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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 63 78.8%
  • ****

    Votes: 16 20.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    80
I decided to do some more investigating...:agree:

I agree with others about the new 2023 video of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in that it does sound good and after hearing it you know something is a bit different. For me, Karen is certainly more up front, this brings a new fresher feel to her vocal. Not only that there are backing instruments that are brought up in parts when Karen is not singing that you hear much more clearer. The reverb (that were all so use to) is gone and for me it sounds much like what Richard did on the RPO album where she is clearer, drier, crisper with non of that reverb and it all makes for a new mix that I welcome hearing.

So this video had me wondering....I decided to purchase it from iTunes and there are some noticeable things I wanted to mention. The video file is a .m4v file 167 MB in size and the stats show it to be 1080p mpeg4 file. I decided to extract the audio from the video using quicktime. I then imported the audio into Audacity to see what it looked like. The waveform pretty much matches the Spatial Mix file that I purchased yesterday. The video actually runs 4:06 but the audio of that is actually 3:55-3:56 running time (video fades out without any music) and this audio time 3:55 actually matches the Spatial Mix file that I purchased yesterday.

But what I noticed is that the audio from the video while starts off the same, it does not end the same, the audio from the video fades out cleanly and this makes it sound like a standalone track. The audio from the Spatial Mix ends more abruptly as it sounds just like the song from the Special Edition CD.

I then decided to listen side by side of the audio file taken from the 2023 video and compare it to the audio file from the 2023 Spatial Mix I purchased yesterday. So I cued up both in Audacity to listen to them side by side, going back and forth discovering areas that were different sounding. The surprise is that while the waveforms look almost identical, the sound was not the same...as is evident from so many of us that have already posted here that Karen sounds clearer and more upfront on this video mix. There are parts of the video/audio that you can hear Karen is more centered and closer to the front, the backing instruments don’t drown her out in spots but yet they are still brought up in the mix a bit. For me it’s fascinating to hear it like this especially from this Christmas song and I’m not even hearing the true spatial mix since I don’t have the equipment but just from the video I can tell it’s different.

So what I don’t know (and probably never will) is where are they getting the audio that was used in the video? It’s obviously stereo but Karen also sounds more upfront in this mix. Are they somehow capturing some of the spatial audio mix and incorporating it into the video? Is the audio file used in the video being further tweaked? It’s also obvious that the audio from the video is not the whole or complete spatial sound experience as most who listen do not have that equipment to hear it we are just hearing this in stereo but YET to me the audio from the video does sound different (meaning better than I’ve ever heard it)

Ok...you can say it...I’m an investigating nerd about the Carpenters lol
I just love their music!!🎄
I have to say that I was disappointed when I heard it. Not because it was bad. Because I had my hopes up that we would finally get our original CP back again. The SE had great sound but was a different album (missing a few critical pieces). The first disk of collection definitely didn't satisfy (but the second disk was perfect). That leaves us with The German CP, which I know could sound better, because the songs from it that are on SE sound better. Now we are about to get yet another version that has been messed with and still no great version of the original CP on CD. So I guess its time to stop hoping and enjoy what I have. I have several of every version made but mainly listen to a needle drop I made in the 80's. I am sure many people will enjoy this new version mainly because its something new. (ok start shooting me)
 
I have to say that I was disappointed when I heard it. Not because it was bad. Because I had my hopes up that we would finally get our original CP back again. The SE had great sound but was a different album (missing a few critical pieces). The first disk of collection definitely didn't satisfy (but the second disk was perfect). That leaves us with The German CP, which I know could sound better, because the songs from it that are on SE sound better. Now we are about to get yet another version that has been messed with and still no great version of the original CP on CD. So I guess its time to stop hoping and enjoy what I have. I have several of every version made but mainly listen to a needle drop I made in the 80's. I am sure many people will enjoy this new version mainly because its something new. (ok start shooting me)
I totally get it. As much as I really like my German Christmas Portrait Cd (of which I have 2) I always end up enjoying my white label promo of Christmas Portrait LP. It sounds more dynamic has a closer feeling of her in the studio recording this and it’s cleaner and brighter sounding. They are both my go to versions. I also play the Time Life CD’s a lot around the holiday. I really don’t listen to the SE or Christmas Collection much.

I’m still looking forward to another mix of CP next year. As this point we always have the old stuff to fall back on.

I’m curious how the album cover will look, will Richard go with the exact same cover or will it be changed up? New title added?
 
I totally get it. As much as I really like my German Christmas Portrait Cd (of which I have 2) I always end up enjoying my white label promo of Christmas Portrait LP. It sounds more dynamic has a closer feeling of her in the studio recording this and it’s cleaner and brighter sounding. They are both my go to versions. I also play the Time Life CD’s a lot around the holiday. I really don’t listen to the SE or Christmas Collection much.

I’m still looking forward to another mix of CP next year. As this point we always have the old stuff to fall back on.

I’m curious how the album cover will look, will Richard go with the exact same cover or will it be changed up? New title added?
I would love to see a cover something like the first two albums had. Maybe a cartoon with Richard holding a tall ladder with Karen at the top placing a star on the highest bow, a little Nat King Cole fireplace off to the side, kids sledding down the hill out the picture window in the background. Bold Green and Red lettering. None of that old photograph stuff.
 
I am just listening to the whole Album (West German CD) for the first time! Throughout December, I listened to one song from one of both Christmas Albums everyday. (With the Exeption of Karen's Tracks from An-Old Fashioned Christmas.) The idea behind this was, to use the Albums as a form of an Advent Callendar. It's nice to hear CP now in its entirety. I will listen to Karen's Tracks fom An-Old Fashioned Christmas tomorrow, basically as a kind of Christmas Present.
 
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It is really quite remarkable to see the impact that the Christmas season has on the Carpenters' streaming figures.

Towards the end of October, the duo had 4.8 million listeners on Spotify. By this time tomorrow that number will exceed 10 million and I only expect it to continue to rise up to Christmas.


Merry Christmas!

A quick update, today, their Spotify listeners have reached 16.4 million.

So this Christmas has seen an increase of almost 12 million! 🎄
 
Wow!!
I wonder how much of this has to do with the new DA track HYAMLC? Could this have brought in new listeners?

It isn't on Spotify so I'd guess absolutely nothing!

It's seems to be all down to Merry Christmas Darling, Sleigh Ride and Silent Night in particular which are performing very well.

It'll be interesting to see how many of the newly picked up listeners remain into the new year 😊
 
Just posted - new lyric video on YouTube:

I just listened to this. It's the first time I've been so moved by any of the Carpenters' Christmas recordings (with the exception of "Merry Christmas, Darling"). Is it my imagination, or was Karen's voice moved higher up in the mix? If that's the case, then for me that makes all the difference. I love it. Thank you for sharing!
 
Wow, I’ve been listening to HYAMLC with the new 2023 download and from CP LP this season. Today I had Christmas music on random on my library and HYAMLC played from Time Life Cd and wow the reverb is killing me.
 
Wow, I’ve been listening to HYAMLC with the new 2023 download and from CP LP this season. Today I had Christmas music on random on my library and HYAMLC played from Time Life Cd and wow the reverb is killing me.
This treatment to all Carpenters Christmas would be near perfect. I noticed the Andy Williams iconic Christmas album has this treatment.
 
I just listened to this. It's the first time I've been so moved by any of the Carpenters' Christmas recordings (with the exception of "Merry Christmas, Darling"). Is it my imagination, or was Karen's voice moved higher up in the mix? If that's the case, then for me that makes all the difference. I love it. Thank you for sharing!
I don't think it's your imagination - this is stunning - it's like you're sitting in the recording booth with her, and you're holding her lyrics sheet, and she's singing right at you - and to you - you can hear every breath she takes - I miss terribly all the songs she would have sung this way...
 
Interestingly, Christmas Portrait was the only Christmas album I played this year. Period. I just wasn't on the mood to hear anyone but Karen.

It's funny you should say that, Mark.
After listening to Karen intensely, it took me quite a while to even tolerate other singers.
(Seriously, at first, I couldn't even tolerate listening to Sinatra - as she made him sound relatively
ordinary.)
 
It's funny you should say that, Mark.
After listening to Karen intensely, it took me quite a while to even tolerate other singers.
(Seriously, at first, I couldn't even tolerate listening to Sinatra - as she made him sound relatively
ordinary.)
I've been listening to mostly CP, the Special Edition and it sounds great - played it through yesterday while making strawberry ice cream, and then again today while making vanilla bean ice cream - my wife was out visiting her daughter so I cranked up the volume and it was like a concert!

I have listened to some other artist's Christmas albums this year - Perry Como, Nat King Cole and yes Frank Sinatra's - all very compatable with Karen.

This was the first time I had a chance to listen closely to Richard's solo piano work on here and I was very impressed, again!
 
I'm very late to the remix party for 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. I FINALLY heard it on Christmas Day and I was blown away! What a difference!

It sounds like Karen's in the room singing just to you. Thanks again for posting this gem! It's amazing. I can't wait to hear the entire album remixed just like they did here. In many ways, it's like hearing it for the first time.
 
I'm very late to the remix party for 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. I FINALLY heard it on Christmas Day and I was blown away! What a difference!

It sounds like Karen's in the room singing just to you. Thanks again for posting this gem! It's amazing. I can't wait to hear the entire album remixed just like they did here. In many ways, it's like hearing it for the first time.
Yes, that's exactly how I felt!
 
Interestingly, Christmas Portrait was the only Christmas album I played this year. Period. I just wasn't on the mood to hear anyone but Karen.
I always like to save my best for last, so I just put my cd in the car player yesterday on the way to church. I made my own SE. I found that an 80 min cd can hold all of CP and all but 4 tracks on OFC ( took out first two tracks, nutcracker and Favorite things). I added fade outs the the segues, so I can play in shuffle mode. Also the intro is attached to the overture. Its too bad they can't sell that version of SE.
 
I also made my own CD-R selection of Cs Xmas music. Because of the reverberation on Disc 1 of Christmas Collection (I don't have the West Germany CD), I used the SE tracks instead, others of From The Top and some normalization.

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[7:22] . Carpenters - O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Overture - The Christmas Waltz
[2:41] . Carpenters - Sleigh Ride
[2:56] . Carpenters - It's Christmas Time - Sleep Well, Little Children
[3:57] . Carpenters - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
[3:41] . Carpenters - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
[1:12] . Carpenters - Jingle Bells
[3:36] . Carpenters - The First Snowfall / Let It Snow
[1:40] . Carpenters - Carol Of The Bells
[3:08] . Carpenters - Merry Christmas, Darling
[3:51] . Carpenters - I'll Be Home For Christmas
[3:15] . Carpenters - Christ Is Born
[2:30] . Carpenters - White Christmas
[3:12] . Carpenters - O Holy Night
[2:39] . Carpenters - (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays
[3:44] . Carpenters - Little Altar Boy
[2:56] . Carpenters - Do You Hear What I Hear?
[3:54] . Carpenters - My Favorite Things
[2:15] . Carpenters - He Came Here For Me
[4:07] . Carpenters - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
[2:52] . Carpenters - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
[2:37] . Carpenters - Ave Maria
[6:16] . Carpenters - Selections From 'The Nutcracker'
[2:25] . Carpenters - I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
[3:22] . Carpenters - Silent Night
 
Putting away those lights and ornaments now and wanted to share some final discoveries on CP that I made this year. The Spike Jones album has come up in past interviews with both Richard and Karen. I grew up in a house that only played 45’s in the 1950’s, so I had only heard of "Mommy kissing Santa" and "My two front teeth" from Spike Jones. I newer new there was an album. So, I couldn’t see what Spike had to do with CP. I decided to look at his album a few months ago and was very surprised at what I found. Those clever medleys that I thought were carpenters written, were all on the Spike album. "What are you doing New Nears Eve" was there too (I could never understand this selection on AOFC). Even the CP overture has a lot of the same songs as Spike's. People say there is a lot of Carpenters shtick in CP, but if you look at a Spike video, you see him clowning around with horns, bells, symbols and drums the whole time he performs. So, when you hear this on CP medleys its really Spike Shtick not Carpenters.
You guys probably know all this, but I didn’t. It explains why CP is so different from the standard Carpenters sound (no voice overs and not just Karen and Richard). Now I view CP as more of a Spike remake, with one big difference. Spike was a Kid targeted album and CP was an adult targeted album loaded with memories that take us back to our kid days. It also explains why people complain: CP has too many instrumentals, it’s not the Carpenters, or I just wanted Karen singing. That’s what their fans are used to hearing. And then SE came along and took away the fun stuff and added the heavy stuff, making it a whole different thing. CP is still the greatest album to me, but now I see a little better what they were trying to do. There is still time for you SE lovers to repent!
 
Those clever medleys that I thought were carpenters written, were all on the Spike album […] Now I view CP as more of a Spike remake

I was pretty shocked when I first heard the Spike Jones album. Christmas Portrait wasn’t just inspired by it, large chunks of it were carbon copied. The medleys are a case in point.
 
It is indeed mentioned often that Karen and Richard grew up listening to Spike Jones and very much enjoyed his Holiday records and they intentionally patterned CP to a degree after Jones’ 1956 ‘Xmas Spectacular’. I agree the nod to Spike Jones made CP all the better.

This wasn’t the first time Richard would tip his hat to Spike Jones. The Clams, a Spike Jones tribute band, attempted to recreate the Slicker sound covering the Carpenters hit recording (They Long to Be) Close to You, which has a rhythm that is oddly similar to Herb Alpert’s recording, then Carpenters covered the Clams recording on network TV, on their very first TV Special televised 12/8/76. Great stuff.
 
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