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Time for Some Love for Richard!

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Jamesj75, May 25, 2015.

  1. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    Only from memory, I have to look at the Resource for clarification, I think the MPL version of A Song For You comes close and with several remixes done again since then, as Road Ode and Crystal Lullaby. Close To You has several remixes on the international releases that come very close to being complete, and with memory I think they all have remixes except I Kept On Loving You? Same with the envelope tan album Carpenters that feature Karen, as the Karen ballads on Ticket. I thought I read once it was for Dolby reasons as they were recorded before Dolby. Sometimes, the 2 channel separation of the original albums (CD, too) from Now & Then back to Close To You is best to me. Now, I am certainly not the expert as Harry and have not opened any of these songs to editing software so am just using ears and memory. Some of the remixes of the earlier songs don’t utilize all the voice overdubs as the originals and I don’t enjoy some of the newer drum tracks but as I have written before, they bring out other features and I am glad we have both versions and some even have more alternate versions like Maybe It’s You. The Readers Digest versions and Treasures and Sweet Memory contain some great remixes, and of course the SACD Singles. And on the 40/40, Superstar and Top of the World finally have fixed issues and are now great remixes (they appear on others, too) that were done in the 2000’s. The Carpenters Resource has all the best information available! I hope this makes everyone curious so we all use the Resource, as I am going to do now for factual verification. When I start looking in the Resource, I end up reading for hours and want to purchase more while the options are still available.
     
  2. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I was looking at the Resource yesterday, since I thought for sure Offering/Ticket To Ride would have the most remixes, but it wasn't. It was actually Now & Then that had the most remixes of the pre-1974 albums.
     
  3. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    That’s the one where I like the originals best except for Our Day Will Come in a Readers Digest collection. Plus, it has the original version of Yersterday Once More (before the single version which I like best). I Can’t Make Music version is good on the CD Treasures (where I first heard the remix.) The accented reverb helps the empty room feeling of the song. I like the term vacant - as in the song - it implies so much more or at least a different emotion. I think I had worn 3 albums of Now & Then and now have 2 CD’s including the Remastered Classics! The Oldies section has so much detail that I have to focus on something different at each listen. It’s one section where the original is best and the remixes don’t add any value. I’m sure others feel the opposite and that’s what great about all the different versions. I also prefer all the original versions of Close To You best.
     
  4. Someday

    Someday Active Member

    Some thoughts: we all know that from early on, Karen became the focus of Carpenters, due to her extraordinary talents, fun personality and incredible vocals ... but, ... RC was there too, throughout it all. The driving force behind everything and we must never forget that. His astonishing musicianship made Carpenters a success. I think it's fair to say, over the years, particularly the later years, he must have felt overshadowed and pushed out by the public's adoration of KC. A huge proportion of the general public are not musicians and would not have grasped his importance. Some of this must be also be attributed to A&M's marketing and the Cs not being seen as 'serious' artists. I did once come across a magazine spread (1973) which had photos of RC being sold as a pin-up, alongside David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. Richard was (and is) a handsome guy and maybe they could have done more with that angle. But how do you market a brother/sister team? Would it be any different today?
     
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  5. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    That’s a good question. I think the concept of album artwork and marketing of pop acts has come a long way since the Carpenters’ heyday. Sibling acts nowadays are usually marketed well. I don’t think it’s as uncool to be in a sibling act as it was in the seventies. For one thing, there are a lot more of them out there now. Look at more contemporary famous sibling acts like The Corrs, Bee Gees and Eternal. Their look in the nineties and noughties was slick, professional and trendy.

    The best Karen looked in a photo shoot - ever - was the solo album shots. This just goes to show if you get behind any act and spend a decent amount of money on things like photographers, make up artists and stylists, you get infinitely better results. The Carpenters as a duo - with the exception of their last TV special, when a decent amount of money was spent on a costume designer - were rarely afforded such a luxury. Half the time I get the impression they turned up and were photographed in what they were already wearing or had brought outfits they chose themselves.
     
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  6. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Richard is a tremendous talent but Karen made Carpenters a success. Karen got Richard’s over-productions over often. His arrangements don’t work without Karen singing them. She made them marketable. This is clear as after she passed, his Pop career completely ended.

    Ed
     
  7. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    There's no doubt that, even given that their heyday was the 1970s, the fashions in which have aged particularly badly, they were frequently styled terribly, even later on in their career. Those awful 'matching' jumpers on the inner sleeve of Horizon and the ones they wore in the other 1975 photos with the dogs, the horrible brown jumper for Karen and the nasty safari suit for Richard on the inner sleeve of A Kind of Hush, Karen's terrible 'nineteenth-century nightgown' dresses that she wore in the 'Make Your Own Kind of Music' videos when she was just 21 and again on the 1976 tour, the list goes on and on...

    Given that they were photographed wearing many of the outfits they were photographed in professionally again several times in paparazzi shots in other contexts does suggest that they probably owned most of the clothes rather than being styled for photo shoots. It wouldn't have solved the whole image problem, but I think had more attention been paid to styling them better, it might have made some difference.

    Occasionally they got it right - some of the Horizon shots (like the one used on the cover of the reissue of the Japanese Anthology compilation) were quite nice, as were the photos that were used for their first image logo on the 'Rainy Days and Mondays' US single sleeve and the Annie Leibovitz shots that were used for the cover of As Time Goes By. I just don't think either they or A&M were putting enough thought into this - it was more a case of 'we need some new publicity photos - in you go in whatever you're wearing' and they just went along with it.
     
  8. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Interesting, but I don't see RC being comfortable in that role at all, nor did he need to be. Every vocalist has an arranger, producer, keyboardist. Those are important jobs, and Richard excelled in them, to the point of there being some genuine plausibility in the argument that his contributions equaled or slightly exceeded Karen's toward their winning commercial success. But those roles are also not generally high-profile. It's only natural that listeners connect first and foremost with the voice that's singing to them.

    I'm not sure why Richard would even have wanted to be the magazine cover pop star alongside Karen. Doubt that would have enhanced his credibility as a serious musician, really. Let her cover that role. She did it well. He may have actually hurt his cred by those awkward appearances on TV.

    Besides, in pretty much every interview I ever saw with Carpenters, Karen spent most of her time talking about how brilliant Richard is. He got his public attention, more than most producer/arrangers ever get.
     
  9. I completely disagree on two fronts. Just because Richard's productions sans Karen weren't commercially successful, does not mean they "didn't work." I enjoy Richard's arrangements and find them nearly as distinctive as Karen's vocals. And Karen without Richard? Same can be said. Her solo album technically "worked" but was not on track for any commercial success. It was released after she passed, too. How did it do commercially?
     
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  10. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    I don't want to step into the debate on Richard here, but specific to the solo album's commercial potential...

    1) It was released more than 15 years after it was recorded, and it was recorded for release at a very specific point in time.
    2) The artist was not alive to promote it.
    3) A full 50% of the album had already been released.
    4) A fellow artist closely associated with the performer (meaning her brother) had already gone on public record multiple times claiming it was not a good album, and claiming that A&M shelved it for that reason, before anyone had a chance to hear it as intended and form an independent opinion.

    All of which would have impacted its commercial performance at least somewhat at the time it finally was released, and ensures that what happened with the album in the mid 1990s is no indication of how it would have done in 1980. Not saying it would have been a smash in 1980 -- I sure don't know -- but you can't draw any conclusions based on how it sold in when finally released. Two completely separate events.
     
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  11. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    ^^ It surely would have sold better if released as scheduled - she would have been around to promote it- and I'm sure she would have worked hard at it.
     
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  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Not to be flippant but yes, that's exactly what it means. His solo albums were critical and commercial bombs. They didn't work.

    I'm with you on his vocal arrangements all day. He's one of the best to ever do it. Quite often, his vocal arrangements get his elevator orchestrations over for me.

    As for Karen's solo album, had she been able to promote it, it might have done something...but we can't know that. A&M threw it out there with very little promo. It was one of those "we know some want it so here it is" releases. We can't judge Karen's solo record against Richard's.

    Ed
     
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  13. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I'd say the problem was that Richard never found (or maybe on some level never wanted to find) a profitable avenue for his talents after Karen's passing. He wasn't lead vocalist material or a natural front-man. He took on only a handful of production duties for mainly obscure artists. Time, whether you like it as a creative piece or not, didn't sell, and the Pianist, Arranger, Composer album was both elevator music and inextricably tied to the Carpenters' legacy (I don't think I've ever heard any fan defend the latter album). So his potential as a solo 'artist' was never really that wide-ranging.

    The obvious choice, if he'd have wanted to do it and has been discussed on here many times, is to have gone into film scoring. That would have played to his strengths. I think the instrumental 'Time' is probably the best song on his solo album and it's also the one that's closest to a piece of film scoring.

    I know some on here disagree with this, but I think that Karen's options would have almost endless had things been different and fate been kinder. Even though she initially reportedly felt uncomfortable taking to the front of the stage, she was a natural at it. While I don't have much good to say about the TV specials, they clearly show she had great performing potential.

    I also believe that as a singer she could have gone on to do great things outside of the Carpenters. She had a one in a million voice (maybe even one in 10 million) - I simply don't find it credible that no one other than Richard could have done great things with her as a producer.
     
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  14. Talk about thread drift...
     
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  15. Yes.
    I personally feel that Richard and Karen had a synergy that made them together greater than "the sum of the parts".
     
    Geographer likes this.
  16. David A

    David A Active Member

    Pretty much everyone here knows the story of how the song Close to You wound up in the hands of Richard, and it was his treatment of that song that made it a real hook of a song and a great vehicle for Karen's voice - and launched their careers.

    It goes without saying that Karen's uniquely gifted voice became the signature sound of the Carpenters. But in my view, in the first half of the 70's Richard was instrumental (unintended pun) in the Carpenters sound and success.
     
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  17. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    YES! They made magic together. :)

    Yet, when the magic faded, it would be hard to attribute that to Karen's voice. Fickleness of the public and other issues come into play.
     
  18. Don Malcolm

    Don Malcolm Well-Known Member

    As usual, Ed is very forceful about what he thinks, which makes for compelling reading--but his opinions are just that: opinions, and not gospel. Richard did not always make "elevator arrangements," though it is probably fair to characterize them in such a way in a general sense. He didn't start out that way, that's for sure. That tendency was always there ("Someday" and "Ticket to Ride" on OFFERING, but look at the massive number of counter-examples on that disk), but it did not really become dominant until HORIZON. And we see a few exceptions in later work (in the much-beloved "B'wana She No Home").

    There are so many variations in the "combinatorics" of vocal/instrumental arrangements in the C's material deserving of a much more thorough analysis that we can't really begin to accomplish it here--that should happen in a different thread. But the reason why the CLOSE TO YOU LP remains my favorite is because it has the most variations in just that way. The so-called "elevator arrangements" there are less susceptible to the elements that clog/clot later songs, and the "Spectrum" material that's present on that disk ("Mr. Guder," "Crescent Noon," "Another Song") shows a lot of variety and ingenuity in instrumental arrangement in addition to the glories of their vocal harmonies. (Since we are talking early Carpenter-Bettis collaborations here, we should probably include "Maybe It's You" as well--an "elevator arrangement" that fills me with awe and wonder every time I hear it.)

    I think the problem was that Richard generally got more conservative in his approach and more ambitious in terms of using evolving technology at the same time. That's an odd, almost paradoxical juxtaposition, and it narrowed the possibilities for commercial success over time; going the "oldies" route kept the problem at bay for awhile, but ultimately became an even bigger elephant in the room for them.

    But I think it's imperative to realize and accept that, at the outset of their career, Richard's arrangements were just as essential to their success as Karen's voice. They were matched perfectly in a way that did not push them into an elevator shaft; instead, they rode that elevator to the penthouse.
     
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  19. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    I think that's a fair comment. On the early albums, Richard's arrangements and production were more ambitious and generally very well done (only a few cases like 'Help!' missed the mark in this respect) - he frequently managed to create a new take on and hits out of songs like 'Close to You', 'Superstar' and 'Hurting Each Other' that had eluded others. But there was a definite change from 1975/1976 onwards in this respect - the production tended to become more heavy-handed and conservative, and the arrangements became less ambitious (with a few exceptions like 'Bwana' or 'Occupants'). As I've recently discovered hearing the original versions of tracks like 'All You Get From Love is a Love Song', they also started copying arrangements rather than coming up with a new vision.

    Coupled with this was the trend from 1975/1976 to be picking more soft, safe-sounding songs to record, which when combined with a more MOR production style, just resulted in general in less compelling music than they had produced before - Made in America is testimony to the limited yield of these combined factors. I remember one reviewer of the 1998 Remastered series of CDs commenting that listening to the albums chronologically 'is testimony to Richard Carpenter's gradual loss of nerve over the course of about a decade'. That's a bit harsh, but I see what they were getting at. Even though their music was 'soft' throughout their career, there was an edge to the songs and production in the early days that became less noticeably evident as time went on, but particularly from 1976 or so.
     
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  20. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I’m not sure that oversimplification of his arrangements and orchestration by observation is necessarily corrrect. Maybe It’s You is not that much different than At The End Of A Song, except for the added ‘ok chorale ‘ type voicing. Of course the orchestra is fuller toward the end but that is where his interest took him. I can see where you think it has an added Boston Pops like sound, but it was the chorale that put it there. I wish At The End Of A Song was just Karen. I think she passed before it was completed and he tried to give it a signature sound as in Maybe It’s You but without Karen singing the overdubs the song suffers. I do agree that her voice gave a serious factor and purpose to his arrangements. Just listen to Invocation with just their two voices overdubbed. If it was not them but an ‘ok chorale, the 16th Century feeling would be gone. The same goes for Another Song. And jazz was not eliminated as times progressed, it just took a more contemporary feel as in Boat To Sail and Bwana She No Home. Their albums have jems that most will never know for all the Singles took a formula sound that the album jems are freed from. Maybe that’s why Please Mr Postman sold so much: it contained more overdubbes from Karen, adding character, and who sounded great singing Oldies against Tony Peluso’s guitar that was more like the album jems than the Single’s Formula. Plus, it is a fun contagious song which without Richards arrangement, the song would be without the contagious attribute. If you added a chorale instead the song would only be in elevators. Solitaire is mind blowing and without Karen his arrangement would be missing its focus. He wrote with her in mind and it shows. What a perfect pair. Nothing registered success without her voice added in the mix and since it started at such an early age in life it became ingrained. In my mind, the closest he came in future years was with Claire DeLa Fuente with Something In Your Eyes, but the mix in their voices did not click the same as with Karen. But that song has a great arrangement and Claire’s phrasing is pleasing and I feel Richard was a part of that, too. The song has a Carpenters feel to it, which is enjoyable to my emotional taste. Karen’s voice was not just another instrument in the song, but it was the song’s purpose. It made the song sparkle and gave it purpose and character and delivered the emotion beyond what the song intended as a diving board to a competitive swimmer. Without the diving board the swimmer would not have as much success.
     
  21. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    I honestly never said he always makes "elevator arrangements". I never meant that either. Their older material wasn't that way at all. It should also be noted that the "arrangement" of "B'wana" is fairly similar to Michael Franks' arrangement, though Carpenters actually grooves harder. The band was "tracked live" per Richard and you can really tell. They were having way too much fun with it. Definitely not an elevator tune. Anyway, have a listen to Michael's for proof of how closely Richard's arrangement mirrors that found on Michael's album:



    As for album sales, those aren't opinions. His solo albums bombed...both of them. That tells us they didn't work. I understand this may be hard to swallow but it is what it is.

    I always preferred the earlier stuff for the most part. Back then, there were fewer tracks which reigned Richard in nicely. He could only do so much because there were only so many tracks. In that context. the songs could speak for themselves and didn't allow for Richard's over-production. He was forced to be more minimalist (for him) and the songs could really breathe. As a result, the earlier stuff just sounds more fun. When 24 tracks became a part of their world, they could still be compelling but, IMHO (we all have opinions, right?), they were spottier in that regard.

    Richard's greatest gift is his vocal arrangements. As I said earlier, few do them better. Even on things I don't like, his vocal arrangements alone can make the more-dubious material quite listenable. Karen's voice and his vocal arrangements on "Sing" make that song pretty incredible, honestly. Richard is totally underrated in that regard. I would love to have seen him used by other artists in that capacity.

    Ed
     
  22. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    His first solo album clearly had a few stabs at "hit single" type material, but he was out of touch with what was "hot" by that time. The world had moved on musically. "Punk" and "new wave" were the hot thing at that time. Also by then, the people who bought Carpenters albums had mostly grown out of buying albums. Not every fan is like us -- snapping up everything that comes along.

    If he'd had a hit single with a "guest vocalist," he probably would have made more albums, but it was not to be.

    I highly doubt anyone including Richard expected that second album to do much business. I'm surprised it even got made, let alone released. It's a very nice album of "beautiful music" but I'm not sure what market he was aiming for with that one -- after all, instrumental music wasn't exactly burning up the charts at that time.
     
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Richard Carpenter and the PACC album......

    In an Interview with Richard Carpenter, Keyboard August 1998:
    "I was asked by our affiliate in Japan, Polydor, to put it together. (Pianist,Arranger, Composer,Conductor)."
    "They asked for an album with piano, orchestra, and some vocal arranging after the remarkable success of the
    Carpenters starting in late 1995 through 1996, and continuing as we speak. Since we'd sold over 2 million
    copies of
    22 Hits Of The Carpenters, they wanted the bulk of it to be those songs."

    And, this, from CNN:
    "After giving it some thought, I didn't want this to be one of those assembly line instrumental
    piano albums where you hear the little rhythm section in the background and just play a little melody over the top.
    With my training, I wanted to approach this more in a classical mode -- very little strict tempo and a lot of quasi-symphonic. It worked very well, because a lot of the songs we introduced have a lot of melodic sweep
    ."
    Here:
    CNN - Richard Carpenter back with new solo album - Mar. 23, 1998
     
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  24. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    That would certainly make sense - the PACC album has the air of a niche product for a specific market about it. That still doesn't explain why it was released in the US as well, but maybe the record label thought it was worth a go.

    Ed makes an interesting point about Richard's production style changing in parallel to the number of tracks he was able to use on recordings - there's definitely a correlation between the increased number of tracks used on the albums and the heavier level of production on the songs. Less probably was more in that respect. However, there was also the issue of the songs chosen generally being softer and more prone to be overproduced as time went on too.

    Mike, I'm not sure that punk and new wave can be blamed for the failure of Time to sell - they were both largely over by 1983/1984. The market in 1987 had largely turned more back to pop (along with some rock acts on the album charts), albeit that the artists hitting the Top 10 were generally newer artists rather than 'oldies'. That said, the Beach Boys topped the Hot 100 in 1988 with 'Kokomo', which is not a million miles from the sort of thing Richard could have made, so it wasn't impossible - I just feel that nothing on Time was strong enough to have had that kind of impact as a single.
     
  25. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The big puzzle for my tastes is why---on the PACC album--
    why was utilization made of the
    O.K. Chorale ?
    Here are those cuts:
    Yesterday Once More,
    I Need To Be In Love,
    Sandy,
    One Love,
    All Those Years Ago,
    Top Of The World.
     

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