Monday, March 27, 2017

Carpenters - Horizon (1975)

“Horizon” by Carpenters (1975)
Release Date: June 12, 1975
Produced by Richard Carpenter
Executive Producer: Karen Carpenter
Chart Positions: #13 (US), #1 (UK, Japan), #3 (New Zealand), #4 (Canada), #5 (Norway), #21 (Australia, Netherlands), #42 (Germany)
Certifications: Platinum (US), Gold (UK, Canada, Japan)
Singles: “Please Mr. Postman” (#1 US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, #2 UK, #4 New Zealand, #5 Switzerland, #10 Germany, #11 Japan, #29 Netherlands) “Only Yesterday” (#4 US, #7 UK, #2 Canada, #5 Ireland, #10 New Zealand, #12 Japan, #43 Germany) “Solitaire” (#17 US, #32 UK, #6 New Zealand, #12 Canada, #61 Australia and #44 Japan)

“Horizon” was the Carpenters’ sixth studio album. After five consecutive albums peaking inside the US top 5, “Horizon” broke this run by reaching US # 13. The album has been certified PLATINUM by the RIAA for selling over a million copies and most likely will soon be certified DOUBLE PLATINUM. Although the album peaked outside the Top Five in the US, they were bigger than ever around the world. “Horizon” was one of their biggest worldwide sellers reaching # 1 in both Japan and England and Top Ten in several other countries. Richard Carpenter stated his goal was to produce an album in which every song could be a single.

“Horizon” is the album that most Carpenters fans claim to be their favorite amongst all Carpenters releases. Released on June 6, 1975, critics hail this to be the most sophisticated Carpenters album to date. The album is a technical triumph. It was recorded at A&M Records mainly in Studio D using state-of-the-art, 24-track recording technology, 30 Dolby, and recorded at 30 inches per second to create the cleanest and clearest sound possible.

The Carpenters took the patience to spend a good amount of time and many long hours experimenting with different sounds, techniques and effects. One of the most astonishing techniques used is the multitude of separate mikings. Every single instrument and voice has its own microphone. This helped to create a broad, full sound. The drums were recorded on four separate tracks: one for the kick, one for the snare and one each for the left and right tom-toms. On the song “Only Yesterday” a tape delay is used on the saxophone. This effect accents the instrument and lifts it above the canvas, giving it an extra dimension.

Jerry Moss (the “M” in A&M Records) sent Richard Carpenter a letter congratulating him on his production of “Horizon.” This was a big deal to both Karen and Richard as Moss rarely showed much appreciation for Carpenters. During the recording of “Horizon,” Moss visited Carpenters in the studio and recognized what a thrill it was to have a voice like Karen Carpenter’s recording for A&M.

Carpenters recorded and released “Please Mr. Postman” in late 1974 (a full seven months before “Horizon” was released). For its inclusion on “Horizon,” Richard Carpenter remixed the song and to match the sound quality of the album. While recording the song some of the engineers and musicians thought Karen and Richard were “nuts” to even consider it, but the duo got the last laugh when it became a worldwide #1 smash. “Please Mr. Postman” was the album’s biggest hit single and also Carpenters’ biggest hit worldwide. It reached # 1 in the US, Australia, Canada and South Africa, as well as reaching # 2 in the UK and Canada. It also reached #4 New Zealand, #5 Switzerland, #10 Germany, #11 Japan and #29 Netherlands. The driving, rhythm-based tune features Karen on drums and a great Tony Peluso guitar solo. "Please Mr. Postman" was previously a #1 hit for Motown girl group The Marvelettes in 1963.

"Please Mr. Postman"

The second single release, “Only Yesterday,” is considered by many to be the album’s strongest track. Written by Richard Carpenter and lyricist John Bettis, the song was a huge hit worldwide. Believing the song would not be a hit Carpenter and Bettis lost a one-thousand dollar bet to their recording engineer, Roger Young. Since the melody was upbeat, Richard asked Bettis to make sure the lyric was not completely sad, so the outlook of the song changes midstream. It goes from dark and deep to bright and propulsive. Bettis described “Only Yesterday” as, “a manipulated, positive song.” The song is an impressive “wall of sound” with each instrument clearly recognizable. It has the feel of the 60s with castanets and chimes and the technology of the 70s with electric guitar chords and soulful saxophone progressions. With all this outstanding technology it’s Karen’s voice that remains the focal point. She opens with a haunting Low E Flat and moves gracefully through the range of the song with ease. “Only Yesterday” is two songs in one with a lush ballad verse which effectively gives way to an up-tempo progressive pop chorus. The song was released on March 14, 1975, and was Carpenters’ last Top 10 hit in the US. The song did extremely well throughout the world, reaching US #4, UK #7, Canada #2, Germany #43, Ireland #5, New Zealand #10 and Japan #12. The song was also certified Gold in Japan and won the prestigious Japanese GRAND PRIX award in 1975.

Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody wrote “Solitaire” which was the third single from “Horizon.” The exuberance of the strings, Richard’s subtle keyboard and Karen’s deep, full-bodied voice give this song that chill factor that Richard looked for in a song. Many Carpenters fans consider this to be one of Karen’s most intense and finest readings. The sublime vocal arrangement was composed by Richard Carpenter, and in his words, he says, “the song was difficult to sing, and Karen nailed it perfectly.” Richard calls this one of Karen’s greatest performances. Although “Solitaire” was not a huge hit as were “Please Mr. Postman” or “Only Yesterday,” it still performed well on singles charts around the world and received a huge amount of airplay. The song’s chart stats are as follows: #17 US, #12 Canada, #32 UK, #6 New Zealand, #61 Australia and #44 Japan.

“Desperado” was another highlight on the album and received a good amount of attention from the critics stating this was a logical choice for release as a single. It was an instant favorite amongst fans and critics alike. Karen wrung out every bit of her soul as she brought this song alive. Tommy Morgan’s harmonica accents the overall aura of the song; his haunting performance establishes the song’s melancholy mood. The Eagles originally recorded “Desperado” in 1973, and was the centerpiece of their classic, cowboy-themed album also named “Desperado.” Several others have recorded this song including Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Rogers, Clint Black, Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. A&M Records decided against releasing Carpenters’ version as a single, due to the fact that it had been receiving radio airplay for both Eagles and Linda Ronstadt. Many fans consider this to be a “missed opportunity.” The song “Happy,” represents another technological triumph for Richard Carpenter. One of the main attractions of this power-pop tune is the ARP Odyssey Synthesizer solo, which brings the song to a close. It gives the song a lively, out-of-this-world feeling.
Carpenters guitarist, Tony Peluso, wrote the melody and music for “Happy” which ended up becoming the B-side on the single “Only Yesterday.”

Karen Carpenter (1975)


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