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Unreleased tracks from “Karen Carpenter”

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Kristopher, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    They very much copied the Carpenters which is why Karen’s direction on the solo album was what was needed to capture the rhythm and blues market. Would it have happened? Doubtful, but it would have sold enough to make a turn and turn away from all who copied them.
  2. I love Karens solo. Not inferior to anything Richard did in my opinion.Play it in the car nearly daily.I play Midnight a lot from the unreleased sessions and Somethings missing also.Karen should have gone all out disco...broke from the normal but disco was and maybe still is a dirty word stateside.
    Over Toni Tennille.I noticed a video on youtube of her with Ella Fitzgerald in a duet from a Captain and Tennille tv special.
    Kristopher likes this.
  3. Kristopher

    Kristopher Active Member Thread Starter

    I respect your opinion. we all like different things. If everybody liked the same things the world would be kind of boring.
  4. Kristopher

    Kristopher Active Member Thread Starter

    Love Captain and Tennille have 2 LPs.

    I know how you feel. Ive played “Time” around 4 times before. I have multiple copies on different formats because I love Time so much.
  5. John Adam

    John Adam Well-Known Member

    It's hard to judge Karen's unreleased outtakes because they weren't finished products. It's easy to judge them because of the poor quality. I'm sure some of them wouldn't stand the test of time any more than some of the finished (album) tracks have. But I've grown to love them as part of the history of those recording sessions. They would all fit as bonus tracks on a reissue of Karen's self-titled solo album. But they would benefit as finished tracks with some love from her brother and company. Phil's not here, Karen's not here, these are part of their legacy!
    CarpentersToYou likes this.
  6. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    It's not really the same situation. In most cases, a test single would only be released if a label was unsure how an artist would sell. Big single: The album would be rushed to production. Flop single: Album scrapped.

    With an established act, a label would have plans to release an album set in place. A single would be released to build excitement for the album. Even if the single flopped, the album would still come out in the hopes more singles could be culled from it.

    Karen was a special situation because she was already well-known, so if her album had been deemed good by the powers-that-be, a sales plan would have been put in place before anything was released. They decided not to release it based on their perceived quality of the album, and the project was shelved. Once the project was shelved, there was no longer any budget for it...hence the decision not to release a single.

    I've often wondered what kind of letters A&M and Richard got after that decision was made, asking them to reconsider. I would bet the demand wasn't overwhelming -- it only grew after Karen passed away.
    newvillefan likes this.
  7. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    I don't think enough of her fan base would even have known enough about the circumstances in order to prompt any letter campaign. I mean, I was in the fan club at the time, and given the long gap between newsletters, we heard in one to watch for a Karen single soon, and then in the next, that Karen herself shelved the LP to work on one with Richard. No mention that A&M had put the kibosh on the record despite it being finished. Nothing there to spark a letter campaign. Karen's decision to stop her LP; new music coming soon regardless.

    Sure, the demand grew posthumously -- after fans were eventually made aware that the situation was a bit more complicated than the PR at the time indicated, and after enough tracks were released on Carpenters compilations that we also realized it maybe wasn't the total dog we'd been told it was. Heck, I didn't know a complete, mixed, finished album even existed until well after Karen's death.
  8. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    That pretty much sums my listening experience up in the 1990s. When I heard the solo tracks on Lovelines and then two more new songs on the box set, I couldn't for the life of me understand how it could ever have been shelved. It certainly was not the dog we'd been led to believe it was in various interviews and then later in the Coleman book.
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  9. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Same here. I'd read several articles claiming she'd done a disco album. Bullnuggets. After hearing "If I Had You" and "Still Crazy," I was convinced A&M made a mistake by shelving it. Two great songs -- I've purchased way too many LPs that didn't even have that many!
  10. Kristopher

    Kristopher Active Member Thread Starter

    I always wondered what a Carpenters Disco album would sound like. ❤️
  11. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    For Coleman to refer to the material as “these inferior tracks” did a huge disservice to Karen. I’m sure if she could read that, she would be as hurt and stung as she was in 1980. It sounds like the phrase came directly from the mouth or pen of Richard anyway.
    CarpentersToYou likes this.
  12. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    I still think the solo album could have been way better and tend to fall on the side that the tracks WERE inferior. I don't know where Coleman got his ideas, but it's pretty well in agreement with what John Bettis said.

    Listen starting at 28:00
  13. I agree. Karen should have been recording songs that matched her caliber as the greatest female voice of the 20th century, rather than songs that had a fifteen minute shelf life.
  14. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And yet, we have 1975's
    Horizon....my all-time favorite album....
    which had many songs (imho, " if not, 100%") that....
    "matched her caliber as the greatest female voice of the 20th Century,"
    the album includes many songs the 'public' rarely (if ever) remembers !

    So, it would not matter !
    Who...in the general public....remembers....that great 1980 Special Music,Music,Music ?
    Great, memorable songs; an excellent TV Special...that virtually NO ONE watched (at the time).

    So, it would not matter !

    But, you can't count my opinion,
    the Tan album gets less listening by me than the KC Solo album !
    It is simply not true that there is not anything memorable on the solo album.
    Karen's background vocals--alone--elevate her solo album to the "memorable" category.
    As an album (in other words, not an album merely held together by the glue of three hit singles....).
    Mark-T and John Adam like this.
  15. John Adam

    John Adam Well-Known Member

    The first time I heard the solo album, I have to say I was underwhelmed.

    That said, when I heard a solo album was being released that was recorded in 1979-80, I couldn't wait to hear it!
    I have "become" a fan of this body of work, including the scrapped material. It deserved to be heard, and unfortunately when you let the cat out of the bag, it's also going to get judged. Could of it been done better, of course. There are so many IF's. If you are a fan of the Carpenters I would expect you would choose to accept this piece of work from Karen, just as we do Richard's work without Karen. Richard had no chose to go on with his music solo as his "voice" had been silenced. Karen chose to make a solo album while still being Richard's professional partner. I think the expectations were higher for her, from her brother and everyone at A&M. I don't think the solo album is a mistake or a misfit, or a bomb. It was Karen's chose. If she had lived I think her second solo album would of been a lot better from what she learned from this first experience.

    I will give my opinions, but as a piece of work I don't judge it. As a fan I am here to enjoy it. I am only qualified to give an opinion. Karen was a fascinating soul to look into. She wasn't perfect. But imperfection is beautiful if you look beyond the flaws. So is this piece of work. :)
    Rick-An Ordinary Fool likes this.
  16. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    I don't hate the album. I was first in line to buy it on release day, and was, like you, underwhelmed. I've come to really love a couple of tracks like "Make Believe..." and "Guess I Just Lost My Head", and I like the early-released tracks from LOVELINES. But I also recognize that none of these would have cut through the noise to have done anything in the charts, or have given her a vaunted solo career for Karen.

    I just think that there needed to be some better song selections for Karen - these weren't "it". And it goes for what the duo was releasing around this time too. Either the songwriting "magic" had dried up, or Richard (and/or Karen's) ear wasn't quite tuned into what might make good records, or something. All of the latter-period stuff leaves me mostly shrugging. Give me that early stuff with the great harmonies anyday.

    Again, I don't hate this stuff - it's all very pleasant to listen to, and sometimes I even gravitate toward one of these later songs to play over again as it appeals to me now. But sometimes that comes through repetition. You hear something enough, you tend to think it sounds pretty good. Recent examples for me are "BEechwood 4-5789" and "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do". Those sound pretty good to me these days.

    So I don't hate the solo album. I DO dislike what it's represented, a dividing point among fans.
  17. CarpentersToYou

    CarpentersToYou What I feel has come and gone before...

    I feel the solo album has some knock-out tracks and some great vocals from Karen. It really is a dividing point among fans. I have to say, I listen to it fairly often. It has a great feel to it, in my opinion. Very contemporary sounding and I think in some ways the recordings are timeless.
    Interesting hearing John Bettis' point of view. You definitely hear his loyalty to Richard.
  18. John Adam

    John Adam Well-Known Member

    I know you guys have been through this a thousand times, and thanks for letting me "indulge" as the new guy here!

    Today I listened to the solo album with the added outtakes. Outdoors while working out, at a much higher volume than I would normally allow myself to do. A couple of the outtakes sound almost if not finished, like "Love Making Love to You" and "Truly You." If the other tracks were mixed, and finished as needed they could be quite listenable. Karen especially seems at ease singing the Paul Simon songs. I wouldn't mind if Richard would remix and finish the other compositions. I really think his tinkering with the 6 tracks released on Carpenters albums were (I don't want to say better) [are] more listenable. I'd enjoy hearing how he would interpret the rest of the sessions with Phil Ramone, what changes he would make. Making them more "Carpenteresque" would not be a bad thing for me. Plus it would give him a challenge, to make Karen sound the way he thought she should, given the limitations he would have with the source material.
  19. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately it's almost unavoidable that the solo album is a dividing point. But I think the seeds for that dissent were pretty much sown back when the album was recorded and then shelved in 1979/1980.

    It's the only music that Karen recorded that didn't involve Richard at all - consequently I think some members of this board treat it almost as a betrayal of the partnership and have strong feelings against it as a result. And right up until its belated release in 1996, it had had a narrative imposed upon it by those within the Carpenter and A&M camp that it was so bad as to be unreleasable. With that kind of baggage attached to it, it was essentially going to be virtually impossible for fans to do anything other than fall into the 'they're right, it wasted her talents and should never have been released' camp or the 'it's actually quite good, Karen got shafted and it should never have been shelved' camp. It's hard to take a middle ground when essentially the album's created an either/or scenario by its very existence (or non-existence for many years).
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  20. ars nova

    ars nova Active Member

    I had a bootleg copy of what eventually became KAREN CARPENTER and AS TIME GOES BY in the late '80's. as much as I admire and respect the talents of Karen and Richard, it was obvious why the solo album was not released. as much as I wanted to hear karen, my initial thoughts were that it was a really poor Richard Carpenter production. you must remember, this was after Karen's passing, so more than anything, I wanted to love this album, but it wasn't there. there were wonderful moments, but taken as a whole, it wasn't up to standards. A&M was a business, if those in charge had felt there were money to be made, there would have been a release. the company had a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, it did not matter how those close to the project felt. this was not the first time this happened. I would call A&M every month or so to learn the status of carpenters recordings. I knew that in the late '70's they were recording. time passes and I kept calling and pestering. I was eventually told the album was not going to be released. I asked why and was told, " it sounds stale". I was floored ! that must have been a wrenching conversation for mr alpert to have had with them, but he felt it had to be done.

    I am glad the solo album and other collections have been released because I know I will not hear fresh CARPENTERS again, but I understand why decisions were made as they were.
    Geographer likes this.
  21. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    I disagree. It has a nice rhythm and blues feel on many numbers: I Guess I’ve Just Lost My Head, If I Had You, Still Crazy After All These Years, If We Try, Last One Singing the Blues, Something’s Missing just to start. Make Believe Its Your First Time has a Come Saturday Morning feel with a simple contemporary instrumentation. There are a handful hard to swallow, but those are still favorites for those who like this project. The duet with Peter Cetera years before Amy Grant has success with it was also here with Making Love In The Afternoon. Even the dance number, My Body Keeps Changing My Mind is an adult contemporary version of dance. It is not through in your face disco. It is just a fun song. All the vocal harmonies on all the above are difficult and well mastered by Karen and Rod Temperton. I just mentioned 9 songs that are 9 songs better than anything on Made In America and well within a compliment to Karen's talents. These nine songs even offer more variety than Hush and Horizon, and Horizon is my favorite. It may not have made Top 10 but I feel it would have turned another look at Karen which could only help the Carpenters. It may even have made a Grammy mention. Those don’t necessarily mean top 10, but sell even more at a Grammy mention or nomination. These efforts are not stale, but fresh. These songs still sound good today! Any success would have had positive results. Some may have been offended, but they would have come around with another Carpenters project and those who liked Karen’s solo would have at least listened to the Carpenters catalog. This was created for just that and those outside the Carpenters camp would have given it respect. With the right marketing it would have succeeded. In fact, Richard should have also produced a solo record for Karen. That effort could have kept Made In America from being a reincarnation of past favorites. She had to pay for her own album then go back to the patterned role when she had the talent for more. What happened to the early days when her voice was the focus that sold all those songs. That voice was back in this project in many of the songs made for it. Yes, it’s different, and once we quit trying to hear Carpenters we can begin to give it an opportunity. In fact, all the above songs I mentioned fit well in the rotation of Carpenters selections. Richard was always the one to push her out in front. She was without that support in this project and that had to have a profound impact. Yet, all was surrendered when it did not have to be. It may have just been a business decision. We will never know. The sale of A&M may have had something to do with its release. Also, the list of unreleased created in the bootleg copy could also have encouraged it.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
    Mark-T likes this.
  22. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Yes, I will take her solo album over MIA.
  23. CraigGA

    CraigGA Well-Known Member

    If Love Making Love To You is added to the above list then that’s 10 Songs and if it was my choice, these are the 10 I would have used. This song is more suggestive but nothing more than Olivia’s Totally Hot.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    (1) Too bad Richard (Carpenter) and John (Bettis) had not pooled their respective talents together
    to present TEN new Carpenter/Bettis compositions for a "Karen Carpenter" titled Album !
    (2)There was an interview with Herb Alpert where he says "we were not exactly giving them (KC/PR) any songs."
    So, if all parties concerned were so adamant about keeping those KC solo songs vocally "in the basement,"
    WHY did no one suggest anything ? For instance, how about an album of American Standards (e.g., What's New ?)
    or an album of duets (e.g., KC/Ella) ?
    (3) Still, no matter, there are some great things happening on the solo songs we got (and, didn't get) !
    I still say, Rod Temperton, Karen Carpenter and Phil Ramone gave us some awesome music.
    Big deal that the vocals were not "in the basement".....that only adds to the variety and
    explicitly constructed experimental aspect of the solo album.

    By the way, one of my favorites is
    Still In Love With You !
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    WYBIMLA Active Member

    Btw, I disagree with the assessment that Richard's "Time" vocals are weak.
    If you want to hear a singer sing "out" on something like Calling your name again you'll notice how complicated it is.
    You can find fans or singers on YouTube trying it out while belting.
    Richard isn't that kind of singer. It's a song that requires dynamic range. So, saying he didn't do it well is unfair.

    It's like saying a singer who isn't Celine Dion or Whitney Houston cannot sing "My heart will go on" or "I will always love you."

    The songs that made up "Time" were complex with the vocal arrangements and all.
    At least 4 of his leads are male power ballads... they're tricky.
    If you don't hear that, then I'm sorry but you're missing it.

    Still in love with you is similar phrasing to Goodbye to Love. That's not easy to sing!
    I'm not saying this as an excuse for Richard, but give the man a bit more credit than that.

    I'd say the same with Karen's solo efforts.
    Being in the kind of shape she was, her handling of the many intricate vocals is incredible.
    Even the unreleased tracks (keep in mind she would be mortified to know they were leaked) aren't easy-peasy!
    She would dislike knowing a track like "Midnight" was being enjoyed by fans when she messed up on the first chorus.

    The Carpenters made everything sound simple. Period.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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