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Would Be Album from 1978/79

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Must Hear This Album

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In the Lovelines thread, mr.J informed me: "I Believe You" was released as a single in October, 1978-and was intended to be a preview of the new album that was planned for Spring 1979.Most of the album was recorded at that point,but by early 1979-K&R decided to shelve it.This is the reason why those 1978 tracks ended up appearing on later albums.”

Does anybody have the track list mr.J references, here? I’d be interested to see what R/K were putting together for an album as well as to speculate why they decided to put the project on the shelf for awhile (I mean, aside from their serious health issues; I anticipate they deemed the project sub par, etc.). I wonder if there had even been a “working title” for the album that had been in the works. Many thanks!
 

mr J.

Active Member
"I Believe You"
"Look To Your Dreams"
"When I Fall In Love"
"Little Girl Blue"
"Where Do I Go From Here"
"Honolulu City Lights"
"Slow Dance"

These seven tracks(issued on the 80's albums) would have comprised most of the 1979 album.Most of these were completed in 1978.Some additional work was done on "Slow Dance" in 1983.

"Leave Yesterday Behind"

This track was (to my understanding) relegated to "inferior" status after the work lead & basic track was done in 1978.Richard never had any intention of releasing it.But,while selecting & preparing tracks for "As Time Goes By" in 1999,he decided to complete the recording & include it on the album.(possibly to "fill out" the disc?)

"Thank You For The Music"
"I Don't Need You"

These two tracks were intended to be included on the album.After Kenny Rogers & ABBA cut their own versions of those tracks-and they became hit singles,K&R relegated those two tracks to the vaults.There are several tracks in the vaults that Richard will absolutely not release-due to that fact that another artist subsequently recorded & made it a pop hit. Richard will not "cover" another artists' pop hit.

"All The Way"
"Your's Sincerely"
"Rainbows In Your Eyes"
"Lately"
"What Are You Doing For Love"

These tracks are in various stages of completion."All The Way" is the Frank Sinatra standard-and I believe Peter Knight did the orchestration.


.
 

Chris

Well-Known Member
Ever since I'd heard that they recorded "I Don't Need You", I've wished I could hear it. Such a lovely song. One of my favorites of Kenny Rogers.
Richard released "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again", even though it had been a hit for Barry Manilow. Perhaps he thinks the others aren't strong enough. Still would love to hear them.
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
Ever since I'd heard that they recorded "I Don't Need You", I've wished I could hear it. Such a lovely song. One of my favorites of Kenny Rogers.
Richard released "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again", even though it had been a hit for Barry Manilow. Perhaps he thinks the others aren't strong enough. Still would love to hear them.
Same here re: "I Don't Need You". Harry Nilsson recorded that song for his 1980 "Flash Harry" album (not released in the U.S. until recently), which predates the Kenny Rogers version by a year. Since "Flash Harry" was originally mastered at A&M, and because Richard and Karen were both Nilsson fans, I would bet that's where they first heard the song.

Nilsson's voice was not in great shape by that point and IMO he didn't do as well with "I Don't Need You" as he would have in his "Nilsson Schmilsson" prime. His version is more subdued than Rogers'. But I'd bet whatever K&R recorded comes much closer to Nilsson's version than Rogers'. I love them both. The lyric, coming from the post-marriage Karen, would have been particularly apt (and painful).
 

Must Hear This Album

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Many thanks for this information. Very interesting. So can I presume the following songs are not available (even “leaked” versions)?

"I Don't Need You"
"All The Way"
"Your's Sincerely"
"Rainbows In Your Eyes"
"Lately"
"What Are You Doing For Love"
 

Must Hear This Album

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Thread Starter
Another thought: of the listed songs (and having not heard those in the directly above post), “I Believe You” is definitely the standout track, in my mind.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
For me, looking at the list of tracks that we now know came from these 1978 sessions, they'd make for a pretty lacklustre set if all put together as an album in '78. They're all pretty love songs but every single one of them album track material only and there's no cohesion. The fact that 'I Believe You' was released and completely bombed shows how out of touch they were by the late seventies. 'Made In America' was just more of the same three years later.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I don't really understand the thought process behind Richard's decision to not release 'cover' versions of songs that had been hits by other artists. They did it dozens of times throughout their career. Even their first single was a cover. And 'Ticket to Ride' went to #1 for the Beatles. I can understand the decision to hold the song back if it had just recently been a hit in '78 (i.e.) 'Thank You For The Music', but in 2013, that decision doesn't really hold water.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
The rumoured 1978/79 album that never was is one of the biggest mysteries in Richard and Karen’s career. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Richard comment directly on it, so it’s hard to know how far it progressed as a firm idea. The fan club letters suggest that an album was definitely planned for release in 1979 and I Believe You appeared as a single in late 1978 (albeit that it didn’t seem to receive much fanfare at the time, given that it appeared incongruously alongside the unrelated Christmas Portrait album), but I wonder how concrete this was, given Richard’s (and Karen’s) health at the time and the fact that the tracks appear to have been mainly recorded around the Christmas Portrait sessions rather than focused on as a separate entity.
Perhaps that last point explains why, as Newvillefan noted, there’s little cohesion to the tracks that we do know were recorded around this time. Although some of the songs are very nice, put together they would have made a rather odd (and not very contemporary) album. Given the number of orchestrated ‘standard’-style tracks in the list, I’m inclined to think that Little Girl Blue and When I Fall in Love may have only been recorded for the TV specials and would not have been included on this album alongside Look to Your Dreams.
Given Richard’s health in late 1978, I can’t imagine they would have finished many more tracks than the seven that have already been released, although he has confirmed that Thank You for the Music also exists as a recorded version. Myself, I wouldn’t consider this track staying unreleased as a shame – I’m no fan of the song in any version and it didn’t feel like a good fit for Karen’s voice when she sang it on the Tonight Show.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Given Richard’s health in late 1978, I can’t imagine they would have finished many more tracks than the seven that have already been released, although he has confirmed that Thank You for the Music also exists as a recorded version. Myself, I wouldn’t consider this track staying unreleased as a shame – I’m no fan of the song in any version and it didn’t feel like a good fit for Karen’s voice when she sang it on the Tonight Show.
Their live version is horrible. It doesn't suit Karen at all and her phrasing was all wrong. You can't top the ABBA original with the magnificent lead by Agnetha so it wouldn't bother me if I never heard their recorded version.
 

A&M Retro

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I personally love Karen's vocals on the 'live' version of 'Thank You For The Music'. The problem stems from the unimaginative arrangement backing her up. It sounds a bit karaoke-ish, but Karen sounds great. Same thing applies to 'Jimmy Mack' from the solo outtakes. It just sounds like a bad karaoke arrangement. That's the only outtake I don't like.
 

Jeff

Well-Known Member
Yes I would like to hear C's doing the studio version of Thankyou For The Music. The Tonight Show live performance was kinda embarrassing for me. The range and giddy delivery seemed so SING-like. All that was missing was the screamin' meemies and their la la la lala's. The Superstar/Rainy Days thing was welcomed. Or was it Goodbye To Love or both? In studio K&R excelled as we know. Lotsa live stuff is good but I prefer the more controlled perfection offered up in studio. I'll take what "live" there is naturally and far be it from me to criticize but some of that stuff doesn't resonate. I agree with Richard in that he's not fond of the live stuff either. On ANTHOLOGY however I love the Bach/David medley featuring Any Day Now. I can hear Karen with mic and Rich at the piano with a very stripped down minimally produced concerts much like the Unplugged MTV stuff Tony Bennett, Clapton and many others did. I think a loose and easy jazz performance. Not too pop oriented but rather in the vein of Ordinary Fool and the like. A lot of later successes would've seen Karen up close and personal, w/o frills. Just the voice doing what it did best when left to her art of expression. This be what I'ma thinkin'. As we mentioned along the way, a remix of cuts without all the fluff and chorale would be a gem to experience. Something Mr. Carpenter could consider. This fresh approach broadening an audience to a more contemporary take on the voice itself. Maybe with a little less on CarpenterS and more on the CARPENTER. As far as the tone of the existing 78/79 material and it's cohesiveness it seems so disjointed when in the same year we have the flawless Christmas Portrait masterpiece. With the release of I Believe You I was underwhelmed honestly. Not at all surprised it tanked as a single. The aforementioned tracks are lovely in and of themselves but taken as an album...hmmm....um...a...ugh! It sure was a long and arduous wait for Made in America. While still recording quality tunes and style embraced, the years post Portrait were half-hazard at best. The attempts so very welcome yet with hindsight we can clearly see the tragedies and ails of the duo maimed continued resounding success. With what the siblings were left to work with it's really a wonder the output is there at all. With optimal health, solo or duo, the act could not have stalled. Way way too much talent and creativity stifled almost out of the gate. Perhaps when viewed as a producer, the drive to sustain an A Song For You, Horizon or even Now and Then feel would be a lot to live up to. The later works, save Portrait don't evoke that song segue to song flow that gave earlier outings their finesse. With all the much-rumored vault material Richard's perfectionism might not permit assembling the collection of this-n-that's without benefit of the planned, conceived and well executed albums of yesteryear. However the mis-matched montage materializes is inconsequential now 3 decades later. I suggest permitting the audience to partake of the recording career as a whole. No one at this stage of the game is going to be expecting a concept album by any means. Released as outtakes, leads, rarities and ditties would serve Karen's legacy well. With a career here and gone and the short life of its creator it warrants argument. From start to finish, here is the recorded voice of Karen Carpenter. Now what's so tough about that?
 

mr J.

Active Member
The rumoured 1978/79 album that never was is one of the biggest mysteries in Richard and Karen’s career. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Richard comment directly on it, so it’s hard to know how far it progressed as a firm idea. The fan club letters suggest that an album was definitely planned for release in 1979 and I Believe You appeared as a single in late 1978 (albeit that it didn’t seem to receive much fanfare at the time, given that it appeared incongruously alongside the unrelated Christmas Portrait album), but I wonder how concrete this was, given Richard’s (and Karen’s) health at the time and the fact that the tracks appear to have been mainly recorded around the Christmas Portrait sessions rather than focused on as a separate entity.
Perhaps that last point explains why, as Newvillefan noted, there’s little cohesion to the tracks that we do know were recorded around this time. Although some of the songs are very nice, put together they would have made a rather odd (and not very contemporary) album. Given the number of orchestrated ‘standard’-style tracks in the list, I’m inclined to think that Little Girl Blue and When I Fall in Love may have only been recorded for the TV specials and would not have been included on this album alongside Look to Your Dreams.
Given Richard’s health in late 1978, I can’t imagine they would have finished many more tracks than the seven that have already been released, although he has confirmed that Thank You for the Music also exists as a recorded version. Myself, I wouldn’t consider this track staying unreleased as a shame – I’m no fan of the song in any version and it didn’t feel like a good fit for Karen’s voice when she sang it on the Tonight Show.
The album release was definite as of October,1978-otherwise "I Believe You" wouldn't have been issued as a single.

K&R recorded the orchestral tracks during the"Christmas Portrait" sessions-because they had Peter Knight and Billy May under contract & in the studio at the time,and wanted them to do the arrangements & orchestrations for the "new" album.

The album was not intended to be "contemporary"(how many Carpenters albums are?)."Christmas Portrait" was formulated as a standards album-and the 1979 project very much followed that template.Even MIA featured two standard-style tracks with a full orchestra.And,the MUSIC,MUSIC,MUSIC soundtrack featured all standards & big-band arrangements.K&R were moving in this direction.
I don't really understand the thought process behind Richard's decision to not release 'cover' versions of songs that had been hits by other artists. They did it dozens of times throughout their career. Even their first single was a cover. And 'Ticket to Ride' went to #1 for the Beatles. I can understand the decision to hold the song back if it had just recently been a hit in '78 (i.e.) 'Thank You For The Music', but in 2013, that decision doesn't really hold water.
Richard main objective now is preserving Karen's legacy.He regrets recording many of those remakes & cover versions,but he can't change what already in release.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
The album release was definite as of October,1978-otherwise "I Believe You" wouldn't have been issued as a single.

K&R recorded the orchestral tracks during the"Christmas Portrait" sessions-because they had Peter Knight and Billy May under contract & in the studio at the time,and wanted them to do the arrangements & orchestrations for the "new" album.

The album was not intended to be "contemporary"(how many Carpenters albums are?)."Christmas Portrait" was formulated as a standards album-and the 1979 project very much followed that template.Even MIA featured two standard-style tracks with a full orchestra.And,the MUSIC,MUSIC,MUSIC soundtrack featured all standards & big-band arrangements.K&R were moving in this direction.
I can see the logic of some more orchestrated tracks being recorded alongside the Christmas Portrait tracks given that Peter Knight was on hand, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there was a deliberate intention to make a standards-style album. I Believe You after all featured a different arranger, Motown veteran Paul Riser, although it's a fairly sumptuous production nonetheless. And you also have tracks like Slow Dance, Honolulu City Nights and Thank You for the Music that aren't in the 'standard' style. The number of 'standards' in the tracks we know about kind of fall between stools - too few to constitute a coherent theme, but enough to bog down a more typical album tracklist.

Didn't Richard and Karen also give an interview in mid-1978 saying they were toying with the idea of recording a more Country-style album following Sweet Sweet Smile's run on the Country charts? I don't imagine they were being deadly serious about that, but it implies that their ideas in terms of artistic direction were far from firm at this stage.

Moreover, what would have been the singles? I Believe You, great song as it is, didn't click with the audience in 1978 and I don't think any of the other tracks mentioned would have done so either. One thing that is clear from interviews with Richard is that he believed strongly in the concept of an album having to contain a hit single to be a success (not that he always got this right!). I'd agree that Carpenters' albums might not always be called 'contemporary', but Passage at least showed them paying attention to the contemporary music world around them with tracks like Calling Occupants and Bwana She No Home. This 1978/79 tracklist more resembles the directionless A Kind of Hush song selection in terms of paying little attention to the current music climate, which would hardly have been a recipe for success.

The timing of the release of I Believe You as a single still baffles me. Coming out at the same time as an album that it had nothing to do with and which they were promoting means it was almost doomed from the start, aside from whether radio would have played it in 1978 anyway. It didn't even get a release in the UK. Far from a foolproof strategy to highlight a lead single for an upcoming album.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The number of 'standards' in the tracks we know about kind of fall between stools - too few to constitute a coherent theme, but enough to bog down a more typical album tracklist.
This perfectly captures what I was trying to say in my post above :righton:

This 1978/79 tracklist more resembles the directionless A Kind of Hush song selection in terms of paying little attention to the current music climate, which would hardly have been a recipe for success.
The tracks that were subsequently released on Voice Of The Heart were totally against the grain musically compared to what was going on in the late 70s. It's like Richard was stuck in a timewarp and the music was getting more schmaltzy and old-fashioned in the face of a greatly changing musical landscape. To me, this rut is what Karen's album was perfectly designed to fix.
 

mr J.

Active Member
I can see the logic of some more orchestrated tracks being recorded alongside the Christmas Portrait tracks given that Peter Knight was on hand, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there was a deliberate intention to make a standards-style album. I Believe You after all featured a different arranger, Motown veteran Paul Riser, although it's a fairly sumptuous production nonetheless. And you also have tracks like Slow Dance, Honolulu City Nights and Thank You for the Music that aren't in the 'standard' style. The number of 'standards' in the tracks we know about kind of fall between stools - too few to constitute a coherent theme, but enough to bog down a more typical album tracklist.

Didn't Richard and Karen also give an interview in mid-1978 saying they were toying with the idea of recording a more Country-style album following Sweet Sweet Smile's run on the Country charts? I don't imagine they were being deadly serious about that, but it implies that their ideas in terms of artistic direction were far from firm at this stage.

Moreover, what would have been the singles? I Believe You, great song as it is, didn't click with the audience in 1978 and I don't think any of the other tracks mentioned would have done so either. One thing that is clear from interviews with Richard is that he believed strongly in the concept of an album having to contain a hit single to be a success (not that he always got this right!). I'd agree that Carpenters' albums might not always be called 'contemporary', but Passage at least showed them paying attention to the contemporary music world around them with tracks like Calling Occupants and Bwana She No Home. This 1978/79 tracklist more resembles the directionless A Kind of Hush song selection in terms of paying little attention to the current music climate, which would hardly have been a recipe for success.

The timing of the release of I Believe You as a single still baffles me. Coming out at the same time as an album that it had nothing to do with and which they were promoting means it was almost doomed from the start, aside from whether radio would have played it in 1978 anyway. It didn't even get a release in the UK. Far from a foolproof strategy to highlight a lead single for an upcoming album.
You've highlighted the fact that "Passage" was their most contemporary album-but isn't it interesting that K&R's most contemporary album was also their worst-selling album?Obviously,most people don't particularly appreciate K&R's desire to be contemporary.The poor sales of Karen's solo album reinforces that fact.

The issue about "I Believe You" has been explained-nothing baffling about that. Even "Please Mr. Postman" was issued as a single seven or eight months before "Horizon" came out.
 

mr J.

Active Member
This perfectly captures what I was trying to say in my post above :righton:



The tracks that were subsequently released on Voice Of The Heart were totally against the grain musically compared to what was going on in the late 70s. It's like Richard was stuck in a timewarp and the music was getting more schmaltzy and old-fashioned in the face of a greatly changing musical landscape. To me, this rut is what Karen's album was perfectly designed to fix.
This almost sounds like a contradiction-in-terms:K&R's music was always "against the grain" compared to what was stylish or trendy during their career.Even "Close To You" was considered a lightweight "cream puff"-compared to what was happening on the top-40 charts in 1970."For All We Know" and "Rainy Days & Mondays" could hardly be considered contemporary-even by 1971 standards.

Incidentally,music critics have often dismissed the "Singles 1969-1973" as being "schmaltzy" and "old fashioned". By contrast,many of K&R's later recordings featured a more sophisticated and adult-oriented sound. Food for thought.
 
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Rick-An Ordinary Fool

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You've highlighted the fact that "Passage" was their most contemporary album-but isn't it interesting that K&R's most contemporary album was also their worst-selling album?Obviously,most people don't particularly appreciate K&R's desire to be contemporary.The poor sales of Karen's solo album reinforces that fact.
I cringe every time you bring up sales regarding Karen's solo album and you do it over and over. I just think it's so unfair to equate her solo album in any sales figures relating to Carpenters or any sales in general. Her album was released as a gift to the fans, not meant to create sales or generate hoopla to the world. Heavens...she was not even alive to help promote it, Richard never helped to promote it, I don't even think Phil did anything to promote it and the music was so dated when it did get released, how was it ever to generate record sales?

So poor sales mean nothing for her solo album, for me it was never meant to be judged that way. I find it hard to believe that Richard, Phil or A&M released it believing this was going to generate record sales. If they did, shame on them.
I like to think it was a gift.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
You've highlighted the fact that "Passage" was their most contemporary album-but isn't it interesting that K&R's most contemporary album was also their worst-selling album?Obviously,most people don't particularly appreciate K&R's desire to be contemporary.The poor sales of Karen's solo album reinforces that fact.

The issue about "I Believe You" has been explained-nothing baffling about that. Even "Please Mr. Postman" was issued as a single seven or eight months before "Horizon" came out.
I don't think we can say Karen's poor solo album sales means the public didn't like her in contemporary vein. The album was released way too many years after its original intent and years after her death- with minimal promotion. Passage may be another story.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Obviously,most people don't particularly appreciate K&R's desire to be contemporary.The poor sales of Karen's solo album reinforces that fact.
I don't think you can compare her album sales when it came out 16 years after it was intended. No-one cared about their desire to be contemporary in 1996, she'd been gone over a decade by that point so there was no career to speak of.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
This almost sounds like a contradiction-in-terms:K&R's music was always "against the grain" compared to what was stylish or trendy during their career.Even "Close To You" was considered a lightweight "cream puff"-compared to what was happening on the top-40 charts in 1970."For All We Know" and "Rainy Days & Mondays" could hardly be considered contemporary-even by 1971 standards.

Incidentally,music critics have often dismissed the "Singles 1969-1973" as being "schmaltzy" and "old fashioned". By contrast,many of K&R's later recordings featured a more sophisticated and adult-oriented sound. Food for thought.
Absolutely, their early singles and albums weren't 'contemporary' in terms of being in step with the majority of the Top 40 in the early 1970s. But - crucially - it was the fact that they were so different from the mainstream at the time that was part of the key to their success - people wanted something different, even if it might be called 'schmaltzy' by some. The problem by the late 1970s is that they weren't so different anymore - plenty of acts had followed in their wake - and most of their late 1970s recordings were much softer and less dynamic than early singles like Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays and We've Only Just Begun. Not only had Richard's artistic vision not moved on much by this point, he was actually heading even closer to the middle of the road from the point they'd started out at.

Sophisticated these later productions may have been, but they weren't appealing to a wider audience or Top 40 radio anymore. The lack of success of Made in America and its singles (Touch Me When We're Dancing aside) gives a clue as to the limited chances of commercial success that following this route would have led to. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that - not ever artist can be hot on the charts throughout their career - but I suspect it would have led to less interesting music.

Say what you like about Karen's solo album, but at least it tried to mix things up a bit in terms of the sound and is at least more interesting (even if not everyone likes the change!) as a result. They surely needed some sort of reboot at this stage rather than ploughing the same furrow with even safer-sounding results.
 
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