• The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available. Use this link to order, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

Will Richard Follow Elton John's Lead?

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
I don't get why anyone would think that Richard, the keeper of the flame, the creator of "the sound" of Carpenters, would suddenly think it's a good idea to strip away all of his work just so that the Karen-only-worshippers can hear her voice all alone? It just doesn't make any sense.
This is a mis-characterization - reread what I wrote - I wasn't asking him to "strip away all of his work" - just to lighten up a little on the production, and, most importantly, to allow us to hear her without distortion - after all, one wouldn't spray a translucent oily film over "name-your-favorite-painting-here" - why would one mask another masterpiece, her voice, in any way?


Wishing for it? Trying to do it with technology by yourself? Maybe some of that makes sense, but really, don't expect anything like that from Richard. He's spent his whole life attempting to embellish Karen's enormous gift with the right arrangements and settings. Sometimes he went overboard - I think we all agree with that - but he's not going to be stripping away his life's work for the amusement of a few.
Well, as I see it the only way to "embellish Karen's enormous gift" is to stop screwing with it by burying it under "Karen overdubs" and lay it bare - and I don't think this would be just for the "amusement of a few".
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Well, as I see it the only way to "embellish Karen's enormous gift" is to stop screwing with it by burying it under "Karen overdubs" and lay it bare - and I don't think this would be just for the "amusement of a few".

If you listen to some of those amateur YouTube posts where fans have removed the background vocals using various software techniques, the songs just don’t sound complete and the absence of all the embellishments is glaring: the whole point of those overdubs was to complement the lead, create those lush chords and “complete” the overall sound. Those Karen [and Richard] overdubs were a huge part of their signature sound and absolutely intrinsic to the way the songs were built, so I agree with others that he’s not about to start stripping them away and messing around with a legacy that he probably feels is now perfect. It would be like asking an architect to remove the front wall of his dream home after he’s finished building it, just so some nosy neighbours can have a gawp at the inside.

I think the dream scenario you’re referring to - having an artist revisit their catalogue and recreate (or perform) stripped back or acoustic versions - is only achievable as long as that artist is still alive. Many veteran artists have done it with great success and acclaim, but I’ve seldom (if ever) heard of it being done by going back to an artist’s original multitracks posthumously and simply removing everything else, because those tracks were built in such a way that all the vocal parts and instruments were dependant on each other to achieve that sound. Because all we have left is the original recordings, there would be no way to convincingly reinterpret or reimagine the material with the original artist gone.

Ironically, aside from a couple of tracks on Made In America, the only songs where I think Karen’s incredible voice is buried are some of those on the original solo album - and that’s coming from someone who is a huge fan of it.
 
Last edited:

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
[QUOTE="newvillefan, post: 209961because your arguement is well reasoned
... the whole point of those overdubs was to complement the lead, create those lush chords and “complete” the overall sound. Those Karen [and Richard] overdubs were a huge part of their signature sound and absolutely intrinsic to the way the songs were built...

... but I’ve seldom (if ever) heard of it being done by going back to an artist’s original multitracks posthumously and simply removing everything else, because those tracks were built in such a way that all the vocal parts and instruments were dependant on each other to achieve that sound...
[/QUOTE]
I gave you a "like" for your post because (1) you addressed the issue without trying to sidetrack it with any irrelevant name calling, and (2) because your arguement is well reasoned - or it would be if I had actually been advocating the changes you discuss. But I haven't been doing that. I have said nothing about eliminating ALL of the overdubs and/or orchestration (lightening up a tad, yes) - the only thing I'm asking is to rip out every instance of Karen's double-tracking of her own lead vocals (I assume in most cases it was only double and not triple tracking???).

This is a technique they typically used on the chorus of some songs - lets take a really good example, but look at it "in reverse" (so to speak): "Rainy Days and Mondays". I think most of us here would agree that this was one of her very best vocal performances. Yes, it's a brilliantly conceived song, and Richard's arrangement is fabulous, but it's Karen's masterful vocal that stands way out here, of course, and drives the strong appeal of this recording. It's easily among her very best. And yes, the tasteful background vocals do weave in and out very nicely throughout the song, and I'm sure that Karen was a big part of those overlayed harmony vocals & I wouldn't want to see them gone - but the one critical thing she doesn't do is overdub her own lead vocal anywhere during her stunningly powerful take on this - that's exactly why she sounds so wonderful and why we love it so much! Lay down another Karen lead track on top of this and it would change the whole perfect conception, completely distorting her pure awesome "naked" voice.

Think about all of the recordings that we rightfully acknowledge as her best vocals: You're the One, Leave Yesterday Behind, One More Time, Solitaire, This Masquerade, A Song for You, A Place to Hide Away, Desperado, Someday, Where Do I Go From Here, Little Girl Blue, etc. - they all have that very same immensely important distinction: no double-tracking by Karen of Karen. Just coincidence? I think not...
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
This is a mis-characterization - reread what I wrote - I wasn't asking him to "strip away all of his work" - just to lighten up a little on the production, and, most importantly, to allow us to hear her without distortion - after all, one wouldn't spray a translucent oily film over "name-your-favorite-painting-here" - why would one mask another masterpiece, her voice, in any way?

I have read what you've written. As a moderator, I am obliged to. I get that you hate double-tracking. But as I've said - and as have others - it's not going away any time soon. If I were Richard, I think I'd be a little insulted by such suggestions. Heck, I think if Karen were around, SHE might be insulted by some of these suggestions. Surely she had some input about where her voice was going to be doubled while she was alive. The two were perfectionists, and used the tools they had access to to achieve what they thought was perfection. In this one case - double-tracking - you disagree.

Well, as I see it the only way to "embellish Karen's enormous gift" is to stop screwing with it by burying it under "Karen overdubs" and lay it bare - and I don't think this would be just for the "amusement of a few".

Then again, you're not the producer of the Carpenters' music. So this is your disagreement. I'm not seeing a ton of defenders here - and those that agree with your point, are smart enough to realize that nothing's going to change any time soon.

As to your point above, no, the technique of double-tracking wasn't always used, just like they didn't always do anything exactly the same. If you like the songs without the double-tracking, you're perfectly free to listen to and enjoy them. If the songs with double-tracking annoy you - skip them. Trying to lobby here on a message board isn't getting you anywhere.

Now, if there are any further comments on the subject of this thread: the Elton John Box Set and whether Richard would follow the lead, I'll leave this thread open. Otherwise, it's going to be closed.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
One of the great joys for me is listening to the vinyl. That is, listening to Carpenters' music as originally intended.
When the songs were great (i.e., We've Only Just Begun) they were perfect. My two cents: don't mess with perfection.
If I desire Karen "unplugged" I listen to that gem (imho):
All Because Of You.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
Thank you Harry! I so agree. It’s what seduced my ears. Don’t mess with greatness.
I should get the Green 4 Lp set today, and the cd box set later this week. There was huge demand, and it was actually back ordered. The buy 2 get 1 free was awesome for these titles. My free one is the 4 Lp set from the movie “Interstellar”, by Hans Zimmer. The complete score, which isn’t on cd. The Elton John Jewel Box will take a few days of listening, when I have time.
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
^This.

I trust that Richard knows what's release-worthy and what isn't. How many of you have played the AS TIME GOES BY album today or even just a portion? This week? This month? Any time in the last year?

I've had several box sets and CDs with studio outtakes that were *maybe* interesting to hear once - but not really ever again. When the Beatles released they ANTHOLOGY set of CDs, it was chock full of alternate takes of both familiar and unfamiliar songs, excerpts, rehearsals, etc. And as much of a Beatles fan that I am, I really looked forward to those three sets. I think I listened through them once - maybe twice - and they've been sitting on the shelf ever since. Truth is, if I want to hear the Beatles, I'll play one of their regular albums, not go digging through alternate takes on ANTHOLOGY.

And I feel the same way about most any artist. And I'll bet with regards to Carpenters recordings, Richard feels the same way. Suppose he has in his archives a thousand different concert tapes. A wealth of material one might say? But in reality, listen to any live performance of say "Superstar" and Karen performs it exactly the same way in every one of them. "La-OOO-NG ago, and oh so far away".

I don't need to hear some live concert from Timbuktu in 1974 to know that it sounds exactly like LIVE IN JAPAN or BUDOKAN or even my own Valley Forge recording. They all sound the same.

Richard's released the best of the best, and he wants his and Karen's legacy to be those great recordings, not some scraps of tape where someone fouls up, or the song or recording just isn't good enough.

Those of you who want something new - I suggest that you go back and listen to some song that you didn't like, and learn to appreciate it a little bit more.

Go on - get out "Druscilla Penny" and revel in Karen's "aah-aah-waah" backing vocals. Or check out "Crescent Noon" and let the goosebumps flow in that "fairy-tale forest".

Or, go play AS TIME GOES BY - you just said it's been a long time...
I have a number of box sets and some of them contain a different version of a song and some songs never previously released.
i don't see a need to keep releasing box sets unless there is enough material from the vaults that was recorded but never released at the time.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I’m not a “deep cuts” type of Elton John fan so this set doesn’t really appeal to me. I’d rather hear brand new unreleased tracks from the vaults rather than rare album tracks, remixes or embellished versions of material already released. It would have been nice to hear the original demos of some of his biggest hits like Daniel or Your Song but there’s scant material that the casual fan will recognise on this set. One of my favourite tracks of his - and a rarely anthologised single - is Passengers, but that didn’t show up either. I’m sure the diehard fans will be in heaven though.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I have a number of box sets and some of them contain a different version of a song and some songs never previously released.
i don't see a need to keep releasing box sets unless there is enough material from the vaults that was recorded but never released at the time.

Well, that was my point quite early on. The last real album of new stuff from Richard's "vault" was AS TIME GOES BY, and I don't think that album was all that well received. Essentially, it contains a number of medleys performed on various TV shows, which are all variations of sings that they'd already released in proper studio versions.
 

Murray

Well-Known Member
Now, if there are any further comments on the subject of this thread: the Elton John Box Set and whether Richard would follow the lead...
I highly doubt that we'll ever see another Carpenters box set, at least not one containing previously unreleased material. Is there really enough material left in the vaults, that Richard would consider to be good enough for release, to even fill a single CD, let alone a multi-disk set? I'm certainly not interested in listening to multiple alternate vocal takes of the hits, or instances where Karen flubbed the lyrics and had to start over, or studio banter, or live recordings that all sound pretty much the same. I'd love to hear what Richard could do with Karen's solo outtakes, especially "Something's Missing", but I doubt that he's interested in releasing those.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
I'd love to hear what Richard could do with Karen's solo outtakes, especially "Something's Missing", but I doubt that he's interested in releasing those.

He did express a fleeting interest in doing just that with that track. I wonder why it came to nothing.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Trying to lobby here on a message board isn't getting you anywhere.
Well, not very far anyway - but it did air out the issue and provoke some thought and conversation - the negative attitudes about this here are surprising, but have not in any way convinced me that I'm wrong - and you're probably right that Richard might be insulted by my suggestions, but I may approach him directly anyway, even if I'll be ignored or slapped down - I think Karen could have been convinced but she more than likely wouldn't have done anything about it anyway since she seemed reluctant to assert herself in important matters sometimes...but enough already.
 

JohnFB

Well-Known Member
Please...!
Well, I understand your reluctance to continue the discussion when your only remaining response to all of my arguments is to advise me to "avoid listening to the double-tracked songs I don't like" (to paraphrase)...clever, if elementary, and certainly one "solution"...why didn't I think of that?
 

Matthew Smith

Well-Known Member
Well, I understand your reluctance to continue the discussion when your only remaining response to all of my arguments is to advise me to "avoid listening to the double-tracked songs I don't like" (to paraphrase)...clever, if elementary, and certainly one "solution"...why didn't I think of that?
I don’t think there can be anymore responses, you’ve pretty much said everything you could possibly say to make your point. Not sure why everyone is expected to agree with you though.

I’m guessing Harry wisely has his finger on the “close” button as this has gotten a little out of hand.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Can we just get back to the subject matter of this thread which I’m rather enjoying as I’m sure others are - before it’s too late? :)
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I think another boxed set could be a great thing! As we've seen over the years, there are always new generations of fans discovering the wonderful music of Richard and Karen. Even As Time Goes By- which seems to be slammed lately- is a thing of beauty in presenting different season of their career.

Perhaps even a new boxed set that breaks down this way:

Disc One- Award Winning Songs. The hits in various forms. (ie. Original versions, remixed versions, instrumental and RPO versions)

Disc Two- Carpenter / Bettis Classics. Showcasing the talents of Richard and John together. (ie. selections from the early days to Only Yesterday, I Need to Be in Love and beyond)

Disc Three- Deep Cuts. Overlooked album cuts. (Road Ode, One More Time, etc.)

Disc Four- Unreleased Gems. Rarities and such. (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; You're No Good; Why Don't They Understand; Slaughter on 10th Avenue; etc.)
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Disc Four- Unreleased Gems. Rarities and such. (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; You're No Good; Why Don't They Understand; Slaughter on 10th Avenue; etc.)

I've noticed some artists release box sets and then follow it with a “best of” 1 or 2 CD set. I think Elton John has done that with this set. Even a single CD with a couple of new tracks - something similar to Interpretations - would be absolutely great. I remember first hearing that set in Germany in a record store (you could preview a CD at a listening station via headphones before you bought) and was absolutely knocked out by Without A Song. I resisted the temptation to fast forward to Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again, bought it on the spot and rushed home to listen to it. I’d love that feeling of excitement again that even one unreleased track would give me.

Richard has mentioned over the years that a few of the outtakes have incomplete vocals, hence why they haven’t been released. He could always do what ABBA did and string a few unfinished leads together into a medley with a new backing track and orchestration. Even that would be lovely - to hear them at work in the studio and to hear a few tunes as “works in progress”, maybe with some studio banter in between takes. It sounds adventurous but he loves a challenge, as he’s said about the RPO project.
 
Last edited:

David A

Well-Known Member
I don't get why anyone would think that Richard, the keeper of the flame, the creator of "the sound" of Carpenters, would suddenly think it's a good idea to strip away all of his work just so that the Karen-only-worshippers can hear her voice all alone? It just doesn't make any sense.

Wishing for it? Trying to do it with technology by yourself? Maybe some of that makes sense, but really, don't expect anything like that from Richard. He's spent his whole life attempting to embellish Karen's enormous gift with the right arrangements and settings. Sometimes he went overboard - I think we all agree with that - but he's not going to be stripping away his life's work for the amusement of a few.

This.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I've had several box sets and CDs with studio outtakes that were *maybe* interesting to hear once - but not really ever again. When the Beatles released they ANTHOLOGY set of CDs, it was chock full of alternate takes of both familiar and unfamiliar songs, excerpts, rehearsals, etc. And as much of a Beatles fan that I am, I really looked forward to those three sets. I think I listened through them once - maybe twice - and they've been sitting on the shelf ever since. Truth is, if I want to hear the Beatles, I'll play one of their regular albums, not go digging through alternate takes on ANTHOLOGY.
Same here. If anything, I pulled off maybe four or five tracks from all of those Anthology sets and used them in playlists, and the rest of the sets otherwise were probably never played even once all the way through.

I also don't know who listens to all of these mega-sets of individual albums that are being released these days. You get the original albums, B-sides and non-album tracks, live versions, outtakes and demos. Those scraps left on the floor are hardly ever revelatory, or even the least bit interesting to listen to, and to me, live versions always seem like rushed versions of the same tunes with self-indulgent solos and applause. Non-album tracks and B-sides are sometimes interesting, especially if they are well-known. I know some friends who actually buy these mega-releases. I have yet to ask if they regularly play them all the way through. I probably already know the answer to that...
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I also don't know who listens to all of these mega-sets of individual albums that are being released these days. You get the original albums, B-sides and non-album tracks, live versions, outtakes and demos. Those scraps left on the floor are hardly ever revelatory, or even the least bit interesting to listen to, and to me, live versions always seem like rushed versions of the same tunes with self-indulgent solos and applause. Non-album tracks and B-sides are sometimes interesting, especially if they are well-known. I know some friends who actually buy these mega-releases. I have yet to ask if they regularly play them all the way through. I probably already know the answer to that...

Hmmm...I think Karen's not being here with us has something to do with the desire for hearing essentially anything we can, that we haven't heard before, from Carpenters. I'm certain this is correct for me personally.

In the 1970's I was a huge Elton John fan, especially the first half of the 70's and he may have been my favorite artist, right after Carpenters.

But I have little interest in this monster set from Elton. When I process this in my mind, I have this awareness that he is still alive; that he has lived a full life and has a mountain of work spanning decades, in a multiple of genre's, and has worked with many other talented artists. There's no sense of "what if" or "what could have been" that I feel with Karen and Carpenters, nor a sense - even though I know Elton is getting along in age - that there's some kind of "end" to his music.

Just musing out loud. In any event, if Richard did do something like this, I would buy it in a heartbeat, and yet I agree with those here who have said that, after listening to it a few times, it would not often get played - but it _WOULD_ get played on occasion.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Hmmm...I think Karen's not being here with us has something to do with the desire for hearing essentially anything we can, that we haven't heard before, from Carpenters. I'm certain this is correct for me personally.

In the 1970's I was a huge Elton John fan, especially the first half of the 70's and he may have been my favorite artist, right after Carpenters.

But I have little interest in this monster set from Elton. When I process this in my mind, I have this awareness that he is still alive; that he has lived a full life and has a mountain of work spanning decades, in a multiple of genre's, and has worked with many other talented artists. There's no sense of "what if" or "what could have been" that I feel with Karen and Carpenters, nor a sense - even though I know Elton is getting along in age - that there's some kind of "end" to his music.

Just musing out loud. In any event, if Richard did do something like this, I would buy it in a heartbeat, and yet I agree with those here who have said that, after listening to it a few times, it would not often get played - but it _WOULD_ get played on occasion.
I really agree with what you wrote! Except I would listen to it- as I do the other boxed sets.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Non-album tracks and B-sides are sometimes interesting, especially if they are well-known.

I’ve always loved artists that release non-album B-sides on their single releases. It’s like an unexpected treat along with the new single. For some reason it felt even better when they were on vinyl because for years, that was the only place you could get them. Box sets are the perfect place to collect those gems. Unfortunately Carpenters never really adopted the trait, preferring to recycle existing album tracks. ABBA, Queen, Bee Gees and Elton John himself frequently did though during the 80s and 90s. And more often than not, they were great!

ABBA B-side to “One Of Us” (1981)



Queen B-side to “Scandal” (1989)



Elton John B-side to “Passengers” (1984)

 
Last edited:

Proudofyou

Well-Known Member
I want to hear only their harmonies unplugged so I can hear the complexities of what he did without the orchestrations.
 
Top Bottom