• 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
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Chris Mills

That was funny....like the dark vomited up
I was shocked when "Lovelines" was released, I just could not believe the quality of these unreleased songs just locked away in a vault. When I listened to "The Uninvited Guest"and "Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night" and "Rainbow Connection", I thought why would anyone not want to release these songs. If you take all the songs they recorded during the sessions that became known as "Made In America", it's a truly fantastic collection of work. I know there wasn't enough space back then to fit all the songs on two sides of vinyl, if CD had been around that would have solved the time restriction problem of vinyl. Apparently there are more songs locked away in the vaults from the same recording session, it's just an awesome collection. And somehow they also found time to record an incredible TV special "Music Music Music". They were more than ready for the 80's, this was a confident and bold new start for a new decade. They laid solid foundations with "Made In America", it was a huge achievment for them.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
"Made In America" was a drastic improvement over "A Kind of Hush", at least to my ears. I was so happy and stunned they had a new album out....I really thought they had retired.

"Touch Me When We're Dancing" was the perfect 'comeback' record, and it got lots of airplay. I still maintain that "Back In My Life Again" should have done much better. In 1981, it was hip, trendy and very catchy. Apparently, radio programmers didn't feel that way, which is a shame. But I still love it, even though Karen is so far back in the mix. I was a freshman in college, and drove my fraternity brothers NUTS with "Back In My Life Again". I had it on 'repeat' for a couple of months.

"I Believe You" has grown on me through the years, and it does stand out from the rest of the album now with Karen's strong lead and the ambitious arrangement. I was slightly annoyed it was included in "MIA" when the album was released because we had been so starved for any new Carpenters, and it took up one of the tracks! :) I've changed my mind on that through the years.

"When It's Gone", "The Wedding Song" and "Somebody's Been Lyin'" really didn't do much for me....and still don't....even though they're very pretty. But the album needed more 'punch' to really take off, and it also needed a much better cover. That cover horrified me the day I bought it. I was 19 years old, and was old enough to know it just wasn't cool. But the inside photo was amazing, and should have been the cover. Karen looked truly beautiful even if the photo was touched up a lot (although even her biggest fans....myself included....had no way of knowing anything was wrong).

I agree with Chris that the songs recorded in 1980-1981 were overall quite strong, and a nice body of work. I'm sure Richard and Karen were planning on using several of the key tunes ("Kiss Me", "Uninvited Guest", "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore") for the next album, which, unfortunately, never happened.
 

Dave60640

Active Member
I remember hearing TMWWD on some top 40 or whatever countdown that I really got into in the 80's and I remember the host (maybe Kasey Kasem?) saying before playing the single "A voice we haven't heard from in a few years but I sure am glad they're back with their new...."
My point being that even if MIA didn't sell a billion copies and put K&R back in the center spotlight of the world, I think the songs were pure Carpenters perfection, like em or not. I honestly think, while not being hip, I believe they were starting to get more acknowledgement as artists by this time. Especially Karens abilities...which this album really does a great job showcasing
 

aaflyer98

Well-Known Member
And Dave60640 nails it! That's EXACTLY why this album is a favorite along with the single, Touch Me When Were Dancing. As a fan who was pushing their singles by calling radio stations since 1973, seeing their popularity decline year after year, it was such a rush to have them back in 1981. Hit single, the first since 1976, lots of AirPlay, lots of media attention . It was a well deserved, although short lived, comeback and for us fans from back in the day, it was amazing.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
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.

Before Sirius took over and destroyed the original XM's programming, XM7 was quite good and I'd hear Carpenters on there every so often. Sirius is what made me dump my subscription. Their playlists are no better than terrestrial radio: shallow, pandering to the top 100 songs as "tested" by their so-called experts.

The final blow to the gut was their housecleaning--on XM5 alone, they got rid of a staff of knowledgeable and engaging air personalities. I tuned in one Friday afternoon after work, prepared to listen to Matt The Cat on my long drive home, to find some stupid and immature "Cousin Brucie" $#!^ playing in its place. They dumbed down all of their "decades" station at the same time. Prior to that, they systematically shut down just about every other station I liked to listen to.

In short, today's XM sucks. A totally lost opportunity in my book.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
"Those Good Old Dreams" - Nice Carpenter/Bettis song, using Karen's vocal range well. Not very inspiring though.

"Strength of a Woman" - I cringe at the lyrics, especially knowing how Karen's marriage turned out. But the style of the song was well suited for her. I also appreciated the use of 'the Carpettes' instead of the OK Chorale sound (and in general). I wish they had used more of 'the Carpettes' when K&R didn't do all the backing vocals themselves. The OK Chorale sound screamed elevator music.

"Want You Back in my Life Again" - It was a song contemporary with the time. Not a good fit for Karen though, IMHO.

"When You've Got What it Takes" - Excellent reading by Karen, as usual. I really like the soft K&R backing vocals on "Let it out" and "Let it show". They should have made more use of that in general on this album.

"Somebody's Been Lyin'" - Beautiful orchestration and vocals. Again, I can't help but think now about what Karen was going through in her own marriage at the time. The (at the time) husband and wife writing team of Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager was hot. (Remember "That's What Friends are For" from 1982?)

"I Believe You" - I was so excited to hear this on the radio in 1978, but very disappointed that there was no album to go along with it. Just the fan club news letter saying that it was unfortunate that it had been released too soon - the album wasn't yet completed; and then that Richard was taking time off. (I obtained the 45 rpm through the fan club along with the BL Mitchell single that Richard had produced). The lyrics are a bit over the top - a little too sticky-sweet. Anyone remember Dorothy Moore's version of this song in 1977 (with the line brown-eyed little girl)? Much better, less sweet.

"Touch Me When We're Dancing" - Meh . . . I guess I'm in the minority about this song. I really don't care for it. ::ducking tomatoes:: :hide:

"When It's Gone (It's Just Gone) - Karen's did a really beautiful job with this song.

"Beechwood 4-5789" . . . this one should have been gone. Another "what were they thinking" song in my book.

"Because We Are In Love" - One of the best Carpenter/Bettis songs ever. Gorgeous arrangement, orchestration, and vocals (love the low notes) . . . but again, the whole failed marriage puts it in a different perspective now, so it's just sad. Too bad really - it may have become another WOJB among Carpenter fans.

I cannot bear to look at pictures or videos of Karen at this time in her life. She was so thin and looked so ill. The cover picture looks nothing like the reality. I just can't seem to separate that from the beauty of this album.
 

song4u

Well-Known Member
mstaft said:
Hate the wedding song upon first listen and still do.​
I couldn't have said it better.

I'm curious - would you have hated it if things were hunky dory, or do you just hate the song altogether? I really like the orchestration and of course Karen's voice. I just can't bear to listen to it because of the circumstances.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I personally don't care for the song or the arrangement. It takes too long to get going, and when it does, it wasn't worth the journey. It doesn't matter one way or the other regarding any real-life situations to me. I focus on the music.

Harry
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
I ditto Harry. And its just too flamboyant. I'm not a Broadway guy.

Agreed. "Flamboyant" is the perfect word choice. And Harry's comment is spot on.
"Strength of a Woman" gets criticized, maybe rightfully so, for its lyric. How about this one, where the bride is saddled with lines like, "Mom, I'm afraid"? Would a female lyricist have written that? In 1981? Strains credibility.
 

LPJim

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
**** This album was also assigned catalog number 'SP 4842' although I do not know whether it was released this way. The timing (1981) sounds right. I will move on to '4843' next. ****

JB
 
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