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Solo Album and Single Success

Chris

Well-Known Member
Ah, the ever going mystery of what her solo album cover really was! I wish we could get definitive answers and the story from those that worked at A&M and designed it at the time, but I have some further info.
I was lucky enough to get the album cover proof that came up on ebay a while back. It actually looks better in person than it does in the photos of it we've seen online. Even though there is the artistic treatment over her image, there is a bit more detail in her face than what showed up on the CD cover in '96.
I did some research and found that Chuck Beeson was the designer of the album cover and it does appear that this was indeed the intended final cover. Chuck designed many covers through the years and was given a plaque to celebrate his 30th year at A&M a few years ago. It's pictured below. You can see the many album covers he did. Look on the second row of albums, the fourth one from the left is Karen's solo cover:



Harry made a good point that the design and colors reflect what some other album covers looked like at the time. I think that the colors and style of Karen's name even hints at what was to come in the early 80's with its graphic look and peachy pink color on the grayish background.
Here are a couple of photos I snapped of the LP cover proof. Hopefully from these you can get a better idea of what it looks like compared to the other pictures we've seen so far.


 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Thanks Chris for confirming this was the final artwork. I’m still surprised Karen signed this off. It’s absolutely awful. Almost a prelude to the cartoon cover for Made In America.

I did some research and found that Chuck Beeson was the designer of the album cover and it does appear that this was indeed the intended final cover. Chuck designed many covers through the years and was given a plaque to celebrate his 30th year at A&M a few years ago. It's pictured below.
I wonder why they included a cover for an unreleased album on this plaque? Seems strange to me.

BTW as far as I’m aware the original photo of Karen on the back cover has never surfaced. These are from the same session:





 
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tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I did some research and found that Chuck Beeson was the designer of the album cover and it does appear that this was indeed the intended final cover. Chuck designed many covers through the years and was given a plaque to celebrate his 30th year at A&M a few years ago. It's pictured below. You can see the many album covers he did. Look on the second row of albums, the fourth one from the left is Karen's solo cover:

Looks like he also did the covers for Lovelines (bottom row, 5th from right) and Richard's second solo album (3rd row from bottom, 2nd from right).
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
even though there is the artistic treatment over her image, there is a bit more detail in her face than what showed up on the CD cover in '96.
I'd love to ask Chuck Beeson why the decision was made to "cartoon" these images up for the cover. There was absolutely no need. Karen looked great in the original photos.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
I'd love to ask Chuck Beeson why the decision was made to "cartoon" these images up for the cover. There was absolutely no need. Karen looked great in the original photos.
Well, it was a style choice. It looks more artsy. I'm sure they were doing what they thought was best for Karen by giving her a treatment that they saw as a modern edgy look to the design, but yes, I agree that it's kind of sad that her photos weren't kept closer to their original form as she was so gorgeous in them.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
Even though they are not what we would have chosen for her cover treatment, I think the images of Karen look better on the large album proof than they do on the CD cover. Not sure why they were degraded and simplified even more when they were put on the CD cover layout. I've said it before, but I still remember the first time I ever saw the CD cover in the music store in 1996. My heart sank. She had looked so great in the black & white photo version of that pose we had seen prior, but the CD cover looked like a washed out, crude pencil treatment over her face. Something was lost in translation.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Morning Opens Quietly...
Wow Chris, thanks so much for the uploads and I'm glad you got the win. I can definitely tell it's higher quality resolution than what I uploaded from the sale. Thanks so much for letting us see a clearer version. I also want to thank you for maybe putting this to light once and for all...seeing that it's the same one shown in the Chuck Beeson 30th plaque, I think this confirms that this proof was the one that was to become her solo album cover. I think something else important is that this was just a proof and the final could have even been more clearer/glossy when it went to final print enhancing the images even more.

Just curious, the dimensions were given from the sale verbiage I had saved, with the fold down the middle does this match up to the dimensions of an actual album cover? For instance when the proof is folded does it match the same size album cover as say MIA as a reference? I was curious about that aspect.

Harry's prior post is making more sense to me now....it might have just been these were the colors making big albums back in that day. Our minds have been programmed for so long that her solo album cover had to look a different way, brighter, livelier and full of vibrant colors and now we need to re-program our thoughts. :laugh:
 
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Chris

Well-Known Member
Just curious, the dimensions were given from the sale verbiage I had saved, with the fold down the middle does this match up to the dimensions of an actual album cover? For instance when the proof is folded does it match the same size album cover as say MIA as a reference? I was curious about that aspect.
Yes, the image area matches up to the dimensions of an open album cover and just a little wider on all sides for the bleed area to allow for edges and spine. :)

Harry's prior post is making more sense to me now....it might have just been these were the colors making big albums back in that day. Our minds have been programmed for so long that her solo album cover had to look a different way, brighter, livelier and full of vibrant colors and now we need to re-program our thoughts. :laugh:
:laugh: Yes, I'm sort of re-progaming my thoughts on it a bit. I've warmed up to it since it's better than the CD cover image and seeing that it's part of A&M and Karen history, it makes it special.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
I wonder why they included a cover for an unreleased album on this plaque? Seems strange to me.
Even though it was never released as an LP, I suppose it was included since it was part of his important album designs for A&M.

BTW as far as I’m aware the original photo of Karen on the back cover has never surfaced. These are from the same session:





You're right, Stephen! The original photo used for the back cover never has surfaced. It sure would be nice to see it. I think it's one of her better ones. Just think of all the outtakes that are sitting in some vault somewhere at A&M and in Claude Mougin's archives!
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
I’ve just had a thought as to why the cover might have the cartoonish effect: the original pictures may have been taken in black and white only. This means to give them colour, they may have had to “crayon in” the colours. It’s confusing though, because clearly some of the other pictures were taken in colour; for instance, from other shots we know the jacket Karen is wearing is bright red.

I wonder who created this effect and why? Was it Chuck Beeson or someone from A&M’s artwork team?
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
I’ve just had a thought as to why the cover might have the cartoonish effect: the original pictures may have been taken in black and white only. This means to give them colour, they may have had to “crayon in” the colours. It’s confusing though, because clearly some of the other pictures were taken in colour; for instance, from other shots we know the jacket Karen is wearing is bright red.
It's all just a design and style choice, including changing the color of her jacket. Even if a particular photo is taken in black & white only, it doesn't mean you can't colorize it more realistically if you choose. An example of one of her photos that was colorized in a more authentic way, but still with an interesting saturated look is this one that appeared in the Yesterday Once More gatefold.



I wonder who created this effect and why? Was it Chuck Beeson or someone from A&M’s artwork team?
Amy Nagasawa is credited in the notes for the album as the photo colorist. I would guess that Chuck Beeson was in charge of the project and its vision and she was part of his team.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
So, yet, another issue arises.
If this were the final product--if the LP of the solo, had it been released in 1980--
if this was the final vision that consumers would see on the record shelves....
then, I'm afraid the entire effect of Karen being "harder-edged,"
and a beautiful woman in her own right, on her own.....
it all would have been downplayed through this "colorization."
Too much ambiguity regarding the content (songs) on the Vinyl.
(That is, ambiguity between the 'softer' photo portrayed on album cover versus
harder-edged songs on the album.)
My two cents.
 
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Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Morning Opens Quietly...
Another aspect that has confused me is the gift that Itchie Ramone received from Karen that was shown on Entertainment Tonight episode. It's clearly the size of an LP cover in comparison to Itchie's hand holding the cover. Maybe this was just a gift from Karen to Itchie thanking her for all the support she gave Karen during the solo album. To think that this photo was all ready to go and Karen actually signed it making me (at one time) believe that THIS was what her solo album was to look like. Remember VOTH was not even conceived back when Karen would have given this to Itchie.


 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
It's all just a design and style choice, including changing the color of her jacket. Even if a particular photo is taken in black & white only, it doesn't mean you can't colorize it more realistically if you choose. An example of one of her photos that was colorized in a more authentic way, but still with an interesting saturated look is this one that appeared in the Yesterday Once More gatefold.




Amy Nagasawa is credited in the notes for the album as the photo colorist. I would guess that Chuck Beeson was in charge of the project and its vision and she was part of his team.
Thanks, Chris, for those large scans! They do certainly make a difference. As beautiful as all the colorized versions are - and YOUR artwork especially- I'm still surprised A&M would not have chosen the B&W shots as they were for the album. Certainly in line with the other covers Harry showed us.
 

Brian

Well-Known Member
I’d find it hard to believe she would have signed this off as the finished product. It’s ghastly.

The various references by people in their circle to the album being “unfinished” really does irritate me. Clearly, it was a completed project as far as Phil and Karen were concerned. You don’t arrange a playback session in New York and LA for the label and then play everyone an incomplete album. Those playback sessions were specifically arranged for the label to sign off on the project. The shock came when they turned round and said it wasn’t even releasable.

The only reason I can think that people consider it not finished is that A&M asked her to record more material. She chose not to do that, but I believe what she presented to the label in early 1980 was what she thought would end up on record store shelves.
I agree. This is not a flattering photo and the tinting gives Karen a ghoulish look. I think this was a bad choice for a cover photo, whether in 1996 or 1979. There were much nicer photos from the session, except that Karen looks out of it in most of them, because her friend slipped her those Quaaludes or Valium or whatever it was. (Look at her pupils in most of the shots). Also, she looks skeletally thin in a lot of the photos.

I thought it had been stated that Karen chose the cover photo that finally appeared on 'Voice of the Heart' as her solo cover shot and that the photo shown in this thread, on the chair, was only put on the 1996 release because her original choice had already been used.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Keep in mind--according to Richard Carpenter--Book entitled A&M First 25 Years--
Jerry Moss chose the photos that ultimately appeared on the Voice of the Heart album.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I agree. This is not a flattering photo and the tinting gives Karen a ghoulish look. I think this was a bad choice for a cover photo, whether in 1996 or 1979. There were much nicer photos from the session, except that Karen looks out of it in most of them, because her friend slipped her those Quaaludes or Valium or whatever it was. (Look at her pupils in most of the shots). Also, she looks skeletally thin in a lot of the photos.
Many of the photos for the solo albums look really good (including the original photo for the cover), which makes the decision (either originally or in 1996) to manipulate and colour over the photos all the more perplexing.

I don't think Karen looks out of it in the original photos or skeletally thin - she looked much thinner in photos from 1981, when there was perhaps reason to airbrush them or use illustrations on album covers to hide that fact. There wasn't that need to do that to these shots.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I think that the photo shoot for the solo album was so good that they had to diminish any sex appeal for an artist who had passed to ring in the wholesome image.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Morning Opens Quietly...
This article published in 1996 also added that Karen choose the white sweatshirt for the cover album. I’m now thinking that since Itchie Ramone was interviewed for this article that it’s possible they got that info from the picture of Itchie holding the signed cover for Karen that appears in the ET video. I’m guessing but maybe the writer of this NY times article saw that cover from Itchie and assumed that was the cover without actually asking Itchie if this was the cover to be or just a thank you from Karen.

Some strong take aways from this article:

Karen Carpenter's Second Life

“THIS WASN'T JUST AN ALBUM,'' SAYS FRENDA Franklin, who was Karen's best friend. ''It was her Emancipation Proclamation.''

“Ramone sees it differently. ''I didn't feel like her mentor,'' he says. ''There wasn't one part of this album that she wasn't involved in, when she didn't have the reins.'' It was Karen, who had often been photographed with Richard in a matching outfit, who encouraged the glam photo sessions for the album cover. When she saw the proofs of one shot, which showed her elegantly coiffed and made up and wearing an oversize white sweatshirt (a precursor of the ''Flashdance'' look), she ran to Ichiuji in a rare outburst of self-worth. ''Look at me, Itch,'' she said. ''I'm pretty. I'm really pretty.''
 
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