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Solo Album and Single Success

John Tkacik

Active Member
The more I listen to "Making Love in the Afternoon" the more I like it and feel that it had hit potential. It has that early 80's vibe with catchy lyrics and an uptempo beat. Am curious to know how the whole Peter Cetera union happened if anyone can share some details. Whose idea was it, did Phil Ramone arrange it, did Karen and Peter lay out the vocal tracks together, were there any photos of the event, did they go out to lunch or dinner together?

Also wonder if Karen and Richard ever meet the band members of Chicago during their years of touring. Both acts were turning out hit after hit during the 70's and you'd think their paths would have crossed at some point. Am just surprised there was no fanfare or media coverage on two of the biggest singers of the era recording a song together in a New York studio.
Rick Henry states in his "Carpenters-Album By Album: Song By Song" publication : "Producer, Phil Ramone had just completed work with Peter Cetera and Chicago producing the album 'Chicago 13'. While working with Chicago, Cetera had mentioned to Ramone that he was a big fan of Karen's voice. Cetera quickly went to work and wrote the song ' Making Love In The Afternoon' expressly for Karen. Ramone and Karen invited Cetera to sing back-up on the song and billed it as a duet."

Didn't "Rick-An Ordinary Fool" also discover/report on this forum that the lyric sheet for this song can be seen on the stand in the photo where Karen is standing at the mike in her "comic characters" blouse?
 
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A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Has anyone else ever picked up on the subtle sarcasm in Richard's liner notes on the "From The Top" box set regarding the track My Body Keeps Changing My Mind?

"From the sublime to the disco, as Karen demonstrates her versatility with this catchy period piece".

The usual phrase would be "from the sublime to the ridiculous" 🤔
As Phil Ramone stated so perfectly in 1989, “Richard has always treated these songs like stepchildren”.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
The more I listen to "Making Love in the Afternoon" the more I like it and feel that it had hit potential. It has that early 80's vibe with catchy lyrics and an uptempo beat. Am curious to know how the whole Peter Cetera union happened if anyone can share some details. Whose idea was it, did Phil Ramone arrange it, did Karen and Peter lay out the vocal tracks together, were there any photos of the event, did they go out to lunch or dinner together?

Also wonder if Karen and Richard ever meet the band members of Chicago during their years of touring. Both acts were turning out hit after hit during the 70's and you'd think their paths would have crossed at some point. Am just surprised there was no fanfare or media coverage on two of the biggest singers of the era recording a song together in a New York studio.
"The more I listen to "Making Love in the Afternoon" the more I like it and feel that it had hit potential."

I thought so too. Of all the songs on the album I thought it could possibly score high on a top 40 chart. Especially going into the summer of 1980 if the album would've been released as planned (May 1980). It had a summertime "feel" to it. Karen's planned wedding in August might also have given the song a little "bump" as her name would once again be in the news.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Karen really wasn't that big of a deal at that point commercially. By 1976, the well had run dry on the hits for the most part. Chicago wasn't doing very well either by this point. Terry Kath had died and the band was flailing around trying to figure out what to do. I doubt anyone would have been checking that hard for either entity in 1979/1980.

Ed
Yes, I believe this is the reality. I don’t think there would have been much interest from radio, the record buying public or the industry. It would have been nice to see Karen or Carpenters return to their heyday but that was going to take a lot.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I decided to look at a Billboard Top 40 chart for the very end of 1979. Karen’s playback session was not until early 1980 so, presumably, if her album had been accepted, it would have been a few months later before it was ready for the stores.

There was a real mixed bag of music in the American Top 25 at the end of 1979. There were many slow-tempo, light pop songs of different types at the top, some by artists who had previously done funk or disco or soul or rock. In the Top 25 were slow songs like ‘Please Don’t Go’ by KC & Sunshine Band, ‘Babe’ by Styx, ‘Still’ by Commodores, ‘Do That To Me One More Time’ by Captain & Tennille, ‘You’re Only Lonely’ by JD Souther, ‘Cool Change’ by Little River Band’, ‘Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson and ‘Coward of the County’ by Kenny Rogers. Middle Of the Road was still big.

Disco had largely run its course and, in the Top 40, there were very few disco songs, although in 1980 there would be the occasional hit that returned to the sound.

On the Top 40 chart I looked at from the end of 1979, the only true disco song was ‘No More Tears’ by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, on the way down. There were three funk disco songs in the Top 25 - ‘Rock with You’ by Michael Jackson, ‘Ladies Night’ by Kool and the Gang, and ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ by Prince was at No. 23.

Apart from that, there were some light rock or country rock songs like ‘The Long Run’ and ‘Heartache Tonight’ by The Eagles, ‘Jane’ by Jefferson Starship, (which, from memory, was still slow tempo and ballady), and ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Slightly harder rock was ‘Headgames’, by Foreigner.

Just a bit more uptempo than the slow songs were pop songs of different types like ‘Escape’ by Rupert Holmes, ‘Take The Long way Home’ by Supertramp, (well, it’s still fairly slow), ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ by Cliff Richard, ‘Better Love Next Time’ by Doctor Hook, ‘This is It’ by Kenny Loggins and ‘Half the Way’ by Crystal Gayle, (a sort of mid-tempo country-pop song).

Well, after all that, I didn’t really come to any conclusions except to echo what someone said recently - Karen and Phil Ramone would have missed the boat to release ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’, even by late-1979. (I personally don’t think it would have attracted much interest from radio or record buyers, even if released a year earlier - but you never know).

The fact that there were a lot of ballads, slow tunes and even the occasional piano-and-vocal recording shows that ‘Make Believe It’s Your First Time’ might have had a chance of getting some air play, if radio programmers could have dealt with the change of image from Karen - but I can’t really see that being a hit at that time.

Whereas everything was coming together for Michael Jackson in this period, everything, unfortunately, was falling apart for Karen, as we now know - her personal life, her health, her professional career - so things just weren’t right at that time for chart success, in my opinion.
 
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ThaFunkyFakeTation

Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo
I decided to look at a Billboard Top 40 chart for the very end of 1979. Karen’s playback session was not until early 1980 so, presumably, if her album had been accepted, it would have been a few months later before it was ready for the stores.

There was a real mixed bag of music in the American Top 25 at the end of 1979. There were many slow-tempo, light pop songs of different types at the top, some by artists who had previously done funk or disco or soul or rock. In the Top 25 were slow songs like ‘Please Don’t Go’ by KC & Sunshine Band, ‘Babe’ by Styx, ‘Still’ by Commodores, ‘Do That To Me One More Time’ by Captain & Tennille, ‘You’re Only Lonely’ by JD Souther, ‘Cool Change’ by Little River Band’, ‘Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson and ‘Coward of the County’ by Kenny Rogers. Middle Of the Road was still big.

Disco had largely run its course and, in the Top 40, there were very few disco songs, although in 1980 there would be the occasional hit that returned to the sound.

On the Top 40 chart I looked at from the end of 1979, the only true disco song was ‘No More Tears’ by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, on the way down. There were three funk disco songs in the Top 25 - ‘Rock with You’ by Michael Jackson, ‘Ladies Night’ by Kool and the Gang, and ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ by Prince was at No. 23.

Apart from that, there were some light rock or country rock songs like ‘The Long Run’ and ‘Heartache Tonight’ by The Eagles, ‘Jane’ by Jefferson Starship, (which, from memory, was still slow tempo and ballady), and ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Slightly harder rock was ‘Headgames’, by Foreigner.

Just a bit more uptempo than the slow songs were pop songs of different types like ‘Escape’ by Rupert Holmes, ‘Take The Long way Home’ by Supertramp, (well, it’s still fairly slow), ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ by Cliff Richard, ‘Better Love Next Time’ by Doctor Hook, ‘This is It’ by Kenny Loggins and ‘Half the Way’ by Crystal Gayle, (a sort of mid-tempo country-pop song).

Well, after all that, I didn’t really come to any conclusions except to echo what someone said recently - Karen and Phil Ramone would have missed the boat to release ‘My Body Keeps Changing my Mind’, even by late-1979. (I personally don’t think it would have attracted much interest from radio or record buyers, even if released a year earlier - but you never know).

The fact that there were a lot of ballads, slow tunes and even the occasional piano-and-vocal recording shows that ‘Make Believe It’s Your First Time’ might have had a chance of getting some air play, if radio programmers could have dealt with the change of image from Karen - but I can’t really see that being a hit at that time.

Whereas everything was coming together for Michael Jackson in this period, everything, unfortunately, was falling apart for Karen, as we now know - her personal life, her health, her professional career - so things just weren’t right at that time for chart success, in my opinion.
Agreed. She never could have handled the promotional cycle that would have been needed to properly launch that album. The talk show grind for someone weakened by Anorexia would have been really difficult if not impossible. Maybe that's a little of what Richard and A&M were thinking when they rejected it.

Ed
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Agreed. She never could have handled the promotional cycle that would have been needed to properly launch that album. The talk show grind for someone weakened by Anorexia would have been really difficult if not impossible. Maybe that's a little of what Richard and A&M were thinking when they rejected it.

Ed
Yes. I think they would have been looking at the whole picture. It usually takes a whole lot of elements aligning in the right way to make a successful record.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
She never could have handled the promotional cycle that would have been needed to properly launch that album. The talk show grind for someone weakened by Anorexia would have been really difficult if not impossible.
The punishing schedule they put her through in late 1981, when she weighed around 80lbs, was far worse than anything she might have chosen to do herself in early 1980.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Yes, I believe this is the reality. I don’t think there would have been much interest from radio, the record buying public or the industry. It would have been nice to see Karen or Carpenters return to their heyday but that was going to take a lot.
"It would have been nice to see Karen or Carpenters return to their heyday but that was going to take a lot."

It could've happened if Karen were healthy and remained so. I'm using Neil Sedaka as a benchmark, who jump-started his career in 1975 with a couple of hit songs after everyone had written him off. Talent reigns supreme, and Richard/Karen were laden with it.
 

I_Have_You

New Member
The more I listen to "Making Love in the Afternoon" the more I like it and feel that it had hit potential. It has that early 80's vibe with catchy lyrics and an uptempo beat. Am curious to know how the whole Peter Cetera union happened if anyone can share some details. Whose idea was it, did Phil Ramone arrange it, did Karen and Peter lay out the vocal tracks together, were there any photos of the event, did they go out to lunch or dinner together?

Also wonder if Karen and Richard ever meet the band members of Chicago during their years of touring. Both acts were turning out hit after hit during the 70's and you'd think their paths would have crossed at some point. Am just surprised there was no fanfare or media coverage on two of the biggest singers of the era recording a song together in a New York studio.

THIS! For me, I always thought the potential hit songs were If We Try, Making Love in the Afternoon, and If I Had You. Those songs to me were similar to songs with commercial success in '79-'80.

I will never forget when I got my hands on the solo CD (geez, '98ish?) at a record store on the upper east side of Manhattan and rushing home to play it on my disc walkman with headphones to listen to every note. Like, we're talking major do not disturb mode. I was surprised in a very pleasant way to see a duet with Peter Cetera. I totally forgot about this song as it was 20 years since I listened to the solo album and I re-listened to it the other day. This is exactly what I meant when I posted a couple weeks ago that I wish Karen had experimented more with duets with other artists to expand her versatility. How awesome was Making Love in the Afternoon and with a popular, successful male artist.

Whereas I a not a fan of Karen singing disco, and have to admit Lovelines the song to me was cringeworthy (IMO - don't hate on me) - the rest of the album was so good and I wish it had been released. It could have enhanced the Carpenters' career and brought in new fans. It's not like she and Richard would have had to break up.

What would have been...
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
I feel their best opportunity to have another chart topper if Karen were still with us would have been with a "new" song from a major movie soundtrack. Kenny Loggins had a career full of movie tracks that produced big hits. Elton John had success with The Lion King, Whitney Houston with The Bodyguard and Celine Dion with Titanic to name a few. Maybe Karen singing the main theme song to a Bond movie like Sheena Easton and Carly Simon did in the past would have worked. Movie soundtrack hits seem to crossover to the pop charts without prejudice if the film is epic and the timing is right. I think I read somewhere that Richard would have considered doing a movie score if asked many years ago? The Carpenters did have some modest motion picture success early in their career with "Bless the Beast and Children" and "For All We Know".
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
The more I listen to "Making Love in the Afternoon" the more I like it and feel that it had hit potential. It has that early 80's vibe with catchy lyrics and an uptempo beat.
Over the years I’ve also come to the same conclusion. When I first heard the solo album in 1996 I thought it was a great, catchy tune but an album track and nothing more. Listen to it on a sunny Californian day and it takes on a whole different vibe. It would have been great for radio. But the title alone means it never stood a chance.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
It could've happened if Karen were healthy and remained so. I'm using Neil Sedaka as a benchmark, who jump-started his career in 1975 with a couple of hit songs after everyone had written him off. Talent reigns supreme, and Richard/Karen were laden with it.
I think her poor health had a huge impact on her success because it sometimes sounded in her voice and it affected the way the public reacted to her, being such a visible thing. It also would have diminished her focus, drive and determination.

Maybe a change of location might have helped, too. Didn’t Neil Sedaka start his comeback from the UK? I seem to remember that he relocated, or worked with a UK-based record company or producer or something. Why not go to where there was still a high level of interest - a Number Two album at the end of 1978, a Number One single just over the Irish Sea just before that and maybe some interesting, adventurous producers and stars who would have been interested in working with her. Karen probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to do this, though, and wouldn’t have been interested in breaking up the Carpenters unit - which are probably some reasons why she didn’t.

Neil Sedaka’s comeback was phenomenal, at the time. He had a long string of brilliant hits for those times. I agree that he’s an example that it could be done.
 
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Murray

Well-Known Member
Over the years I’ve also come to the same conclusion. When I first heard the solo album in 1996 I thought it was a great, catchy tune but an album track and nothing more. Listen to it on a sunny Californian day and it takes on a whole different vibe. It would have been great for radio. But the title alone means it never stood a chance.
Why? There was a huge radio hit just a few years before Karen and Peter recorded their track, titled "Afternoon Delight". The lyrics were pretty suggestive, as I recall.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
Why? There was a huge radio hit just a few years before Karen and Peter recorded their track, titled "Afternoon Delight". The lyrics were pretty suggestive, as I recall.
...and it's considered today to be quite cringeworthy...
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thread Starter
Why? There was a huge radio hit just a few years before Karen and Peter recorded their track, titled "Afternoon Delight". The lyrics were pretty suggestive, as I recall.
I meant in the context of the family, the label and their reputation as wholesome. All of that was working against her.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
^ And to think that the Starland Vocal Band also got their own TV show from that summertime one hit wonder! Being pals with John Denver at the time probably helped them out.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
...and it's considered today to be quite cringeworthy...
Why? There was a huge radio hit just a few years before Karen and Peter recorded their track, titled "Afternoon Delight". The lyrics were pretty suggestive, as I recall.
The title? Really? I highly doubt that ‘Making Love In The Afternoon’ would have ruffled any feathers in 1980. Maybe the older Lawrence Welk crowd might have been offended, but not contemporary listeners. There are many songs about making love by the likes of Barbara Streisand and Roberta Flack (amongst others) that didn’t seem to offend anybody.

It’s a great song, great performance and a great sounding record.
 
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