Bob Carpenter “Silent Passage”

Bob Carpenter’s Silent Passage was a Warner Brothers release from 1984. Supposedly, the sessions for this album were cut between 1971 and 1973 but the Riverman Records reissue OBI strip dates Silent Passage at 1975.  Artists as diverse as Tom Rush, Billy Joe Shaver and Emmylou Harris have covered Carpenter’s material.

Bob Carpenter’s rustic, gritty vocals will probably be an acquired taste but don’t let this deter you from listening to this fine album. There’s a certain spirtual vibe that cloaks Silent Passage, also, it’s not the cheeriest record but not many country-rock albums are. The lyrics usually deal with depression, isolation, loss and the occasional religious overtone but these themes are common among many early 70s country rock/Americana/singer songwriter releases. It’s closest cousin is probably Bob Martin’s classic Midwest Farm Disaster.

Key tracks are the great, eerie Americana of “Gypsy Boy,” a spiritual highlight titled “Morning Train,” the desolate “Down Along the Border,” and the depressing but strangely optimistic “The Believer.” Some tracks such as “Miracle Man” and “Old Friends” offer up a more commerical rock sound while “First Light” is a folk gem with strings and organ.

Overall this is a very good, overlooked LP with many strengths. A quiet gem for the folk-rock and country-rock fans.

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“Gypsy Boy”

:D Reissue | 2009 | Riverman | buy here ]
:) Original | 1975 | Warner Reprise | search ebay ]

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  • Doug Cox

    wrong! bob carpenter from the dirt band is not the same guy.

  • Jason

    I’ve seen this on nearly every source….you might be right? Would you be able to come up with a source? There’s very little information on Bob Carpenter and what’s out there states the same thing.,,,,

  • Jason Odd

    Lots of confusion on the release date. It’s listed in the Warner discography as a ’75, but over the years many have assumed the 1984 Stony Canyon reissue as the actual release date.
    Produced over several years as noted here, by Brian Ahern if memory serves me right, hence the inclusion of his other artist of note Emmylou Harris on the few things recorded in ’74, when Emmylou was working on her debut LP with Ahern.

    Emmylou became a star, after a lot of hard work.. Bob dissapeared in the framework on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for many years. Overall, he did okay… and the album is aces in my book.


  • Denny

    Bob Carpenter of ‘Silent Passage’ was a good friend of mine and I can raise my right hand and solemnly attest that he was not the same guy who played with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Nor was he the hockey player of the same name or the Bob Carpenter of the CD entitled ‘Sun The Moon & The Stars.’ The songs on ‘Silent Passage’ were written in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I’m not sure of the original release date but it was on Stony Plain records, not Stony Canyon, and I think it was late ’70s. It’s a shame there’s not more information about Bob because his music is very special. He died in 1995 of brain cancer. I hope one day his music gets the recognition it deserves.

  • Denny

    P.S. Lowell George plays slide on ‘Miracle Man’ and Bill Payne plays piano on a couple of tracks.

  • Jason Odd

    Well, I have been sloppy, you folks are right, here’s the other Bob Carpenter of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band aka Dirt Band fame:

    Back to our Bob, Silent Passage was first issued as Warner Reprise MS2233 in 1975.

    A-1) Miracle Man (L.A. ,73)
    A-2) Silent Passage (L.A. ,73)
    A-3) Old Friends (L.A. ,73)
    A-4) First Light (L.A. ,73)
    A-5) Morning Train (L.A. ,73)
    B-1) The Believer (Toronto, 74)
    B-2) Gypsy Boy (Toronto, 71)
    B-3) Down Along The Border (Toronto, 72)
    B-4) Before My Time (Toronto, 71)
    B-5) Now And Then (Toronto, 72)

    The Stony Plain version (yes, that’s right .. Stony Plain not Canyon, well spotted) was issued as
    SPL 1081 in 1984 and is often mistaken for the original release.

    Back in the December 19, 1970 issue of Billboard Magazine, a Bob Carpenter is referred to as an artist who is recording for A&M with David Briggs. The general vibe of the article was about folkies – singer/songwriter types, notably Canadian ones. No idea if it was David Briggs of Neil Young fame, or the other David Briggs, a Muscle Shoals and Nashville sideman who moved into production in Nashville.


  • Denny

    An interesting bit of trivia for anyone who’s interested — This Bob Carpenter wrote a song that was recorded by Dionne Warwick in about 1967. I think it was called ‘The Lady Is Love.’ I remember hearing the song but my memory is getting rusty and I don’t know what album it was on. Bob wrote a lot of songs that were never recorded. A shame because I liked them all. Can’t help you with the David Briggs question.

  • mac man

    What an absolutely brilliant record ! Kinda reminds me of David Munyon, its tragic BC had so much hassle getting such a masterpiece released but then when did record companies know the wheat from the chaff, thankfully the koreans seem to know its worthwhile putting it out on mini LP. Just ordered mine off ebay will let youbguys know how it sounds, mac man

  • It’s reassuring to see a flame still burns for this great artist. If you love the album then you have a twinkling of an inkling just how truly magnificent and majestic a singer, songwriter and performer he was.

    I know because I managed Bob for a brief spell in 1971. We were all set to launch on Warner Bros. Records… when Cupid shot an arrow that brought love to a few and disappointment to many.

    I fictionized my encounter with Bob in my 2010 book, “This Rock Can Talk.” I also write about him in my new book set for release early next year, “Freedom Spy: David Jove and The Meaning of Existence.”

    Bob still lives within all who hear his unforgettable “Silent Passage.”

  • Thomas Shields

    I purchased this from Amazon because of hearing the single cut on Midlake’s favs (Late Night….). Very, very, very happy! Kinda reminds me of Tim Rose (“Snowed In” fame). Very grateful to Midlake for recognizing greatness where there was no popularity. Most of the thousands of records,8-tracks, cassettes, and cd’s that I own, are of the hard-to-find but great kind. I am very impressed by Mr. Carpenter and am grateful for the accurate info presented on him at this site!!!

  • bill carpenter

    bob was my brother. i am glad to see that people are still listening to his music and that with to-days technology it is spreading farther afield.this would have made bob very happy. i don,t know where the musical talent came from but it seams to wonder back and forth through the family our niece Serena Ryder is doing well carrying on with the music and i have started singing which i had never tried before .good thing we,re in canada and can wear ear muffs. Bill

  • I had the good fortune to meet and get to know Bob Carpenter in Escondido, CA in 1993 in a little coffee house and was blown away with his material and his voice. I had a trio at the time and was looking for some really good tunes that fit our style and various talents. Each time Bob would come down he would look me up and we would swap songs. (I got the better of the swap!) We ended up recording about 7 or 8 of his wonderful songs. I loved his husky soulful voice not to mention his unique guitar style. Most definitely on of the most talented, generous, and sweetest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I will soon be posting some (or all) of the songs we recorded on ReverbNation under “Sterling and Morgan.” If you would like to hear some of Bob’s songs that were never recorded by anybody else … look us up and give a listen. His songs are magical and not to be missed. One of the best overlooked singer/songwriters I have ever had the pleasure to have heard and known.
    Randy Cierley-Sterling

  • I have posted a few of Bob’s tunes on under the name, Sterling & Morgan.

    Bob’s songs are:


    Hope you all enjoy Bob’s music and … if you have a few minutes you might want to browse around our collection of songs. Who knows, you might just find a gem or two that you might really enjoy.

    Randy Cierley-Sterling

  • Tom

    Fyi: No Quarter Records is re-issuing Silent Passage this month. Mojo has a fantastic 4 star review.

  • Matt

    I’ve just head the pleasure of discovering Bob Carpenter’s music though the truly fantastic ‘Silent Passage’ album. It’s great to read the messages from everybody here, particularly the lucky ones who got to listen to Bob’s music in person. From the sounds of things,with his passing, we lost a good guy as well as a supremely talented songwriter and artist.

    Speaking of talented chaps, it was a treat to find out that’s Lowell George’s slide we can hear on the record too (seems so obvious when you know)..he always did have good taste!

    Such a shame the record wasn’t given the attention it deserved back in it’s day.

    RIP Bob and cheers for the tunes.

  • Peter

    Searching on spotify I also found the album ‘Eight Demos 1979’, released by Stony Plain Recording.

  • Darren Taylor

    Darren here in South Africa. I have just had the amazing pleasure of discovering Bob Carpenter’s Silent Passage, courtesy of Uncut magazine. And I cannot believe that such brilliance basically vanished, into a void. What forces conspired to bury such a masterpiece? What forces prevented Bob from being recognized as a supreme singer/songwriter? Himself? A corporation? God? The Devil? Whatever. His music is dressed in wonder, and lives. The truth will always be victorious.

  • Conor Murphy

    Like Darren, I’ve been introduced to Bob through a track on Uncut magazine’s giveaway CD. Have no idea what the rest of his output is like, but Silent Passage would be a worthy career highlight for anyone.

  • Tom Shields

    For those who don’t know Bob’s history. Randy Sterling helped me with his sad final days. Bob was soon to be “Father” CCarpenter.He was soon to be ordained when he recorded this music. He died of a brain tumor. I don’t think that there are any other songs available. Randy record Bob’s songs and made them available to me. He was a close friend of Bob and that friendship meant a lot to him. I hope I haven’t spoke out of turn with any of this information.

  • Randy Cierley-Sterling

    Thank you Tom Shields. Since iSongs no longer exists some of Bob’s songs cam be found at: I have our existing masters of Bob’s songs we recorded and if you email me at I can make a CD of these seven songs available for a very nominal fee. Bob’s friendship was very special to me and the members of our group. When Bob heard what we had done with the first two songs he taught me he was very pleased and proceeded to sit in my kitchen and let me record several more, some of which we still plan on recording.

  • Randy Cierley-Sterling

    I see that they have blocked the web sites and my email … so contact me on FaceBook.

  • Gisli Arnar Gudmundsson

    Fantastic music, I discovered him through Midlake. Been listening him on Spotify.
    Great voice!!

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