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What's your favorite song from "Karen Carpenter" (1996)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Jarred, Feb 16, 2019.

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  1. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member Thread Starter

    Despite the wildly varying opinions of the album (mine veer mostly toward the negative), most fans on here find one or two songs they love or really like/appreciate on it.

    My two favorites (cheating a bit, but feel free to cheat too) are If We Try and My Body Keeps Changing My Mind, both far apart in tone/subject matter.

    If We Try I love for its fluid, sensual warm tone and that Karen is in her signature lower range and it sounds "right". In other words it's really the song that most sounds like a Carpenter's track (you can easily tell why Richard liked it to include on Lovelines) and to my ears she sounded so much more natural in that arranging environment (of course we only heard her experiment once). The ambivalence of the lyrics, the striving/trying to reach a state of fulfillment again, is mirrored in her vocal; she sings the words in her trademark, otherworldly, melancholic detachment - she wants to believe the words she's saying but knows better.

    And My Body KCMM is so much damn fun. It just moves like crazy and as @Mark-T said once on here the contrast of the cool arrangement with her warm voice is exhilarating. Would it have been dated by 1980? Maybe just a bit, but I can't imagine people refusing to dance to this in a club. Karen sounds totally into it and genuinely sexy, proof that she didn't need only sad songs to have an emotional impact on the listener. But again, I will say that I do prefer Richard's mix with gives the song better atmosphere and dimension, even though Ramone's cut was great already

    I love two other songs on here (Remember When... and Still Crazy) but just like the other two a bit more. The rest I could really do without honestly - a combo of the material, arrangements and vocals that don't utilize her gifts to much effect (yes, even Make Believe which I prefer Carpenters' version of. #dontkillme)

    But for the now, for the positive, what song or two are your top highlights?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
  2. Kyle Thomas

    Kyle Thomas Member

    My view of Karen's solo album is overall negative as well, even if there are a few songs I enjoy.

    "If We Try" is my favorite song off of Karen's solo album also. It has her in her lower register, it builds with the band's intensity and the background vocals enhance Karen's delivery.

    I like "If I Had You" and "Make Believe It's Your First time" also. And I've always found "Guess I Just Lost My Head" to be a fun song to sing along to. It's one of the lighter songs on an album that feels like it's trying so hard to be contemporary and 'adult.'
    Chris likes this.
  3. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Remember When Loving Took All Night
    Last One Singing The Blues (Id really like to hear Richard finish this one)
    If I Had You
    Making Love In The Afternoon
    Guess I Just Lost My Head
  4. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member Thread Starter

    I think they just got so lost in trying new things that they weren't focused on having songs sound substantive. I never quite got the huge appeal for If I Had You from fans, it sounds very much like a sketch of a better song to come save for the call and response vocal arrangement. And Karen sounds too wispy like other tracks on here. I don't think it would have been a huge hit at the time.
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  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I love them all !
    My favorite, because it is so different,
    Still In Love With You.
  6. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member Thread Starter

    I wish I could appreciate that because of how radically different it is but it's probably the worst thing she ever sang to my ears. Affected to the extreme (...always understaaaaaan!") and FunkyTake on here even as her odd enunciation as their bio quote.
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  7. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    My picks;

    Making Love In The Afternoon - I still believe if released as a single (if the album wasn't torpedoed) it might've had marginal success in 1980. Nice acoustic guitar riff and beat.

    Make Believe It's Your First Time - More somber vocal delivery from Karen than the redo IMHO, but that's not a bad thing. Simple arrangement. Basically Karen and the piano.

    Last One Singin' The Blues - Wouldn't change a thing. Love everything about it! Karen snapping her fingers, issuing instructions to the band, everything! It gives us a glimpse of Karen's involvement in the recording process. It's obvious SHE is "calling the shots". Love her "bluesy" vocal that is reminiscent to Ordinary Fool.

    Since your thread does reference "favorite song", I would have to go with the top one, MLITA
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  8. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Last One and Still Crazy. Both Totally unexpected.
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  9. AnnaSock

    AnnaSock Active Member

    I’ve always loved Karen’s solo album, largely because it’s so diffferent and was clearly a very personal project for her.

    This is a difficult one for me, as there isn’t really a song I dislike, but if I had to choose favourites it would be:

    My Body Keeps Changing My Mind
    If I Had You
    All Because of You
  10. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member Thread Starter

    Still Crazy sounds so fresh still. A very different sounding song for her but still the same wistful, committed vocal that we love from her. "It's all gonna fade..." Chills.
  11. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Single favorite has to be "Make Believe It's Your First Time". And while Karen's vocal is sublime, it's the way that the piano feeds off of her and compliments her that grabs me and induces the goosebumps.

    Second favorite is "Guess I Just Lost My Head". Great chords in that one.

    Third would be "If I Had You", but I like Richard's mix of it better.
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  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Every syllable of this. Bob James nailed this arrangement and Karen's vocal is miles better than that which we got on "Voice of the Heart". In fact, everything about this version is miles better. I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking, "oh that's what this is supposed to sound like". I never liked the bridge that Richard had the songwriters add. It just isn't necessary.

    "Guess I Just Lost My Head" is a great pop/jazz thing. I love the same thing about it that @Harry does. The changes are fantastic and Rod's background arrangement is fantastic. Heck, Rod's vocals arrangements are fantastic on the whole album. His are steeped in jazz and they're great each time.

    "If I Had You" is the one remix that Richard got right. I love the cold ending on his rather than the lazy fade that Karen's solo version got. I also prefer the most assertive vocal take he used. The whispered first verse is just silly. The vocal arrangement on this tune is one of the best I've ever heard on anything. It's in my top 20 easily. It's incredibly inventive and I'm sure it must have tired Karen out tremendously to execute it.

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  13. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I’ll tell you my favorites but your not going to like them. My favorite track is “Making Love In The Afternoon” playful and sexy, Karen is all grown up and sounding like Olivia going solo. I love it. It’s tame considering Olivia’s release of her single Physical. I love the way she sings it and always makes me happy.

    The 2nd is “Still In Love With You” another track that reminds me of Olivia as an artist. I love Karen’s playful phrasing, something about the way the lyrics roll off her tongue that I find really sexy. I play this one over and over.

    The 3rd is “Make Believe It’s Your First Time” this is the definitive version for me, she is so expressive and it’s really heartfelt to me.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  14. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Three favorites in no particular order:
    1. Make Believe It's Your First Time (same reasons described well by Harry and Ed)
    2. Making Love in the Afternoon (arrangement is nothing at all like any Carpenters track, and it's a pleasure to hear Karen in a different musical setting that doesn't drown out her voice or leave her sounding a bit contrived -- and I agree this might well have been at least a modest hit in 1980)
    3. If I Had You (but agree that the excellent choruses rescue what would otherwise not be a standout)

    Not that taken by the Temperton songs or "My Body", which seems like a pretty ordinary disco number to me -- BUT for those who enjoy it, and there are obviously many, I'm glad they got the chance to hear it.
  15. Portlander

    Portlander Active Member

    "If I had You" hands down!
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  16. Jarred

    Jarred Active Member Thread Starter

    If she sang it naturally I may have found her vocal alluring here. On Love Making Love to You, her phrasing's and slight moans is seriously sexy and sounds totally genuine. Maybe that's why it wasn't used but it should have been. That and Something's Missing.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Earlier, I posted an in-depth analysis of the original incarnation (arrangement)
    of the song
    If I Had You.
    As much as I love Richard's cold-ending, the original song, as arranged, is brilliant.
    But, you have to really analyze it !
    There is a reason for that "whispery" vocal on the original.
    But, you must analyze the entire song for the reasoning !
    As for, Guess I Just lost My Head,
    easily my least favorite of the solo songs.
  18. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Oh, I'm pretty sure we have all analyzed it. That's what fans do... :wink: We've been listening to "Lovelines" since 1989 and hers since 1996. The whispering sounds silly to my ears. It's not necessary. I'd must rather have the lamenting tone we get from Richard's choice than the whisper. I remember hearing that fade on Karen's and going, "NO!" LOL!!! It's just wrong. Richard's ending, for my ears and for the story of the lyric, is so much more effective. She wants him, darn it, and the ending of Richard's sounds like declaration.

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  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

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  20. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    Disagreement is allowed. No worries.. :wink:

    Jeff's "Still..." is pretty interesting, actually. In truth, "Still In Love..." is one of my least favorites. Karen couldn't capture the Javors things at all. She was all "fake toughness". You'll think I'm certifiable but I think Jeff's is better. I actually buy him singing these lyrics. I don't buy Karen. Richard didn't either and I totally get why.

    Oh well. Off to the rubber room I go...LOL!

  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I think we are looking at this in two different ways:
    I am keeping my "fourth wall" up between me and Karen.
    I do not care if I "buy" what she is saying (whether she is tough,or fake, or not).
    On the other hand, Jeff's is utterly horrible (musically) to my ears !
    I might "buy" what he is singing, he might be tough, or even less fake--
    but, it still stinks as a 'musical effort.'
    Karen's is absolutely brilliant, perhaps for all the wrong reasons !
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  22. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    The production and everything else on hers is good. Phil nailed it here. The only thing that isn't is her. If I don't buy her singing it, it's all for naught. It's all going to come down to her.

    The version of Jeff's version we're hearing is really shrill for whatever reason. There's no way that's how the actual recording sounds. It was produced by Mike Appel - Springsteen's manager - so there's no way it actually sounds like this. There's no bass. Blame that on the uploader. As a production, I don't think Jeff's is bad at all. It sounds like a 1979 Rock production sounds. It's not my thing but it's hardly bad to my ears. Kinda difficult to definitely judge a substandard "LP rip".

    Oh well... Either way, I'm glad we got of Karen what we got. Not everything works but was cool to hear her playing around and not being stuck in "beautiful music" land.

  23. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I was thinking that it sounded like an updated 60's "Bubble Gum" sound that they were going for ---something like The Archies or The Hardy Boys.
  24. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    I've heard his take on "City Boy" (the title track) from another uploader and it sounds a lot fuller. The rip posted above is just awful.



    I sat down last night listening to some music and thought to myself, I haven't played Karen` solo album for I don`t know how long, so I put it on and really enjoyed it!!
    I like the whole album, but my two favorites are `Lovelines`and `Make Believe it`s Your First Time`, which I actually prefer to Richards arrangement, though I don`t dislike it :)
    After listening to it again, I still can`t understand the issue with releasing this at the time, but hey, old ground and all that .........
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