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Top Ten Carpenters Albums- 2020 Edition

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
My recent blog post- but I thought everyone might have a chance to chime in with their current Top Tens!:


"Have you ever noticed how your taste changes over the years? Mine sure has! This has happened with foods I like, television shows I watch, movies I love, books and music, and even Disney theme park attractions that I would list as my favorites.

Today, I'm focusing on a reassessment of my favorite Top Ten albums by Carpenters. That Richard and Karen Carpenter are my favorite duo is one thing that definitely has not changed. But the list my favorite albums by them has changed over the years. Which ones have moved up or down the list since the last time I did this in 2012?

Compilations, boxed sets, solo, live or Christmas albums are not included. At the bottom of each album's description and ranking is a link to my original review as well as one for my "Revisited / Fresh Look" reviews done years later. (I'm only finished with those through 1973's Now & Then album.) Here we go...

(11.) “Offering / Ticket to Ride”- 1969 album. Varied in style and approach. The disc has a very 60's rock / pop sound, making in an also ran for me. Super ambitious. Karen's voice has flashes of what we've come to expect. The album is much different than their breakout hits and romantic sounds that came in the following decade. Standouts: "Ticket to Ride" (though the definitive reworked version came in 1973), “All of My Life” (featured in The Karen Carpenter Story), "Don't Be Afraid", "Turn Away", “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”.
Original review here. Revisited / Fresh Look review here.

10. “Made in America” – Their 1981 "comeback" album. They were striving for a hit, and it unfortunately shows. Seems stripped of the ambition mentioned above. To be fair, there are some pleasant songs, but it's much too soft. As usual, Karen sounds great, but her voice is generally higher, softer, and too far in the background. Richard's arrangements rule. Standouts: “Touch Me When We’re Dancing” (their last Top Twenty single), “Strength of a Woman”, "When It's Gone", “Somebody’s Been Lying”.
Original review here.

9. “Passage”- Daring 1977 album. Totally unexpected in every way. Bold and sassy. Confident. Each cut is very different than the one before. Standouts: the exceptional “Bwana She No Home”, the underrated single “All You Get From Love is a Love Song”, “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”, “Sweet, Sweet Smile”. Grammy nod for Richard's arrangement on "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft".
Original review here.

8. “Now and Then” - Most interesting album layout. Stuffed with hits but mostly oldies from a decade earlier. Great fun but lower ranking given for few original songs. Standouts: “Our Day Will Come”, the incredible“This Masquerade”, and the Richard Carpenter / John Bettis classic “Yesterday Once More”.
Original review here. Revisited / Fresh Look review here.

7. “A Kind of Hush”- The title track is a guilty favorite to this day, and although the album is beautiful to look at, the songs inside were very out of touch with what was on the radio back in 1976. There are still some absolute gems here. This is also the album I got to discuss for Randy L. Schmidt's Carpenters: An Illustrated Discography book. Note: When I reach this collection for my "Revisited / Fresh Look" review, I'll share my full interview notes that I submitted to Randy for consideration. Standouts: There's A Kind of Hush (All Over the World)", “Boat to Sail”, “I Need to Be in Love”, “One More Time”, “I Have You”.
Original review here.

6. “Voice of the Heart”- First posthumous album released just months after her passing. Due to that fact, it's a sad but sentimental favorite. Varied styles affirm their ability to serve any genre well, but beware of the overuse of the chorale. Stunning cover photo of Karen and wistful back cover pic of Richard. Standouts: my favorite Carpenters song of all time “Ordinary Fool”, “Now”, the instant classic but under appreciated “Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore”, “Look to Your Dreams”, “At the End of a Song”.
Original review here.

5. “Carpenters (aka The Tan album)” – Can't miss album with "For All We Know", "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "Superstar". Beautiful and melancholy. Does contain the worst of all Carpenters tunes, “Druscilla Penny”. Standouts: the three single releases plus “Let Me Be the One”, “Hideaway”, “Sometimes”, “Bacharach Medley”.
Original review here. Revisited / Fresh Look review here.

4. “Lovelines” - Strongest posthumous release. A mix of four selections from Karen's solo album, previously unreleased songs, and leftover tunes from Made in America- some of which are far better than those placed on that albums. Standouts: The "Should have been a single, it's so good" outtake “Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night”, the Michael Jackson meets Karen “Lovelines”, smooth jazz “If We Try”, a moody remake of Barry Manilow's “Where Do I Go From Here?”, the classic “When I Fall in Love”, “If I Had You”.
Original review here.

3. “A Song For You” - Almost a greatest hits album on its own. Great singles like "Top of the World" (original mix) . Standouts: "Road Ode", “Hurting Each Other”, “Goodbye to Love”, "Bless the Beats and Children".
Original review here. Revisited / Fresh Look review here.

2. “Horizon”- Best visual presentation of Karen and Richard as real people. Ultra polished collection but with real backbone, Elegant, classy, best recorded sound of Karen’s voice ever. A couple of songs too short, but flawless. Perfect for late night FM radio. Standouts: my favorite modern single of the duo, “Only Yesterday”, the definitive version of “Desperado”, Neil Sedaka's dramatic “Solitaire”, “I Can Dream, Can’t I?”, bookends “Aurora/Eventide”, “Love Me For What I Am”.
Original review here.

1. “Close to You”- Back to the top of my rankings. The album that cemented my love affair with Karen's voice. Fresh. Energetic. Brilliant in every way. Standouts: Wedding song “We’ve Only Just Begun”, the could have been third single “Baby It’s You”, "Reason to Believe", “Love is Surrender”, “Maybe It’s You”, "Crescent Noon" “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, "Another Song".
Original review here. Revisited / Fresh Look review here."
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Here is my top ten.

1. Horizon:
Karen at her Best
2. A Song For You:
A Lot of Favorite Tracks. No one has performed the title song better with a perfect arrangement!
The above has not changed.
3. Close To You:
Great Vocal Harmony and great Bacharach Performances plus original songs! Great balance of songs.
4. Now & Then:
Oldies Medley is a pure treasure. Side One has highlights, too.
5. Carpenters (Tan Album):
Has the iconic top rated songs.
6. Passage:
Explores various music styles with a fresh appeal. It has a great selection of top instrumental artists in the studio.
7. Lovelines:
All of Mark’s reasons.
8. Voice of the Heart:
Ordinary Fool!
9. A Kind of Hush:
You, Boat to Sail, and One More Time touch me as Side 2 of Close To You.
10. Made In America:
Finally, we get to hear new songs. Somebody’s Been Lyin’ is one of my favorites.

By default, Ticket To Ride is number 11. Mostly because of the lack of sound quality. The Invocation and Benediction are among their best songs. Not only are they great in harmony, but they are great stylistically and true to their representative period of music with a modern flair.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Your lists are always fun Mark-T and I can never resist! :)

Here Are Mine;

1. Close To You - The two mega-breakout hits. Lots and lots of good stuff in between.

2. Now & Then - Karen's voice at its absolute best IMHO. Yesterday Once More and This Masquerade are the highlights. Great oldies medley...

3. Carpenters - Not only the two iconic masterpieces; Superstar/Rainy Days...but a stand-out pop song Let Me Be The One, and a much under-appreciated One Love. The Bacharach Medley always sounds better live. Shouldn't have made the album IMHO. I believe this is the album where everyone in the music business sat-up and took notice of that once-in-a-generation voice of Karen's.

4. A Song For You - So many hits, could be mistaken for a compilation album. The title track to me is the highlight. Karen again, shining with a Leon Russell-penned masterpiece. Hurting Each Other, Won't Last A Day Without You, Crystal Lullaby are terrific, and of course, ending with the spine-tingling Road Ode. And my favorite version of Top Of The World over the redo. Slower, less-bouncy, and a more reflective often melancholy lead vocal from our girl.

5. Offering - Carpenters doing a lot of their Spectrum material. And it's good stuff. The duo in their raw form and having a ball! Karen's drumming and Richard's keyboarding are impressive. And their harmonizing is to die for. Karen playing electric bass on two of the tracks just solidified my AWE of her as an exceptional natural talent. All Of My Life and Nowadays Clancy...are the standouts for me.

6. Horizon - As everyone says, probably their best sounding album. Karen's rendition of Solitaire is the best vocal she ever recorded IMHO. Karen also did a brilliant vocal on I Can Dream, Can't I. Great Billy May arrangement. A bit ballad-heavy and dreary at times. Only Yesterday, great from every aspect. One of their best! Should have had another similar track on this album.

7. Carpenters with the RPO - Not really a compilation album, so I don't believe I am breaking the thread rules here, so here goes. Richard orchestrating some very nice intros here. I Just Fall In Love Again case in point. It's a very long intro, but fits well when we get the payoff of Karen breaking in "Dreamin' I must be dreamin'" - SUBLIME! Though it's a double-album, it seems to go by in a flash. That final track of Karen's Theme gets to me every time.:cry: I believe Richard delivered on this one. He really tried to create something of quality for his fans. I would not mind a follow-up from him.

8. A Kind Of Hush - I like a lot of the tracks on this album. The title track and One More Time, I Need To Be In Love are the standouts for me.

9. Passage - B'wana, I Just Fall In Love Again, All You Get From Love Is A Love Song are fantastic. Overall, a lot of fun.

10. Made In America - My least favorite by far. To think Karen's solo effort was sacrificed at the altar of this is still mind-boggling. Yes, there are a few "catchy" tunes, but nothing that we would EXPECT in comparison, from previous Carpenters albums.

Posthumous albums are not in my Top Ten, so I did not consider VOTH, which was finished-up outtakes.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
My Top Ten

1. Lovelines
“If I Had You, The Univited Guest, Remember When Loving Took All Night, Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night, Honolulu City Lights, Slow Dance & Lovelines”

2. Passage
“All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”, “Two Sides”, “Sweet, Sweet Smile”, “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”

3. Time
“Say Yeah!”, “Who Do You Love?”, “That’s What I Believe”

4. Christmas Portrait: Special Edition
“An Old-Fashioned Christmas”, “Home For The Holidays”, “The Christmas Song”, “Carol of the Bells”

5. Live In Japan
“Daddy’s Home”, “Little Honda”, “Leader of the Pack”, The Book of Love”, “Shuboom”.

6. As Time Goes By
“California Dreaming” “Nowhere Man” “The Rainbow Connection”, “Leave Yesterday Behind”, “Dancing In The Street”, “Close Encounters/Star Wars”, “You’re Just In Love”

7. Voice of the Heart
“Prime Time Love”, “Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore”, “Sailong on The Tide”, “You’re Enough”

8. Offering/Ticket To Ride
“Get Together”, “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing”, “Ticket To Ride”, “Your Wonderful Parade”

9. Karen Carpenter
“Making Love In The Afternoon”, “Lovelines”, “If I Had You”, “Remember When Loving Took All Night”

10. Now & Then
“Jambalaya”, “Deadman’s Curve”, “Our Day Will Come”, “One Fine Day”

Honorable Mention

11. An Old-Fashioned Christmas
“Do You Hear What I Hear?”, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear/Overture”, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

12. From The Top
“The Parting of Our Ways”, “Looking For Love”, “I’ll be Yours”, “You’ll Love Me”, “Goodnight”, “Good Friends Are For Keeps”, “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind”

13. Close To You
“I Kept On Loving You”, “Love Is Surrender”, “Crescent Noon”, “Help”, “Baby It’s You”

14. A Song For You
“Crystal Lullaby”, “I Won’t Last A Day Without You”, “Road Ode”

15. Singles 1974-1978
“Happy”, “Can’t Smile Without You”, “There’s A Kind of Hush”
 
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1: Horizon. Only yesterday, aurora/eventide, love me for what i am

2:a song for you. A song for you, road ode, i won’t last a day without you

3: TAN album. Superstar, one love, let me be the one

4:now and then. This masquerade, medley, yesterday once more

5: voice of the heart: at the and of the song, ordinary fool, look to your dreams

6: close to you: we’ve only just begun, another song, baby it’s you

7: live japan: hits medley, oldies medley and for all we know

8: christmas portrait: ave maria, christmas song, merry christmas darling

9: passage: aygflials, two sides, calling occupants

10: an old fashioned christmas: home for the holidays, little altar boy, santa claus is comin’ to town
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I love all these lists! And I love to see one where "second half" albums are at the top. It's part of what makes these discussion boards so interesting!
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Here are mine (as of today...could change by tonight):

Bubbling under the top 10:

11. As Time Goes By: Too many "TV" performances that don't meld well in a sonic sense.

Top 10:

10. Passage: Just not "enough." Too short on songs.

9. Offering/Ticket To Ride: Nice debut; however, Karen's singing style and Richard's arrangements were not quite "honed" yet...but almost there.

9. Voice of the Heart: Not the "cream" that was left in the vault for sure.

8. A Kind of Hush: Goofus, Breaking up is Hard to Do, Can't Smile Without You, just murdered this album. Also, too many songs in Karen's "high" range.

7. Now and Then: Nice "now" side. "Then" side impeccably performed, but would have loved full songs of many included in the "medley."

6. Carpenters: Hits and album cuts that are nearly as good as the hits. A little too short though. Any Day Now missing from the medley.

5. A Song For You: Hits and well produced. Perfection in production, in fact. A lot for the money.

4. Lovelines: THIS should have been the 1983 posthumous release, sans Karen's solo work. The best of the vault is on THIS album. What could have been had Karen's solo fluff been replaced with the best tunes on VOTH to create one stellar posthumous release.

3. Made In America: Fantastic "come back" album. Modern (for 1981) sounding but did not lose the magic. A sign of what could have been going into a new decade.

2. Close to You: Still a great listen today. Their musical talents on full display. Writing, arranging, playing, singing, etc. It's all here.

1. Horizon: At their peak! Karen's voice matured to perfection like aged wine. Songs Richard's arranging around that voice. Song choices taking advantage of Karen's low register. Sonic perfection again.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Lovesongs: The best of the compilations. Perfect song choices to show off their talents as "serious" musicians. Near perfect balance of "hits" and album cuts. Classy all the way.

2. Christmas Portrait: A classic! Timeless.

3. An Old Fashioned Christmas: Karen's stellar vocals on "Little Alter Boy" and "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" along with Richard's fantastic arranging. My most-listened to of the two Christmas releases....quality over quantity, here.
 
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tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
“Made In America” I would not call ‘modern’ by 1981 standards. The only ‘1981 modern’ sounding tracks on it are “Back In My Life Again”, “Touch Me When We’re Dancing” and “Beechwood 4-5789”. All the rest sound like they are from the 1940’s.
 

cam89

Active Member
1) CLOSE TO YOU-Another Song, Crescent Noon, Maybe It's you...

2) A KIND OF HUSH- One More Time, Boat to Sail, I Have You, Sandy...

3) VOICE OF THE HEART- Look To Your Dreams, Now, Two Lives, Prime Time Love...

4) CARPENTERS- One Love, Superstar, For All We Know, Rainy Days and Mondays...

5) MADE IN AMERICA- Want You Back In My Life Again, When It's Gone It's Just Gone, Because We Are In Love...

6) CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Ave Maria, Let It Snow medley...

7) AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS-title song AOFC, Do You Hear What I hear?, Home for the Holidays...

8) NOW AND THEN-Heather, This Masquerade, Jambalaya, Sing, I Can't Make Music, Johnny Angel, The End of the World...

9) HORIZON-Solitaire, Happy, Only Yesterday, I Can't Dream Can't I...

10) KAREN CARPENTER-Make Believe It's Your First Time, Lovelines, Remember When Loving Took All Night, All Because of You, If I had You and Last One Singing the Blues....
 

John Adam

Well-Known Member
MY TOP 10: (Fun idea Mark!)

A Song For You. Best Collection of "Greatest Hits" that wasn't a greatest hits album!

Lovelines. Biggest surprise album of all time! Best leftover tracks and those terrific solo tracks that blend together like a planned studio set.

Horizon. Karen's maturing vocals at the perfect balance between the drummer who sings and the vocalist who happens to be a drummer!

Passage. The Carpenters trying not to be the Carpenters, while totally being the Carpenters!

Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Richard's vision of what the Carpenters music could sound like
in 2018 if he had his way......and he did!

Tan Album (Carpenters). The preview to the greatness to come.........and to go!

Close To You. Leaving behind some off the innocence in favor of having some hits!

Now And Then. Some of that greatness.........and some of that starting to go.


As Time Goes By. The best companion "From The Top" ever had!

Offering/Ticket To Ride. A train wreck of perfection, with poor sound and introducing the most beautiful female voice to come!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Interesting lists from true fans: Mine for now,
1. A Song For You-so many great hits
2. Close To You- so many great non-hits
3. Horizon- best sound
4. Carpenters-1st purchase
5 Now & Then- most fun, side 2.
6. Lovelines- what VOH should have been
7. Made In America-we waited so long for this
8. Kind of Hush-a great gift for die hard fans
9. Ticket To Ride-it started it all
10. As Time Goes By- The medleys!
I seldom listen to VOH or Passage anymore,
but glad other fans love them more than I do. I did what Mark suggested, and no hit compilations or Christmas albums on my list today.
 

CraigGA

Well-Known Member
Wow. I should have included my first purchase as GBD2LV did. What a great idea, for I think it helps see why some choices are different. My first purchase was The Singles 1969-1973. Yesterday Once More was my first single purchase. I was 12 years old when I came across Karen on the radio. I did know Close To You, but did not know at the time it was the Carpenters until the Singles album hit the shelves. I did not know at the time her voice would forever capture my heart and soul, but it all started with Yesterday Once More. I could not believe my fortune of listening to such a good descriptive singer with a voice of gold singing a song with a great melody and perfect lyrics.
 
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