• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and 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 being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

Top Ten Carpenters Albums- 2020 Edition

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Now, I love the song "I'll Never Fall In Love Again....on the Close To You album.
That is a great arrangement and vocal.
Then, the tan album includes it in its Bacharach/David Medley, too. Don't care for the Medley here,
but...I DO like the 1974 Live version of the Medley (begins with Any Day Now).
Generally, though, as I have oft-repeated,
ditch the Medleys.
I am just not a fan of Medleys--by anyone.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
According to the copyrights on the CD’s, no. Whereas you compare Interpretations or Treasures (Japan) say “This Compilation Copyright 1987/1994”.

So would, by your definition, would Christmas Portrait be a compilation, since it contains tracks recorded in 1970, 1974, 1977 and 1978 for various projects from singles (MCD, Christmas Song) and TV specials (Carol of the Bells, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Christmas Song, The Christmas Waltz, Winter Wonderland/Silver Bella/White Christmas).

This discussion has come up before and I think you're making a bit of a false distinction here. A compilation is normally a collection of previously recorded and released tracks, usually compiled by the record company without the involvement of the artist in question. A 'greatest hits' collection would be a typical example, albeit that the trend since the 1990s has been to include a couple of new or unreleased tracks on these as a sales incentive.

The Carpenters are a odd example here, as Richard has had involvement in many 'compilations' like The Singles 1969-1973 and it also featured some redone tracks and unique seques, which was unusual for a greatest hits collection in the 1970s. Nevertheless, I'd still regard it as a compilation (as I would Interpretations, even though that featured one completely 'new' unheard song).

I would not regard Christmas Portrait as a compilation as the vast majority of it was recorded in 1977-1978 with the twin intention of being used both for a TV special but also for an accompanying album. You have to remember that they were intending to complete the Christmas album for release in 1977 but ran out of time, so the issuing of 'The Christmas Song' as a single in 1977 was a placeholder for the album, not a separate unconnected event. 'Merry Christmas Darling' was rerecorded in 1978 specifically for the album, so nothing on the album dates from 1970. As such, it clearly falls into the studio album category.

Lovelines you could argue is a compilation as it contains previously recorded tracks, but it was compiled by the artist (Richard) rather than the record company and there was a deliberate attempt to make it flow like a studio album. It was also drawing on a smaller range of sources (Karen's solo album and Carpenters outtakes from 1977-1980). So a case could be made for it being either a studio album or a compilation.

However, As Time Goes By for me would definitely not qualify as a studio album even though it was again curated by Richard because of the greater range of sources (demos from the late 1960s, tracks from TV their specials but also other TV specials (the Como medley), Carpenters outtakes from various years). Crucially too, unlike Lovelines, it has absolutely no flow at all, which is fine if you view it as a collections of odds and ends from across their career, but is disastrous if you're trying to classify it as a 'studio album'. Does 'compliation' accurately describe it? Maybe, maybe not - a rarities/odds and ends collection might be more accurate. But 'studio album' is certainly the least accurate description of the lot.

As such, there is an element of semantics involved in what falls into what classification, but even when a definition is stretched to its limits, As Time Goes By in particular still falls way outside the generally acceptable terminology for what counts as a studio album, whereas Christmas Portrait and (to a lesser extent) Lovelines fall within that terminology.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
This discussion has come up before and I think you're making a bit of a false distinction here. A compilation is normally a collection of previously recorded and released tracks, usually compiled by the record company without the involvement of the artist in question. A 'greatest hits' collection would be a typical example, albeit that the trend since the 1990s has been to include a couple of new or unreleased tracks on these as a sales incentive. So Christmas Portrait could be called a compilation album[/i].

The Carpenters are a odd example here, as Richard has had involvement in many 'compilations' like The Singles 1969-1973 and it also featured some redone tracks and unique seques, which was unusual for a greatest hits collection in the 1970s. Nevertheless, I'd still regard it as a compilation (as I would Interpretations, even though that featured one completely 'new' unheard song).

I would not regard Christmas Portrait as a compilation as the vast majority of it was recorded in 1977-1978 with the twin intention of being used both for a TV special but also for an accompanying album. You have to remember that they were intending to complete the Christmas album for release in 1977 but ran out of time, so the issuing of 'The Christmas Song' as a single in 1977 was a placeholder for the album, not a separate unconnected event. 'Merry Christmas Darling' was rerecorded in 1978 specifically for the album, so nothing on the album dates from 1970. As such, it clearly falls into the studio album category.

Lovelines you could argue is a compilation as it contains previously recorded tracks, but it was compiled by the artist (Richard) rather than the record company and there was a deliberate attempt to make it flow like a studio album. It was also drawing on a smaller range of sources (Karen's solo album and Carpenters outtakes from 1977-1980). So a case could be made for it being either a studio album or a compilation.

However, As Time Goes By for me would definitely not qualify as a studio album even though it was again curated by Richard because of the greater range of sources (demos from the late 1960s, tracks from TV their specials but also other TV specials (the Como medley), Carpenters outtakes from various years). Crucially too, unlike Lovelines, it has absolutely no flow at all, which is fine if you view it as a collections of odds and ends from across their career, but is disastrous if you're trying to classify it as a 'studio album'. Does 'compliation' accurately describe it? Maybe, maybe not - a rarities/odds and ends collection might be more accurate. But 'studio album' is certainly the least accurate description of the lot.

As such, there is an element of semantics involved in what falls into what classification, but even when a definition is stretched to its limits, As Time Goes By in particular still falls way outside the generally acceptable terminology for what counts as a studio album, whereas Christmas Portrait and (to a lesser extent) Lovelines fall within that terminology.
With Merry Christmas Darling the 1978 version only changed the lead vocal, otherwise the track was still using the background vocals and instrumentation from 1970. So Christmas Portrait could be called a compilation album.

And, no I’m not making a false distinction. As Time Goes By could be viewed as an experimentation album. But it’s still a studio album. And it flows as well as Close To You or Carpenters or Passage.

But I’m also aware of other artists who have released studio albums that would fall outside your definitions. Roger Whittaker comes to mind as I’ve got an LP of his where one side was recorded in the studio, but the other side is from a concert.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
With Merry Christmas Darling the 1978 version only changed the lead vocal, otherwise the track was still using the background vocals and instrumentation from 1970. So Christmas Portrait could be called a compilation album.

And, no I’m not making a false distinction. As Time Goes By could be viewed as an experimentation album. But it’s still a studio album. And it flows as well as Close To You or Carpenters or Passage.

But I’m also aware of other artists who have released studio albums that would fall outside your definitions. Roger Whittaker comes to mind as I’ve got an LP of his where one side was recorded in the studio, but the other side is from a concert.

There will always be cases that don't align exactly with the definitions to hand given the millons of albums that have been released - that doesn't mean their existence invalidates the general rule. There are numerous cases of artists releasing live albums that also included studio cuts (Rufus' Stomping and the Savoy and Dionne Warwick's Hot, Live and Otherwise spring to mind). They're clearly a slightly different category as well. You can have nuance and extra options in these definitions - not everything has to fit rigidly into the 'studio album' or 'compilation album' category!

I don't understand your point about the inclusion of 'Merry Christmas Darling' somehow making Christmas Portrait a possible compilation album. One track doesn't turn a studio album into a compilation album - and the version that appeared on Christmas Portrait had never been released before in any case. By your logic, that would make Made in America a much more clear contender for being a 'compilation' album than Christmas Portrait, as it contains 'I Believe You', a previously released that was a few years old, wasn't ever part of the album project and appeared on the album in its originally released form. Is that what you're saying?

As for As Time Goes By flowing as well as the albums you mention, I'll have to take your word for it that you believe that to be the case. To my ears, As Time Goes By does not flow whatsoever. Indeed, whenever I do listen to it, I always skip certain tracks as playing it all the way through is a bit of a grating experience for the reasons I've already explained. It's made up of tracks that really belonged on a box set. As a stand-alone album to be played from beginning to end, it doesn't work at all.
 
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tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
There will always be cases that don't align exactly with the definitions to hand given the millons of albums that have been released - that doesn't mean their existence invalidates the general rule. There are numerous cases of artists releasing live albums that also included studio cuts (Rufus' Stomping and the Savoy and Dionne Warwick's Hot, Live and Otherwise spring to mind). They're clearly a slightly different category as well. You can have nuance and extra options in these definitions - not everything has to fit rigidly into the 'studio album' or 'compilation album' category!

I don't understand your point about the inclusion of 'Merry Christmas Darling' somehow making Christmas Portrait a possible compilation album. One track doesn't turn a studio album into a compilation album - and the version that appeared on Christmas Portrait had never been released before in any case. By your logic, that would make Made in America a much more clear contender for being a 'compilation' album than Christmas Portrait, as it contains 'I Believe You', a previously released that was a few years old, wasn't ever part of the album project and appeared on the album in its originally released form. Is that what you're saying?

As for As Time Goes By flowing as well as the albums you mention, I'll have to take your word for it that you believe that to be the case. To my ears, As Time Goes By does not flow whatsoever. Indeed, whenever I do listen to it, I always skip certain tracks as playing it all the way through is a bit of a grating experience for the reasons I've already explained. It's made up of tracks that really belonged on a box set. As a stand-alone album to be played from beginning to end, it doesn't work at all.
Merry Christmas Darling on Christmas Portrait is the same recording as the 1970 single, with the exception of the lead vocal. Otherwise, as Richard notes in “The Essential Collection”, the song was remixed to fit into CP, with no additional recording until 1990-1992. It was the 1970 MCD with a new coat of paint. Whereas you compare Ticket To Ride, which received a new lead vocal, drums and guitar in 1973 and it’s not a similar recording. TTR was torn back to the studs and rebuilt.

And as Richard has said, Christmas Portrait was an outgrowth of The Carpenters At Christmas, and it was only thought of after work on TCAC had started.


‘ It was while selecting and recording music for this special that Karen and I decided the time had come to finally record a Christmas album.‘

So “The Christmas Song” was done for The Carpenters At Christmas (and even the 1977 sleeve ties it to TCAC) and then included in the Christmas Portrait sessions.

Besides As Time Goes By, Offering featured demos that the Carpenters recorded at Magic Lamp. ‘Your Wonderful Parade, appeared on Offering with a new lead vocal and strings, but the rest was demo, while All I Can Do is all ML demo from 1968.

Carpenters I find is even more disjointed sounding than An Old-Fashioned Christmas, which I find has sections that flow (Midnight/Overture/Old-Fashioned) but then stops. Whereas the self-title just stops after each song (from a stack of random tracks) and feels like the songs were just randomly placed. Really the only part that flows is the Medley on the self-title.

CTY feels similar to AOFC, but it’s still disjointed and has numerous stops and starts.
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
‘Your Wonderful Parade, appeared on Offering with a new lead vocal and strings, but the rest was demo

I’ve always wondered about this though and it’s something I’ve never seen mentioned on this forum: the two versions are in different keys and also different speeds. The demo has a huskier vocal by Richard in a lower key, whereas the album version has his more usual thinner, slightly whiny tone.

As Richard has confirmed it is essentially the same recording, that must mean the backing track was sped up slightly in preparation for the album, before he added a new lead vocal.

We were so anxious to start recording that we recorded our existing repertoire rather than searching for, or writing new material. The drum, bass, cello, solo, keyboards, and background vocals on Bettis’s and my 1967 anti-establishment song, Your Wonderful Parade are from the demo done in Joe Osborn’s garage studio. Only a new lead and real strings were added”.

The other thing that also confuses me is his comment that “All I Can Do is the demo in its entirety”. To my ears, it’s not: the demo version on the box set and the album version are completely different recordings, vocals and all. Unless there’s another Joe Osborne demo recorded in between the two that we’ve never heard.

 
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A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
Yeah, I don’t think the ‘Offering’ version of ‘All I Can Do’ is a demo at all. The version on ‘From The Top’ features the members of Spectrum. It’s the one they recorded in the bathroom for an ‘echo chamber’. Plus, you can hear two female voices....Karen and Spectrum member Leslie Johnston.
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
These last posts are very interesting, but they are starting to wander off from the original impetus of the thread, which was to create a list of aficionados' Top Ten LP picks--a topic that this knee-jerk compiler finds irresistible!

I hope my reminder will prompt several of those commenting in the thread who've not yet registered their opinions to do so (as well as others who may not yet have caught up with this thread).

I follow with my list, and then with some interim results (12 total lists submitted in response to Mark's original post).

My list: 1: Close to You; 2: A Song For You; 3: Carpenters (tan); 4: Passage; 5: Offering/Ticket to Ride; 6: Now & Then; 7: Horizon; 8: Hush; 9: Lovelines; 10: Carpenters RPO.

Using a point system of 10 for #1 pick down to 1 for #10 pick (but without divulging exact figures yet, in hopes that folks will continue to participate), the current rankings in the poll are:

1-Close to You, 2-A Song For You, 3-Horizon, 4-Carpenters (tan), 5-Lovelines, 6-Now & Then, 7-Passage, 8-Voice of the Heart; 9-Hush; 10-Offering/Ticket to Ride

Looking forward to compiling additional responses!
 
Um, not a fan of Passage, there are a several tracks on there I do love, like Two Sides. So here goes. 1.Lovelines. 2. Horizon 3. Offering/Ticket 4. CTY. 5. VOTH. 6. N&T 7. AKOH. 8. Christmas Portrait. 9. AOFC.10. ATGB. Honorable Mention YOM
 
Um, not a fan of Passage, there are a several tracks on there I do love, like Two Sides. So here goes. 1.Lovelines. 2. Horizon 3. Offering/Ticket 4. CTY. 5. VOTH. 6. N&T 7. AKOH. 8. Christmas Portrait. 9. AOFC.10. ATGB. Honorable Mention YOM
Yes I know you excluded compilations and the Christmas albums, but their Christmas albums especially Christmas Portrait should be included
 
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