• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.


Which side is your favorite?

  • Side 1

    Votes: 13 44.8%
  • Side 2

    Votes: 16 55.2%

  • Total voters

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Thread Starter


Catalogue Number: A&M SP-3270, SP-5172, SP-9107 (Canada)
Year of Release: 1984
Chart Position: U.S.: #190
Album Singles: "Little Altar Boy"/"Do You Hear What I Hear"
Medium: Vinyl/Cassette/CD (Japan, U.S. Christmas Collection, Disc 2)

Side 1:
1.) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear :43 (Sears/Willis)
2.) Overture 8:13

a. Happy Holiday (Berlin) Irving Berlin Music Company, adm. by Williamson Music Company (ASCAP)
b. The First Noel (P.D. Trad. Old English Carol)
c. March Of The Toys (Herbert) Warner Bros., Inc. (ASCAP)
d. Little Jesus (P.D. From the Oxford Book Of Carols)
e. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Connor) Jewel Music Publishing Co., Inc. (ASCAP)
f. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (P.D. L.H. Redner) Longitude Music Co. (BMI)
g. In Dulce Jubilo (P.D. 14th Century German melody)
h. Gesu Bambino (The Infant Jesus) (Yon) Beam Me Up Music (ASCAP)
i. Angels We Have Heard On High (P.D. Trad. French Carol)

3.) An Old-Fashioned Christmas 2:15 (Carpenter/Bettis)
4.) O Holy Night 3:10 (P.D. Adolphe Adam/Adapted by Richard Carpenter)
5.) (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays 2:36 (Allen/Stillman)
6.) Medley 3:43

a. Here Comes Santa Claus (Autry/Haldeman) Gene Autry's Western Music Publishing (ASCAP)
b. Frosty The Snowman (Nelson/Rollins) Chappell & Co. (ASCAP)
c. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Marks) St. Nicholas Music Inc. (ASCAP)
d. Good King Wenceslas (P.D. John Mason Neale, Adapted by Richard Carpenter) Almo Music Corp./Hammer and Nails Music, adm. by Almo Music Corp.

7.) Little Altar Boy 3:43 (Smith)

Side 2:
8.) Do You Hear What I Hear? 2:53 (Regney/Shayne)
9.) My Favorite Things 3:53 (Rodgers/Hammerstein)
10.) He Came Here For Me 2:12 (Nelson)
11.) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4:04 (Gillespie/Coots)
12.) What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? 2:51 (Loesser)
13.) Selections from “The Nutcracker” 6:14 (P.D. Peter Illych Tchaikovsky, Adapted by Richard Carpenter)
a. Overture Miniature
b. Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy
c. Trepak
d. Valse Des Fleurs

14.) I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day 2:21 (Marks/Longfellow, Adapted by Johnny Marks)

Album Credits:

Conceived and Produced by Richard Carpenter
Lead vocals: Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter
Piano: Richard Carpenter
Arranged by: Peter Knight (#2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14), Richard Carpenter (#1, 11) and Billy May (#10)
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter & Pete Jolly
Upright Bass: Pete Morgan
Electric Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt & Barry Morgan
Harp: Skiala Kanga & Gayle Levant
Tenor Sax: John Phillips
Vocals: The O.K. Chorale Conducted by Dick Bolks, The English Chorale Conducted by Robert Howes, Karen & Richard Carpenter
Recorded at:
A&M Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
Engineered by Roger Young, Ray Gerhardt and Robert De La Garza
EMI "Abbey Road" Studios
Engineered by Eric Tomlinson
Assistant: Allan Rouse
Mixed at:
A&M Recording Studios
Engineered by Roger Young
Assistants: Clyde Kaplan & Jim Cassell
Evergreen Studios
Engineered by John Richards
Assistants: Dave Marquette & Mike Hatcher
Mastered by Arnie Acosta at A&M Mastering Studios, Hollywood CA
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Produced by Jack Daugherty and Richard & Karen Carpenter
Art Direction: Chuck Beeson
Album Design: Melanie Nissen
Illustration: Robert Tanenbaum


This album lovingly dedicated to the memory of my late sister and friend Karen, who was extremely fond of both Christmas and Christmas music. - Richard Carpenter

© 1984 A&M Records, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

ars nova

Well-Known Member
I've chosen side one. I like Richard's opening, OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS, and HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. LITTLE ALTAR BOY is one of Karen's best performances.


Well-Known Member
It would be perfect if Home For The Holidays and Little Altar Boy was moved to Side 2, and switched the Nutcracker Suite with O Holy Night, I would feel confident choosing Side 2! It’s what I listen to the most from this collection. But since Side 2 has more of Karen it’s Side 2 for me. Thankfully, we have CD’s to replace the old days of choosing sides. If there was ever a version outside of Perry Como’s Home For The Holidays it would be this one. It’s a song mastered for Karen’s voice and it would have been great to have them singing at least one verse together. Of all the other people who sing this song, it is captured best here.


Well-Known Member
Side 2. Only because it has the meat of Karen's leads. Honorable mention Side 1.


I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Side 2 for me, purely because it’s mostly made up of Karen and there are some gems on there. There’s hardly anything of her on side 1, as lovely as it is.


Well-Known Member
Side one for me! Brilliant building of anticipation with Old Fashioned Christmas leading into O' Holy Night and then into Karen's premier vocal on Home for the Holidays. Eight minutes of pure genius! Then of course, side 1 concludes with Little Alter Boy. Fantastic!

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Side 1 for me, waiting for the entrance of Karen is hard but worth the wait. The song that tips the scales for me is the title track An Old Fashioned Christmas. I really love Richard's vocals here and the meaning of the song.


Well-Known Member
Home for the Holidays and Little Alter Boy tipped the scale for me to choose Side 1, although it is very hard waiting on Karen's voice to shine through the instrumentals!

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Side 2 for me, although my favorite song on the album, Little Altar Boy, is on side 1. As lovely as the instrumentals are, there's just not enough Karen on side 1.

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I've been back into my LP's ever since the Carpenters Vinyl Collection came out, although my experience wasn't good, at least it's brought me back to all my original Lp's and I've been playing them once again.

Something I wanted to share...I've had the original An Old Fashioned Christmas LP I got when it was released back in 84', it's in great condition however it's been with me forever even when I didn't have a great turntable when I was young and it's got a skip on 1 track that is there to stay. So about 4 or 5 yrs ago I decided to find another copy that was sealed. I ended up buying it off e bay and it was my fault for not asking questions before the purchase.

So what I got was a Columbia Record Club issue, there is no bar code on the back cover and on the bottom right corner next to the A&M label are the initials CRC. So while both have the same catalog SP 3270, when comparing the sound between the 2...they are not the same. The CRC has a more muddy sound and the highs are not quite as present.

I've posted 2 waveforms, both were recorded at the same volume input and while they look very similar, they don't sound the same. The original pressing LP has more highs especially present in the sounds of the bells during different portions and the vocals are much brighter and clearer, Karen's vocal is crystal clear. For instance some of the bells sounds like around 45-47 seconds into the song are so crisp and clear but not the same on the CRC version. The CRC sounds like the vocals and instruments are more muddied.

Each Christmas I keep saying I'm going to rip my LP of this album for my iPhone because I've never been real happy with the remastered classics version from the Japan box set. This led me today to rip, Do You Hear What I Hear from my original LP and from the CRC LP to compare them.

This is the CRC LP Waveform of Do You Hear What I Hear

This is the Original LP Waveform of the same title

Daniel Perales

Well-Known Member
I wave the white flag on this. Both sides are equally favorites. When I first bought this on vinyl, I never listened
to one side more than the other. Now that I have the CD version, I play it straight through. No track skipping.



Well-Known Member
I've been spinning this LP this week.
Christmas 'almost in July,' and.....
when I think of bad album covers, this one pops into my head.
Not simply the album cover, the entire product:
no inner sleeve, no photographs, poor coloring....you name it....
But....even so....the Vocals in this album are some of the best ever laid by Karen Carpenter.
And, even Richard's vocals are worth considering !
Had the marketing for this album been done properly, who knows ?
The Karen Lead Vocals:
(#1,2,3,6,7 arranged by Peter Knight)
(1) Home For The Holidays
(2) Little Altar Boy
(Wow !!)
(3) Do You Hear What I Hear ? (fantastic)
(4) He Came Here For Me (Wow !!) The only song here arranged by Billy May
(5) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Irresistible !!) One of two songs here arranged by Richard Carpenter
(It Came Upon A Midnight Clear being the other).
(6) What Are You Doing New Year's Eve (fantastic)
(7) I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day (Wow !!)

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Most of my favourite Carpenters Christmas songs are on 'An Old Fashioned Christmas'. I like Karen's lower register and there's a lot of it on this album. I think effort went into making 'Christmas Portrait' a fun-sounding, celebratory album, (with also a serious side), as you would expect, for a Christmas offering. A lot of the leftover tracks, later included on 'An Old FashionedChristmas', had a darker, melancholic feel. I love that side of Karen's voice.

My favourite CarpentersChristmas songs are probably 'Silent Night', 'Ave Maria', 'Sleep Well, Little Children', 'Christ is Born', 'White Christmas', 'Little Altar Boy', 'What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?', 'Home For the Holidays', 'Do You Hear What I Hear?', 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town', 'He Came Hear for Me' and 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'. My favourites include around four from 'Christmas Portrait' and seven from 'An Old Fashioned Christmas'.

I agree that there are great vocals by Karen on this album. I love her performance on every track she appears on here.


Well-Known Member
If I had been ordering the tracks on this album, I would’ve left “My Favorite Things” off and put “Toyland” on, as MFT really doesn’t belong. It’s the “sore thumb” of the album.

And “I Heard The Bells” needed a better backing track. Plus I think Richard needed to have some more connecting work on it. With “Christmas Portrait” &, especially “Special Edition” the albums just seemed to be a symphony, as each track went into each other, and the music didn’t stop till the end of the side or CD. Old-Fashioned, aside from the first three tracks, all the other tracks have pauses between them.

But it’s still one of the Top 15 Christmas albums out there.

The stand outs are Old Fashioned Christmas, Do You Hear, Home For The Holidays, Overture and New Year’s Eve.


Well-Known Member
Is it correct that An Old-Fashioned Christmas was released at practically the same time as CP Special Edition? If so, I can't understand why A&M would put out two festive collections simultaneously? ... Ok, one was on LP and Cassette, and the other was on CD, but really? Here in the UK the impression given was that the SE came out at the end of the Eighties for the CD Collection.


Well-Known Member
In 1984 CD’s were a very new technology, having only been out for about 12 months by the time Christmas 1984 came around. So the idea was to put out a compilation to test the “New” format rather than releasing the main albums on a format that may fail. Sort of like how in 1997/98 any TV show released on DVD was a “Best Of” release that had maybe 2 hours worth of episodes, just like you would find on VHS

But even now, CPSE is one of those rare discs that uses more than 50 minutes on a CD. As far as I’m aware, CPSE was released on the same day as Old-Fashion Christmas.


Well-Known Member
Is it correct that An Old-Fashioned Christmas was released at practically the same time as CP Special Edition? If so, I can't understand why A&M would put out two festive collections simultaneously? ... Ok, one was on LP and Cassette, and the other was on CD, but really? Here in the UK the impression given was that the SE came out at the end of the Eighties for the CD Collection.

Given the lack of profile/sales success for the Christmas albums in the UK, although I'd have to double-check, I think it's very likely that the Special Edition CD wasn't issued in the UK in 1984. It was definitely available by 1990 but I'm inclined to think it probably wasn't released before the CD Collection boxset in 1989.


Well-Known Member
Commentary in Billboard Magazine, November 1984:
"If a disc that provides up to 74 minutes of music inspires you,then you will be inspired by cd."
"cd has experienced growing pains...."
"some music retailers persist in ignoring it."
"worldwide acceptance of cd is imminent



Well-Known Member
Thanks, guys. That was my understanding. I had certainly not heard of CPSE until the CD box set came out in '89.


Well-Known Member
Do we know how well AOFC did on the Christmas charts in the 80’s and 90’s? Sure it hit the Hot 200, but did it show up on the Christmas chart?


Well-Known Member
Side one's got Little Altar Boy at the end. Although, like many here, I listen to this all the way through, side one is a little bit more special to me because of Little Altar Boy. Both Christmas albums have warmed my heart to the whole idea of the holidays, as it is impossible to not feel the joy conveyed through Karen's vocals on both offerings. If you are unmoved by any part of either album, you better check your pulse.
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