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The 20th Anniversary of the release of KAREN CARPENTER

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Harry, Oct 8, 2016.

  1. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    It's not a verse which was added to the Carpenters' version but a bridge. This section is what doesn't appear in Karen's solo version of the song:

    "So close your eyes
    And hold me close
    And let our hearts pretend
    That love is ours to share tonight
    And it might never end"
  2. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    Does anyone have a copy of the original photo that appeared on the back cover without the sketch over the face? I've seen photos from the same session, but I can't recall having ever seen the original version of this one.
  3. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I remember reading somewhere that Phil Ramone had deliberated over making the album more applicable to 1997. I would have liked to hear his idea on this new flavor and if he ever played around with any, it would make a good anniversary release. I always thought there was too much brass in some of the selections (giving it a late night show sound) and the background vocals need to be pushed more forward, and that Karen's voice could have been mixed better. As I listened a second time, this time just focusing on Karen, I began to yearn for some of the songs, like Make Believe Its Your First Time and Still Crazy After All These Years, If We Try and a few others. It may have shocked me in 1979/80, for the style was notably without Richard, and that felt funny, at first. But when played with the entire catalog today, it fits right in. In one hand, the non-sexual energy was one of the plus sides of Carpenters music, yet on the other, I enjoy this CD for it explores, as Passage did, and its one of my favorites. After Horizon, we already had seen what Richard could do with Karen as the focus, and it is sublime in my opinion. I often wonder if albums that followed Horizon have had outside producers would it have helped. Not that it was needed, but the talent was certainly there to explore in both of them and at such a young age, they had hit their zenith. Yet, I yearned for each new nugget and with my mind and senses I bathed in them when listening. But, I am one who would have listened to Karen sing the dictionary, and still would if it was possible. As I see this morning a new project by Olivia released in iTunes, I yearn for those last few Carpenters nuggets that still remain for release.
    Jeff and Must Hear This Album like this.
  4. Nick

    Nick Member

    I remember buying this when it came out! Can't believe it was 20 years ago!
  5. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Well, looking at newvillefan's chronological pictures above, I would have to say the end result is the best "version" given what they had to work with -- the one in the middle is much more dated-looking today, thanks to that "picture in a frame" style. There were countless covers that used that style, with the artist name across the corner or across the top. Heck even the Carpenters' own Close To You album used that format.

    The picture in newville's second series with Karen in the leather pants looks like a shot from a bad horror movie. I can see why it never appeared on a package.

    They should have just used the original, B&W version of the cover photo and put Karen's name in some bright color. That would have been classy.

    20-20 hindsight is fun, I guess. I've never been a big fan of that cover, but it carries on in the grand tradition of the Carpenters having great music enclosed within terrible-looking covers.
  6. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    The actual photo is beautiful. The final product looks like a "budget line" disc.
  7. When I was in high school, I ordered the complete newsletter set from the Fan Club. I brought the sky-blue folder with the neon-orange Carpenters logo sticker to school to read the issues during study hall, because I was a dedicated scholar, and when I got to the letters leading up to the solo album, I could barely contain my excitement. How could I have missed the solo album?!? I felt like my older sister, who got me hooked on Carpenters in the first place, betrayed me. Why didn’t she have the album in her complete collection?!? As I read the newsletter, I couldn’t wait to special order the album from the little, blue-haired old lady, who managed June Mel-O-Dee, the record store in my hometown. And then with one turn of a page, Ev burst my solo album bubble, informing me Karen had decided to shelve the album, and then, nonchalantly, promising to “Rap Later.” It’s a dirty, old shame when all you get from a newsletter is disappointment.

    Fast-forward ten years later: I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, thumbing through a Entertainment Weekly magazine, when I stumbled across the album review and had to do a triple-take to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me! I was beyond thrilled that this fabled album was finally available, and I drove to the record store immediately after my appointment to make the purchase. I brought the CD home, unwrapped the jewel case, and popped the disc into my player: let the magic begin! Bluntly, I was sorely disappointed. After only a few listens, I packed the disc into a box along with other Carpenters memorabilia, as I quickly determined the album to be merely a checked box on a list of all things true Carpenters fans are supposed to own. A right of Passage, if you will...

    The CD sat in that box until 2003 and the dawn of iTunes, which gave music fans the opportunity to curate playlists. I found myself cherry-picking songs from the album for various-themed song groupings as well as, just for fun, including it in my “1980" playlist. Over two decades, certain songs have held up for me, especially “Lovelines,” which I enjoy, even though it sounds like the theme to the Love Boat, “All Because Of You,” “Still In Love You,” “I Guess I Just Lost My Head,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” with the better, “tapped-out” lyric, and the stripped-down rendition of “Make Believe It’s Your First Time,” which sounded revelatory to me, compared to the O.K. Chorale-backed Voice Of The Heart version.

    20 years later, I appreciate this album so much more than I did at its release. I appreciate it the way I imagine the 15 year-old high school version of me would have appreciated the album in 1986, without all the cocky cynicism I picked up in the early 1990s (and discarded, for the most part, in my 30s...). I’m grateful that Karen bravely recorded it. I’m grateful brother Richard decided to release it (RC is the greatest. Ever.). I’m grateful for the bootlegged outtakes on YouTube. And I’m grateful, @Harry, that you posted on its anniversary, as it’s given me occasion to reflect on Karen’s album, which is still amazing after all these years.
  8. ^^^^ What. You. Said. Disappointed at first hear. The material was beneath someone of her caliber. But through the years a few of the songs grew on me; namely, "Make Believe," I Guess I Just Lost My Head," and "Last One Singing The Blues." And I have to laugh as I read your description of "Lovelines." I thought EXACTLY the same thing: Love Boat Theme! That one was an immediate dislike and remains, for me at least, one of the worst recordings of either Carpenter in the entire catalogue.
    Must Hear This Album likes this.
  9. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    My initial reaction to Lovelines the song was very positive. I recognized the Michael Jackson-ish groove right away and loved it immediately.
  10. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    You're not alone. Lovelines is my least favourite track Karen recorded. It's a muddled mess. I usually struggle to make it through the track when I decide to give it another go every few years or so.

    I remember buying the album from the Our Price store in Bangor, Wales, when it came out. I was a uni student at the time. I climbed up the hill to St Mary's halls of residence (always easier after a drink or three), shut myself in my room and put it on my Sanyo Stereo with a slightly temperamental top loading CD player (probably listening with headphones on initially).

    I wasn't aware of the story behind the album. But my initial impressions were that it was okay. I'd only heard If I Had You on the Interpretations album (my favourite track on the solo album) and Make Believe It's Your First Time from the UK Treasures album (I much prefer the simpler solo version). The other songs were completely new to me.

    The tracks I remember listening to on repeat at the time were All Because Of You, My Body Keeps Changing My Mind, Last One Singin' The Blues and Still Crazy After All These Years. Some of the other tracks have grown on me over the years (particularly Remember When Lovin' Took All Night), others not so much (If We Try). Sometimes I like Guess I Just Lost My Head and Making Love In The Afternoon, other times I find them vaguely annoying. Still In Lurve With Yeew is my guilty pleasure.

    I guess as someone fairly new to the Carpenters at the time (Interpretations was the first Carpenters album I owned following the release of Tryin'To Get The Feeling Again) and who still had a fair number of Carpenters albums and 'new' songs yet to discover, I didn't have anywhere near the same level of expectation for the album as that of long term fans (I wouldn't experience that until As Time Goes By).
    LondonRobert likes this.
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I love the track and Richard's remix is stunning. Strange how others dislike it so much and therefore stranger still that it was chosen to open the album. It's well known that the song was the last track recorded in January 1980 as Karen didn't feel any of the tracks they'd completed were strong enough as an opener (has anyone ever wondered if that was a sign of her own foreboding for the album?).

    Rod Temperton wrote it quickly at Karen's request and it was recorded in a rush, so maybe that's the "muddled mess" some people hear when they listen to it.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
    Must Hear This Album likes this.
  12. Graeme

    Graeme Active Member

    I often feel the same about Man Smart Woman Smarter! I really like it, many don't.

    I didn't know Lovelines was the last song Karen recorded for the album. Interesting. Love Making Love To You might have made a good opening track.
  13. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    Maybe that's why two of the outtake tracks are complete songs, maybe they were considered as the opening tracks. But "Lovelines" is still a very nice track.
  14. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    Can you imagine the reaction of Richard, A&M and the critics if Love Makin' Love To You had been the album opener :laugh:
  15. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Active Member

    Although the choosing of opening tracks and track sequencing on albums isn't an exact science, neither 'Love Makin' Love to You' or 'Don't Try to Win Me Back Again' sound remotely like opening tracks to me, so I can't imagine either was originally considered for that place before 'Lovelines' came along.

    I'm a bit surprised by the dislike expressed by some towards 'Lovelines'. It's not the best track on the album but it's nice and it works as a perfect opening song - the soft and fuzzy instrumentation at the start is like someone slowly drawing back the curtain to reveal a whole new world. It does the job equally well on the Lovelines album too as the opener.
    newvillefan, A&M Retro and Mark-T like this.
  16. Although I don't recall how I had heard about it, I knew the album was finally being released. On the day of release my parents and I were on our way to visit relatives in a city nearby and I begged my dad to let me pop into the local music store to get it. I think the fact that it was Karen's album helped to persuade him. He told me firmly: "Alright, we'll wait here, you run to that store, get the album -- and only that album! -- and come back." So I ran to the store, immediately walked to the C in the pop section and found the album.
    As some of you have stated already, the cover was a major letdown. I recognised the picture, but I also remember holding the box up to the light to make sure I was seeing it correctly. When I flipped the box over to see the track listing and saw that the back cover also had that sketchy effect, I realised it had been a deliberate choice. Ah well, as long as Karen is singing on it, I thought.
    At the checkout counter they asked me if I didn't want to listen to it first. I would have loved to, because I was eager to hear it, but I knew I didn't have the time. So I answered: "Not necessary, it's Karen."

    I got back to the car and on the short drive from there to the home of our relatives I really looked at the track listing. "Make believe it's your first time" was the major surprise. I had no idea it was from Karen's solo album. It would be several hours until I got home and discover that it was an entirely different recording!
    I don't really recall being disappointed by the album at all. I have played it regularly over the years and still do. It's a breath of fresh air, a mood lifter. It's impossible for me to feel downcast after listening to it. Music is entertainment and this album has certainly entertained me countless times over the years. Thanks to Karen for taking the chance and making it and thanks to Richard for finally relenting and releasing it for us to enjoy.
    Must Hear This Album and Mark-T like this.
  17. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I was thinking more of the shock value it would have cause :)

    That's a perfect description for it. I think it's a fine track as album opener too, the opening orchestral swirls are a nice classy touch and showcase the opening nicely. I recall reading that Karen wanted something uptempo and dancy to open the album and I think it fits that bill.
    A&M Retro likes this.
  18. Harry

    Harry Charter Member Moderator Thread Starter

    The solo version of "Make Believe It's Your First Time" blows me away every time I hear it. It's just flat-out goosebump-inducing. And mostly what gets me is the piano accompaniment. I've never seen it officially confirmed as to exactly who it was on piano, but I can assume it's Bob James. He's credited on the track as "Arranged and Orchestrated by" and he's a world-class smooth-jazz piano player/composer.
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Here is a Bob James quote:
    "Often times, producers would put what they consider to be the best cut on the beginning of the A side
    because the audio is much better on the outer ring of a record.
    The grooves were wider and just other technical stuff like that.
    The songs that would be “attention getters” were placed on the outside of the record.

    Steve Gadd....Karen's favorite drummer,
    ".... who became very respected in our field. He was one of the most well-known jazz drummers ..."

    Bob James talks about his first three albums on CTI »
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interestingly enough, of the two songs which occur both on the Solo album and a Carpenters' album,
    that is:
    Make Believe it's Your First Time and If I Had You;
    the former has a better arrangement than its counterpart (on LP Voice of the Heart),
    while the later arrangement (as on Lovelines LP) is a tad better than its counterpart.
    Or, so I believe !
    Must Hear This Album likes this.
  21. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    First off, the version of If I Had You on Lovelines is a remix of the solo album version, whereas Make Believe It's Your First Time on Voice Of The Heart is a completely different recording. Also, Lovelines also contains a remix of Lovelines, and both Remember When Loving Took All Night and If We Try. And then From The Top contains the remix of If I Had You, Still Crazy After All These Years & My Body Keeps Changing My Mind.
  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Of course, correct on all particulars, tomswift2002 !

    Might I simply add that --at least to my mind
    ( and, keep in mind , I am not a "music" professional--that is, I have no "formal" music training),
    While the two lead vocals which appear in the recordings of
    If I Had You are (apparently ?) from the same (track ?) recording,
    I refer specifically to alterations in arrangement.
    In other words, the "cold" ending for If I Had You versus the extended fade on the solo,
    is an alteration in the arrangement.
    Do I err on that score ? Please correct me if such is not the case.
  23. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    The cold ending of If I Had You is nothing more than an edit. It's like "Close To You" at the beginning of "We've Only Just Begun".
  24. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    The lead vocals on 'Karen Carpenter' and 'Lovelines' of 'If I Had You' are indeed different takes. Richard chose the tamer version of the two for his remix on 'Lovelines'.
  25. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Active Member

    But we've also seen other examples where Richard has years later used a different vocal take, such as on "Maybe It's You". So "If I Had You" is nothing more than a remixed edit, whereas "Make Believe It's Your First Time" is clearly a different arrangement, much like the Carpenters two arrangements of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town".

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