• 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.

THE OFFICIAL REVIEW: "MADE IN AMERICA" (SP-3723)

How Would You Rate This Album?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 1 4.2%
  • ****

    Votes: 6 25.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 11 45.8%
  • **

    Votes: 5 20.8%
  • *

    Votes: 1 4.2%

  • Total voters
    24
Status
Not open for further replies.

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
“MADE IN AMERICA”
Alb_Passage_wide_178x356.jpg

Catalogue Number: A&M SP-3723
Date of Release: 06/09/81
Chart Position- U.S.: #52; U.K.: #12; JAPAN: #44
Album Singles: "I Believe You"/"B'wana, She No Home"
"Touch Me When We're Dancing"/"Because We Are In Love"
"(Want You) Back In My Life Again"/"Somebody's Been Lyin"
"Those Good Old Dreams"/"When It's Gone (It's Just Gone)"
"Beechwood 4-5789"/"Two Sides"
Medium: Vinyl/Cassette/CD


Track Listing:

1.) Those Good Old Dreams 4:12 (Carpenter/Bettis)
2.) Strength of a Woman 3:59 (Brown/Curiel)
3.) (Want You) Back In My Life Again 3:39 (Chater/Christian)
4.) Whe You've Got What it Takes 3:39 (Nichols/Lane)
5.) Somebody's Been Lyin' 4:22 (Bayer Sager/Bacharach)
6.) I Believe You 3:55 (Addrisi/Addrisi)
7.) Touch Me When We're Dancing 3:19 (Skinner/Wallace/Bell)
8.) When It's Gone (It's Just Gone) 4:59 (Handley)
9.) Beechwood 4-5789 (Stevenson/Gaye/Gordy)
10.) Because We Are In Love (The Wedding Song) 5:00 (Carpenter/Bettis)

Album Credits:

Those Good Old Dreams:
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic & Electric Guitar: Tim May
Pedal Steel Guitar: Jay Dee Maness
Percussion: Karen Carpenter, Paulinho DaCosta
Harp: Gayle Levant
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

Strength Of A Woman:
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Larrie Londin, Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Electric Guitar: Tim May, Tony Peluso
Oboe: Earl Dumler
Harp: Gayle Levant
Percussion: Paulinho DaCosta
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter & The Carpettes: Karen Carpenter, Carolyn Dennis, Stephanie Spruill, Maxine Waters Willard
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

(Want You) Back In My Life Again:
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic & Electric Guitar: Tim May
Electric Guitar: Tony Peluso
Percussion: Paulinho DaCosta
Synthesizer Programming: Daryl Dragon, Ian Underwood
Tenor Sax: Tom Scott
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

When You've Got What It Takes:
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: John Robinson
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic Guitar: Tim May
Electric Guitar: Tony Peluso
Oboe: Earl Dumler
Harp: Gayle Levant
Percussion: Paulinho DaCosta
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

Somebody's Been Lyin':
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic Guitar: Tim May
Percussion: Peter Limonick
Harp: Gayle Levant
Oboe: Earl Dumler
Concertmaster & Solo: Jerry Vinci

I Believe You:
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Larrie Londin
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic & Electric Guitar: Tim May
Congas: Jerry Steinholtz
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff
Vocals arranged by Richard Carpenter

Touch Me When We're Dancing:
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Larrie Londin
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic & Electric Guitar: Tony Peluso, Tim May
Harp: Gayle Levant
Oboe: Earl Dumler
Percussion: Paulinho DaCosta
Tenor Sax: Tom Scott
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter & The Carpettes: Karen Carpenter, Carolyn Dennis
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

When It's Gone (It's Just Gone):
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Larrie Londin, Karen Carpenter
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Acoustic Guitar: Dennis Budimir, Fred Tackett
Electric Guitar: Tim May, Tony Peluso
Pedal Steel Guitar: Jay Dee Maness
Percussion: Karen Carpenter, Bob Conti
Oboe: Earl Dumler
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

Beechwood 4-5789:
Background vocals: Karen & Richard Carpenter
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Electric Guitar: Tim May
Harp: Gayle Levant
Tenor Sax: Tom Scott
Concertmaster: Jimmy Getzoff

Because We Are In Love (The Wedding Song):
Bass: Joe Osborn
Drums: Ron Tutt
Keyboards: Richard Carpenter
Electric Guitar: Tim May
Percussion: Peter Limonick
Harp: Gayle Levant
Choir: The O.K. Chorale under the direction of Ron Hicklin, Conducted by Frank Pooler
Concertmaster: Jerry Vinci

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Produced by Richard Carpenter
Arranged & Orchestrated by Richard Carpenter
"Because We Are In Love (The Wedding Song)" & "Somebody's Been Lyin'" arranged by Richard Carpenter & Orchestrated by Peter Knight. "I Believe You" arranged by Paul Riser.
Recorded at A&M Recording Studios
Engineered by Roger Young
Additional recording by Dave Iveland
"I Believe You" engineered by Ray Gerhardt
Mixed at Sound Labs and A&M Recording Studios
Mix-down engineer: Roger Young
Assisted by Stewart Whitmore
Mastered at A&M Recording Studios by Bernie Grundman
Special thanks to Gary Sims, Pat Peters, Ron Gorow, John Bettis, Jules Chaikin, Herb, Jerry, Gil and the entire A&M family.
Art Direction: Chuck Beeson & Jeff Ayeroff
Album Design: Lynn Robb
Illustration: David Willardson, Willardson & White, Inc.
Photography: John Engstead
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
In 1981, I was in Ft Lauderdale (on a car trip), and I heard "Touch Me When We're Dancing" on the radio. I was so ecstatic to hear a new Carpenters' song! I followed the chart movement on Billboard Magazine with great enthusiasm (peak at #16, where it stayed for 4 weeks, a couple of times with a bullet). Any new Carpenters' release was reason for celebration, and it was great that they were making a "comeback."
  • I will avoid being too critical here, but unfortunately Made in America isn't one of my favorites. I'm not really a fan of the "When..." songs or "Because We Are in Love," the latter in part because of the whole mess of Karen's short marriage. "Somebody's Been Lyin'" is fine.
  • My favorites from this CD are as follows:
    • The aforementioned "Touch Me When We're Dancing."
    • "Strength of a Woman," which I thought would have made for a great single. (I know I may be in the minority here on this point.)
    • "I Believe You," a song that was originally released as a single in 1978.
    • "(Want You) Back in My Life Again," to me a catchy number, reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes" as well as Amy Holland's "Here in the Light." It was released as a single, but I was expecting a much bigger hit with this.
  • It seems that, with Made in America, the Carpenters were trying too hard to recapture successes from a decade earlier:
    • "Those Good Old Dreams" was a rehash of "Top of the World," similar in sentiment in style.
    • "Because We Are in Love (The Wedding Song)" was an attempt to duplicate the success of "We've Only Just Begun" and provide a new wedding song for a new generation.
    • "Beechwood 4-5789" was a "Please Mr. Postman" redo.
  • I do find value and some special moments in all of these songs---I mean, c'mon, it's Karen Carpenter singing!---but these songs didn't really rise to the level of their predecessors, nor could they. Count me among those who didn't care for the practice of using other singers as backup. The Carpenters' sound was originally based on overdubbing the voices of Karen and Richard; in my opinion, no other singing voices were needed.
Little did I know on that 1981 trip to Ft Lauderdale that I was hearing the last top 20 song of my favorite recording artists.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
In 1981, as a radio station employee, I was privileged to occasionally get free records - a nice fringe benefit that basically doesn't really exist anymore. Stations are now sent promotional recordings electronically, so few get in on the freebie deal anymore. In those days I was able to wander into the program director's office and say, "Hey Bob, new Carpenters album's out, can you get me one?" The alternative was to wait for the inevitable throwaway pile and sift through it looking for treasures. Important albums like Carpenters or Herb Alpert, I'd specifically ask, so as not to leave it up to chance, and to ensure that a) it was possible, and b) that I'd get it sooner than just buying it.

It would appear that with MADE IN AMERICA, I went both routes, as I have two different copies of the LP, both stamped on the back with a gold promotional stamp. But they differ. One has the gold stamp on the rear right, partially covering the UPC code, and stating "DEMONSTRATION Not for Sale". The other one has the gold stamp on the rear left with different verbiage, claiming "LOANED FOR PROMOTION ONLY - Not For Sale - Ownership And All Rights Reserved".

The innards are identical and both have the standard red label with no identification as a promo anywhere. The run-out groove numbers differ only by "P3" or T1" at the end, indicating different stampers used to press the discs.

So that tells me that I got in on the early batch, getting the LP as it came out, and then likely later picked up another one in a tossed-out pile as it came from another batch. This also tells me that I never actually purchased a copy of MADE IN AMERICA until years later when the CD came out, and again when the Remastered Classic came out. (And of course the box set version).

The album came out at a time in my life when Carpenters (and music in general) wasn't all that important, as real life events took precedence. I was learning new stuff for doing my job on computers, moving out of the family house and becoming independent, buying and maintaining me first-ever new car, and starting to travel more. But I do recall that our new computer system at work was just being adapted to attempt a first-ever cataloging of our on-air playlist with a goal at coming up with a way to use it to rotate the music. And I can recall the music director's assistant trying to key in "Touch Me When We're Dancing", but the designer only left 25 characters in the title field, and I still remember her odd choice of entering it as "TOUCH M WHEN WE'RE DANCIN".

But that memory also tells me that for the first time in ages, our station was actually playing a new Carpenters record. It seemed like ages since whatever the last hit was that they played, probbaly a quick run of "All You Get From Love Is A Love Song" (and look at the number of characters that would have been needed for THAT!).

No true-to-the-LP version of the album exists on CD because of the alteration of "Those Good Old Dreams". Initially, there was a moog riff that happened near the end on the LP version that Richard toned down for single release and it was that altered version that's appeared on every CD and compilation since, with one extremely rare exception on the ultra-limited YESTERDAY ONCE MORE (UK) set that was issued on CD and withdrawn. The easier way to find it digitally is on the GOLD/YESTERDAY ONCE MORE video package where the moog part still exists (but the opening is altered to repeat, and it segue/fades earlier).

I didn't care for the cover, and really wasn't all that crazy about the album when I did get it. I was underwhelmed by the use of other backing vocalists and none of the songs really grabbed me. Over the years I've become fonder of "Those Good Old Dreams", "(Want You) Back In My Life Again", and even "I Believe You". I was never all that thrilled with "Touch Me...", the "When" songs (I like that!), and the one I skip almost every time, the wedding thing. Honorable mention goes to "BEechwood 4-5789", another castanet oldie, but it's at least fun. Don't care for "Strength..." or "Somebody's Been Lyin'".

Harry
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
It's like I said in an earlier discussion: to me the music was well performed and nicely arranged, but the soul is gone. There are only two tracks I like, but I don't think I've spun the album more than a half dozen times since it came out--it never grabbed me. Even Horizon (IMHO, the last of the good albums, aside from the aberration that was Passage) feels more heartfelt and earnest than this one, which reminds me of a group going through the motions. I know every album can't be A Song For You, but I think they really needed to reinvent themselves rather than churn out Hush 2.0.
 

aaflyer98

Well-Known Member
I love this album, and a lot of it has to do with sentimental reasons! After calling radio stations frantically for years and what I'll call the 'lean years' on radio, 1976-1981, with the exception of the Christmas music the Carpenters had disappeared from radio. After I Need To Be In Love the radio years were done. All You Get From Love...had some initial airplay, then disappeared! Calling Occupants....only on FM album stations in the USA, Sweet Sweet Smile, country only, I Believe You had virtually NO airplay. So I was a senior in High school in 1981 just about to graduate when "Touch Me When We're Dancing" hit the airwaves! Yea!!! I loved the song and was thrilled after all these years that the Carpenters were back on the radio!
The album has its good points and weak points. I love Touch Me, I like one of "the When" songs (thats cute ///never heard that until this thread!), When It's Gone is one of my all time favorite C's songs, I too thought Strength Of A Woman was the logical follow up single to Touch Me. I feared Want You Back In My Life Again was DOA when a Los Angeles Radio station premiered it and said it should have been done slower, and was too trendy and not what they expected from Carpenters.
And they voted not to play it . Those Good Old Dreams is nice, and Karen hits the low notes. Even though it's one of my favorite albums, I agree that overall it's too syrupy for radio.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
This is the review I've been waiting for! :thumbsup:

I love this album, as said above, for mainly sentimental reasons. On discovering them in 1990, I went through a Carpenters 'baptism of fire', grabbing every album I could find and listening to them in whatever order, without having any sort of knowledge or context about what was going on with them personally or their career at the time of each album. I just remember seeing the date on the back of the album, 1981, and knowing she passed away in 1983 and thinking "they still sound at the top of their game, what went wrong so quickly?". Little did I know it had all been going wrong long before 1981...

As far as the material goes, I loved every song, but most of all the lead single 'Touch Me When We're Dancing', which to this day remains my favourite song of all time by any artist. I loved the track 'When You've Got What It Takes', because of the densely layered harmonies and also because it just seemed to exude a summer, Californian sound that I'd never really heard before. 'Beechwood 4-5789' was an early favourite for me but my enthusiasm for it has waned over the years (probably due to overkill lol). I do remember being in the huge canteen at university in 1992 and all of a sudden, my ears picked up the tune blasting out on the radio, way back in the canteen kitchen. I got up and walked around to the side door, peeked through and to my amazement, the canteen staff were all jiving away to the tune, a memory I'll never forget.

With the many years of hindsight, I think it wasn't the greatest comeback, too syrupy and sickly sweet for 1981. The performance of the subsequent singles on the charts was the biggest indicator that they'd totally got it wrong as far as public appeal went for this album at the time it was released. Having said that, the production values pointed towards what they might have done had Karen lived into the 1980s and beyond, and to this day when I listen to it, that's what I attach myself to. The 'what could have been' factor. So for me, not the greatest album, but a great one in my book anyway.
 

RainyDays

Active Member
A pretty good/so-so album that is better for its individual tracks than as a whole. There are six tracks out of the ten I hear pretty often, so that's a good sign!

The cover is a bit too cartoony and the innocence of it was a major contrast to the darkness in their lives at that time, and that's just sad. I wonder if it was done to go back to their early 70's roots (wholesome, sweet) because they were at a point where it didn't matter what their image was -- they had bigger problems on their hands. The tracks I enjoy/hear often are Good Old Dreams, Touch Me..., Back In My Life, I Believe You, and to a lesser degree, BEechwood and Wedding Song. Alot of them had grown on me recently, because when I first heard them I dismissed them for being too "80's", and some still are in a way, dated.

Back In My Life still sounds like a chessyish work out tape, but its bouncy and fun, but again, totally '80s. Touch Me has aged and held up much better and is a strong single. Good Old Dreams is laid back and pleasant and reminds me of their early days. I Believe You I have almost always loved (especially that instrumental opening) and is really underrated. Beechwood is a weak single (duh) and is pretty thin musically, but its fun throwaway to hear something upbeat (The video is just depressing to watch and a clip of them on YouTube performing it in Germany is equally haunting). The Wedding Song, which seems to be always be placed alongside Goofus in the WTF category, is one I have been hearing more recently. I think it is overlong and is a mess kind of, but its the kind of track you hear when you lay down to rest and close your eyes. It holds haunting resonance because of the real life events, but the lyrics (which don't always work) and the arranging move me somehow.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
It holds haunting resonance because of the real life events, but the lyrics (which don't always work) and the arranging move me somehow.

That's what Carpenter/Bettis tunes do. :agree:
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
With the many years of hindsight, I think it wasn't the greatest comeback, too syrupy and sickly sweet for 1981. The performance of the subsequent singles on the charts was the biggest indicator that they'd totally got it wrong as far as public appeal went for this album at the time it was released.

Agreed completely. I don't think it is a stretch to say that had they properly retooled and aligned themselves with current trends in pop music, they likely could have overcome the sticky-sweet image and started placing more singles higher on the charts.

I know it's not the best comparison, but consider how some rock bands morphed and changed over the years--Jefferson Airplane, Heart, Journey, etc. I know that many would argue that bands like these made their best music earlier in their careers, but if you look at chart performance, there is no denying that both of these had great successes after they retooled their approach. Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship, them simply Starship for awhile. Heart went for a more pop-related approach. Journey went from an instumental rock band, morping to the hit machine Steve Perry would help fuel in the 80s.

I am not saying anyone compromises their artistic integrity, but it is perfectly acceptable to pursue a new angle to the music while still keeping enough of that signature sound that people could easily recognize them as Carpenters the moment a song came on the radio. It's when artists stick to their old sound and old ways, it gets stale--you run out of different ways to do the same things over and over again. Imagine Carpenters had they found another songwriting team of the caliber of Williams/Nichols.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
It's when artists stick to their old sound and old ways, it gets stale--you run out of different ways to do the same things over and over again.

I think that sums it up in a nutshell. I don't think you can lay the blame at any one particular door either. The label had encouraged them down this route when advising Richard to stick to the "bread and butter" formula, but I do also think Richard's doggedness in not wanting to venture out of his comfort zone and stray from their mould didn't help either.

They almost argued about this on camera on the GMA appearance in 1981. Karen said she thought he'd be good at scoring a film and that she wanted to do a musical, but he kept on talking about the duo and how he just wanted to keep on doing what they'd been doing, to which she rather emphatically retorts "you can score MY film". And you could see she meant it. They weren't on good form that day. You can see when he's talking about not wanting to do separate projects (there's no mention of her solo album throughout the entire interview), he doesn't take his eyes off Karen and his sentences are punctuated by pauses, as if she's staring daggers at him. Annoyingly, the camera is close up on him, so you don't see what Karen's facial expression or reaction is to his comments.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I think that sums it up in a nutshell. I don't think you can lay the blame at any one particular door either. The label had encouraged them down this route when advising Richard to stick to the "bread and butter" formula, but I do also think Richard's doggedness in not wanting to venture out of his comfort zone and stray from their mould didn't help either.

I agree. The label wants a good seller like their past albums, yet their last bread-and-butter-formula album did not do so well either (Hush). I like that Passage made a conscious step beyond the formula, and was adventurous with a couple of song choices that were avant-garde, if you will. But, that approach would not sell records. It would have been neat to take off in a different "80s pop" direction with Richard's touch, maybe throwing in one of those left-field songs per album that showed off their chops.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
You can see when he's talking about not wanting to do separate projects (there's no mention of her solo album throughout the entire interview), he doesn't take his eyes off Karen and his sentences are punctuated by pauses, as if she's staring daggers at him. Annoyingly, the camera is close up on him, so you don't see what Karen's facial expression or reaction is to his comments.

For some reason, while reading this, I found myself humming "Anything you can do, I can do better . . ." ♪♫♪♫
 

Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
When you consider how long K&R had been recording together, and if you take into consideration their somewhat troubled personal lives, I find it amazing that they managed to put an album together at all. I love this album, but I love pop music, and this album is full of great pop music. I even like the album cover and the photo on the inner sleeve, I was amazed to see Karen wearing red lipstick, strange person that I am. The only song I found difficult to listen to was "Because We Are In Love", it's a bit like "Crescent Noon" in as much that it takes a few listens to really appreciate the song. I did like the videos from this album, especailly "Beechwood", it's really cheesy, can't fault it. None of us realised at the time that this would be the last studio album from K&R that any of us would purchase again. It's a truly sobering thought, and makes me realise why I cherish this album so much. My fav track from this album, "When You've Got What It Takes". This song just shows how clever they were with multi-tracking and overdubbing, the harmonies are mind blowing, it's difficult to imagine just two voices creating such an incredible sound.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
I find this to be an album I enjoy but play much less than all others- except Ticket To Ride.

"Touch Me" is a great song with a very poor video. If the Carps were looking to retool their image, this video was the wrong move. I find the song itself holds up well- in fact, I just heard it on the radio a few months ago. The sax is great, and Karen sounds amazing.

Count me in the minority, too. I really love "Strength". Would have been a strong follow up single. Better than the others that were chosen.

The album sounds very pretty, and Karen's voice is mature and delicate, but poorly mixed on this album. Imagine it up and front like on Horizon- and I'd love it.
I'm surprised how "Somebody's Been Lyin'" has grown on me over the years. "Beechwood" has not aged well. Nor has "Want You". The "When songs" are average at best. Hate the wedding song upon first listen and still do.
 

RainyDays

Active Member
I find this to be an album I enjoy but play much less than all others- except Ticket To Ride.

"Touch Me" is a great song with a very poor video. If the Carps were looking to retool their image, this video was the wrong move. I find the song itself holds up well- in fact, I just heard it on the radio a few months ago. The sax is great, and Karen sounds amazing.

Count me in the minority, too. I really love "Strength". Would have been a strong follow up single. Better than the others that were chosen.

The album sounds very pretty, and Karen's voice is mature and delicate, but poorly mixed on this album. Imagine it up and front like on Horizon- and I'd love it.
I'm surprised how "Somebody's Been Lyin'" has grown on me over the years. "Beechwood" has not aged well. Nor has "Want You". The "When songs" are average at best. Hate the wedding song upon first listen and still do.

The Touch Me video is just bland, I mean we can do better than a miniature 80s couple dancing on the piano!

But I did notice the same thing about how Karen's voice seems to struggle to find its way to the front, esp, in Want You...it sounds muffled or too high or something. Where's that pure, clear heaven-sent voice!?
 

RainyDays

Active Member
The only song I found difficult to listen to was "Because We Are In Love", it's a bit like "Crescent Noon" in as much that it takes a few listens to really appreciate the song.

I loved Cresent Noon since first listen! So haunting and unique -- and coming from CLOSE TO YOU makes the album even cooler in its variety.
 

aaflyer98

Well-Known Member
Chris Mills said it best .."When you consider how long K&R had been recording together, and if you take into consideration their somewhat troubled personal lives, I find it amazing that they managed to put an album together at all."
After thinking about this we are lucky Made In America got made at all. Karen could have told Richard where to go after the Solo album was shelved and just taken time out or off. But Karen, true to her image, went back in with Richard to pull the album together. However I do think "the ties that bind" were beginning to fray. A lot. You could see Karen was getting frustrated and sooner or later she would have broken out and done her own stuff, had she overcome her disease.
We will never know. But Chris, you are so right. I am amazed the album was made too.
 

RainyDays

Active Member
Chris Mills said it best .."When you consider how long K&R had been recording together, and if you take into consideration their somewhat troubled personal lives, I find it amazing that they managed to put an album together at all."
After thinking about this we are lucky Made In America got made at all. Karen could have told Richard where to go after the Solo album was shelved and just taken time out or off. But Karen, true to her image, went back in with Richard to pull the album together. However I do think "the ties that bind" were beginning to fray. A lot. You could see Karen was getting frustrated and sooner or later she would have broken out and done her own stuff, had she overcome her disease.
We will never know. But Chris, you are so right. I am amazed the album was made too.

She was a frail butterfly; trapped in her cage and unable to fly...But that she got the album done with a fair amount of success shows what a trooper she was professionally. I really wonder what would have happened to the duo had Karen lived; would they be ever as closely bonded as before? Would Karen have become an actress as well as a solo artist? Would she have, in some many words, told Richard off and told him what she is doing with her life?
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I loved this album when it came out. In fact, I remember riding in the back of a truck when a commercial came on the radio advertising the album...something like "the Carpenters 'magic' is back." I went out the next day and bought the album.

At first listen; however, "Those Good Ol' Dreams" scared me. I remember thinking, "Oh no! They made a Country album!" But as I listened to one song after another, I liked almost all of them except "Those Good Ol' Dreams." Still, to this day, I do not care for this song.

"Touch Me" was great and, with what's becoming less and less of a minority, "Strength of a Woman" was...and still is...my favorite from the album. Didn't care too much at the time for "When it's Gone" but as a teen ager at the time, it didn't speak to me. As I got older, however, it has become one of my favorites also.

I remember calling a radio station and requesting "Back in My Life Again" shortly after "Touch Me" made its run on the charts. In my naivety, I thought that it would get A LOT of airplay on the heals of "Touch Me." What I got; however, was the D.J. and others in the room with him making fun of me and my request. Not very professional of them, to say the least. I stopped listening to that station.

All in all, I thought a great ablum for 1981 (especially compared to Karen's solo that was suppose to come out in 1980) as it sounded "fresh" and what I thought was that classic sound re-tooled for a new decade.
 

Jamesj75

Well-Known Member
I remember calling a radio station and requesting "Back in My Life Again" shortly after "Touch Me" made its run on the charts. In my naivety, I thought that it would get A LOT of airplay on the heals of "Touch Me." What I got; however, was the D.J. and others in the room with him making fun of me and my request. Not very professional of them, to say the least. I stopped listening to that station.

All in all, I thought a great ablum for 1981 (especially compared to Karen's solo that was suppose to come out in 1980) as it sounded "fresh" and what I thought was that classic sound re-tooled for a new decade.
First, Geographer, I like your comments. Secondly, your experience with the radio station reminds me of my own such experiences: One of my formerly favorite radio stations used to have a segment in the 1990s and beyond, called "the 70s at 7," probably something done on many stations across the country. I would listen night after night, as certain years were highlighted, and I would never hear the Carpenters. Finally, I e-mailed and called the station about it, complaining that, by omitting the Carpenters, their show was not at all representative of the 1970s. I have also called a satellite radio company with the same complaint. My pleas fell on deaf ears.

I don't understand how any station can spotlight pop music from the 1970s and totally omit the Carpenters as well as other top-selling acts from that decade (for instance, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Helen Reddy), just a certain favored few. As well documented, the Carpenters were the top selling American act in the 1970s.

They can skew their programming all they want, but they can't change history! And I also stopped listening to a once-favorite radio station...
 

Dave60640

Active Member
Ok...my 2 cents ( and no, I don't need change) I "discovered" this LP 4 years after its release when I was really getting into music. Remember the artists at that time on the radio....Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Culture Club, etc. All great in their own respects but an 80's album by K&R?? I loved it! Love at first hear as they say. Some tracks have worn better than others over the years but I remember how I felt, in the 80's, listening to this. And I agree with RC...I think the next few years wouldve seen a few more hits before they "branched out" respectively. Yeah, they were trying to recapture the old formula but our duo had both instinctive ears and drive and wouldn't put out an out-of-date/place release after this. Too many people look at this LP as "what it could've been" given that it was KCs last living release, but I look at it as another stepping stone for our duo
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I don't understand how any station can spotlight pop music from the 1970s and totally omit the Carpenters as well as other top-selling acts from that decade (for instance, Gladys Knight & the Pips and Helen Reddy), just a certain favored few. As well documented, the Carpenters were the top selling American act in the 1970s.

They can skew their programming all they want, but they can't change history! And I also stopped listening to a once-favorite radio station...

Not to get too far off the MIA discussion:

I agree totally and thought exactly the same thing. XM radio is the worst. I believe the only other acts in the 70's that had more hit than K&R (and I think by only 1 or 2) were Elton John and the Bee Gees. XM 7 plays Elton John ad-nasea and the Bee Gees, although to a lesser extent, pretty regularly. If, as you stated James, that it is a true representation of that decade, we should hear Carpenters at least once an hour and at least as much as they play Rod Stewart.

Now, back to MIA:

Ok...my 2 cents ( and no, I don't need change) Yeah, they were trying to recapture the old formula but our duo had both instinctive ears and drive and wouldn't put out an out-of-date/place release after this. Too many people look at this LP as "what it could've been" given that it was KCs last living release, but I look at it as another stepping stone for our duo

I agree. I don't think there was/is anything wrong with the "formula." I think the "formula" is one of the things that made them who they are/were as an act; however, the "formula" can be updated for the 1980's and I think that's what they did. I think, as Dave stated, the next couple...maybe few...releases would have been stronger.

My only criticism, really, is a little unfair, as it is Monday morning quarterbacking at its worse; however, in hindsight, if I had known in 1981 that songs like "Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night," "You're the One," and "Where Do I Go From Here" were sitting in the vaults while we got what is on MIA, my opinion of the album might be different today...but I didn't know that at the time so my original "emotional," for lack of a better word, connection to the album remains with me today.

Don't even get me started on Voice of the Heart (for the same reasons). Lost opportunity there.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
All the ingredients seemed to be there, including writing credits for Carpenter/Bettis, Bacharach, and Roger Nichols. While individual songs are pleasant enough, I felt there was a flatness and predictability about it -- maybe it's the "soul" thing, whatever it takes to go beyond professional execution into the realm of being creatively inspired was missing.

By 1981, like others here have mentioned, I was busy with other aspects of life and not following every movement of the Carpenters. The album was a surprise; I bought it after first hearing "Touch Me" on the radio but didn't think it was very good considering the time that had passed since their last release. Didn't listen to it much and didn't buy it on CD until the remaster. My least favorite of their LPs.

If anything, time has only made this one even less appealing for me. Knowing how their personal lives were unraveling -- Karen's, anyway -- the blind optimism of several songs just seems phony. Then, seeing how drastically the photograph was airbrushed to improve Karen's appearance...I don't know, I certainly wouldn't have expected them to release a record filled with confessional tragedy but the optimism didn't feel very convincing.
 

ullalume

Well-Known Member
A favourite of mine, mainly due to 3 of my all time favourite tracks being on the album (Dreams, Touch Me, When it's Gone).

A patchy collection (can't stand "Strength", always skip "Wedding Song", rarely listen to "Lyin") A shame they didn"'t replace these with "Guest" "Kiss Me" and "Rainbow" - that would have been a cracking collection.

That said, Richard's arrangements are top notch and a nice hint as to where they might have headed. Also nice to have the block harmonies. But agree her voice should have been more prominent in the mix, something Richard obviously agrees with since all post-humous 1980 releases showcase her voice far better.

Also nice to have some (minor) drumming from KC.

All in all, a strong album in my opinion, with a sprinkling of gems, and duds. Just needed stronger songs, really.

neil
 
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