Lovelines is another collection of previously unreleased studio material. All the material on this album was recorded between 1977 and 1980, but it was recorded for a number of different projects, so there is quite a variety in the style of the songs.
What seems remarkable to me about the songs on Lovelines is how GOOD they are. You'd think that songs that were left off of albums would be inferior to the songs that were included on those albums, but that is not the case here. For example: "You're the One" was recorded for, but not included on, the album Passage. I like it better than any of the songs that are actually on Passage! In a similar manner, I like "Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night," which was recorded during the Made In America sessions, better than most of the songs on Made in America.
"Where Do I Go from Here," "Honolulu City Lights" and "Slow Dance" were all recorded in 1978 as part of the recording sessions for the album that never materialized ("I Believe You" and "Look to Your Dreams" were songs also recorded during that period). "Where Do I Go from Here" ranks up there with the best Carpenters' ballads. Richard points out in liner notes for another album that the strings and flute were recorded for "Slow Dance" in 1983, which means, I suppose, that he was planning to include it on Voice of the Heart but later changed his mind.
"When I Fall in Love" and "Little Girl Blue," which are both old standards, were recorded in 1978 during the sessions for Space Encounters. "The Uninvited Guest" and "Kiss Me the Way You Did Last Night" were both recorded during the Made in America sessions.
The remaining four tracks, "Lovelines," "If We Try," "Remember When Lovin' Took All Night" and "If I Had You" were the first official release of songs from Karen's aborted solo album. Apparently, these were the songs Richard liked most from that project. I differ from Richard in that respect, because there are other songs from the solo album that I like better than a few of these, although I think that "If I Had You" is without a doubt the best song on the solo album. Richard, in trying to make them fit into a "Carpenters" album, remixed the songs. He toned down the "disco" aspects of the music, played up Karen's voice, and in the case of "If I Had You," created a very dramatic end to the song (which, in my opinion, is far better than the fade-out on the solo album version).
All in all, this was a most welcome addition to the Carpenters' catalog, and I listen to it far more than I listen to Horizon, A Kind of Hush, Passage or Made in America.
Lovelines marked the end of an era, in a way: It was the last Carpenters A&M release to be issued on vinyl. No subsequent "album" in the U.S. has seen a vinyl release.
Interstingly, the single of "Honolulu City Lights" showed up unexpectedly in American record stores in early 1987, without an album to accompany it. Lovelines was released over two years later. I still haven't figured that one out...
Tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 produced by Richard Carpenter
Tracks 1, 4, 7, 11 produced by Phil Ramone
"Honolulu City Lights" / "I Just Fall In Love Again" (didn't chart in the U.S.)
"If I Had You" (which I believe was a promotional single only, also didn't chart)
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