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Official Review [Single]: 15. "PLEASE MR. POSTMAN"/"THIS MASQUERADE" (1646-S)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Sep 24, 2016.

Which side is your favorite?

  1. Side A: "Please Mr. Postman"

    22 vote(s)
  2. Side B: "This Masquerade"

    27 vote(s)
  1. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    Wow, anyway you slice it, this is the most competitive single, and it will probably be such until the end. One might say this is the high point, maybe? Two very different songs showing the C's powers and strengths looking forward and back.

    I'm biased, but I think it is telling that it's one of a couple of singles where Karen drums on both sides as well as singing lead.

    Discussion? Opinion? Thoughts?
    GaryAlan, natureaker and A&M Retro like this.
  2. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    She was a very gifted lady at both!
  3. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    I've always loved their "Please Mr. Postman" video. It shows off Karen having fun and being in her "happy place". So that may bias how I feel about the recording. If I try to judge the two songs by their recordings only, I have to lean to "This Masquerade". Whenever Karen sang a Leon Russell tune, magic happened.
    It is interesting to see that a song which was a worldwide hit 42 years ago is lagging behind it's flip side. Was this a "missed opportunity" for them in 1975?
    KentTeffeteller likes this.
  4. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    By far, This Masquerade is my favorite. Can you imagine a typical Carpenters fan in 1973, getting the Now & Then album, bringing it home, playing the first cut, Sing, having visions of Muppets dancing in their heads while transitioning into this beautiful number! This is in my top 5 of Carpenters songs. They really took it up a notch with this recording in my estimation. This is as much Richard's brilliance as Karen's. The arrangement is exquisite, the piano and flute solos are over the top excellent, and what endears the song to me is the duo coming in with "wooowooohhh" during those solos. The song introduced a level of sophistication not previously there IMHO. And of course; Karen's sexy, sultry, smokey, etc vocals slay me. The length of the song definitely hindered it from being played on Top 40 AM radio but this is a song you would want to hear in stereo anyway. I agree with a previous comment on this thread that with the combination of Leon Russell and Karen Carpenter, magic was going to happen.
    Mark-T likes this.
  5. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Post "Passage", I think Masquerade should have been a template of sorts for the style of a follow up disc. But certainly after the relative failure of Made in America.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I'll, no doubt, draw the ire of some, but....
    While Karen's lead vocals on This Masquerade are fantastic
    (as is the drums and keyboard acumen),
    the piano interlude should not have been followed by the flute solo (IMHO).
    The utilization of the flute in this arrangement simply downplays the gravitas of the song.
    Richard's vocals ending the song have always bugged me--primarily due to the
    fact that his voice (as male lead) is higher than Karen's lead !
    I'm not implying he doesn't sing that ending well, simply too high for my tastes.
    Otherwise, great Carpenters' song !
    newvillefan likes this.
  7. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    I have always considered this masquerade and solitaire to be Richard's masterpieces.
  8. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I suppose my perspective regarding This Masquerade
    can best be exemplified by comparison of the duos recordings of three Leon Russell songs:
    (1) Superstar (1971)
    (2) A Song For You (1972)
    (3) This Masquerade (1973)

    With each subsequent recording, the arrangement becomes less "beefy."
    I can not fathom a flute finding its way into the first two mentioned.
    And, after the flute solos occurring in Jambalaya and It's Going To Take Some Time,
    I simply can not see a reason to include it on This Masquerade.
    But, others like it--and, that's great !

    Carpe diem likes this.
  9. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    I pestered my favorite radio station here in dallas until they started playing this masquerade. I thought I was surely to be the next single, but then Richard threw me for a loop with top of the world.
  10. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    Picture it... January 1975 - while watching American Bandstand's top ten segment, and expecting Postman to hit 5 or 4 - - then - - nothing - - ......... I was thinking, 'damn, it's already out of the top ten!'.... The countdown continued, number two - - - then - - Dick Clark announces the number one song for the week: "Please Mr. Postman", Carpenters.

    That didn't happen to this fan that often.... so I embrace the song for the catchy fun melody and fun arrangement - - as well as the historical value of capturing the third number 1 spot for the duo.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I remember that time period well.
    I recall (and, I was merely 13, or so) Postman all over the radio !
    I do (still) love the arrangement (courtesy Richard) ,
    the drums (courtesy Karen),
    the lead vocal (Karen) and, the
    harmonies (Karen and Richard).
    This is a brilliant song !
    Mark-T, BarryT60 and Carpe diem like this.
  12. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    The length of the song killed This Masquerade as it would in the future with I Just Fall In Love Again from possible #1 hit contention. There should've been a "Top 40 friendly" single version of each presented, but leave the album versions alone. Example: The Doors with Light My Fire. And it kills me that Anne Murray takes the latter mentioned song and makes a huge hit out of it 2 years later, when Karen's vocals are so much more outstanding (for lack of better adjectives)! Ok, eliminate the flute solo (GaryAlan :D ) from Masquerade and the Tony Peluso fuzz guitar solo from I Just Fall and there you go, Top 40 AM glory! Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda...
    BarryT60 likes this.
  13. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    ITA!!!! That one bothered me then - & still does! I Just Fall In Love Again was a goldmine - and could have been a number one song for Karen and Richard...
  14. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Not only was Postman all over the radio and TV, but it put Carpenters on the cover of a lot of fan type magazines out during the time period. It was wonderful for Carpenters fans! It also meant a new album was on the way. And, it was a great Single Art Cover for the 45 rpm single. And it was the third song from a remake of a Motown song that went to number 1. And, it came after a most successful '74 tour.

    This Masquerade was great but Leon Russell's A Song For You was better and if you shortened the Sax solo it would have made a great single. It is still the best version of this song some 40 plus years later. They were everywhere on the charts breaking records all over the charts, and on award shows. I used to read Billboard and Cash Box magazine and listened to American Top 40 for most of my information.

    We look at it and celebrate, and most likely they did. We just did not feel the pressure of having to maintain this incredible run.

    Carpe diem likes this.
  15. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    We never have to wonder why so few artists on American Idol or the Voice cover Carpenters versions of songs. We all KNOW the answer! :)
    Carpe diem and Jamesj75 like this.
  16. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    It's easy for me to be an "armchair quarterback" as to "what might have been". It's frustrating when a song like I Just Fall In Love Again is synonymous with Anne Murray. And don't get me wrong she is a fine singer and did a good job with it, but when there is a version of this song buried on the album Passage; that Karen Carpenter recorded and is so much more beautifully melodic and quite frankly BETTER in every way than Anne's version (IMHO), it just gets me crazy how this was not exploited at the time.
    BarryT60 and K.C. Jr like this.
  17. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    Richard said there was no way to edit the song to fit top 40 radio programmers.
    KentTeffeteller and Carpe diem like this.
  18. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    And there isn't - I've tried it myself.
    KentTeffeteller and Carpe diem like this.
  19. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    It's a dirty ole shame: for it's the best song on Passage.
    newvillefan, BarryT60 and Carpe diem like this.
  20. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    I did not know that. That is a pity. Well, true Carpenters fans know the song and appreciate it for what it is. I had never heard the album PASSAGE until last summer when I attained a vinyl copy and saw on side one I Just Fall... and instantly thought to myself; Isn't that Anne Murray's song? When I finally heard The Carpenters version of it, I was blown away by the beautiful arrangement and of course the emotional aspects, once again, of that beautiful voice. The song will always be synonymous with Anne Murray. Between the two versions, it is hamburger or filet mignon...It is too bad that the world was offered only hamburger.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I Just Fall In Love Again:
    The Japanese Treasures CD provides more information.
    Arrangement by Richard Carpenter and Peter Knight.
    RC: "I wanted to 'pull' it as a Single, but our version is four minutes long and is not
    editable the way certain tunes are. At the time, Top 40 stations were playing records
    not much longer than three minutes."

    (1) I would be interested to know what Peter Knight's contribution to the arrangement consisted of.
    (2) Also, regardless of length, had Richard thought--at the time (1977/1978)--- that the song
    was all that great (as we know it is), I suspect he would have cut/recorded it as a "single."
    Hindsight is 20/20, of course: Had he known that Anne Murray would release it as a single,
    making a hit of the song, the song would have not been left as an album cut.
    (3) Which brings me to my conclusion--right or wrong--until Anne Murray released her version,
    making a hit single of the song, no one in the entirety of the Carpenters' 'camp' was thinking of this
    song as anything but an album cut.

    But, it is a fantastic song.
    I thought so at the time (of Passage release) and still do.
    It is an epic ballad. (In the Carpenters' version)
    Jamesj75, Murray and Carpe diem like this.
  22. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Very informative Gary, thanks for sharing that. I never knew until I played the album last summer, that a Carpenters version of this song existed. Needless to say, knowing what Karen can do with a song, I directed the needle quickly to that track and was astounded at what I heard, and started thinking, who screwed up here?! But as you say "hindsight is 20/20", unfortunately.
  23. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    All of which raises an interesting question which also brings us nicely back on topic. If this song and This Masquerade were both destined to remain album tracks (I don't consider B-sides to be bona fide "singles" - they're only there because another song is needed), then why does This Masquerade appear regularly on true hits compilations whereas the Passage ballad almost never does? Richard has blatantly paraded the track on many Greatest Hits collections as if it were an actual single back in their heyday. Its most notable appearances include:

    Twenty Two Hits (Japan)
    Gold (UK, US and Japan!)
    Yesterday Once More (US)
    Ultimate Collection (UK and Netherlands)

    ...and most puzzling of all, given its title:

    Only Yesterday: Their Greatest Hits (UK)
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interesting point, Newvillefan !
    Although, I might add that the 1978 2-LP Set Carpenters Collection
    includes both This Masquerade and I Just Fall In Love Again.
    1984: Silver Eagle Records, Yesterday Once More 2-LP, includes This Masquerade.
    1985: EMI,Yesterday Once More 2-LP Set, contains neither song.
  25. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    'This Masquerade' was featured in The Karen Carpenter Story TV movie, which I imagine is why it was included on the UK Only Yesterday compilation that came out a few months after the movie was shown here. But overall it must be their most-featured non-single on compilation albums.

    I can only assume Richard has long favoured it (quite rightly - it is one of their finest tracks, flute solo and all!), hence its repeated appearances, plus as a B side to their biggest seller worldwide, it must have been more familiar to the market than some of their other tracks that were singles. It really should have been a single back in 1973 - regardless of radio preferring songs around the 3 minute mark, I still suspect that if a song was good enough, it would get the airplay regardless (surely not every hit released in the early 1970s stuck to these timing strictures).

    Re 'I Just Fall in Love Again's fewer appearances on compliations, my guess is that Richard reappraised this track later than he did 'This Masquerade' - it only really started cropping up on compliations in the late 1990s. Also, it was never an A or B side to any single until it appeared on the flip of the random and low-selling 'Honolulu City Lights' single in 1987, so it never had much recognition as their song by the audience, other than those who'd heard it as just another album track on Passage.

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