewed from London when she taped the Christmas show she did Dec 1978 on the Bruce Forsyth Show and she talked about doing CP and recording the material and how at first CP it was to be a 2 album set because there was so much material and then they got pressed for time and made it just 1 album, she said how there was just so many Christmas tracks that she loved and wanted to included in CP like she mentioned Little Alter Boy but she said there just wasn't any room, then she mentioned how they would release a 2nd Christmas album in the future but they were so busy then she didn't know when that would happen. It was weird listening to that and hearing her talk about it cause at the time we didn't know she had recorded Little Alter Boy cause it wasn't on CP but now hearing that audio conversation of her after she passed away now we know what Little Alter Boy was like and how she heard the final recording back then but now we are hearing it years after she passed away, we get to hear now what she had heard back then, I don't know why that got me for some reason, almost like a flashback to 1978 then jump to 2008. Karen is still with us in song and that is the best thing especially around the holidays when some people can get sad Karen has a way to warm our hearts and make us feel closer to her music. :)
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Harry said:
First, I need to thank our wayward moderator, Chris May, who assembled most of this data in the older "review" threads. I wanted to get this thread up before Christmas and didn't have the time to type it all in, so thanks Chris for letting me "borrow" your text as a template.

You are MORE than welcome, sir! I've been frequenting here a bit more lately, and am ready to start posting again. I've been very busy as a music director for a mega-church here in southern California, as well as taking on side projects, so my attention has been a bit elsewhere!

I just finished co-producing/arranging/orchestrating a huge Christmas show, where I had a 44-piece orchestra and 100-voice choir. As I've been listening to several cuts from both "Portrait" as well as "An Old Fashioned Christmas", it was hard not to mirror some of the ideas that Peter Knight as well as Richard used on the recordings in terms of orchestration. Very clever stuff.... :thumbsup:
 

SakuraSYayoi

Active Member
In another interview in 1978 Karen mentioned they had them both cut, regarding to "Ave Maria", the Bach-Gounod version and the Schubert version. Hope we can listen to Schubert version in a few years.
We Japanese fans watched "Ave Maria" for the first time in 1983 Holiday season.

This album may be the most listened cassette tape of my Carpenters tapes. I recorded LP to tape the day that I bought. I heard this cassette tape every year even in the year when I didn't listen to the LP.

My vote goes to "Little Altar Boy". About 6 or 7 years ago this song grew up bigger to me. Then I read Murray's great post here, 5 years ago(?)

Sakura
 

aaflyer98

Well-Known Member
I remember buying this album when it first came out...I liked it but after hearing "side 1" of my vinyl album I was very dissapointed that Karen had only sang two songs on the first side. Of course, I knew Richard had to put his songs on to fill up the album, but the stark reality was that Karen is gone. I was blown away with Karen's vocals on "Little Altar Boy". Wow. Just a knockout performance!
"Side 2" featured 5 songs by Karen so I liked that! But, out of 14 tracks, Karen appears on only 7 of them. I love Richard's arrangements and I really like the song "An Old Fashioned Christmas" which radio does play occasionally as well as "Home For The Holidays" from this album. The album just makes me miss Karen, because had she lived, obviously she would have had more songs to sing - not only on this album, but many more for years to come.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
The 35th Anniv Box Set booklet gives many indications from Richard that he was not pleased with how this album was ultimately released and he says had he known he would not have released it.

It's interesting to note that Richard says the album was to be pressed with audiophile vinyl (not my vinyl copy) Does anyone have an audiophile pressing of this record? can you describe that is it that purple see through or is it a white lable promo or does it actually say audiophile on the record label or outside cover??

Richard also says it was A&M decision all along to have no promotion on the album. Richard also was not happy that there was no inner sleeve or lyric notes. Add to the fact that Richard was also not happy about the cover art with Karen being the same height as Richard when in reality Karen was only 5'4".

What does Richard mean by "mid-line" product? He says he was given the bad news that the album would be released as a mid-line product.
 

SakuraSYayoi

Active Member
I thought it means that this album won't be advertised well.


I'm hearing American Top 10 with Casey Kasem on WBMW. He counts down 60 Biggest Holiday Songs. This week is Part 2. This Count Down is from national airplay.
#30 was Carpenters' "Home For The Holidays" like before.
Now he is playing "Merry Christmas Darling". It is at #13 like before.

50 minutes ago I was hearing another American Top 10 with Casey. It was another program, but he played "Merry Christmas Darling", I wondered if he would say it's '78 hit, but he didn't mention this time.

Sakura
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
A&Mguyfromwayback said:
Pretty sure 'mid-line' means the selling price will be much lower, so royalties will be lower as well.....

If that's the case how much of a price difference are we really talking about comparing CP to AOFC taking into consideration the time in which it was released. I would assume the price of the album back then would have affected gross sales in the long run? So if AOFC had been marketed and priced the same as CP would it have made as much money?

I wonder to if Richard is not talking about the money so much as releasing an album of Carpenters at bargin price hence dimenishing the value of the music inside, I could see how he would be upset about that, after all they released professional quality stuff not bargin stuff. The work, time and money that went into him completing this album must have been alot.
 
I remember the day I bought AOFC, during the first week of release, as it was not easy to find and I had to go to several stores. At that time new release LPs were about 8.99 or 9.99, yet I only paid 6.99 if memory serves. I was very disappointed to open it up and find the vinyl in a translucent plastic sleeve with no liner notes; not even a paper sleeve.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
"Midline" albums were usually older albums that were discounted in price. The trend started when new albums were mostly released at an $8.98 list. The idea was to boost catalog sales by lowering the price on older titles. The midline list price was usually $5.98 or sometimes $6.98, and stores would usually discount that by a dollar or so.

I was in the record business then and I don't remember AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS being a midline release; seems like it was a regular-priced release, but of course I could be wrong. Either way, it would have been very unusual for an established act to release a new album at midline price. That was normally reserved for albums that were at least 4 or 5 years old or more. New acts were also sometimes given the midline price point, on the theory that customers might be more inclined to risk their dollars if the album was less expensive.

It is true that midline albums didn't get promoted like full-price albums, but usually it wasn't necessary. Since midline items were older releases, they tended to get promoted in groups (a lot of albums listed in an ad, for example) whereas a new album might get a fullpage ad to itself.

This album didn't sell as well as CP because it's not as good an album, that's all there is to it really. It really is too bad CP couldn't have been a double album. As well as it has sold, I'll bet more than one A&M-ite wished they could turn back time and have a do-over on that one.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
mstaft said:
Love the spiritual songs- but I am a sucker for the Christmas romance stuff- "What are You Doing New Year's Eve?" wins.

Me too, I voted for 'What Are You Doing New Year's Eve' for that very reason!

Harry said:
I also really like the composition of "An Old Fashioned Christmas". Richard and John Bettis' song is outstanding and I wish Karen had been around to sing it.

You and me both Harry! I love the arrangement and you can just 'picture' Karen's rich vocal sitting there right in the middle of it.

aaflyer98 said:
I remember buying this album when it first came out...I liked it but after hearing "side 1" of my vinyl album I was very dissapointed that Karen had only sang two songs on the first side. Of course, I knew Richard had to put his songs on to fill up the album, but the stark reality was that Karen is gone. "Side 2" featured 5 songs by Karen so I liked that! But, out of 14 tracks, Karen appears on only 7 of them.

That was my overriding feeling on first listen too. As track 1 segued into 2, into 3, into 4...I was wondering when she was ever gonna put a show in. It's worth the wait of course, when you hear her opening line on 'Home For The Holidays'. It instantly brings a much needed warmth to the proceedings!

Chris-An Ordinary Fool said:
The 35th Anniv Box Set booklet gives many indications from Richard that he was not pleased with how this album was ultimately released and he says had he known he would not have released it.

Richard also says it was A&M decision all along to have no promotion on the album. Richard also was not happy that there was no inner sleeve or lyric notes. Add to the fact that Richard was also not happy about the cover art with Karen being the same height as Richard when in reality Karen was only 5'4".

I never thought about the art cover and the height difference, but it's true. Also, it's a rip off painted version of the inner sleeve picture from their last true studio album. Not very original.

Richard's frustration at the mid line approach must have stemmed partly from the fact that the original sessions from Christmas Portrait were amongst the most expensive ever undertaken by them. I'm sure over the years, as CP went platinum, A&M recouped the cost. But at that time, to then add further cost in post production to finish this second album, must have made matters worse. I can't understand why A&M would take that approach (no promotion etc). Richard was readily available for promoting the album in 1983, as we now know and they surely must have wanted to recoup the costs of this album via its sales. Karen's passing was also still pretty raw and in many people's minds, so a Christmas album would have been a fitting kind of album to push at that time of year for the fans.

I guess the bottom line is that Richard was probably tied to A&M contractually for further releases, but A&M as a label knew the golden era was over: there was to be no big single push, no Karen around to promote it, no duo interviews or TV promos. Very sad circumstances surrounding the album's release as a whole, for me anyway.
 

andywithaz

Well-Known Member
I voted for Do You Hear What I Hear.

It was a hard decision though. I really like Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, but I feel that since it had already been released as a single a decade earlier, that it really doesn't count as much as songs that saw a new release for the first time.
 

Daniel Perales

Well-Known Member
Well, I know it's a little late right now (Christmas is almost over), but anyway :D

While the "Christmas Portrait" is THE quintessential Christmas album, I still like "An Old Fashioned Christmas" better.

Why?

Well, the music on "Christmas Portrait" is the type that I like to play when I have some company around (not that there's nothing wrong with that). It adds a nice festive atmosphere to the place. But, "An Old Fashioned Christmas" is an album that I like to listen alone. It feels kind of melancholy and intimate at the same time.

Another thing about "An Old Fashioned Christmas" is that, this is one of the very few albums that I have that I can listen to it straight through (I'm listening to it right now, before I put it away for the next Christmas season). In other words, there is not a track on that album that I want to skip. I do not like every track of "Christmas Portrait", so I do skip through some of the songs on that one (blasphemous, I know).

I also say that this album has some of the best Karen Carpenter's vocals that I've heard. I mean, just listen to "Little Altar Boy", "He Came Here For Me", and "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" (that song actually made me all teary eyes the first time I've heard it). And Richard really sounds great singing the album's title track.

Now the tough part, picking a favorite track in this album:

I really can't choose out of these three songs:

"An Old Fashioned Christmas" (the title track). This one makes me feel just as giddy as "The Christmas Waltz" on the "Christmas Portrait" album.

"Little Altar Boy". One of Karen's finest performance.

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day". I start feeling very sad when this song finishes, just like a child when Christmas is over.



Danny
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Richard really did a great job with "Old Fashioned Christmas",as well done as it could have been.I think Richard has an overall negative view of the posthumous 80's albums,but I think they're pretty much superior to most of the 70's albums.And,I agree with Danny,"Old Fashioned Christmas" contains some of Karen's all-time best vocal performances.
 

george_b

Member
I like this album too. There is plenty of interest here. Actually I rate the Xmas music right up there, in terms of their output. Not as valuable to me as the early studio albums, but more valuable then Horizon, A Kind of Hush and Passage.

The Carpenters captured a spirit of Xmas I had not felt before. Throwbacks to their 50s childhood years that I found quite daring - and it worked!
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is definitely my favorite. If memory serves me, this is the first track on the "B" side of the vinyl. It was very captivating to hear the opening vocals overdubbed by Richard, warm in the Carpenters' "sound", and then we hear Karen. I always kind of thought of that as Richard setting up the grand entrance to Karen (I realize we'd already heard her by this point in the album!).

It was more intriguing to learn WHY Richard sang the first phrase, and not Karen...Aaaahh yes, more of that good ol' Carpenters trivia... :wink:
 

george_b

Member
Chris May said:
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is definitely my favorite. If memory serves me, this is the first track on the "B" side of the vinyl. It was very captivating to hear the opening vocals overdubbed by Richard, warm in the Carpenters' "sound", and then we hear Karen. I always kind of thought of that as Richard setting up the grand entrance to Karen (I realize we'd already heard her by this point in the album!).

It was more intriguing to learn WHY Richard sang the first phrase, and not Karen...Aaaahh yes, more of that good ol' Carpenters trivia... :wink:

I have never heard why Richard sang the first phrase. I do agree that there is a "grand entrance" effect that I still enjoy.

I have recently received a copy of the Spike Jones Xmas CD and can immediately see how influential this was in the creation of the Xmas collections
 
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