An Old Fashioned Christmas (1984)

An Old Fashioned Christmas (1984)

Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas album cover 1984While recording “Christmas Portrait” Carpenters had recorded far more song than were able to fit onto one disc. The result was several tracks left over sitting in the A&M Records vaults for several years, hence the birth of “An Old Fashioned Christmas.” The album was released in 1984 more than a year and a half after Karen’s untimely death. Included in the albums fourteen are seven tracks featuring Karen’s bright and beautiful vocals.

The album opens with a somewhat sugary sounding layered vocal by Richard Carpenter. This opening only makes the listener miss Karen Carpenter’s stellar vocals even more. After several orchestrated instrumental gems it isn’t until track five that we are finally treated to a lead vocal by Karen Carpenter with the classic holiday song “(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays.”

The album sold moderately reaching #190 on the US Billboard top 200 and was certified US Gold in 1998.

The album includes many highlights including Richard Carpenter’s fascinating “Selections From ‘The Nutcracker’,” Richard Carpenter performs this light-classical piece with great finesse backed by a full orchestra arranged and orchestrated by the maestro Peter Knight. Had he chosen, Richard could have parlayed a successful post Carpenters career as a classical and jazz pianist.

“(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays” is quite possibly the most popular song from this album. Year after year it ends up on heavy rotation during the holiday season. Radio stations across the US play this song almost as much as “Merry Christmas Darling.” Several fans claim it to be their favorite. The most alluring aspect of the song is Karen’s warm and soothing vocal backed by a semi-county-esque musical arrangement and is very reminiscent of “Top of the World” and “Those Good Old Dreams.”

One of the big draws to this album is the inclusion of the slower ballad rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming To town.” Karen sings this in an elegant and stately deep voice. Until the 1984 release of “An Old Fashioned Christmas, this ballad version had only been available on the 1974 single release. The single reached #37 on the UK pop charts.

The album contains three religious based songs “Little Altar Boy,” “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “He Came Here For Me.” Carpenters were always considered a secular pop band and both Karen and Richard commented their disdain for organized religion. Despite their views on religion their renditions of those songs are filled with the spirit of love and grace. Karen sings “He Came Here For Me” to perfection with schilling beauty in her voice. The beautiful “Little Altar Boy” is a cherished fan favorite, Karen delivers one of her finest  and most inspiring vocal performances of her entire career. Richard states it’s one of his all-time favorite vocals by Karen. “Little Altar Boy” was the only single release from “An Old Fashioned Christmas” and featured “Do You Hear What I Hear” on the B-side. The single is extremely rare and can fetch a price tag of $100 and up.

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” is a lasting favorite that is played every year to commemorate the ending of the old year and bring in the new year. Karen delivers this 1940’s big band styled tune with authenticity to the genre. She was born to sing this type of song (really she was born to sing any type of song).

Album Information

Release Date: October 1984
Catalog Number: SP-5172
Chart Positions: #190 US
Certifications: Gold (US)
Singles: “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (1974), “Little Altar Boy”
B-Sides: “Do You Hear What I Hear” (b-side of “Little Altar Boy”), “Flat Baroque” (b-side of “It’s Going To Take Sometime’),

Click Here to Purchase “An Old Fashioned Christmas”

Album Credits

  • Producer: Richard Carpenter
  • Arrangements: Richard Carpenter, Peter Knight, Billy May
  • Lead Vocals: Karen Carpenter, Richard Carpenter
  • Background Vocals: Karen Carpenter, Richard Carpenter, The OK Chorale directed by Dick Bolks, The English Chorale directed by Robert Howes
  • Piano: Richard Carpenter
  • Keyboards: Richard Carpenter, Pete Jolly
  • Drums: Ron Tutt, Barry Morgan
  • Electric Bass: Joe Osborn
  • Upright Bass: Pete Morgan
  • Tenor Sax: John Phillips
  • Harp: Gayle Levant, Skaila Kanga
  • Engineer: Roger Young, Ray Gerhardt, Robert De La Garza, Eric Tomlinson
  • Assistant Engineer: Alan Rouse
  • Mixing Engineer: Roger Young, John Richards
  • Mixing Assistant: Jim Cassell, Mike Hatcher, Clyde Kaplan, Dave Marquette
  • Recorded at A&M Recording Studios
  • Mixed at A&M Recording Studios, Capitol Recording Studios and The Village
  • Art Direction: Chuck Beeson
  • Album Design: Rebecca Chamlee with Chuck Beeson
  • Illustration: Chuck Beeson
  • Photography: Harry Langdon

Billboard Magazine Album Review (December, 1984)

The duo’s second Christmas album, following their gold “Christmas Portrait,” consists of previously unreleased tracks, save for a shimmering version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” Although less consistent than the earlier set, this collection features several indispensable tracks with the late Karen Carpenter singing lead most notably a heartbreaking “Little Altar Boy.”

Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas album cover 1984

Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas back cover 1984 II









Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas record 1984

Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas record label 1984










Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas Santa Claus Is Coming To town 1984 1984Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas Little Altar Boy swiss picture sleeve 1984









Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas Little Altar Boy single 1984

Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas Do You Hear What i Hear single 1978







Carpenters An Old Fashioned Christmas Billboard review December 1984











Discography Links:
Offering (1969) Click Here
Close To You (1970) Click Here
Ticket To Ride (1971) Click Here
Carpenters (1971) Click Here
A Song For You (1972) Click Here
Now & Then (1973) Click Here
Horizon (1975) Click Here
A Kind Of Hush (1976) Click Here
Passage (1977) Click Here
Christmas Portrait (1978) Click Here
Karen Carpenter (Solo)(1980 – Released 1996) Click Here
Made In America (1981) Click Here
Voice Of The Heart (1983) Click Here
An Old Fashioned Christmas (1984) Click Here
Lovelines (1989) Click Here
As Time Goes By (2001) Click Here




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