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Solo Album and Single Success

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by newvillefan, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I was always struck by Richard's comment in the Coleman book that there wasn't a hit single on Karen's solo album..."with the possible exception of 'If I Had You'".

    I always interpreted this as a begrudging acceptance by Richard that the album did indeed contain a hit song, just that he didn't like to admit it. Had the album been released, what do you think the chance of single success would have been? I think it's fun to speculate. What other songs do you think would have fared well? What do you think the B-sides would have been?

    Assuming Karen had gone ahead and released it in May 1980 instead of cancelling it, here are mine:

    May 1980
    Single #1: If I Had You
    B-side: If We Try
    Comment: Lead Single

    August 1980
    Single #2: My Body Keeps Changing My Mind
    B-side: All Because Of You
    Comment: Great summer single!

    November 1980
    Single #3: Make Believe It's Your First Time
    B-side: Lovelines
    Comment: Reflective autumn/winter single
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  2. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Yes those look like singles I would purchase and probably multiples. Lol
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  3. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    As I've said a few times before on this forum, I've never thought of Make Believe It's Your First Time as a viable single but in the context of releasing three singles from the album, it's the most striking of all the ballads on the album. I thought pairing it with the album opener would have been a nice touch:)
  4. theninjarabbit

    theninjarabbit Well-Known Member

    I do like the combination "If I Had You" with "If We Try". I occasionally think that the latter, with its use of the lower register (and/or ballad tempo), may have eased some Carpenters fans into it. I was drawn to it immediately on "Lovelines" -- it's my favorite. "If I Had You" has the same energy; it's exciting to listen to.

    I'm afraid I don't have any opinions on anything else. :D
  5. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    "Make Believe" should've been just a B-side, if that.

    "Lovelines/Still Crazy" should've. been a double A-side.

    "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind/Remember When Loving Took All Night".
  6. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I fell Still Crazy After All These Years is on of the strongest songs. Guess I’ve Just Lost My Head is a good radio play song but some critics could play in by title alone. The song with Peter Cetera is catchy when listening multiple times, but it needs some balancing of vocal parts as years later with Amy Grant’s duet with him, After All. The album was ahead of its time and I have always felt it needed mixed better, and a few songs replaced with other songs recorded what were not chosen for the final product. The song My Body Keeps... could have been a pre album release single, since disco almost died after 1979, so that would have to have been released right after recording it. This is not part of your topic, but I feel Something’s Missing In My Life should have been on the final cut, finished and released as a single with Jimmy Mac in a lower key on the flip side, for the second single. And, I’ll agree with the third single. I like this topic for I have always felt this album would have made the Carpenters stronger with the image issue showing strength in the role of a musician. I just don’t think the business side of this product was ready for this attempt. I feel these songs make the Carpenters catalog stronger. I also wish, if I had one to make, that Karen was as strong physically as in 1973-1974, for I feel her vocals would have flown circles around this material with optimal precision.
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  7. This is a great thread idea. I especially liked NewvilleFan's suggestions (by season)! I too am not sure about "Make Believe..." as a single, though it's an incredible version. I was thinking "Guess I Just Lost My Head" might have had radio potential. Anyone else?
    newvillefan likes this.
  8. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    May 1980
    Single #1: Lovelines
    B-side: Remember When Lovin' Took All Night
    Comment: Lead Single

    August 1980
    Single #2: My Body Keeps Changing My Mind
    B-side: Steel Een Luv Weeth Yoo
    Comment: Get 'em dancin'!

    November 1980
    Single #3: Make Believe It's Your First Time
    B-side: Guess I Just Lost My Head
    Comment: Beautiful ballad and really nice jazz/pop balladry

  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^I'm against the grain on this one,
    my least favorite solo song being " Guess I Just Lost My Head " !
    The song bores me to tears !
  10. CarpentersToYou

    CarpentersToYou What I feel has come and gone before...

    I, too, have always been bored with "Still Crazy After All These Years." I really quite like Karen's solo album. I always have. It has a real summer vibe to me and Karen's love for it shines through.
  11. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    You guys if we didn't have this material we'd be clamoring after Richard for it. I would be.
  12. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Oh, I whole-heartedly agree, Jeff !
    I should probably note that while " Guess I Just Lost My Head" would never be a contender
    for a Single from the solo album (IMHO).....I am definitely glad that it was recorded and released !
    Wishing the same for all of the remaining solo tracks....a proper finish and release !
  13. BarryT60

    BarryT60 Well-Known Member

    So - I've thought long and hard about this.... I went to the top songs of March, May, and July of 1980 - and what a mixed bag! In some ways, I may have voted for My Body Keeps Changing My Mind b/w Lovelines as the lead single since disco was still somewhat relevant...(though, obviously waning).. On The Radio was still hot, and Off the Wall was big, so maybe if as a Birthday gift to Karen, it would have been cool for "body" to have been released March 3rd, 1980.

    Then, later in the summer, I may have selected: Making Love in The Afternoon - b/w Still Crazy After All These Years.

    I rather like Still In Love With You also.... so - somewhere I may have chosen that as a single... I think it shows a sound that was completely non-Carpenters, but still cool and hip.

    As for If I Had You - I have vacillated on that as a single choice for years and years... Same with Make Believe. Not sure how the nuances of all those vocal layers would have translated on radio, and Make Believe seemed too short.

    All that being said, I wish A & M would have released at least one song, and it could have easily been thrown on a Carpenters album later on - if the single wouldn't have been received terrifically. Really, what harm could it have done?
    GaryAlan likes this.
  14. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    making love in the afternoon, follow up to if I had you. I would have like to have heard last one singing the completed.
  15. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    marketing with carpenters was always a single when recording began, then a single just before album release, then a single when the second single had run its course.

    Karen deserved to have the first single, a&m owed her that much.
    Jorge and Jeff like this.
  16. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    I just can't imagine the album selling in 1979 or 1980, or any of the songs on it that may have been released as singles. The view that the public had of Carpenters by then, Karen's poor health, her physical appearance, the mismatch between song content and her image, the pitch that she was recorded at, the thin and strained sound that she had in places on a number of tracks and the way that she didn't manage to come across as sincere or convincing on the particular songs that she recorded are just some of the things that would have gone against any releases. Added to that the competition that she would have been up against in terms of new recording acts, artists who were truly convincing and owned their product, (conceiving, writing, playing on and producing their work) or cases where there was a perfect match between image, material and artist, and the record company knew they had a real 'dog' on their hands. It's fairly clear they made the right decision. This is a record that I can rarely bring myself to listen to.
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  17. Brian

    Brian Well-Known Member

    That's a great idea.

    I do believe in what I said in my post above - that most of the recordings on 'Karen Carpenter' weren't passable for release in 1979 or 1980, making the shelving of the album a 'given', but, with some more work and re-recording by Karen, a couple of songs could have made a stand-alone single. I can go with that. I'm still doubtful that many copies would have been sold, though.

    I think that 'Something's Missing (In My Life)' would have been charming as a single, but Karen would have had to re-record her vocal. I'm assuming that what we hear on the leaked out-take is just a rough work lead. She sounds great for quite a bit of this recording but loses it in some places, (holding an off-key note at one point and over-singing sections of the song). It's unlikely this recording would have had much commercial potential at the time but it could have made a treasure for the fans as a stand-alone 'A' side.

    Another solo recording that I am very fond of is 'It's Really You'. That would have made a great 'B' side. Once again, Karen would have had to re-record sections, because she misses some of the high notes on the recording we've heard.

    I forgot 'Midnight'. I would have bought that if it was an 'A' side in 1979. Once again, the vocal out there is clearly just a work lead, so it would need re-recording by Karen. So maybe there could have been two stand-alone singles - (or standing-in-partnership singles). :)

    I particularly like 'I Do It For Your Love' and that could have been the 'B' side. I'm not convinced that this single would have brought much chart action in the period in question, though. This would have cancelled the viability of releasing 'Still Crazy After All These Years' at all, because both of these songs come from the original Paul Simon album.

    I don't dislike all of Karen's solo recordings. It's just that I believe that many of those that were selected for the actual album were poor choices and lacking in strength of performance by Karen.

    The two imaginary singles that I've mentioned, I feel, would have been wonderful to get hold of in 1979.
  18. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    The problem with the idea of releasing a standalone single from the solo album is that it would have held out the chance that it might have had some success and then that the solo project might have continued, which from having read all the background information on the album that's emerged in recent years was not what A&M wanted.

    They had no interest in making the album a viable concern in 1980 (that's not to say it wasn't viable as it was, just that A&M chose not to see it that way) because to keep it going in any form, even one standalone single, might have delayed or ultimately derailed Karen reuniting with Richard.

    'If I Had You' would have been the obvious first single in my opinion - catchy, immediate, complex and different, and not hampered by any so-called 'disco' overtones that some say made the album sound dated by that point - something to set the tone of a new and different era. Where singles would have gone from there I don't know, although I'd have been tempted to select 'If We Try' as a later single - less immediate but with a gorgeous warm reading and sax break that I can imagine radio going for.
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  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I had to re-play the Solo album this morning.
    I have to re-adjust what I said (above) regarding: " Guess I Just Lost My Head "
    Seems the song is much better than I had 'remembered'.....that being said...
    there are songs aplenty in the entire Solo project which would have made good Singles !
    Jeff likes this.
  20. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    What a downer. I'm gonna slit my wrists...
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  21. Yes! Well said. 100% agreement.
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  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Much of that description which Brian gives could also apply to Karen during:
    Made In America !
    Image concerns,
    Karen's poor health,
    A few songs Pitched too high,
    A few poor single choices,
    Thin & strained vocals.

    I've grown to appreciate Made In America...so I mean it no disrespect...
    but, I listen to Karen's solo songs much more than MIA,
    am I crazy? I do not hide my love for that album !
    An "experiment"...is what it was termed by Phil Ramone,
    "experiments" are sometimes not as successful as we want them to be,
    does that imply that experiments are useless ?

    If We Try..My Body Keeps Changing My Mind...Something's Missing...If I Had You...
    just a few outstanding Single opportunities....

    Explain how
    Something's Missing
    is not a perfect Single, if completed.....

    Brian likes this.
  23. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Spot on!
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  24. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Phil Ramone is held in such high regard among the public and the recording industry, yet I don't think he gets enough of the blame for the solo album not being a knockout.
    byline, song4u, K.C. Jr and 1 other person like this.
  25. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    I'm with you on most of this as I don't think this album was the one to break Karen out of the sales funk Carpenters had gotten themselves into. I still enjoy listening to the record and the song craft on a lot of it is very good. I think the Javor tunes were a complete mistake but everything else works in it's own way. I also love Rod Temperton's vocal arrangements. He got her out of the Richard Carpenter-choral thing (which he's brilliant at) and sent her straight to Jazz. Temperton was a vocal arranging beast and did a fantastic job here. If you like his style of vocal arranging, head straight over to the Heatwave albums and you'll hear a lot of it.

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