A&M, 1975


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was a little boy, there used to exist something called the Columbia Record & Tape Club. For a penny, you would receive a select number of records, after which you were required to buy X amount of records over a two-year period at some exorbitant price – and, often, you were stuck with crap you never wanted because you never told them not to send you the selection of the month, and then you never got around to sending the stupid record back.

My mom joined this club in the mid-'70s, and I recall two of the records she got were albums by The Carpenters. One of them was Horizon – and since I had a love of music even as a small boy, I remember putting this on her stereo often and listening to it… when I wasn't listening to my copy of Grand Funk's We're An American Band she had also ordered specifically for me.

Horizon was the sixth studio effort by Richard and Karen Carpenter. I wanted to say that they relied too heavily on cover songs – but a little research showed that, with the exception of their debut album Ticket To Ride, their discography to this point had mostly been of cover songs. This is a shame, because the songs written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis are actually quite good. But, overall, this album is dragged down by an overall feeling of melancholy, despite the upbeat hits “Only Yesterday” and “Please Mr. Postman”. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The disc opens and closes with the same musical pattern, albeit with different lyrics and titles (“Aurora,” “Eventide”). They actually serve their purpose well, bookending the whole album and providing both an initial atmosphere and the proper closure for the listening experience. If anything, I'd have liked these tracks to have been a little longer; clocking in at around 90 seconds each, it essentially shortens this to an eight-song album.

Of the remaining tracks, “Only Yesterday” is the standout song. Properly straddling the line between ballad and upbeat adult-contemporary, it captures the spirit of the moment very well. Karen Carpenter's vocals help to power this track, and remains one of the best Carpenters songs in their discography.

I can't, however, say the same about “Please Mr. Postman,” which just feels like a filler track that someone made them cover. It's not terrible, but it's also just not great. Similarly, one has to wonder why “Desperado” was chosen, aside from the fact it had recently been a hit for The Eagles; it just doesn't seem like a good fit for The Carpenters.

The remainder of Horizon, unfortunately, has the feel of songs that were left off of other albums for one reason or another, and were gathered together just to put them to some use. It's not that tracks like “Solitaire,” “Happy” (which is probably the best of the remainder of the batch) or “(I'm Caught Between) Goodbye And I Love You” are bad songs; they just don't capture the attention or interest of the listener. If anything, a few more upbeat – even slightly upbeat – numbers breaking up the slower ballads. (I will say this: had they made an album of songs in the vein of “I Can Dream, Can't I?” for Karen Carpenter, she would have beaten Linda Ronstadt to the idea by nearly a decade, and would have potentially shown off her vocal prowess.

As it sits, Horizon is just an okay album – nothing terrible, nothing earth-shattering – and the best of the songs can be found on any number of greatest hits compilations that have come out over the years.

Rating: C

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