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

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 43 78.2%
  • ****

    Votes: 11 20.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    55

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Of course, then, there is this,
Carpenters Fan Club Newsletter #63
January 1979;

"...here is some good news...Christmas Portrait reached Gold status early in December...."
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
On January 6, 1979
Christmas Portrait was ,after five weeks on chart, at #145....
the previous week #155 ( Billboard Top 200 LP Chart).
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
The liner notes from The Essential Collection says that Christmas Portrait was released in Oct 13, 1978....the ad above ran in Dec 23, 1978 so in just 2 months Christmas Portrait turned Gold status? How many albums and cassette tapes had to be sold in order to go Gold? I didn't realize it went Gold that quickly, that must have been a huge accomplishment back in 1978 for an artist with a Christmas album, huh?
I think that was just a bit of marketing hype by A&M. If it had gone gold so quickly, it would surely have charted a lot higher than its initial peak of #145.
 

mr J.

Active Member
I think that was just a bit of marketing hype by A&M. If it had gone gold so quickly, it would surely have charted a lot higher than its initial peak of #145.
Not necessarily-an album can sell very well without ever charting.The Billboard Top 200 chart is a reflection of how many copies an album is selling that particular week-it's not an indicator of how many copies an album will sell two months,six months or twelve months down the road.

In the case of CP,the album peaked at #145-meaning there were 144 albums that were moving more copies(than CP) that particular week.

For the record-Love Songs peaked at #106 in 1998,yet sold 500,000 copies within five months of release.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Not necessarily-an album can sell very well without ever charting.The Billboard Top 200 chart is a reflection of how many copies an album is selling that particular week-it's not an indicator of how many copies an album will sell two months,six months or twelve months down the road.

In the case of CP,the album peaked at #145-meaning there were 144 albums that were moving more copies(than CP) that particular week.

For the record-Love Songs peaked at #106 in 1998,yet sold 500,000 copies within five months of release.
Yet, as GaryAlan's previous post states, A&M's own publication contradicts the idea that it had already gone gold in 1978. By the time of the ad posted earlier in December 1978, it had only been on release for a couple of months and probably hadn't started shifting many copies until nearer Christmas. While the Christmas season is normally the best sale-wise, this would have to be very very good indeed in 1978 to ensure that the #145 album was shifting enough to go gold whilst only spending a few weeks on the chart.

Re Love Songs, that had nearly six months to build up Gold sales and it did so by spending most of that time on the Billboard 200 hovering in the mid-section. By contrast, Christmas Portrait didn't spend anything like that long on the charts (unsurprising, given that it was a seasonal album), so wouldn't have posted such consistent sales over a reasonable time period and thus couldn't have achieved that level of sales in its initial chart run in 1978/79.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Absolutely correct, Rumbahbah.
Christmas Portrait, being released 10/13/1978,
did not physically sell enough copies to 'go Gold'
by early December 1978 as the Newsletters state. (Shipped Gold,yes...sold Gold,no way)
The A&M First 25 Years Publication documents the correct date: No hype, just Fact.
Analysis of its sales in December 1978 can not be ascertained by its sales achievements later.
That presents a distorted picture of the events at that time--1978.
Carpenters 1990's revisionism and CD sales played a large part in moving more copies of all
Carpenters' product throughout later years.
(Not to mention Love Songs Television Commercial Campaign).
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Note:
Timeline
Christmas Portrait


Holiday Album Charts:
January 16,1981 RIAA Certified Gold.
December 1984 Christmas Portrait, HC #2.....
The Special Edition:
"That same year, at A&M’s request, Richard combined highlights from the two albums into one release, Christmas Portrait – The Special Edition.
Richard modified some of the cuts, such as adding the choir to “Ave Maria.” Knight had written the choral parts during the recording of Christmas Portrait,
but they were misplaced in the rush to complete the album."

December 24,1994, Pop Catalog #16...Gold Status
August 26,1995, page 67,1994-1995 ,HC#21
December 2,1995, HC#30...Gold
November 29,1997, HC#33..Gold
December 27,1997,HC #24
January 10,1998,HC #23
April 16,1998 RIAA Certified Platinum
November 30, 30,2002, HC#49...Platinum Status (One Million Sales)
October 3,2009, HC#47..Platinum Status
October 2,2010, HC#43...Platinum Status.
December 17,2011,HC#50...Platinum Status
 

mr J.

Active Member
Yet, as GaryAlan's previous post states, A&M's own publication contradicts the idea that it had already gone gold in 1978. By the time of the ad posted earlier in December 1978, it had only been on release for a couple of months and probably hadn't started shifting many copies until nearer Christmas. While the Christmas season is normally the best sale-wise, this would have to be very very good indeed in 1978 to ensure that the #145 album was shifting enough to go gold whilst only spending a few weeks on the chart.

Re Love Songs, that had nearly six months to build up Gold sales and it did so by spending most of that time on the Billboard 200 hovering in the mid-section. By contrast, Christmas Portrait didn't spend anything like that long on the charts (unsurprising, given that it was a seasonal album), so wouldn't have posted such consistent sales over a reasonable time period and thus couldn't have achieved that level of sales in its initial chart run in 1978/79.
Christmas Portrait hit the 500,000 mark in the fall of 1980. A&M misrepresented the term "gold" in that promo ad.But,the album still did very well upon it's release.And,considering that (back then) Christmas albums only sold three months out of the year(early October-late December)-it reached gold status pretty quickly.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Newsletter#63, January 1979:
"...A relatively new FM Radio station in Los Angeles K100, played the entire Album one
evening before Christmas, and Karen's comments relating to each track were very interesting.''

Hear it on Youtube, via KindofHush, entitled:
Christmas Portrait Interview With Karen Carpenter
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
A&M misrepresented the term "gold" in that promo ad.
Which was (and is) not exactly an uncommon practice. I remember many a Billboard promo ad touting "the newest gold single" or "the latest #1 album" when said single or album was still en route to stores!
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Richard Carpenter,
Anthology Liner Notes
(Japan, Red Cover Version):
Ave Maria
" There are two Ave Maria's that are well known. One is by Schubert, the other by Bach and Gounod.
This is the latter and one of the songs selected by Karen and me for Christmas Portrait. This is
one of Karen's finest readings. It is a very difficult piece and Karen performs it beautifully.
This version differs from Christmas Portrait's in that it is augmented with a 48 Voice Choir.
The Choral Parts were misplaced during the recording of Christmas Portrait and were discovered months later.
The Voices were recorded in 1984 during the making of 'An Old Fashioned Christmas'."
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Richard Carpenter,
Anthology Liner Notes
(Japan, Red Cover Version):
The Choral Parts were misplaced during the recording of Christmas Portrait and were discovered months later.
The Voices were recorded in 1984 during the making of 'An Old Fashioned Christmas'."
This story forever confused me until I realised when he refers to 'choral parts' he meant the sheet music. For years I had thought he meant the actual tracked choir parts were misplaced so I couldn't understand why they would have needed to record them (again) in 1984 if they were rediscovered months after in 1978.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Brief Notes taken directly from the Official Carpenter Webpage:

You had A&M’s initial resistance to the idea and then they saw what we were spending, so I can understand their concern,” Richard says.
The label had not been keen on the idea of a Carpenters Christmas album in the first place.
In November 1977, the Carpenters released a third Christmas single, “Christmas Song".
On December 9, 1977, Karen and Richard starred in their first Christmas Special, The Carpenters At Christmas.
The music that the Carpenters had pre-recorded for the special gave them a head-start on the Christmas Portrait album.
Second holiday special, Carpenters – A Christmas Portrait, aired December 19, 1978.
Four songs from the special were taken directly from the album.
Ave Maria: Peter Knight had written the choral parts during the recording of Christmas Portrait, but they were misplaced in the rush to complete the album.
Ballad version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town:
Karen and Richard recorded the basic track and the lead vocal in 1972, and added brass, strings, the sax solo and background vocals two years later.
Peter Knight: Went on to do the majority of the orchestrations on both (Christmas) albums.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Congratulations, Eyewire on your acquisition !

What I find interesting--and, I trust someone will double-check my arithmetic--
is the Original Vinyl Christmas Portrait has 40.02 Minutes of Karen Carpenter vocals.
The Special Edition CD, "...70 continuous minutes of the season's best with Karen and Richard.."
has 41.08 Minutes of Karen Carpenter Vocals.
Interesting.....?
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
What I find interesting--and, I trust someone will double-check my arithmetic--
is the Original Vinyl Christmas Portrait has 40.02 Minutes of Karen Carpenter vocals.
The Special Edition CD, "...70 continuous minutes of the season's best with Karen and Richard.."
has 41.08 Minutes of Karen Carpenter Vocals.
Interesting.....?
That's weird given its much longer format. You'd think Richard would have used the 74 minute format to cram in as much of An Old Fashioned Christmas lead vocals as well, instead of the instrumentals.
 
Last edited:

70sFan

Member
Until 1978, Johnny Mathis' Merry Christmas was "it", then came Christmas Portrait and since then there has been none better. The best Christmas album there ever was!
 

Charlie D

Active Member
Was there an original Christmas Portrait CD that had the version without the choir besides the West German pressing?
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
That thing has also become a highly sought-after rarity. The original mixes are beautiful, although I do believe Rich did a wonderful job remixing everything (save for Merry Christmas Darling which never got nor needed a remix, aside from the extremely rare Time Life remix in '92, which is horrible IMHO).
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
My latest acquisition, courtesy of eBay. I know it's not Christmas yet but I've already played it from beginning to end twice. Great album!

They did a wonderful job transferring the 2-channel over. Ave Maria is the only track that had some warbling at around 1:48. This was an error in mastering I believe that was fixed during the final remix with choir in '84.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
I remain mystified.....as I played the 1978 Christmas Portrait, Vinyl LP,
this morning. On my copy, at least,
Ave Maria
is absolutely flawless.
The Original Album is flawless. Perfection.
Stunning in every particular,
no need for remixing, remastering, tinkering, adding or subtracting....etc.
What is this warbling around 1:48....why do I not hear this error 'in mastering '?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Certain it is that both Christmas albums are wonderful, however, we have
Richard Carpenter's elaboration of the 1978 offering:
“Christmas Portrait” is Karen’s album, and should have been titled accordingly, not Carpenters.
I did oversee the mixes, of course, but that falls under production.I was not interested in more than production work,
and an occasional lead and some minor piano work." (underlining in the Original.)

Christmas Portrait LP was finished by mid-1978, with certain pieces borrowed from the 1977 Carpenters At Christmas Television Special.

Probably (historically) accurate to say that Richard's work--by his own admission-- on the 1984 Old-Fashioned Christmas LP,
surpasses in quality (and creativity) the work he performed on the previous Christmas album.

But, to each his own.
Personally, I am no huge fan of Richard's leads on any song,
but, he does have his moments !
"It Came Upon A Midnight Clear",
is--for me--one of those moments !
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The albums are structured almost identically with an a cappella leading into an uplifting song "Deck The Halls"/"Happy Holidays" and continuing with the overture. So if one is dull and uninspired, the other is as well. But neither are. Richard's voice is beautiful. Both have exceptional intros. Both albums are at the top of my favorite Christmas albums of all-time.
They're completely different to my ears - one is Richard singing a doubled lead a capella with no harmony and the other is just amazing, complete with a wall of harmony sound (kind of reminiscent of 'Without A Song').
 
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