• The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available. Use this link to order, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

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
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 !
I always thought Richard was way too modest to state "Christmas Portrait" is Karen's album. Right from the beginning we know that is not the case. While he may not have been involved in some aspects as much as he had been involved in other albums, it's still a Carpenters album through and through.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
A question for those who may have variant releases of the Vinyl Single:
......Christmas Song.....
In listening to the 45-Single on the "Memories" AM-8620 Time-stamp 3:39,
it seems as if there are more prominent mixing of the Strings herein.
Any one else hear any differences ? (i.e., from the LP, or other Vinyl.)
Also,the recording is copyrighted 1977, thus, I wonder if this was not one of the tunes
recorded for the 1977 Carpenters At Christmas Television Special.
If so, were any changes made to the recording for placement on the release of 1978 Christmas Portrait LP ?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Of Course,
only Richard Carpenter is able to ascertain how much he did, or did not ,
contribute to Christmas Portrait--in 1978.
Richard Carpenter: "Arranging .. was turned over, by me, to veterans Peter Knight and Billy May."
However, one ascertains from the Credits as delineated on that original 1978 Album
that only Two Offerings, O Come,O Come Immanuel and Merry Christmas Darling,
had (the imprint of ) both Richard's arrangement and orchestration.
(And, of course, Merry Christmas Darling had an arrangement completed long before. Produced--according to the album jacket--- by Jack Daugherty.)
Peter Knight credited with Ten of the album's songs.
Billy May accounted for Five of the Songs.
There are 17 distinct Tracks on the original album.
One begins to understand Why ?
Richard Carpenter would make that statement: "... Christmas Portrait is Karen's album..."
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
A question for those who may have variant releases of the Vinyl Single:
......Christmas Song.....
In listening to the 45-Single on the "Memories" AM-8620 Time-stamp 3:39,
it seems as if there are more prominent mixing of the Strings herein.
Any one else hear any differences ? (i.e., from the LP, or other Vinyl.)
I believe what you're hearing is a difference in the mastering rather than a mixing difference. The single version - both the original and the Memories/Forget-Me-Not - have a boost in the higher frequencies which could give the impression of strings being more prominent in the mix. 45s were often mastered 'hotter' than their album counterpart so as to punch through better on radio and this was probably the case here.

Harry
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
On CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT (original LP), including the opening a capella "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", Richard is only heard singing on the old "Merry Christmas Darling" track, and a little bit on "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells". That's it that I can hear, unless I missed something.

Harry
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thanks, Harry, for the elaboration on the aforementioned
A &M Memories Single.
Makes a lot more sense to my ears !
 
On CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT (original LP), including the opening a capella "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", Richard is only heard singing on the old "Merry Christmas Darling" track, and a little bit on "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells". That's it that I can hear, unless I missed something.

Harry
While Karen is not heard at all on "Carol Of The Bells", "Silver Bells", and only a line or so on "Santa Clause Is Coming To Town". I also think Richard is too easy to dismiss his production work, as if that is not relevant to stamp the album as a family project. I'm certainly not willing to call this Karen's first solo album.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
On CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT (original LP), including the opening a capella "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", Richard is only heard singing on the old "Merry Christmas Darling" track, and a little bit on "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells". That's it that I can hear, unless I missed something.

Harry
Never sure, but is there a little bit of Richard in First SnowFall "folks put runners on their surries, and forget about their worries". Could be a Richard or 2 amidst the Karens.

And yeah, from what I understand Richard selected every piece, where they'd be placed, and how they'd segue together. Not to mention his OCD in the production/mixing process, even in the throws of his addiction.

Even with the sparcity of his arrangements, he was still the mucical director of the project and as such I always feel this to be very much a CARPENTERS product, plural.

I realize this has gone a long way from "favourite bits of songs", but I always think Richard put himself down too much on this album. Maybe he thought, in hindsight, that if this album had been deemed a KC solo, she wouldn't have felt the need to make her NY album and perhaps used '79 for the therapy she put off until '82.

All just thoughts,

Neil
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Fantastic 1978 KIQQ Christmas Portrait interview,
Karen Carpenter:
"I enjoy doing this type of music--Christmas music--all year around.
I could do it anytime day or night, any time of the year."
Merry Christmas Darling: "It's a beautiful song. I think it's my favorite,
because it's really close to me."

At the end of the interview, in reference to Ave Maria,
it seems as if Karen is saying they "cut" both versions.
(Part 6, 5:27, "We had them both cut.")
Then, she seems a bit ambiguous about it. ("We didn't have more time."
Does anyone know if the 'other' version actually has Karen's vocals tracked ?
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
More from the Carpenter Webpage:
"...Richard finally opted to do as far as his part in...
“Christmas Portrait”,
was to select the material,
sequence the tunes in advance,
hire two world-class arrangers who worked in the traditional mold, Peter Knight and Billy May,
and just produce the sessions..."
 

MissK

Active Member
Fantastic 1978 KIQQ Christmas Portrait interview,
Karen Carpenter:
"I enjoy doing this type of music--Christmas music--all year around.
I could do it anytime day or night, any time of the year."
Merry Christmas Darling: "It's a beautiful song. I think it's my favorite,
because it's really close to me."

At the end of the interview, in reference to Ave Maria,
it seems as if Karen is saying they "cut" both versions.
(Part 6, 5:27, "We had them both cut.")
Then, she seems a bit ambiguous about it. ("We didn't have more time."
Does anyone know if the 'other' version actually has Karen's vocals tracked ?
My take on this is that they cut both the Bach/Gounod and the Shubert versions but didn't have time to cut the "other one" meaning the
Caccini version, which is far less known. I would love to hear the Shubert and wonder why it wasn't included on the Old Fashion Christmas album.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
My take on this is that they cut both the Bach/Gounod and the Shubert versions but didn't have time to cut the "other one" meaning the
Caccini version, which is far less known. I would love to hear the Shubert and wonder why it wasn't included on the Old Fashion Christmas album.

I don't think that's right, Richard has never referred to the Caccini version, only to the Schubert version in interviews. This is what leads many fans to think they actually recorded the two and opted for the Bach/Gounod version for the album.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
On CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT (original LP), including the opening a capella "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", Richard is only heard singing on the old "Merry Christmas Darling" track, and a little bit on "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells". That's it that I can hear, unless I missed something.

Harry
I'm pretty sure you can hear Richard singing backing vocals on "Silent Night" and "Silver Bells".
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
Eyewire, I just got my own copy of the West German CD from EBay last year. It's too bad that, even though the brand of mastering tape the used in 78 has fallen apart (I wonder if they were using AMPEX tape, since I know that 3/4-inch U-Matic AMPEX tape is a very difficult tape to play nowadays due to the binder having dried out, and causing the magnetic particles to just shred and fall right off the plastic backing, and causing constant head clogs) Richard wasn't able to or didn't have a copy of the West German CD to make digital copy of.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I was just looking at my copies of both Christmas Portrait and Old-Fashioned Christmas, and another thing that I love about both albums, and something which sort of gets tossed to the side by most people when talking about music albums, is the cover art. With Portrait you have Santa painting a portrait of both Richard and Karen, and then on Old-Fashioned you have Santa and his team of elves (who apparently include a former Mousekeeter), hanging the painting--even though the painting has been changed from portrait to landscape, and has been redone to feature the 1980's Richard and Karen. It's too bad that in 1996 when the Christmas Collection was coming out another cover featuring Santa wasn't commissioned, or even had Old-Fashioned Christmas' cover reused, just like Portrait's cover had been reused for the SE CD.
 

Someday

Active Member
Watching the 1977 Christmas special on youtube, it struck me that many of the arrangements and vocal takes seem identical to those on Christmas Portrait (and then even O Holy Night which later appeared on OFC). Anyone know if all this was re-recorded?
 

tcjr

Member


Like this?
I do not know who the artist who drew Karen and Richard and would certainly have given credit to the wonderful artist whose work I used to make this cover. I found the image when doing a search. I am not sure it it is Chris Tassins' work or not. If anyone knows the artist, please let us all know whose talents are represented. Thanks
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
The only thing that picture is missing is the Carpenters logo, but otherwise it would've gone a lot better than that digitally blurred photo that's on the CC CD. The CC cover always looked like it was rushed and not much effort was put into it. And it was also a reuse of the photo for the Time-Life Christmas With The Carpenters CD (and would be reused for the ICON release).
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
You know that the Carpenters Christmas music really stands out when it gets used to close out probably one of the Top 3 well known Christmas parades in North America. I just found an old VHS recording of the 2003 Toronto Santa Claus parade (that also has the 2002 TSCP) and on both parades for the end credits music you can hear Karen and Richard singing on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", and it's the 1977 mix, so Global TV was probably using the Christmas Portrait SE CD as the source.
 

Charlie D

Active Member
Were "Little Girl Blue" and "When I Fall in Love" recorded in conjunction with the Christmas recordings? I'm pretty sure they were, but not totally sure. I know that Peter Knight also arranged LGB and it does have that kind of orchestral, lush Christmasy feel to it as well.
 

Chris May

Resident 'Carpenterologist'
Thread Starter
Staff member
Moderator
On CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT (original LP), including the opening a capella "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", Richard is only heard singing on the old "Merry Christmas Darling" track, and a little bit on "Sleigh Ride" and "Jingle Bells". That's it that I can hear, unless I missed something.

Harry
And don't forget The First Snowfall. The line that goes "Folks put runners on their surreys, and forget about their worries" is the classic Carpenters sound which starts with Richard doubling himself, followed by a stack of harmonies with the two of them. Such an astounding record all the way around.
 
Last edited:

ullalume

Well-Known Member
And don't forget The First Snowfall. The line that goes "Folks put runners on their surreys, and forget about their worries" is the classic Carpenters sound which starts with Richard doubling himself, followed by a stack of harmonies with the two of them. Such an astounding record all the way around.
Boom. Thank you, Chris. So pleased to have that confirmed.
 
Top Bottom