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Your favorite hits by the Carpenters that did not make the Top 40?

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
WYBIMLA with a remix bringing both her lead and the synths more up front should have gone top 40. You get the idea that both were excited about this release and when it did so badly they were pretty upset.

On the back of their “welcome back” party held by Herb, Jerry and the label in summer 1981, I’m sure they were really disappointed by the successive flops of those MIA singles:

(Want You) Back In My Life Again (72)
Those Good Old Dreams (63)
Beechwood 4-5789 (74)


It’s anyone’s guess what conversations went on behind closed doors but I’m sure they were scratching their heads as to what was going wrong. I think it was a huge mistake on Jerry Moss’ part to encourage them to return to their “bread and butter” formula. It did nothing for their credibility and did a huge disservice to Karen’s talent. To this day, I think a standards album was the way to go. They skimmed the surface with the 1980 TV special and should have trusted the quality of the music and gone with a follow up album, with outside arrangers brought in to complement their new direction. I looked up the arrangers of the material for Music, Music, Music and, to my surprise, found a couple of unfamiliar names. I then used my knowledge of existing arranging credits and was able to establish - or at worst deduce - the arrangers of at least some of the material for that show:

Richard Carpenter (A Song For You, Without A Song, Dizzy Fingers, You’re Just In Love, “1980” Closing Medley)
Peter Knight (When I Fall In Love)
Nelson Riddle (most likely the encore piece closing the special)
Bobby Hammack - ?
Bill Reddie - ?

The last two names were unfamiliar to me, but there are an awful lot of other pieces from the show that have that “of the era” arrangement and feel to them, so I went digging...

Bobby Hammack was born in 1922 and was originally a jazz pianist in Texas who went on to have a prolific career in Los Angeles as a pianist, organist, conductor, arranger, and composer in live venues, broadcast studios for radio and television, and recording studios for records, radio, television, and film. His musical credits cover artists such as Pat Boone, Doris Day and Henry Mancini.

Bill Reddie is another veteran composer, born in 1925, who went on to become a conductor and arranger (and member of ASCAP) who composed and arranged music for choreographers and recording companies and his star clientele includes such luminaries as: Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis, Patti Page and The Ed Sullivan Show.

With such pedigrees, it’s therefore my assumption that they were likely responsible for some - if not most - of the other Carpenters backing tracks recorded for that show:

A Song For You
I Got Rhythm
You’ll Never Know
Karen/Ella Medley
(and other material including instrumental pieces and the tracks for Ella Fitzgerald)


It’s often the case that an artist’s album does not sell well upon its release but goes on to achieve stellar status for its quality and musicianship. Just look at Christmas Portrait as a prime example. Had things been different for Karen at this time in her life, I really believe a 1981/1982 jazz album - with arrangers of this calibre behind them - would have become a staple part of their catalogue. And one known and recognised for its sheer class.
 
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Another Son

Well-Known Member
I think it was a huge mistake on Jerry Moss’ part to encourage them to return to their “bread and butter” formula. It did nothing for their credibility and did a huge disservice to Karen’s talent. To this day, I think a standards album was the way to go. They skimmed the surface with the 1980 TV special and should have trusted the quality of the music and gone with a follow up album, with outside arrangers brought in to complement their new direction. I looked up the arrangers of the material for Music, Music, Music and, to my surprise, found a couple of unfamiliar names. I then used my knowledge of existing arranging credits and was able to establish - or at worst deduce - the arrangers of at least some of the material for that show:

Richard Carpenter (A Song For You, Without A Song, Dizzy Fingers, You’re Just In Love, “1980” Closing Medley)
Peter Knight (When I Fall In Love)
Nelson Riddle (most likely the encore piece closing the special)
Bobby Hammack - ?
Bill Reddie - ?

The last two names were unfamiliar to me, but there are an awful lot of other pieces from the show that have that “of the era” arrangement and feel to them, so I went digging...

Bobby Hammack was born in 1922 and was originally a jazz pianist in Texas who went on to have a prolific career in Los Angeles as a pianist, organist, conductor, arranger, and composer in live venues, broadcast studios for radio and television, and recording studios for records, radio, television, and film. His musical credits cover artists such as Pat Boone, Doris Day and Henry Mancini.

Bill Reddie is another veteran composer, born in 1925, who went on to become a conductor and arranger (and member of ASCAP) who composed and arranged music for choreographers and recording companies and his star clientele includes such luminaries as: Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis, Patti Page and The Ed Sullivan Show.

With such pedigrees, it’s therefore my assumption that they were likely responsible for some - if not most - of the other Carpenters backing tracks recorded for that show:

A Song For You
I Got Rhythm
You’ll Never Know
Karen/Ella Medley
(and other material including instrumental pieces and the tracks for Ella Fitzgerald)


It’s often the case that an artist’s album does not sell well upon its release but goes on to achieve stellar status for its quality and musicianship. Just look at Christmas Portrait as a prime example. Had things been different for Karen at this time in her life, I really believe a 1981/1982 jazz album - with arrangers of this calibre behind them - would have become a staple part of their catalogue. And one known and recognised for its sheer class.
Very interesting info, Newvillefan.

I agree that Karen and Richard could have done a brilliant job with a 'standards' album, depending upon how Karen would have handled the project. Her vocals were a bit patchy between 79 and 81, I feel, with some brilliant performances and some not-so-good-sounding efforts, (because of the style she chose or was directed to use, I feel - probably not due to what she was capable of doing at that minute - or, maybe, due to health effects).

Personally, I liked some of the bread-and-butter performances of 1981, but I take your point that they didn't seem to contribute to commercial success, at that time.

Whether or not a standards album would have been a success would be anyone's guess, as that route was also risky. I looked up the details of artists who I could remember doing standards albums around that time and some weren't as successful as I thought they were.

Linda Ronstadt is one of the more successful. 'What's New' peaked at No. 3 in the USA in 1983 and sold 3 million copies.

'Lush Life' by Linda Ronstadt peaked at Number 13 in 1984 and sold 1 million copies.

Her 'For Sentimental Reasons' peaked at Number 27 in 1986 and sold 1 million copies.

One reason why Linda Ronstadt was successful in this area would have been because she was doing extremely well on the US charts immediately before 'What's New' was released. She'd had a Number 3 and a Number 26 album in 1980 and a Number 31 in 1982. She'd also had two Top 10 hits in 1980 and three other Top 40s between 1980 and 1982.

Willie Nelson had a five-million seller in the USA in 1978 with the album, 'Stardust'. That followed a Number 12 LP earlier the same year which had sold two million, so he was also high in the public's awareness and estimation immediately before his 'standards' LP was released.

Carly Simon released her first 'standards' LP in 1981 - 'Torch' - a great collection that peaked at Number 50 in the USA.

Carly's second 'standards' collection, 'My Romance', peaked at Number 46, much later.

It wasn't until 2005's 'Moonlight Serenade' that she hit the top with the 'standards' idea. That album peaked at Number 7.

When Carly released 'Torch' in 1981, she was following a big hit the previous year - 'Jesse' had reached Number 11 on the Billboard Top 40. She had also had two Top 10 singles a couple of years earlier.

If Carpenters had released a 'standards' album in 1981 instead of 'Made in America' and 'Touch Me When We're Dancing', they would have been following a Number 145 peak in 1978 and a rejected 1979 / 80 album and their most recent hits would have been four years previously, peaking at Numbers 32 and 35.

However, as you say, Newvillefan, they could have capitalised immediately after appearing in people's lounge rooms on the TV special, 'Music, Music, Music'.

Releasing a 'standards' album would still have been a big risk for them, particularly seeing as they didn't have the immediate previous success to herald that album's arrival that the above three artists had. However, as I said, they could have done a brilliant job with an album in that style and would surely have provided fans with a quality collection to cherish.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Her vocals were a bit patchy between 79 and 81, I feel, with some brilliant performances and some not-so-good-sounding efforts, (because of the style she chose or was directed to use, I feel - probably not due to what she was capable of doing at that minute - or, maybe, due to health effects).

Agreed, but in that brief period of early to mid 1980, her voice was stunning. It shows in all the TV special material and tracks like The Uninvited Guest. This was, for me, the way I always thought the voice would have - and should have - matured. And it would just have continued to do so if she’d been in good health.

Releasing a 'standards' album would still have been a big risk for them, particularly seeing as they didn't have the immediate previous success to herald that album's arrival that the above three artists had.

Again I agree, but if they’d had a stellar team of arrangers and composers behind such an album, I think it could have been marketed accordingly and would have gained traction over time and become a staple part of their discography. Let’s be honest, they were no longer a commercial pop outfit by 1981. The same can be said of artists like Barry Manilow and Dionne Warwick, but their labels supported them and they continued to churn out albums. It surely can’t have done any worse than Made In America, and may well have been much more fondly remembered.
 
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newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Releasing a 'standards' album would still have been a big risk for them, particularly seeing as they didn't have the immediate previous success to herald that album's arrival that the above three artists had. However, as I said, they could have done a brilliant job with an album in that style and would surely have provided fans with a quality collection to cherish.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Speaking of album cuts that were superb that I kind of took for granted over the years. I actually listened to "This Masquerade" today for the first time since the release of the RPO album, what a masterpiece!
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
"Let Me Be The One" is the one that got away. They were so prolific early on, that they didn't allow time for that one to be a single - and it had all the earmarks that it would have been a smash hit, IMHO. It had the Nichols-Williams pedigree and was actually played on some radio stations.
The song, "Let Me Be The One" had a brief run on the radio by singer Jack Jones. I was not witching charts so I do not know how it fared but it did get a lot of airplay in this market.
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Looked up Jack Jones and his version of "Let Me Be The One" reached #18 on the AC charts in 1971 but did not make the Top 40. Did not realize that he sang the theme song to the popular TV show "The Love Boat"! I'm heading down to your area next week rockdoctor to visit some friends in Chesapeake.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
my greatest complaint of MIA, from first listen until today, is that it is mixed too sweetly. a couple of songs i don't like, but that didn't stop me from listening. in some tracks, it seemed as if the leads were wrapped in cotton candy; most assuredly WYBIMLA. i think BEACHWOOD would really be effective if remixed along the lines of DA DO RON RON. of course, few of us have heard the raw recordings, so we do not know what richard had to work with. some of their " live " european videos from this time frame, show karen, although enthusiastic, vocally weak.
 

JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
newvillefan and Another Son -

fascinating and informative discussion about the desirability and possibility of a "standards" album and a jazz or smooth jazz album - both would have been great ideas - i can think of hundreds of songs that I would love to have heard her sing and Richard arrange (or be arranged by Nelson Riddle, or Gordon Jenkins, or Billy May or Percy Faith and others) - I can see it now: "Karen Carpenter Sings the Cole Porter Songbook" - if only...
 

CarpentersToYou

Somehow you brought the gambler out in me...
These arguments that Karen couldn't have pulled it off killed me. Even sick her voice was a feast for the ears. I sometimes feel as a fanbase we are too obsessed with the illness and try to find it in places where it isn't. Lord knows it would have been a major opus in their catalogue had they taken a standards direction for a bit after MUSCI! MUSIC! MUSIC! Especially since that became very in fashion in the 1980s.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
newvillefan and Another Son -

fascinating and informative discussion about the desirability and possibility of a "standards" album and a jazz or smooth jazz album - both would have been great ideas - i can think of hundreds of songs that I would love to have heard her sing and Richard arrange (or be arranged by Nelson Riddle, or Gordon Jenkins, or Billy May or Percy Faith and others) - I can see it now: "Karen Carpenter Sings the Cole Porter Songbook" - if only...
dionne warwick recorded SINGS COLE PORTER, and it is a wonderful collection. i believe it is a bit " glossier " than richard would have produced, but. a gem just the same. i was a member of dallas' TURTLE CREEK CHORALE during this time-frame, and we opened the concert for miss warwick when she performed some selections at the MEYERSON CENTER.
 

JayJayVA

Well-Known Member
"Two Sides" from the Passage album (1977) could have been a Country chart hit (IMO) if it had made enough radio play. It's a smooth song.

I remember "Sweet Sweet Smile" being heard quite a bit on radio while a young teen in NC.

*Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" was a #1 country hit in '77.
 

JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
dionne warwick recorded SINGS COLE PORTER, and it is a wonderful collection. i believe it is a bit " glossier " than richard would have produced, but. a gem just the same. i was a member of dallas' TURTLE CREEK CHORALE during this time-frame, and we opened the concert for miss warwick when she performed some selections at the MEYERSON CENTER.
I'll have to look for some of those on YT...could be real good listening...
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
The Carpenters had 28 songs that charted on Billboard's Top 100 during their impressive career and I put the 8 songs that failed to make the Top 40 cutoff in my favorite order along with their peak Billboard chart position.

1. Ticket to Ride (#54)
2. Sweet Sweet Smile (#44)
3. I Believe You (#68)
4. (Want You) Back in My Life Again (#72)
5. Bless the Beasts and the Children (#67)
6. Those Good Old Dreams (#63)
7. Beechwood 4-5789. (#74)
8. Goofus (#56)

Of these lessor hits, I'd give the nod to "Sweet Sweet Smile" for being the Carpenters most successful commercial and international release due to it's #8 placement on the Country charts, Top 40 in Canada, UK, Netherlands and Germany while also achieving the highest position on the US AC charts at #7. "I Believe You" peaked at #9 on the US AC Charts with "(Want You) Back in My Life" charting at #14. I'm guessing that "Ticket to Ride" would probably be the most recognizable song from a non Carpenters fan's perspective with "Bess the Beasts and the Children" a close second due to it's Academy Award nomination. The UK, Canada and Japan may have different views of these songs due to different levels of success in their own markets. Your thoughts?
Based on your list Portlander, I would have to say my favorite of the lot is Bless The Beasts... I'm shocked it didn't chart higher that #67. I do remember it playing quite a bit on radio back in the day. I do like Ticket To Ride but it seemed a little slow and drawn-out to me to be a Top 10 hit. The rest are OK but not too much to get excited about IMHO.
 
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John Adam

"Two Lives"
1. Bless the Beasts and the Children (#67)
2. I Believe You (#68)
3. Sweet Sweet Smile (#44)
4. Those Good Old Dreams (#63)
5. Ticket to Ride (#54)
6. (Want You) Back in My Life Again (#72)
7. Beechwood 4-5789. (#74)
8. Goofus (#56)

"Ticket" would be my favorite if it had been the 1973 version. However if that version would of been a single, it probably would of made the Top 40, so it wouldn't of been on this list anyway!

Plus the Carpenters had more singles that didn't chart on the Hot 100 after 1982, which I like better than #6-8. Examples: Honolulu City Lights, If I Had You, and the biggest miss of all, Trying To Get The Feeling Again. (All of which I know don't fit the requirement for this discussion.)
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
Based on your list Portlander, I would have to say my favorite of the lot is Bless The Beasts... I'm shocked it didn't chart higher that #67. I do remember it playing quite a bit on radio back in the day. I do like Ticket To Ride but it seemed a little slow and drawn-out to me to be a Top 10 hit. The rest are OK but not too much to get excited about IMHO.
i don't know how singles chart tracking was done at the time. i know BTBAC did receive airplay here in dallas, but understanding that A&M was promoting SUPERSTAR as the single, the physical sales numbers probably were applied to it. BTBAC was strong enough to have been the lead single from ASFY, HEO, the second, forgoing a single release of IGTTST, ang following through with GTL.. hindsight, you know.
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
Looked up Jack Jones and his version of "Let Me Be The One" reached #18 on the AC charts in 1971 but did not make the Top 40. Did not realize that he sang the theme song to the popular TV show "The Love Boat"! I'm heading down to your area next week rockdoctor to visit some friends in Chesapeake.
Have a safe trip down.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Listening to Those Good Old Dreams....
and I do love this song.
Is it "hit" single material ? It is probably not "commercial" enough,
yet, a great tune, arrangement and vocals.
It really is sophisticated.
I did hear it when played on WDBO/Orlando in 1981.
It ranks high on my favorites' list.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
I would like to believe that the song Let Me Be The One
would have been a big hit, but I have my doubts about it....
who knows ?
Wiki says this:
"Richard Carpenter doubted the hit potential of "Let Me Be the One" and the choice for single was assigned to "Rainy Days and Mondays".
However the album cut "Let Me Be the One" did receive airplay on both Top 40 and MOR radio stations."
There is no reference given for that statement by Richard. I challenge someone to locate a reference for that statement.
I have never heard the song on radio (then or now)
According to the liner notes for the Japanese “Treasures” CD set, Richard writes:

‘We gave a great deal of thought, Karen and I, to the follow-up to “Rainy Days and Mondays”. We agonized between “Superstar” and “Let Me Be The One”.

Also in “The Essential Collection”, under “Superstar”, Richard writes:

‘...I was vacillating between “Superstar” and “Let Me Be The One”, being concerned that the lyrics to the former were a little unconventional for a Carpenters record. Jerry Moss, who strongly believed in “SUPERSTAR”, felt I was worrying needlessly, and made up my mind for me. Thanks, Jerry.’
 

motownboy

Well-Known Member
"Sweet, Sweet Smile" has really grown on me over the years. The vocals are superb. However, I think had the arrangement been less stereotypical country and more pop, it might have fared better on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox Top 100 charts. This song and "Jambalaya " are obviously "Country" in intent, but they sounded more like parodies of country music than actual country music. "Top Of The World" sounded more authentic, especially in the original "Song For You" album version.
 

JohnFB

Not the voice of an angel - better...
Listening to Those Good Old Dreams....
and I do love this song.
Is it "hit" single material ? It is probably not "commercial" enough,
yet, a great tune, arrangement and vocals.
It really is sophisticated.
I did hear it when played on WDBO/Orlando in 1981.
It ranks high on my favorites' list.
It is a great tune, a joy to listen to - and it's a big hit with me!
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Listening to Those Good Old Dreams....
and I do love this song.
Is it "hit" single material ? It is probably not "commercial" enough,
yet, a great tune, arrangement and vocals.
It really is sophisticated.
I did hear it when played on WDBO/Orlando in 1981.
It ranks high on my favorites' list.
When it was released as a single, ‘Those Good Old Dreams’ was played regularly on my local station and it didn’t seem out of place amongst the eclectic collection of music they played. The single was released in our summer and was a calm, relaxing soundtrack to peaceful sunny days.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
i don't know how singles chart tracking was done at the time. i know BTBAC did receive airplay here in dallas, but understanding that A&M was promoting SUPERSTAR as the single, the physical sales numbers probably were applied to it. BTBAC was strong enough to have been the lead single from ASFY, HEO, the second, forgoing a single release of IGTTST, ang following through with GTL.. hindsight, you know.
Yes, it’s actually incredible that ‘Bless the Beasts and Children’, as a ‘B’ side, charted so high on the singles chart. A great achievement which was highly deserved.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
If you look at the trade magazines, at the time of it's release, no one mentioned Bless the Beasts as a previously unreleased B side. Unfortunate. That should have taken Superstar to Number One.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
When it was released as a single, ‘Those Good Old Dreams’ was played regularly on my local station and it didn’t seem out of place amongst the eclectic collection of music they played. The single was released in our summer and was a calm, relaxing soundtrack to peaceful sunny days.

In the context of the music that was out in the early 1980s in the UK, if I’d heard their new album in 1981 and the lyrics to the opening track on the album (“As a child I was known for make believin’ / All alone I created fantasies”), I think I would probably have felt my heart sink a bit. On sunny days in the garden I still listen to this track on my headphones, but it would probably have done better if it had been recorded and released in 1972.
 
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