"The Carpenters at Christmas" (1977) was Richard and Karen Carpenter's second TV special and first one for Christmas. "The Carpenters: A Christmas Portrait" followed in 1978. Many of the songs were from Spike Jones' 1956 "Xmas Spectacular," which Karen and Richard listened to as children.
In 1984, when CDs were still a new format, Richard had just completed the second Christmas album, AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS. With this album’s material still fresh in his mind, when he set about providing a compact disc version of Carpenters Christmas music, it was decided that A&M would release a “Special Edition” of CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT. This would include parts of both albums, combined in a fashion that would meld the best of both into one long disc, utilizing the compact disc’s longer time capabilities.
In 1998, A&M released the original ' albums for the first time on CD. Along with the reissues, the label released , a double-disc that combines and on one set. Neither album offers any surprises -- they sound exactly like you'd imagine a Carpenters Christmas album would sound like. Since the two albums are virtually interchangeable, relying on 's famously light, inoffensive arrangements and 's sweet, soaring vocals, they make for a terrific pairing. It is true that only hardcore fans will need this set, but they should be more than pleased by this definitive collection.