• 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.

🎄 Holidays! THE OFFICIAL REVIEW: "AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS" SP-9107

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (Best)

    Votes: 5 19.2%
  • ****

    Votes: 8 30.8%
  • ***

    Votes: 11 42.3%
  • **

    Votes: 1 3.8%
  • *

    Votes: 1 3.8%

  • Total voters
    26
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A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
If memory serves, it also said, 'The Carpenters' on the label, which was really odd. Almost like somebody didn't do their homework at the label, and was pretty clueless. They were, in fact, the biggest money makers on the label. You'd think they would have been a bit more careful and spent the time to do it right.
 

Tim Neely

Member
Industry Member
Richard was right in that the original edition of the LP (1984) has the catalog number SP-3270, right smack dab in the middle of A&M's 3100 budget-line reissue series. This was one of the very few albums in that number range that was not a reissue.

In 1987, the album was reissued with the number SP-5172, which put it in the front-line catalog. By then, A&M would have been using the new black label it used until the end of the decade, but not only does my copy of SP-5172 have the old "fading" A&M label, but the label itself still has SP-3270 on it. I suspect the catalog number was changed because 1987 was when the Christmas Portrait special edition was released on CD, with a catalog number exactly one higher than the reissue of An Old Fashioned Christmas (CD-5173).

SP-9107 was the Canadian catalog number.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I have the original LP SP-3270, I remember being so let down that when I opened it there was absolutely nothing inside, it was like a void, another confirmation that Karen was gone.

After reading Tim's notes above, I went back to my 35th anniv box set to re-read Richard's notes on this LP. I came back with a new understanding that this was not a project taken lightly, Richard really poured alot into this album. I just don't understand why it was not marketed and issued properly if not out of respect for Karen, then for the profit this duo gave to A&M. It was in fact A&M that came to Richard asking if there was more material and that they were very interested in releasing it, yet when it was all finished off, it just fell by the way side, how tragic given the fact that Karen adored Christmas music and it was most likely her that cause them to over record extra Christmas tracks. How could this have been A&M's plan all along?

Richard says it's the most "expensive" midline album to surface. He invested so much of his talent, time, money and production. Richard's arrangement and Peter Knight's rich orchestra are anything but midline. To me, it's an amazing album in it's own right, even though there is too little of Karen, Richard's arrangement makes up for that loss. There is a track that always stands out for me and the lyrics are haunting because I am often left singing it way after the song has ended. I often catch myself humming it while decorating the tree or wrapping gifts each year. "How I miss that old-fashioned christmas, carols being sung by the tree, windows candlelight shining bright for the whole world to see"
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
There is a track that always stands out for me and the lyrics are haunting because I am often left singing it way after the song has ended. I often catch myself humming it while decorating the tree or wrapping gifts each year. "How I miss that old-fashioned christmas, carols being sung by the tree, windows candlelight shining bright for the whole world to see"

One of the best tracks from the entire album and sorely missing Karen's vocals. Shame she didn't record a lead for it herself.
 

Must Hear This Album

Well-Known Member
Great thread. This added context has given me a renewed respect for this album, which always felt to me like a “cash-in” effort, even though I was grateful for the remaining unreleased tracks! While it seems “cash-in" may have been the label’s plan, it’s heartening to know Richard had better intentions. I love you, Richard Carpenter - I hate you, Richard Carpenter (am I right? *grin* But I digress...).

So the lack of liner notes and disappointing cover artwork (it seemed to me that the MIA inner sleeve photo was used for EVERYTHING related to the duo in 1984-85!) was a tremendous let down for me as well. And I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment about the (too) long wait for Karen’s first vocal, and to be honest, other than the first overture, which effectively builds the anticipation (and is quite good), the other instrumentals just fall flat for me. At the time, the instrumentals landed on me as “filler” for an album already light on lead vocals by Karen. I just wish RC had called me, so I could have given him some direction for putting together the album (*grin). Seriously, though, I can’t help but think Old-Fashioned Christmas would have been more satisfying (albeit a bit skimpy) had it gone down like this in 1984:

Side One:
1.) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear - 0:43 *Actually, I really love this opening (as great as “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel,” from Portrait)
2.) Overture (Happy Holidays, The First Noel, etc.) – 8:14
3.) (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays - 2:36 *Would have had same, “And we have lift-off!” effect as “Waltz” did on Portrait
4.) An Old-Fashioned Christmas – 2:14 *Love this tender song about Christmas. It should be covered by other artists...
5.) Little Alter Boy – 3:43
6.) He Came Here For Me – 2:12

Side Two:
1.) Do You Hear What I Hear? – 2:53
2.) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – 4:04
3.) I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – 2:21
4.) What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? – 2:51
5.) Merry Christmas Darling (1970 single mix) – 3:07 *Would have been great to have on an LP for the first time!
6.) Ave Maria (choral version) – 2:34 *Would have been an exciting “remix” experience and tip-o-the-hat to Portrait. An apt ending.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Great song line up. You're right about Home for the Holidays coming in earlier. But I would have missed the tracks you left off, like Oh Holy Night and Nutcracker Suite.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I always thought side A of the LP was too sparse on Karen leads. I would have brought one of the KC lead songs from side B and dropped the filler instrumentals like 'The Nutcracker Suite' and the Medley on side A. Without Karen's vocals, they just sound like elevator music.

Another thing - I get the sentiment (opening presents etc) but I always thought 'My Favourite Things' stood out like a sore thumb. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas. :hmmm:
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Could have done without Nutcracker Suite; however, I think Oh Holy Night is one of Richard's finest instrumentals and I don't consider it "filler" at all. Would liked to have the alternate rumored Ave Maria, though.
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
Wasn't aware that A&M released this as a "mid-line" album-interesting piece of info.Regardless,the album was a success,selling 500,000 copies within four years of release.

These minor details,such as no pics or liner notes on the sleeve,are really a non-issue."An Old Fashioned Christmas" is a great album-still sounds fantastic today,almost 30 years later.

Could've done without the Nutcracker Suite.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Wasn't aware that A&M released this as a "mid-line" album-interesting piece of info.

I'm suprised to hear this was new info to you....this was detailed by Richard in the liner notes on the 35th anniv box set and 40th anniv box sets from Japan. He says if he knew all this the album would never have been made. Richard also says the album would get an "audiophile" pressing but with no inner sleeve or lyrics. I never knew that this album was pressed on "audiophile" vinyl, I have the LP but do not think it's "audiophile". So has anyone seen an audiophile copy of this album?
 

mr J.

Well-Known Member
I'm suprised to hear this was new info to you....this was detailed by Richard in the liner notes on the 35th anniv box set and 40th anniv box sets from Japan. He says if he knew all this the album would never have been made. Richard also says the album would get an "audiophile" pressing but with no inner sleeve or lyrics. I never knew that this album was pressed on "audiophile" vinyl, I have the LP but do not think it's "audiophile". So has anyone seen an audiophile copy of this album?
I don't own the 35th/40th anniversary boxed sets-very few people do.Their entire catalog has been available on CD(and remastered) in the US-there's no real purpose in owning those pricey Japanese imports.

I also wasn't aware that Richard included some revealing liner notes on those sets.

When "Old Fashioned Christmas" came out in 1984,I bought the cassette tape-and I remember It being full price.New albums on cassette at that time were going for(if I remember) $8.99-$9.49.

As far as I know,that album was never pressed on audiophile vinyl.The vinyl LP was only in print for about three years(it was out-of-print by late 1987/early 1988).
 
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Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I never knew that this album was pressed on "audiophile" vinyl, I have the LP but do not think it's "audiophile". So has anyone seen an audiophile copy of this album?

Hold your vinyl copy of AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS up to a bright light and you'll be able to see through it. It was pressed on that Quiex II vinyl that's translucent.

Harry
 
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Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Hold your vinyl copy of AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS up to a bright light and you'll be able to see through it. It was pressed on that Quiex II vinyl that's translucent. Harry

Harry, your correct. I don't think I ever held it up to the light but it is translucent. I guess I was looking for the words audiophile written somewhere. It looks like the same translucent that is on the Lovelines LP as well.

Something sorta interesting...a year or so ago I went to buy a sealed LP of An Old Fashioned Christmas to replace my original...when it arrived I was let down to find out it was a CRC and not an original. I will know better next time to ask. So when I was checking my original up to the light to see it was translucent I thought let me also check the CRC to see if that one was translucent and No it is not, I wasn't expecting it to since it was a CRC. So I have 2 copies one is an audiophile LP and one is not.

My audiophile original is SP-3270 the run in says SP-03270 A RCA 1 and a P with a circle around it side b is the same except the A is a B

My CRC (Columbia Record Club) non-translucent is SP-3270 and run in says (H-MP) SP-3270-A G/B G1
and side b says (HXAP) SP-3270-B G/B G1

How odd too that the most important Christmas album Christmas Portrait did not get the audiophile vinyl.
 

Must Hear This Album

Well-Known Member
Okay, so over the weekend I put together my “Old-Fashioned Christmas” alternate song order (see earlier post), and I noticed a few things: 1.) I can’t really put “There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays” after the first overture, because of the segue between songs, and on fresh listening, it’s not so bad to wait one more song (the sweet, “Old-Fashioned Christmas”) before Karen’s entry, and 2.) in the earlier post I wrote, “...and to be honest, other than the first overture, which effectively builds the anticipation (and is quite good), the other instrumentals just fall flat for me. At the time, the instrumentals landed on me as “filler” for an album already light on lead vocals by Karen.” Yes, they did fall on me that way almost 30 years ago, but hearing them again over the weekend; I think they’re pretty fantastic. I can understand why Richard added them to fill-out an otherwise sparse album of holiday leftovers. I suspect I was still reeling from Karen’s death the year before and was just yearning for more of Karen’s stunning voice. I still am, I guess...
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I got one of those portable bluetooth speakers on black friday (never had one before) since I keep all my music on my iphone (40 gigs) it just made sense to get one. I used it today to start decorating the house and putting up the tree and I love this speaker and so easy to listen to your music right where you are anywhere. I started playing my Christmas music from other artists and while it was nice I just never end up being fulfilled. So it was time for Carpenters. This album just doesn't get the credit it deserves, it has some real winners. I quickly found the album and jumped to "Little Alter Boy" and the moment Karen came in it was so sweet, first time hearing her sing this song this holiday season and I just got all warm inside.

It's so hard to explain...although I like hearing some of my other favorite artists Christmas albums....it just doesn't move me like Karen singing, Little Alter Boy or He Came Here For Me or I Heard The Bells, Do You Hear What I Hear. Karen's voice just brings with it more than just a pretty song, it brings warmth, memories and fulfillment after the listening is over. I don't think any artist can surpass the magic Karen gives me when Christmas is on the way.....
 

1979lee

Well-Known Member
Hold your vinyl copy of AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS up to a bright light and you'll be able to see through it. It was pressed on that Quiex II vinyl that's translucent.

Harry
My Lp of "christmas portrait" has a purple color if held up to the light
a&m sp 3210 on the cover
and sp 3210b on the vinal with sp5190-rca-1 scratched out. the SP 3210B is in spamped
but the scratched out is hand writing../............... interesting
by hand writeing i mean you know Pressed into. not an a&m lp maker personally writeing on the lp

I do also have a SEALED copy of Christmas protrait....sp-4726 that im fussing over right now. im almost willing to open it. its an MFD by RCA Music service copy aka buy 10 lps for a penny and three at full price.... ive had it for YEARS. and is my only sealed Carpenters lp.(got a sealed 8track of made in america) Burning a hole in my pocket tew haha...
 
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BarryT60

Well-Known Member
I'm thinking Do You Hear What I Hear may be my favorite on this one - although - I still rank this album toward the top - because there really isn't a lemon in the bunch. I know it's a long time in coming to get Karen on there - but in reality - they simply didn't have any more of her recordings to add more to the mix.... I kind of liked the anticipation - and the symmetry of the two Christmas records - building up to Karen's first appearance.
And funny.... Home For The Holidays - Carpenters version is always on the Christmas Radio.... Almost as much - if not more - than Merry Christmas Darling.

I've mentioned before and I'll say it again.... I believe, as Casey Casem would say - - "In the rock era", Karen and Richard changed the way Christmas music was handled. Just as the Singles 1969-1973 set the standard for "greatest hits" compilations, Portrait, and then this add-on let everyone know exactly how it could be done - and commercially successfully - at that!
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
He Came For Me and I heard The Bells On Christmas Day are well-worth their release. Karen's performance complete with the lowest of register signature moments is unsurpassed. Lovin' the Altar Boy and Do You Hear What I hear. For whatever had occurred I still enjoy Richard's opening on Do You Hear as tho we were truly listening to an earlier CarpenterS record .I think the O Come Emanuel and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear are both cleverly placed vehicles for album introduction too. The overdubs on Midnight Clear was the one thing missing from the entire project. However I give the OK Chorale free rein here as they enhance the jubilee. I often wonder had time, space and money prevailed what would the complete album look like if issued in '78? One big old record all inclusive. Would absolutely thrill to hear Richard's take on the "big" vision. Often heard time and space on one lp was the culprit that opened vault doors. How would he have sequenced the whole enchilada? A deluxe 2 record set would've turned heads. The Osmond's made a beautiful 2 record lp once long ago. So it was being done in the '70s. It's told this was the duo's most expensive outing to date. Somehow I can't see Herb and Jerry ordering budget constraints. With the millions upon millions of $$$ the group brought in I'd think they would've got the green light for whistling in the dark and doing cheek pops.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Hold your vinyl copy of AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS up to a bright light and you'll be able to see through it. It was pressed on that Quiex II vinyl that's translucent.

Harry

The purple vinyl A&M used is a different formula--"top line" A&Ms used it, as did the A&M/CTi releases in the SP-9-3000 AM+ series. Quiex II was something Warner used. I'd have to look on one of my AM+ album stickers to get the exact nomenclature. The better vinyl is supposed to be cleaner/quieter/stiffer, etc., especially in that era when reclaimed vinyl was all the rate. (At MCA, there were occasionally bits of ground up label paper in the vinyl!)
 
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