I'm not sure I'd agree with all of this. Our view of an artist's catalogue nowadays, when pretty much everything is easily available either to buy or stream, is I suspect quite different from how back catalogues would have been perceived in the 1970s and 1980s, chiefly because albums were deleted and then weren't available anywhere other than hunting through secondhand stores. As such, acts would be judged much more on their current material rather than always putting that new material into context. It's worth recalling that the Carpenters' catalogue was only seriously reappraised critically after the success of the TV movie and the re-release of the back catalogue on CD (plus the From the Top compilation) in the early 1990s. Before then, and particularly in the US, the view on the work seemed to stay in limbo. Karen and Richard have both been quoted in several interviews as saying that you were only as good as your last single. Acts like Elvis were really the exception in the sense of having built up such a reputation that they could trade off of it for the rest of their lives (and in any case, although their performance was variable, some Elvis singles were still making the Top 20 in the mid-1970s, long after his prime, so he wasn't in a position of having no hit singles by then). Most acts couldn't really work like that - touring long term might keep them going, but really they still needed hits to sustain their career. There are many reasons why someone who bought an album by an artist doesn't buy the follow-up album. The problem the Carpenters had is that from Horizon onwards, fewer people kept buying each new album and it seems that not many former buyers came back to the fold. In terms of keeping a career going, that's a pretty problematic dynamic. Made in America did nothing to address that issue. In general, their albums are worth listening to all the way through, but I'd single out Made in America and A Kind of Hush to a lesser extent as albums where cherry-picking the best tracks is the way to go, particularly for someone who's not already a fan, as there's more chaff than wheat to be had.