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The Stories around "Horizon"

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Hi Everyone!

As many of you know, I have written many, many articles on our favorite duo. On. Thursday, when many will be researching Karen Carpenter again, I will be posting my Fresh Look/Revisited review of "Live in Japan". It's certainly remembering a sad day, but it's also one of the best days to potentially gain new Carpenters fans.

Next in line is one of my favorite albums, Horizon. As I've been researching the time around its release and the impact on their career, I've been fascinating by the stories regarding its. creation, the music industry, and their career.

So far, Horizon looks to be a mega post! Seems just as fascinating than the time around the creation and cancellation of Karen's solo album.

What feelings and events do you have around the release of the album in 1975?
Thanks for sharing!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I think the first thing I noticed when I played the album, was that Only Yesterday had a different ending than the 45 did. I was also really infatuated at the big band sound of I Can Dream Can’t I. It was different then anything else they ever recorded. The background singers were a new treat. A coworker commented that they a gambling addiction. Solitaire, Happy lyrics, the other tune he said, escapes me.. Hmm. Anyway I had to buy a copy for my aunt and uncle to hear. It was actually my way of having it at their house so I could play it when I would visit once a month, while living in N. California for school. I already had given them A Song For You, so I was set for my Carpenters fix away from home. I did have a glove compartment full of their 8-tracks for the 140 mile trip between Chico and Santa Rosa too. Great work Mark.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
My story of HORIZON'S first listen is somewhat similar to GDB2LV's. I believe I picked the album up on the Friday that it was released. Very near our home was a record store that billed itself as a record distributor called Canso. After work, I would have passed by that store and on this day I stopped to grab the new Carpenters record. I would have heard it advertised on the radio, so I knew they'd likely have it.

"Please Mr. Postman" had already been out for half a year at that point, and "Only Yesterday" was already the second single from the album for a few months. So two songs were very familiar to me.

Now, as the album was released on a Friday, and my family always took off for the summer cottage after work on Friday, I had just a little time to record the first side of the album onto my newfangled cassette recorder. We had no turntable at the cottage, so portable cassette was the best I could do for music over the weekend. I'd patch my headphone jack to a speaker and call it "high fidelity" - at least it was better than the cassette recorder's little speaker.

So, for the rest of the weekend, I'd have to be content with Side One of HORIZON. Two things popped out - and both regarding "I Can Dream, Can't I". One was that this was a throwback song and arrangement to the big band era. My parents would be familiar with it, so I played it for them - they both thought it was great. "Young America at it's finest" was I believe the President called them. I could see the same reaction in my parents. The other thing that immediately struck me was backing singers. Not Karen & Richard, but foreign backing singers. Who the heck were they, and why were they needed on a Carpenters record. Up to this point, only Karen & Richard had done backup singing on their records. It was one of the hallmarks that DEFINED Carpenters as an act. And here we have these - these - backing singers. It disturbed me a bit.

Among the couple of other new things on that Side One were "Aurora", the album opener. This was a quiet, reflective song - very much in Karen's wheelhouse of a lower register. It was quite nice. At this point, I had no idea that "Eventide" was the end-of-album bookend to "Aurora".

"Only Yesterday" was up next. This was a terrific song that I'd been hearing on the radio for a few months. Now it was here on an album. The extended ending didn't hit me right away as it all felt natural to me.

"Desperado" sounded slow and plodding to me. Just an album filler song IMHO. It was an all-Karen ballad, like "Aurora".

Track 4 was "Postman". I'd been hearing that one for months and it didn't sound different to me. I now know that there was a single mix, and that this was the album mix, but to me, it just sounded about the same. Remember, I was listening to it on a cassette recorded from my LP through a single speaker. Not even stereo!

Then the big band track with Karen's lead.

I'd have to wait until getting home on Sunday night before I could hear the rest of the album. And I think I was looking for some really big things on that second side. Naturally, I started with "Solitaire". Wow. This sounded just as slow and plodding as "Desperado" to me. At least there was the barest hint of a Richard vocal in the backing track toward the end of the song. What a surprise six weeks later when this one hit the radio as a single. Wouldn't have been my choice.

Reading ahead in the track list on the album cover, I had high hopes for "Happy". After all, a song called "Happy" just had to be uptempo. And it sort of was, but it really didn't grab me. It had all of the proper pedigrees. John Bettis and Tony Peluso had a hand in writing it. RIchard and Karen did a good amount of stacked harmonies. Yet, for some reason, it never really registered with me. I'm listening to it as I'm typing this - and it's just - there. It's certainly no "We've Only Just Begun" or even "Top Of The World."

Then three more ballads to close out the album. "Goodbye And I Love You" was a sleepy ballad with a bit of sibling harmony, but again, this song just sort of laid there.

"Love Me For What I Am" wanted to be another "Goodbye To Love"-type of power ballad with Tony Peluso's soaring fuzz guitar solo - but it just didn't have the same impact for me.

"Eventide" then presented itself and it was an a-ha! moment. A bookend! The album ended with a nighttime theme after it started with a day-beginning theme on "Aurora". Indeed, it was the same song, just a different verse.

Played on my home stereo, I could tell that this album was supremely well-recorded. Karen's vocals soared over the quiet vinyl and Richard's arrangements sounded clear and bright.

I wish I loved this album as much as other fans seem to, but it never really gelled as any kind of favorite. The prior albums were just so good that this one failed to live up to that standard. There was good stuff to be sure, but the slowness put me off a bit.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 

LondonRobert

Well-Known Member
Thank You Harry
Richard has described it as 'plodding' I think.
Sometimes i absolutely adore Karen's vocals and the smoothness - but ( dare i say it ) i feel a tiny bit of "technique" is there as opposed to the naturalness before.
Before this there was avery slight 'edginess' to the vocals - but this is ultra smooth chocolate. I wouldnt say contrived but perhaps a tiny bit affected.
4 years earlier. was " a place to hideaway' and THAT still does something to me that Horizon just doesn't do.

Perhaps it's just evolving style and Karen said i think that she preferred her softer sound from 1975 onwards - just as Dusty much preferred her breathy soft singing as opposed to ' you dont have to say you love me' style.

I apologise if it looks like I'm being too critical - and i could possibly put it better.
I still absolutely love the album, but theres something about it that just doesn't make me love it as much as what came before and after - such as Passage.

Rob
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
It’s like Toni Tennille said, Richard recorded her( I won’t exact quote) over and over until it was perfection. Part of their being overworked and personal problems that were starting to happen.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
My "Horizon" story begins in late 1976. Quite literally, the album was the first entire album of Carpenters' material
I had ever heard. I was stunned upon listening. First, the album's artwork--classy.
Opening up the "sleeve," we see that penetrating inner photograph. Karen was hauntingly beautiful for that inner-sleeve.
I played Side One. Loved every second of it. Turned the vinyl over, played Side Two: stunningly beautiful to my ears.
Unabashedly, I love every second of Horizon. I play the album every night to put me to sleep. A routine since that day in 1976.
When I first heard Trying To Get The Feeling Again, that day in 1976 came back to me--Karen's voice simply unparallelled.
So, Horizon LP was my first completed album to hear, A Kind of Hush was up second, Passage came third.
The previously released albums were much harder to obtain at that point in time (later 70s).
To my knowledge, I am the only person in my high-school class who cared about the Carpenters' music.
For the life of me, then, I could not understand why.
Thankfully, the world caught up to it.
 

cam89

Well-Known Member
For me, it would be HORIZON and A KIND OF HUSH that are so similar to me....such an aching, yet sophisticated sound Karen brought to her vocal interpretations....some of her best singing
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
I will write to the similar, then the different. Like Harry, I was shocked when Solitaire was a single. I was certain Love Me For What I Am would be chosen next. Yet, I did hear something in Solitaire that I had not heard before. I liked the Chorus, but the verses were magically laid, and brought to life with Karen’s perfect reading. I still think it’s perfectly performed and recorded. Karen’s voice transcended any criticism ever thrown her way by critics, while delivered with unbelievable vocal perfection. The tone and timbre of her voice still to this day, can bring me chills. I like that each album has its own flavor and this one gripped me, not just the song, but an album unique that showcased Karen. Like Harry, I missed the character usually present in the backing of K&R with the newer songs, but I just thought of it as a different flavor. After all, the best was already done. I think I’m Caught Between Goodbye and I Love You is the song I have listened to most over the years. I like everything about it. It’s such an enjoyable song: very pleasant. Now, the song with the best lyrics that described the waters in the sumner of 1975 was Love Me For What I Am. And, the overdubbed vocals were present, and sounded better than ever. Not as full, but just as gripping. I can still see it on a Greatest Hits collection in my head and one song people would buy the album to hear. I thought Desparado was fine, but not one I’d repeat. I Can Dream Cant I sounded better than anyone I had ever heard when I was 14. Still to this day, I regard it as the song that highlighted Karen’s talented smooth sounding vocals as if it was a fountain of flowing chocolate with its thick creamy river flowing with ease from her body. At 14 I did not understand it’s full value, but I knew it was one of a kind. I never really liked Happy when I heard it on the flip side of Only Yesterday for its child like melody in the chorus rubbed me wrong. I thought the verses were great and I liked the new instruments that gave it a modern appeal, but the chorus killed it for me.
To this day, if someone wants to hear an unbelievable vocal performance with a one of a kind vocal instrument, I immediately point to Horizon. It also creates a desire to hear more, opening the door to music Carpenters. Each album has a unique and perfect song, like A Song For You, Yesterday Once More, Close To You, etc. that will seem to feel like a most valued lost love finally found. For these reasons, Horizon is my favorite. I never skipped a song when playing a side. My only suggestion was that it needed 2 more up temp songs, at least one. Then it would have been beyond perfect. Karen sounded great in both ballads and fun songs. Her voice was appealing in whatever fashion it was captured and the songs seemed to display yet another layer of Karen’s abilities. I was ‘in love’ with Karen’s voice and nothing would shake my affirmation in proclamation. If they had ended with this album it would have been a perfect career. As a side note, I am so glad we have Passage, cause it showcased both their talents with every musical style, not just the ‘hits sound’. I would have missed that treat and the Christmas albums which are among my favorite albums celebrated in my life. But for vocal perfection, there is Horizon! The album is timeless and to this day sounds fresh.
Craig
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
Harry summed it up well about the vocals!

I wasn't born yet, so this was a later discovery! One of my favorite "recordings" by the Carpenters. Everything sounds perfect!
Could of used a couple more songs on it, with some tempo, like Postman. It always leaves me wanting for more!
This is about the time Karen's voice really came of age. My favorite Carpenters 70's pop single came from this set, Only Yesterday.
But it is not my favorite album either, but it is a beautiful piece of music that really stands up well to the ages.
 
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