• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and 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 being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

🎄 Holidays! THE OFFICIAL REVIEW: [Album] "CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT" SP-4726

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 52 78.8%
  • ****

    Votes: 13 19.7%
  • ***

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.5%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    66

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
You know, I don’t think Karen sings the word, ‘pine’ anyplace in ‘Home For The Holidays’. I think she sings, ‘When you long for the sunshine of a friendly gaze’. But I could be totally wrong.
Yes, she does sing "long" - I had to go back and listen - I prefer "pine" but that's only because I'm old and nostalgic...I really like how the lyricist changed that whole phrase to "If you want to be happy in a million ways..." In the repeat...

And I had forgotten what a warm impact Karen's incredible voice makes as it enters at the end of the very nostagically tinged "intro", one of her many quietly awesome moments...

And yes, I love the work of the chorus in this excellent arrangement, proving once again that they didn't need to always supply all of the supporting voices...
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Unless I am mistaken, Christmas Portrait
is reaching new chart position highs this year (I assume it will go even higher this year this year):
USA #47 kworb and PopVortex charts.
Album: Gold: Greatest Hits
iTunes:
#26 Bermuda
#31 Philippines
#53 United Kingdom
#76 Japan
#82 Singapore
Apple Music:
#61 Philippines
#172 Singapore
Album: Christmas Portrait
iTunes:
#47 United States
#72 Canada
Album: Christmas Collection
Apple Music:
#175 Philippines
Album: Carpenters with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Apple Music:
#192 Laos
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
Yes, she does sing "long" - I had to go back and listen - I prefer "pine" but that's only because I'm old and nostalgic...I really like how the lyricist changed that whole phrase to "If you want to be happy in a million ways..." In the repeat...

And I had forgotten what a warm impact Karen's incredible voice makes as it enters at the end of the very nostagically tinged "intro", one of her many quietly awesome moments...

And yes, I love the work of the chorus in this excellent arrangement, proving once again that they didn't need to always supply all of the supporting voices...

Pine also reminds of the Christmas season, a literal pine cone and the scent. I wonder if that was a reason for its original usage.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I either completely forgot or I’m totally late to the party, but I just heard the Christmas Collection’s versions and was surprised to hear that Sleigh Ride had an alternate vocal line in the opening. I have the two original albums on YouTube playlists I made, each with their original track list sequencing. The individual videos taken from the officially uploaded Carpenters videos featuring the audio for best quality.

I commonly use cheaper ones, but lately I’ve been using Apple earbuds for music and they’re much more effective, and its with them that I started to hear the Special Edition of Christmas Portrait differently. I was put off by the fact that these mixes on the SE now sounded very muffled, whereas in past years I never thought this at all. It sounds buried a bit, the music and vocals. Then I heard the uploaded songs from the Christmas Collection videos and I couldn’t believe how much brighter and sharper everything sounded. The mixes might have (more) reverb but the contrast in clarity was striking. I just feel stupid not knowing if this is the first time I’ve ever heard the CC mixes or not. My new earbuds seem to have brought out what I’ve never heard before on the SE mixes.

Does anyone else hear what I hear?
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
The remixes are typical Richard remixes. Brighter, thumpier bass, and reverb. The Collection version has always sounded that way.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
The remixes are typical Richard remixes. Brighter, thumpier bass, and reverb. The Collection version has always sounded that way.
He regrets the overuse of reverb, as he was “talked into it” by engineer Roger Young.

As far as the kick drum and bass tracks having more punch, I actually think the mixes sound great.

The new Christmas mixes will lose most of the reverb, pushing Karen further out in front of the mix.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I know how he usually remixes (many of them I prefer of the originals) but I guess I didn’t realize that he did the Christmas ones so extensively or that he remixed them at all. I must never have heard these mixes online like I originally thought I may have. I’ve never owned a physical copy of the CC. It’s a very nice surprise. I always knew about this collection but assumed it was the original versions from the LP’s.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
As I recall, the only song un-remixed was "Merry Christmas, Darling"
That's correct.

Of course Time Life's Christmas with the Carpenters—released in 1992, features the rare remix with re-recorded (stereo) piano. I'll have to go back and listen again, but I recall some distortion in the mix and was never fond of the replacement of the original piano.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I listened to Christmas Portrait (as always) when we put up our tree. It's always our first play as the season starts. It was beautiful as ever. Maybe it's the book and reliving the loss of her voice and knowing it's over, but it made me sad this year. I don't know if I'll play it again this year.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Reaching #29 on the USA Top-100 album charts today:
It’s interesting, even though they say it’s the Special Edition that’s charted, the give it’s release date as “October 13, 1978”, which is not the SE’s release date!
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I listened to Christmas Portrait (as always) when we put up our tree. It's always our first play as the season starts. It was beautiful as ever. Maybe it's the book and reliving the loss of her voice and knowing it's over, but it made me sad this year. I don't know if I'll play it again this year.

The Christmas songs of theirs play differently for me too this year. I don’t think it’s the book so much as things going on in my life. I’ve always said that Karen is the rare artist who’s artistry grows and changes with an individual and it’s interesting that on my tenth year hearing this album I feel something I hadn't before.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
... Maybe it's the book and reliving the loss of her voice and knowing it's over, but it made me sad this year. I don't know if I'll play it again this year.
I know how you feel - many here do - the sadness of her loss, and the sadness of what might have been accomplished through all these years - but you'll more than likely play it again...and again...because the only cure for this sadness is the quiet but profound joy that overcomes one when she sings...that voice is the antidote...
 

lj

Well-Known Member
For me, the Carpenters have made "Merry Christmas Darling" a holiday standard and classic. With Karen's perfect vocal and Richard's perfect arrangement, it's the kind of song that tugs at your heartstrings. I guarantee you this song will be heard at Christmas time generations from now just like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" and Perry Como's "Home For the Holidays".
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
One Carpenters Christmas song I rarely hear praise for is 'He Came Here For Me' ... which to my ears, is such a beautiful, deep piece of resonant spiritual music. Plus Karen is in full, rich, velvet vocal form.
Oh, yeah! 'He Came Here For Me' is way up there on my list, too. And you described the reason why perfectly.
 
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