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Christmas Music Playlists with Carpenters Songs
There Is Nothing Wooden About The Carpenters Christmas Material
Factfile - Carpenters
- Merry Christmas Darling was a #1 on the US Christmas singles chart in 1970, '71 and '73.
- Their Christmas Portrait was released in 1978 and featured the singles Merry Christmas Darling, Christmas Song, Silent Night and Ave Maria.
- Christmas Portrait was a natural development from Carpenters' Christmas TV specials in 1976 and '77.
- An Old-Fashioned Christmas was released in 1978 after the death of Karen Carpenter and made use of several unused tracks from Christmas Portrait.
Like many artists who've offered up Christmas tracks to the world the Carpenters are associated with song one in particular. And in this case it is 'Merry Christmas Darling', a paean to a relationship at Christmastime that is hampered by the great distance that separates the star crossed lovers. Of course that is the theme to many a melancholy festive ditty but when you have Karen Carpenter providing the vocals you know that it will all end in tears such is the emotion in her performance.
It was the ‘Carpenters at Christmas’ TV Special in December 1977 where most of the songs that would appear on 'Christmas Portrait', the Carpenters first Christmas album, were trialled. Released the very next year and produced by siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter 'Christmas Portrait' was for the most part an exercise in giving a series of old time Christmas favourites the feel of a Carpenters record. And what an epic collection it proved to be with 17 tracks in all, one of which ‘Overture’ collected 8 chestnuts together over an illuminating 10 minutes. With a production that never dipped below celestial here was an album that came with all the trimmings. The most special of these being Karen Carpenter’s voice of course, which accorded songs like ‘Christmas Waltz’ a lightness of touch that are ideal for time spent skating on a frozen lake. Yes, it is that magical! And the highs just keep coming with renditions of ‘Sleigh Ride’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ being among the best ever recorded. Special mention must also go to the thrill that is the medley of ‘Winter Wonderland/Silver Bells/White Christmas’ which is like listening to the best Christmas compilation of all time in just over 5 minutes. The whole 'Christmas Portrait' project feels even more Christmassy owing to little known facts like how the album's artwork was produced by one Robert Tenenbaum!
'An Old-Fashioned Christmas' was the Carpenters second Christmas album, which was released in the wake of Karen's untimely death in 1983. 'An Old-Fashioned Christmas' was more an odds and ends compilation made up of some unused tracks from 'Christmas Portrait' including alternate versions of the likes of 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town' and 'Ave Maria' which incredibly restored the choral parts that were thought lost when 'Christmas Portrait' was being put together. As you’d expect Richard’s influence is more keenly felt on ‘An Old-Fashioned Christmas’ and he did a majestic job in tying everything together seamlessly. There is certainly a less euphoric feel to this album over its predecessor. Songs such as ‘I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day’ are certainly most religiously dispatched marking as it does the final track on hushed delight of an album.
Christmas Portrait is Karen's album and should have been titled accordingly, not Carpenters...
Carpenters Christmas Album & Single Covers