Sometimes When We Touch Docuseries

GDBY2LV

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There’s a new series on Paramount+ called Sometimes When We Touch. TV guide says it’s an original Docuseries, featuring The Carpenters, Air Supply, Captain & Tennille, Hall & Oates, and more, that get their due as purveyors of the not-always-appreciated soft rock we still can’t stop listening to.
Anyone here subscribe to that service? It definitely looks like something to check out anyway. Nice picture of K&R at the bottom of page 14 this week.
It says the series is Newly Available.
 

Harry

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Since I have Paramount+, I gave this a look. It's a three-episode series produced under the MTV banner all about the three phases of soft rock popularity, "Reign", "Ruin", and "Resurrection".

The biggest section on Carpenters occurs in the first episode. They gave the duo an important place in the "Reign" and devoted about four minutes to their story and various reactions from the interviewees, some with great praise like Sheryl Crow, others with the usual understood dismissals.

Essentially the series puts nearly all of the 70s in the soft rock reign, where many artists found their biggest hit was a soft-rock staple. "Beth" by Kiss, "Angie" by the Rolling Stones, etc. The second episode delved into the development of the anti-soft movement ("Ruin") in the 80s with new wave and punk and the rise of MTV. Then the "Resurrection" of the soft rock sounds with things like MURIEL'S WEDDING and MAMMA MIA bringing back ABBA's popularity, along with many examples of soft rock sounds being sampled by rappers.

I found it interesting that one of the single focus points in the docu-series turned out to be Rupert Holmes "Escape (Piña Colada)". It was, of course, a huge hit, but also became one of the single most hated record ever by many. Rupert was interviewed and, while not thrilled that that song is his most remembered, is grateful that he did ultimately break through with the country's biggest hit at the end of a decade and the start of the next (79-80).

Among the frequent participants was Toni Tennille who essentially told much of the Captain & Tennille story with a good number of clips. And there was a good amount of time devoted to soft rock radio, particularly KNX-FM in Los Angeles.

 
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Michael Hagerty

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Thanks for the heads-up on this! We have Paramount+ and I'll add it to our watch list.

MTV Productions is on something of a roll. EMILY IN PARIS (not a music show) is one of theirs as well.
 

Michael Hagerty

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We watched part one last night. I have thoughts.

It's good---a bit narration-heavy (I've grown used to the modern-style documentary that lets the interview subjects tell the story) and clearly aimed at people who weren't alive at the time, but demographics gotta demographic.

With only three parts at about 45-ish minutes apiece (I think we're going to see this on free TV with commercials and edits for language someday), they have to hurry and they make some odd (to me) choices.

There's a long (by the standards of this format) piece on Carpenters, but musically, it's fragments of three songs---"Close to You", "We've Only Just Begun" and "Goodbye to Love". One of the interview subjects, a hip-hop record producer, sings a fragment of "Superstar" and says "That's Carpenters, right?" He doesn't seem entirely sure. There's no indication that K&R's hit-making career goes beyond "Goodbye to Love".

An equal, if not longer segment is devoted to Captain and Tenille, and that's less about the music than it is Daryl's personality disorder and Toni's pain.

We see a picture of Joni Mitchell, but it's not identified and we never hear her, or James Taylor, or Jackson Browne. If I'm remembering right, we get a still of Carole King and that gets the same treatment. No Eagles, and only Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers and Peter Cetera's Chicago (focused on "If You Leave Me Now"). If music from those missing artists are in there anywhere, it'd be in the brief montage of KNX-FM. So the actual core of soft rock---the foundation---gets overlooked.

But England Dan and John Ford Coley? Check.

John Denver? He's there.

A few seconds of Brewer and Shipley singing "One Toke Over the Line"? Present.

Manilow singing "Mandy"? Yep.

Sixty-something Dan Hill telling us what moved 19-year-old him to write the lyrics (Barry Mann did the music) for "Sometimes When We Touch"? Absolutely. And in fairness, that's a great interview even if it means I now have to respect that record.

So far, it feels like the original pitch was "guilty pleasure music of the 70s" and they decided to shape it into a bit fonder look at the music (which really only comes from artist interviews saying how much they loved it).

Interested to watch part 2 tonight and part 3 tomorrow night.
 
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Rudy

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An equal, if not longer segment is devoted to Captain and Tenille, and that's less about the music than it is Daryl's personality disorder and Toni's pain.
That's a reflection of the sad state of some productions these days--melodrama is what sells, not historical content. If I'd have done anything on the duo, I'd have mentioned Daryl's father, the legendary Carmen Dragon, and Daryl's brother Dennis who headed the L.A. band Surf Punks. Although those are details that only music geeks could appreciate.

Maybe the rest of your concerns will play out in the next two installments? But just based on content of the first part, it reminds me of the hatchet job that Ken Burns did to jazz...
 

Michael Hagerty

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That's a reflection of the sad state of some productions these days--melodrama is what sells, not historical content. If I'd have done anything on the duo, I'd have mentioned Daryl's father, the legendary Carmen Dragon, and Daryl's brother Dennis who headed the L.A. band Surf Punks. Although those are details that only music geeks could appreciate.

Maybe the rest of your concerns will play out in the next two installments? But just based on content of the first part, it reminds me of the hatchet job that Ken Burns did to jazz...
I don't want to get too down on it---again, it almost has to approach it quickly (because of time constraints) and glossily (because they want people under 60 to watch it), and I guess the Laurel Canyon documentary covered the foundation this lacks, but I'm getting a slight "MTV's I Love the 70s" vibe from it. And I HATED those.
 

Harry

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Let's just say that you're not through with the Captain and Tennille just yet. And you have Rupert Holmes to look forward to!
 

Michael Hagerty

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Let's just say that you're not through with the Captain and Tennille just yet. And you have Rupert Holmes to look forward to!
I earned my Rupert Holmes penance. I was the first to play "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)". I'd have the Gold record to prove it, but Infinity Records went out of business while the song was still on the charts.

Showbiz!
 

Harry

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A couple of years ago, I conversed via email with Mr. Holmes. He was kind enough to engage in conversation when I asked him about the promotional mono mixes on his early singles. It seems that he and Jeffrey Lesser may have violated some union rules by handling the mono mixes late at night.
 

Michael Hagerty

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A couple of years ago, I conversed via email with Mr. Holmes. He was kind enough to engage in conversation when I asked him about the promotional mono mixes on his early singles. It seems that he and Jeffrey Lesser may have violated some union rules by handling the mono mixes late at night.
Holmes had been "bubbling under" for years, writing for other artists (I think I saw one of his songs as early as '74), but never broke through until "Escape". I've sometimes thought maybe Stephen Bishop needed to get out of his way---that the charts in '76-'78 weren't big enough for two sensitive songwriters with offbeat senses of humor.
 

Harry

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His first Epic album (WIDESCREEN) amazed me - and still does. It's one of my Desert Island discs. According to Mr. Holmes in the documentary, Epic only printed 10,000 copies, which he claims aren't enough to ever sell well. But it caught on with a couple of critics - and Barbra Streisand. I count myself lucky to have snagged the promo copy from the throwaway pile.
 
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Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Holmes had been "bubbling under" for years, writing for other artists (I think I saw one of his songs as early as '74), but never broke through until "Escape". I've sometimes thought maybe Stephen Bishop needed to get out of his way---that the charts in '76-'78 weren't big enough for two sensitive songwriters with offbeat senses of humor.
I like Rupert Holmes "Studio Musician " which I think is Biographical I first heard Barry Manilow's version on his live 1977 Lp before I heard Rupert's original I like both equally and Manilow himself was a studio musician long before his 1973 Debut. It's a great song
 

1969

Active Member
Thanks to Billy Rees who posted the Carpenters segment here from the new 3-part documentary series titled "Sometimes When We Touch" (The Reign, Ruin and Resurrection of Soft Rock") now streaming on the Paramount+ network.

I don't know if all 3 parts have aired already, but the Paramount+ website only lists (as of today) the first episode. If the Carpenters appear in later parts, I'm sure Billy will upload to his YT channel as soon as he can.

Official Paramount+ trailer here. For more detailed info on the documentary on the who/what/why, etc... read from the press release here or down below:

----------------------------------------------------
Dec. 12, 2022 – Paramount+ today announced that SOMETIMES WHEN WE TOUCH, a three-part documentary series exploring the history of soft rock music, will premiere exclusively on the service in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 and will also stream in the U.K., Latin America and Australia (Wednesday, Jan. 4), Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France (Tuesday, April 4).


SOMETIMES WHEN WE TOUCH is the untold story of soft rock, whose artists dominated pop music worldwide in the ‘70s, only to crash and burn in the ‘80s, eventually experiencing one of the most unlikely comebacks in music history. The series presents all-new interviews with some of soft rock’s biggest legends, like Air Supply (“All Out of Love”), Dan Hill (“Sometimes When We Touch”), Kenny Loggins (“This Is It”), Ray Parker Jr. (“A Woman Needs Love”), Rupert Holmes (“Escape: The Piña Colada Song”) and Toni Tennille (“Love Will Keep Us Together”). Through candid and poignant stories, these stars lead a celebration of the underappreciated music that continues to have a lasting impact on American culture.


The connective stories that propel the series are augmented by exclusive interviews with dozens of classic and contemporary musicians like Daryl “DMC” McDaniels, John Ondrasik, LA Reid, Richard Marx, Robert “Kool” Bell, Sheryl Crow, Stewart Copeland, Susanna Hoffs and Verdine White; rarely seen archival interview and performance footage; host commentary that embraces the impact of soft rock while acknowledging the cringey excesses that sometimes led it astray; and a review of its continuing power over a new generation found everywhere from hip hop samples and radio remakes to superhero soundtracks and TikTok posts.


The series is produced by MTV Entertainment Studios in partnership with Gunpowder & Sky. Produced by Van Toffler and executive produced by David Gale, Floris Bauer, Barry Barclay and Joanna Zwickel for Gunpowder & Sky, co-executive produced by Rick Krim, executive produced and written by Chuck Thompson and executive produced and directed by Lauren Lazin. Bruce Gillmer and Vanessa Whitewolf executive produce for MTV Entertainment Studios, with Jennifer Yandrisevits serving as Senior Director of Production.

----------------------------------------------------
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Part two watched. Again, I have thoughts.

This could have been one two-hour documentary. "Ruin" is a story that could easily have been told in 15 minutes, not 45.

And, it could have been told accurately.

Again, I know this documentary is primarily intended for people who weren't alive then, but damn, the timeline on this stuff is all over the place. They make it sound like these people were all relevant until punk/new/wave/MTV/synthetic drums killed them like the giant meteor took out the dinosaurs---and that "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" and Christopher Cross' "Sailing" were the last hits before oblivion (except for the synth-heavy mid-80s Hall & Oates, which somehow is still soft rock).

Captain and Tennille followed up a #1 hit the same year (1979) with songs that stiffed at #55 and #53 and managed #106 with their final charting (well, bubbling under) single in 1980. This timeframe is, according to the doc, peak soft rock, just before the New Wave hit radio. C&T were done before the form imploded (to the extent that it really did, and that's something else).

Meantime, the show obsessively focuses on Toni Tennille and Dan Hill as though they were the Basie and Ellington of soft rock. I know, the show is called "Sometimes When We Touch", but still...(I like Toni---more now than before, but seriously, the title could be "Sometimes When We Touch The Way I Want To Touch You."

And, "ruin" focuses on the 80s (when it can focus)---and Karen Carpenter's death doesn't even get a mention. But we get to see a clip of "Rubberband Man" from a 1977 Captain and Tennille TV show.

Two episodes down, one to go. I'm on standby for jury duty. If I don't have to be at the courthouse in Downtown Sacramento tomorrow morning at 8:00, we'll watch it tonight.

(Side note: The Rupert Holmes segment was well-done and moving, covering his background, the hit, his family tragedy and his new career as he rebuilt).
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Maybe Paramount-CBS will eventually release it on DVD or Blu-Ray. I don’t subscribe to any streaming services as they are like cable and satellite services were in the 90’s and 2000’s.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
With 15 #1 and 3 #2 hits to their credit on the US Adult Contemporary charts, one of the three segments should be specifically dedicated to the Carpenters in my opinion! :)
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
We watched part one last night. I have thoughts.

It's good---a bit narration-heavy (I've grown used to the modern-style documentary that lets the interview subjects tell the story) and clearly aimed at people who weren't alive at the time, but demographics gotta demographic.

With only three parts at about 45-ish minutes apiece (I think we're going to see this on free TV with commercials and edits for language someday), they have to hurry and they make some odd (to me) choices.

There's a long (by the standards of this format) piece on Carpenters, but musically, it's fragments of three songs---"Close to You", "We've Only Just Begun" and "Goodbye to Love". One of the interview subjects, a hip-hop record producer, sings a fragment of "Superstar" and says "That's Carpenters, right?" He doesn't seem entirely sure. There's no indication that K&R's hit-making career goes beyond "Goodbye to Love".

An equal, if not longer segment is devoted to Captain and Tenille, and that's less about the music than it is Daryl's personality disorder and Toni's pain.

We see a picture of Joni Mitchell, but it's not identified and we never hear her, or James Taylor, or Jackson Browne. If I'm remembering right, we get a still of Carole King and that gets the same treatment. No Eagles, and only Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers and Peter Cetera's Chicago (focused on "If You Leave Me Now"). If music from those missing artists are in there anywhere, it'd be in the brief montage of KNX-FM. So the actual core of soft rock---the foundation---gets overlooked.

But England Dan and John Ford Coley? Check.

John Denver? He's there.

A few seconds of Brewer and Shipley singing "One Toke Over the Line"? Present.

Manilow singing "Mandy"? Yep.

Sixty-something Dan Hill telling us what moved 19-year-old him to write the lyrics (Barry Mann did the music) for "Sometimes When We Touch"? Absolutely. And in fairness, that's a great interview even if it means I now have to respect that record.

So far, it feels like the original pitch was "guilty pleasure music of the 70s" and they decided to shape it into a bit fonder look at the music (which really only comes from artist interviews saying how much they loved it).

Interested to watch part 2 tonight and part 3 tomorrow night.
Unless the station edits the program for language, then most broadcasts on traditional stations and networks don’t remove foul language from streaming programs. Up here in Canada I’ve been surprised when I’ve seen the post-2016 Star Trek’s aired on CTV’s Sci-Fi channel with no editing to remove f-bombs and other questionable language, especially when the programs air between 8 & 10 pm.
I though CBS/Paramount would’ve prepared edited masters where the content was cut or they had the actors shoot a safe version of the scene for traditional broadcast, but no they just air the streaming version.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Maybe Paramount-CBS will eventually release it on DVD or Blu-Ray. I don’t subscribe to any streaming services as they are like cable and satellite services were in the 90’s and 2000’s.
The major difference is that there are no subscription term minimums and no cancellation fees. And instead of $20-$40 a month for cable, it's $10-$15 a month. So you can spend a month or two watching everything that appeals to you on (for example) Netflix, then move to Prime or HBO or Paramount+(or whatever---I think there are like seven majors).
 
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Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
With 15 #1 and 3 #2 hits to their credit on the US Adult Contemporary charts, one of the three segments should be specifically dedicated to the Carpenters in my opinion! :)
Hey, to heck with the Adult Contemporary charts, which were pretty close to meaningless, let's look at the Hot 100:

  • Three #1s
  • Five #2s
  • Twelve Top Tens
  • Ten million-sellers
I'm starting to suspect that a lot of the artist focus has to do with music licensing fees. But two episodes in, we have to be somewhere in the area of 12 minutes on Captain and Tenille and----three? maybe?----on Carpenters. Who, if you get right down to it, might have been the first non-singer/songwriter soft rock act to hit #1. C&T were five years later.
 

1969

Active Member
Harry, thanks for moving it from the the Carpenters Forum, but can you please delete my original post in this thread. I found out after the fact that one was already started here last Friday in the "Music Forum" by GDBY2LV.

 

1969

Active Member
Hey, to heck with the Adult Contemporary charts, which were pretty close to meaningless, let's look at the Hot 100:

  • Three #1s
  • Five #2s
  • Twelve Top Tens
  • Ten million-sellers
I'm starting to suspect that a lot of the artist focus has to do with music licensing fees. But two episodes in, we have to be somewhere in the area of 12 minutes on Captain and Tenille and----three? maybe?----on Carpenters. Who, if you get right down to it, might have been the first non-singer/songwriter soft rock act to hit #1. C&T were five years later.

I agree. I watched all 3 parts. For part 3, had a brief few seconds of Tony Peluso playing fuzz guitar "Goodbye To Love" solo in the last 5 minutes of the doc and a couple of brief still images of Karen. My overall opinion is this doc isn't going to win any Emmys. There's a superficial feel to how everything is presented with not enough depth or detail. The quality of videos and images used appeared so grainy, couldn't they have sourced from the original masters? I guess I shouldn't ask for too much (It is an MTV production). Strange, Karen's death not mentioned at all in the entire doc.

One other thing, Ray Parker, Jr. said he "cut all the Carpenters records." What does that mean? I don't recall seeing him in any album credits?
 

GDBY2LV

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Thread Starter
His bio says he did sessions work for the Carpenters when he first started out in the industry. I don’t remember seeing his name on any album credits though. Maybe Harry or Chris May might know more ?
 

Michael Hagerty

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His bio says he did sessions work for the Carpenters when he first started out in the industry. I don’t remember seeing his name on any album credits though. Maybe Harry or Chris May might know more ?
Apparently Ray did session work on PASSAGE. I'm seeing credits for him on "Calling Occupants". Which isn't really early in his career, but it's been a long time and it was before he had his own record deal.


Also---kinda cool---from nine years ago:

 
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Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Okay---no jury duty (yet) so we watched part three last night.

The entire thing should have been this good, but there are still issues. We finally get to hear ABBA because of the MAMMA MIA! play---but nowhere in the previous two episodes did they tell us who ABBA was or why they mattered. We saw pictures, but that's it.

There's a few seconds of video of an emaciated Karen Carpenter, but zero mention of what happened to her or just how huge the group was (the only indicator of that was in episode one when someone mentioned huge sales while showing a shot of the 1971 CARPENTERS album).

Beyond that, though, "resurrection" did a much better, more thorough job of explaining soft rock's comeback than it did explaining what it really was and why it mattered in the first place and what really happened as it slid off the charts. Nobody who was buying soft rock records suddenly decided they'd rather hear the Sex Pistols--that was a demographic shift.

Note to producers---yeah, A&M signed the Sex Pistols and that worried Karen Carpenter and Toni Tennille for the five minutes the band was signed to the label---but Warners signed them after A&M dumped them. The album stiffed at #106 while The Doobie Brothers went platinum.

Again, I think a lot of how this was shaped was controlled by a low budget for music clearance and someone in charge at MTV Productions who was nostalgic for VH1's old "I Love The (decade)" series.

Brief outline, if I'd written it:

  • Five minutes off the top summing up the late-sixties Laurel Canyon scene (early Joni, CSN) and how that would spill over into the 70s with Carole King and James Taylor breaking through---and from the East Coast, established 60s act Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is arguably the first monster soft-rock record.
  • On the fringes of that scene, a struggling songwriter (Paul Williams) lands a deal with Warner Bros., but it's a bank commercial that breaks down the doors for him.
  • Down La Brea, Herb gives K&R Burt's "(They Long To Be) Close To You". It's a soft-rock smash from within the MOR establishment. But they need a follow-up and Richard sees the bank commercial.
And it goes from there, being no more A&M-centric than the facts require.

Soft rock gets so big that rock artists from other corners of the genre gravitate toward it---Boz Scaggs from blues, Ambrosia from art rock, and artists who weren't trying to be soft rock but who obsess on quality production get the label (Steely Dan).

And yada, yada, yada...
 
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