Sí, ya sé que este es un blog sobre música, y en concreto, sobre The Carpenters. Es tiempo sin embargo de mostrar públicamente mi apoyo a la gente que es discriminada, golpeada, encarcelada e incluso asesinada por su orientación sexual.
Tenéis todo mi apoyo y aprecio y espero que llegué el día en el que podamos decir que se ha logrado alcanzar la tolerancia y el respeto por parte de las más amplias capas de la sociedad, no sólo aquí en España, sino a nivel mundial.
Lógicamente, energúmenos y malas personas existirán siempre, y la aceptación total es muy difícil que se logre, pero se han dado grandes pasos en la dirección adecuada.
Aquí no os traigo ninguna canción, pero tengo que defender aquello en lo que honestamente creo. Es lo que estoy haciendo con esta entrada. Esto no va contra nadie. No va contra ningún Español, ni contra ninguna comunidad autónoma o institución del Estado.
Simplemente es un anhelo personal de conquista de libertades que creo sinceramente que a día de hoy en España no tenemos. El modelo hay que cambiarlo profundamente para conquistarlas.
Es lo que lleva años intentando hacer este movimiento social que cuenta con todo mi apoyo.
The Carpenters 'The Vinyl Collection'
To Be Released Worldwide
Pop/Rock Duo's Longstanding Influential
Legacy Celebrated in Full with Mastered for Vinyl 12-LP Vinyl Box Set
and Individual LP Releases on November 17
The Carpenters' The Vinyl
Collection box set includes all 12 albums replicated on 180-gram
black vinyl and housed in a stylish slipcase. Each album features
lovingly restored original packaging and related artwork. Mastered
for vinyl by Ron McMaster (The Beach Boys, Don McLean)
at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, each album will also be
released individually. The box set does not include their two
This unprecedented box-set collection chronicles the runaway
success of the Carpenters' super-successful 14-year career, which
resulted in 11 studio albums and a greatest hits collection, The
Singles 1969 - 1973, that has been certified at seven-times platinum
and features such indelible chart-topping hits as "We've Only
Just Begun," "Top of the World," "Superstar,"
"Rainy Days and Mondays," "Goodbye to Love,"
"Yesterday Once More," "It's Going to Take Some Time,"
"Sing," "For All We Know," "Hurting Each
Other," and "(They Long to Be) Close to You."
The Carpenters – vocalist/drummer Karen and her older brother,
pianist/composer/arranger Richard – are one of the most successful
sibling duos in pop/rock history, having garnered over 100 million
album and singles sales to date. Their unique blend of smooth vocal
harmonies and classically influenced pop arrangements frequently
vaulted them to the top of the charts, resulting in three No. 1
singles and five No. 2 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and
a dozen Top 10 singles overall, not to mention an astonishing 15 No.
1s on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Karen and Richard have more than earned their superstar standing
as one of the world's most popular and bestselling duos of all time,
and their influence as songwriters, performers, and composers spans
multiple generations and genres. The Carpenters have long elicited
critical praise as well as numerous accolades from their
contemporaries, from such notable artists as Paul
McCartney, Gwen Stefani, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé.
Showing the scope of their reach, the 1994 If I Were a
Carpenter tribute album showcased entries from alternative-rock
icons ranging from Sonic Youth ("Superstar"), Shonen Knife
("Top of the World"), The Cranberries ("(They Long to
Be) Close to You"), Sheryl Crow("Solitaire"),
and Matthew Sweet ("Let Me Be the One"), to name
but a few.
The Carpenters were nominated for numerous GRAMMY Awards®
throughout their storied career, and they won three of them: Best New
Artist (1970), Best Contemporary Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or
Chorus for "(They Long to Be) Close to You" (1970), and
Best Pop Vocal Performance for a Duo or Group for Carpenters (1971).
Two of their most cherished songs have also been inducted in the
GRAMMY® Hall of Fame: "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and
"We've Only Just Begun." Following Karen's untimely death
in 1983, the Carpenters received a well-deserved star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame.
No matter what your walk of life is, the Carpenters have a song that
touches your soul and finds a place where
there's room to grow.
You could start by saying that this new Carpenters album is the most daring, innovative, surprising, serendipitous and satisfying one they've yet made.
Another listen to their previous albums - beginning with the last two, the superb A Kind Of Hush and the sublime Horizon, then continuing all the way back to their debut LP, Ticket To Ride - will reinforce the conclusion that Karen and Richard's records have of course always had the qualities listed above, combined with impeccable taste and a quality of production that made their work a standard against which to measure that of their contemporaries. Taken as a whole, the Carpenters' recorded output makes up an oeuvre in which all pieces fit, in which daring adventurousness and taste have equal place.
Be that as it may ...
This is still the most daring, innovative, surprising, serendipitous and satisfying Carpenters album yet.
"This time there's more different sounds than ever before," Richard says. "I like many kinds of music, and I tried to include a lot of them in this album."
To be sure, there are plenty of "traditional" Carpenters-type tunes on these two sides: Steve Dorff's rueful I Just Fall In Love Again, Scott Davis' Two Sides, Juice Newton's countrified Sweet, Sweet Smile, and Steve Eaton's All You Get From Love Is A Love Song.
But even these are approached from angles slightly out of the ordinary. Note, for instance, Tom Scott's highstepping on All You Get From Love Is A Love Song. Two Sides, Richard's personal almost-favorite on the album, can be enjoyed for its face-value romantic irony, but at the same time it extends the emotional territory explored on the Horizon LP; and the lyric's suggestion of the duality of affairs is especially appropriate for Karen to sing, because the ambivalence enclosed by the song is a nice approximation of the chimerical quality of her own art - as soon as you think you've categorized her, she reveals another aspect of her range, one you'd overlooked or forgotten for a while.
Consider Man Smart, Woman Smarter. The Harry Belefonte calypso favorite is here totally transformed into a torrid, teasing, taunting rocker that jolts along like the first motorcar to come to Tobago. Karen performs like a native to the genre born, while King Ericson pounds the congas, Leon Russell pounds the ivory, Vince Charles works the steel drums, ex-Johnny Otisite Jackie Kelso jams on tenor, and weird vocal snatches boil and bubble out of the speakers.
Then there is B'wana She No Home. Michael Franks' sinuous, subtle, droll explication of the master-servant problem - another eye-opener: jazzy, seductive, and a spontaneous triumph, elegantly executed with the assistance of pianist Pete Jolly and flautist-tenorist Tom Scott, who trade choruses in one of the album's several "live" cuts.
"When recording, we usually begin with bass, drums, piano, and build from there," Richard explains, "but on several of these tracks, almost the whole thing was recorded live all at once, with just brass and strings overdubbed later. Certain pieces call for that."
One such definitely was Don't Cry For Me Argentina, from the Webber-Rice opera Evita. Some 150 people participated in the recording of this number, including members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a 50 member singing group under the direction of Gregg Smith. The orchestration was by Peter Knight, an Englishman best known in this country for his recorded work with the Moody Blues. Singers and orchestra were assembled on the A&M Records soundstage, in front of microphones that led into the control booth of Studio D. "You get a beautiful sound that way," says Richard, "a much more open sound than you could get in a recording studio." The presence of press turned this "monster date" into instant news: the crispness of the production and playing, and Karen's powerful vocal, make for an instant favorite. Karen projects both worldly knowledge and unexpected innocence, sophistication combined with the pain of lost illusion. I doubt any other version could equal this one's poignance and authority; it becomes immediately definitive.
But surely the most unexpected entry here is the Carpenters' adaption of Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft, a paen to galactic communication written by the Beatles-influenced group, Klaatu. Richard chose this song for three reasons: "I'm a Beatles fan, a Klaatu fan, and a science fiction fan." Again, his arrangement is orchestrated by Knight. Richard purposely avoided the kind of electronic devices with which Klaatu conveyed the illusion of outer space. "They employed a lot of sound effects - tape delay, things like that - and did all their sweetening with synthesizer. I wanted to use the real thing." So Tony Peluso (who also portrays the confused disc jockey) plays his Appollonian guitar over swelling cosmic threnodies, swirling violins, pipe organ, choir, classical piano and a marching band - Charles Ives goes to Mars! Somehow it all seems as natural as catching a wave.
And there it is: exactly three months' labor, from the first vocals on Love Song to the final mix of Occupants - a potpourri of the Carpenters' special abilities and interests.
For their second rock opera, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice - the creators of Jesus Christ Superstar - have chosen another story of a controversial historical figure whose popular appeal, dramatic flair, and social impact give an added dimension of emotional complexity to their music. Maria Eva Duarte Peron, the second wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, was born in the small town of Los Toldos into a poor family. At the age of 16, she came to the capitol city of Buenos Aires and rapidly achieved stardom as a radio and motion picture personality. Her Cinderella story background and her personal charisma helped her establish an enormous popular following in Argentina. She used this popularity to help her husband be elected President of Argentina in 1946. The Maria Eva Duarte de Peron Welfare Foundation, which she founded in 1947, provided millions of dollars for poverty relief, in a fund-raising effort clouded by scandals. When she died of cancer in 1952 at the age of 33, she achieved national status of virtual sainthood.
The musical selection from Webber and Rice's opera which appears on Passage, On The Balcony Of The Casa Rosada / Don't Cry For Me Argentina, captures Juan and Evita Peron in their victory appearance at the Pink palace (Casa Rosada) after the 1946 Presidential Election. In Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Evita assures the crowd that she has not forgotten her lower class origins. She asks her beloved Descamisados (shirtless ones), as she referred to the poorest of the poor, to continue to love her: "Don't keep your distance." At the end of this emotional plea, she offers as proof of her sincerity the statement, "But all you have to do is look at me to know that every word is true." This line embodies the themes of Evita: the deceptiveness of political imagery, the persuasiveness of her personal warmth, and the irony of her life, which is inextricably intermingled with the history of Argentina.
"This album is a ton of fun to listen to, and was completely unexpected. It's a smorgasbord of musical genres and a potpourri of sound. From Jazz to pop, and easy listening to rock, it has everything. (And this daring duo even threw in some musical theater to round it all off.) Their collective sense of humor shines through with a larger-than-life cover of Klaatu's Calling Occupants ... preceded by a wacky intro by their guitar player and finished off by a sweet and massive orchestral outro. If you're a Carpenters fan I highly suggest taking a listen. If you're not necessarily a fan you ought to give this album a try; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. (This comes from someone who grew up listening to this group on the a.m. stations in the 70s but who owned not one song or album until this one.)"
"An instant pleasant surprise from the opening jazzy rock textures to the opening B'wana She No Home, is then followed quickly by slight disappointment by the heavy processing of Karen's voice. The one great asset of any Carpenters album is that voice, as unadorned as possible. One very good thing about it though in retrospect is the lower than usual cheese/goofy factor (Man Smart being the weakest link). Fortunately this continues, and as can be seen by the amount of voters here on AMG giving it an average 4 stars compared to the Bruce Eder measly 2, the material is stronger overall than on the majority of their lps, and the sleeve notes quite rightly proclaim the divergence of musical styles adopted. Don't Cry for Me Argentina is going to be hard to improve on for anyone singing it in future, because she has already blown every previous version out the water on here. Calling occupants is a bit dated, and has their monkeying around to it, but then there is a strong vocal performance after that. If I reissued it, I would cut the intro off, or at least have a version without it on the record. The interplay between her and the oboist Earl Dumler bought to mind similar passages in the Bach Wedding cantata, a work three hundred years older, baroque to the future, you might say.
The thing that never happened though, to mine and presumably thousands of others regret, is that the right person never came along, and sweet talked her in to making a solo album of strong jazz material. If she had a voice good enough to make Ella Fitzgerald cry tears of pleasure on national tv in front of millions, she was good enough to make that album we never got. At some point maybe even just an anthology of the stronger songs without her voice processed will be the album we have been waiting for (in other words, produced by someone who is not Richard Carpenter)".
FOR RICHARD CARPENTER THERE'S NO ESCAPE: FOURTEEN YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS SISTER KAREN HE'S STILL HER CAPTIVE. "CAN SOMEBODY WHO WROTE AND ARRANGED `GOODBYE TO LOVE' REALLY BE SQUARE?" HE ASKS. TO WHICH QUESTION, SAYS JANIE LAWRENCE THERE IS ONLY ONE ANSWER.
THE WAITER IS BECOMING EXTREMELY STROPPY. NO, THE AMERICAN GENTLEMAN REALLY CAN'T SIT AND HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN OF HIM PLAYING ON THE LOUNGE PIANO. HOTEL POLICY. ANYHOW WHO DID WE SAY HE WAS AGAIN? CLEARLY IT'S TIME FOR THE DEFINITIVE VOCAL REMINDER. "EVERY SHA-LA-LA, EVERY WHOA- OH-WHOA..." DOES THE TRICK. THE PENNY DROPS IMMEDIATELY. OH, THAT RICHARD CARPENTER. GINGER WITHOUT FRED. WISE WITHOUT MORECAMBE. RICHARD WITHOUT KAREN. SAD, SAD, SAD.
"I ALWAYS FELT THAT MY ROLE WAS TO BE IN THE BACKGROUND," HE SAYS, RECALLING THE HEADY DAYS WHEN THE CARPENTERS RACKED UP TWENTY HITS AMNOG THE TOP 40. SHE WITH THE FLICKED BACK HAIR AND THE MAXI DRESSES, HIM BOBBING BEHIND THE KEYBOARDS. SO APPLE-PIE WHOLESOME, SO VERY SQUARE.
OVER 20 YEARS ON, HE MINDS BEING CALLED "SQUARE". SURPRISINGLY HE STILL MINDS. "I'M NOT SQUARE" HE COUNTERS IN NERVY FASHION. "ANYBODY WHO CAN COME UP WITH, NOT ONLY THE SONG, BUT THE ARRANGEMENT TO `GOODBYE TO LOVE' ISN'T SQUARE. I THINK THOSE CHEEK TO CHEEK SHOTS OF US DIDN'T HELP THE IMAGE WHATSOEVER."
NOW, APPROACHING 51, RICHARD CARPENTER LOOKS - WELL - SQUARE, IN HIS DIAGONALLY PATTERNED ACRYLIC JUMPER AND GREY FLANNEL TROUSERS. HIS HAIR WITH ITS INCIPIENT BALDING PATCH IS NEATLY PARTED IN PREP SCHOOL FASHION. AND FOR A MAN WHO NEED NEVER DO ANYTHING, EVER AGAIN, EXCEPT PICK UP THE CONSTANT STREAM OF ROYALTIES CHEQUES, MR CARPENTER APPEARS REMARKABLY LACKING IN CONFIDENCE. HE IS POLITE, SUSPICIOUS AND PALPABLY VULNERABLE. HIS AMERICAN MANAGER HOVERS PROTECTIVELY ONLY TWO FEET AWAY. MY QUESTIONS BRING ON THE SAME EYE-SWIVELLING ANXIETY DARREN OF BEWITCHED HAD WHEN HE FEARED HIS WIFE WAS ABOUT TO TURN HIM INTO A PLANT. RICHARD IS UNCANNILY LIKE DARREN.
WHEN HIS SISTER KAREN DIED OF A HEART ATTACK BROUGHT ON BY HER ANOREXIA NERVOSA IN 1983 THE CARPENTERS HAD SOLD OVER ONE MILLION RECORDS. THEIR POPULARITY HAD DIPPED BUT IF KAREN WERE ALIVE THEY WOULD STILL BE RECORDING TODAY. OR THAT'S HOW RICHARD SEES IT. "WE'D BE MAKING MORE ALBUMS, SPEND MORE TIME IN THE STUDIO AND DO AN OCCASIONAL TOUR. SUMMER TOURS, A WEEK PER VENUE, EVERY OTHER YEAR A UK TOUR." IT SOUNDS SO PLANNED AND PRESENT TENSE, IT'S AS IF RICHARD HAS NEVER FULLY ADJUSTED TO WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
NOW MARRIED, HE HAS FOUR CHILDREN BUT STILL LIVES IN THE SAME LA SUBURB OF DOWNEY THE CARPENTER FAMILY MOVED TO WHEN RICHARD AND KAREN WERE TEENAGERS. MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND HINTED AT ABOUT THE DISTURBING CLOSENESS OF THEIR BROTHER-SISTER RELATIONSHIP.
EVEN NOW THE INTEREST IN THE CARPENTERS PHENOMONEN HASN'T ABATED. THERE ARE THREE NEW AMERICAN DOCUMENTARIES CURRENTLY IN THE PIPELINE.
"WE SPENT A HELL OF A LOT OF TIME TOGETHER," HE SAYS UNCOMFORTABLY. BUT WEREN'T THEY UNCOMMONLY CLOSE?
"WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE OCCASIONAL SQUABBLE WE ALWAYS GOT ALONG VERY WELL AS KIDS AND GROWING UP. IT WAS A DAMNED GOOD THING, CAUSE WE WERE TOGETHER IN THE STUDIO AND TOGETHER OUT ON THE ROAD." PERHAPS IT'S A LOSS HE WILL NEVER GET OVER? "HAVE YOU EVER LOST A BROTHER OR A SISTER?" HE ASKS.
DESPITE THE MILLIONS OF TIMES HE'S TALKED ABOUT IT OVER THE YEARS, THE PAIN STILL SEEMS RAW. "I HEAR THE ONLY THING THAT'S WORSE IS LOSING A CHILD, WHICH I CAN WELL IMAGINE. THAT GREAT VOICE, THAT GREAT LADY, GONE AT 32. I DON'T SEE ANY RHYME OR REASON FOR IT." HE MUST HAVE KNOWN HOW SERIOUSLY ILL SHE WAS. "I COULD SEE IT IN HER EYES. BUT EVEN THOUGH YOU SAY TO YOURSELF `YOU CAN DIE FROM THIS,' YOU NEVER REALLY BELIEVE IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN."
UNPROMPTED HE VOLUNTEERS THAT HE STILL FEELS GUILTY ABOUT THE OTHER EMOTIONS HE WENT THROUGH AFTER HER DEATH. "IT WAS A LITTLE BIT SELFISH OF ME. IN ADDITION TO EVERYTHING ELSE I THOUGHT OF ALL THESE SONGS YET TO BE RECORDED WHICH SHE WAS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO." IN RECENT YEARS HE HAS SPENT MOST OF HIS TIME PRODUCING OTHER PEOPLE'S RECORDS. NOTHING HE HAS COMPOSED HAS ENJOYED THE SUCCESS OF THE CARPENTERS IN THEIR HEYDAY.
HIS "NEW" ALBUM - RICHARD CARPENTER, PIANIST, ARRANGER, COMPOSE, CONDUCTOR - IS (BAR TWO NEW TRACKS) AN INSTRUMENTAL REWORKING OF ALL THE OLD SONGS. WHY GO OVER OLD GROUND? "IF I JUST TOOK THE ORIGINAL ARRANGEMENTS THAT WOULD BE A TRAVESTY TO KAREN'S MEMORY, BUT THIS IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT ANIMAL FROM THE CARPENTERS RECORDS." YOU MIGHT SAY HE'S CASHING IN. "THEY'RE MY SONGS YOU KNOW" HE RETORTS DEFENSIVELY IN PARTICULARLY DARREN-LIKE FASHION. "I HAVE AS MUCH RIGHT AS ANYBODY TO RECORD THEM, I KNEW AS I WAS MAKING IT THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE POPPING AT ME. BUT IF I TRIED TO SPEND MY LIFE PLEASING EVERYBODY I'D BE IN A LOONY BIN." WOULD KAREN APPROVE? "ABSOLUTELY - I CAN'T STRESS STRONGLY ENOUGH HOW MUCH SHE WOULD. SHE WAS MY NUMBER ONE SUPPORTER. SHE WOULD LOVE SOME OF THE CHANGES I'VE PUT ON. SHE IS IN IT IN SPIRIT WITHOUT A DOUBT."
IN NOVEMBER THERE'S ANOTHER COMPILATION ALBUM, CARPENTERS: THE LOVE SONGS. WITH SO MUCH ENERGY STILL DEVOTED TO SONGS THAT HE WROTE MANY YEARS AGO PERHAPS HE WORRIES THAT'S HIS LOT?
"OF COURSE I DO. I GUESS KISMET HAD ME MAKING IT AT A YOUNGER AGE. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T THINK THE WELL'S RUN DRY. YOU SEE I HAVEN'T REALLY TRIED A GREAT DEAL. WHEN I DO SIT DOWN AND TRY IT TURNS OUT TO BE SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T REALLY SATISFY ME. I THINK A NUMBER OF PEOPLE GO THROUGH THAT THOUGH. TCHAIKOVSKY HAD IT."
THAT HE SAYS IS ABOUT TO CHANGE. HE'S NOW WORKING TO A DEADLINE AND HAS A NEW SONG "RATTLING AROUND" HIS HEAD. "IT'S A TRIBUTE TO KAREN - AS A HUMAN BEING AND AS A SINGER." HE HAS NEVER WANTED TO WORK FULL TIME WITH ANOTHER SINGER. "I'VE WORKED WITH THE BEST," HE SAYS SIMPLY. "IF PEOPLE ARE REALLY TALENTED IT COMES OUT SOUNDING EFFORTLESS. BUT IT'S NOT EASY." DEMONSTRATING THIS, HIS EYES FOCUSED ON SOME POINT INTO THE MIDDLE DISTANCE, HE SINGS THE WHOLE OF THE FIRST VERSE OF "GOODBYE TO LOVE", POKING THE AIR AS HE REACHES "ALL I KNOW IS HOW TO LIVE WITHOUT IT".
WHEN THEIR BIOPIC WAS BEING MADE RICHARD INFORMED THE PRODUCERS THAT, AT THE SAME TIME KAREN HAD BEEN STRUGGLING WITH ANOREXIA, HE HAD BEEN ADDICTED TO QUAALUDES. "IT WAS A BIG DEAL FOR ME SO THEY REVISED THE SCRIPT AND THE WORD CAME BACK, `IF RICHARD FEELS HE HAS TO HAVE THIS IN HERE THEN WE'LL PUT IT IN.' THERE WAS NOTHING I WANTED MORE THAN NOT HAVING IT IN THERE BUT I FELT IT WAS THE HONOURABLE THING TO DO. I WAS COMING OFF LIKE A BOYSCOUT AND I WANTED TO BE AN UPSTANDING GUY AND NOT HAVE EVERYTHING BLAMED ON KAREN."
RICHARD CARPENTER: PIANIST, ARRANGER, COMPOSER, CONDUCTOR IS OUT NOW. CARPENTERS: THE LOVE SONGS IS RELEASED ON NOVEMBER 10TH
Us, This Is Real : Fourteen alternative-rock groups have recorded
versions of their favorite Carpenters songs. : Is this a joke? Not to
them. The dark side of the Carpenters' American Dream isn't joke
Grein | Paul
Grein is a Los Angeles free-lance writer who specializes in pop
music. He interviewed the Carpenters for Calendar in 1981.
Carpenters were called a lot of things in the '70s, but hip was
never one of them. The brother and sister from Downey were known
almost as much for their squeaky-clean image as for their poignant
a lot of certifiably hip acts have been singing Karen and Richard's
now 14 alternative rock acts--from Sonic Youth to the
Cranberries--have recorded an album in which they perform
Carpenters hits in their own styles. "If I Were a Carpenter,"
which is set for release Tuesday on A&M Records, was conceived
as a heartfelt yet irreverent tribute.
acts liking the Carpenters? The same Carpenters that the Rolling
Stone Record Guide long dismissed as "bubbly and bland"?
incongruity is what intrigued Matt Wallace, who has produced
records by such acclaimed alternative acts as Faith No More, the
Replacements and Paul Westerberg.
was the interesting rub about this project, taking very commercial,
pop, melodic songs and marrying them with bands that don't tend to
do very melodic songs," said Wallace, who served as executive
producer on the album with music journalist David Konjoyan.
notes that, despite the obvious musical differences, the Carpenters
have a lot in common with these alternative acts.
their own time, the Carpenters were probably as alternative as any
alternative band is today," he said. "They were certainly
taking their own path. I think anybody who bucks trends, anybody who
does their own thing despite what's going on around them, earns
respect for that."
Hamby--vice president of artists and repertoire at A&M Records,
which released all the Carpenters' records--agrees.
think Karen was sort of emblematic of an alternative type of soul,"
he said. "It's there in her story, her presence, her voice.
There was always this sad, melancholy quality in her voice--even on
the happiest, most up-tempo songs that she sang. And I think a lot
of these alternative artists have picked up on that."
these acts really like the Carpenters--or is this
some kind of a sendup?
the first question people invariably ask when they hear about this
album--which also includes performances by Babes in Toyland, Shonen
Knife, Cracker, Sheryl Crow and Johnette Napolitano with Marc
Carpenter and executives at A&M acknowledge that they were
concerned that the album might be "tongue in cheek" when
Konjoyan and Wallace first presented the idea a year ago.
needn't have worried. The artists' affection for the Carpenters
seems genuine. There may be some nostalgia at play here, but the
attraction isn't camp.
second question people usually ask is more complex: How much of this
fascination is due to the tragedy surrounding Karen Carpenter? The
singer was just 32 when she died in 1983 after an eight-year battle
with anorexia nervosa.
Konjoyan says, "I don't think we can extract the Carpenters'
lives from their music and have it really mean the same to all these
bands. I mean, there is a very tragic story behind their career, and
I think that's added a lot of depth to what they're about."
acts seem to be especially intrigued by the disparity between the
Carpenters' sugarcoated image and the darker reality of their lives.
Some even see the Carpenters' story as a metaphor for the dark side
of the American Dream--the underside of success, beauty and family
so American--they have the light and the dark," said Kim
Gordon, bassist and singer for Sonic Youth, a leading underground
band that performs "Superstar" on the album.
just find the whole family aspect fascinating," she added.
"It's like the Beach Boys family. They're supposed to be the
ideal American families--the success dream, and all that."
underneath were problems and conflicts, as in any family--only
magnified by the pressures of stardom.
Youth co-leader Thurston Moore added that those undertones of
darkness come across in the Carpenters' music--and are part of what
makes it so alluring.
a certain sort of dark mystery to the music that we always found so
potent," he said.
Bettis, who teamed with Richard Carpenter to write such hits as
"Goodbye to Love" and "Yesterday Once More,"
said that what Moore and others hear in the music was real.
dark side, the melancholia, was as real as they feel it was. They're
responding to the emotional truth, not the image, which is what I
hen Karen Carpenter died on Feb. 4, 1983, many pop fans hadn't given
the Carpenters much thought in years. The duo's last album, in 1981,
and last TV special, in 1980, had both bombed.
death drew heavy coverage, in part because it was so unexpected and
she was so young. But an album of previously unreleased material
released later that year met with only modest success. When producer
Dick Clark included a brief tribute to Karen on his American Music
Awards program in January, 1984, it was like remembering someone
from another era.