domingo, 28 de febrero de 2016

208º-Carpenters Passage Radio Interview 1977-

Entrevista de radio a The Carpenters, en la cual promocionan el que era su nuevo álbum por aquellas fechas.

viernes, 26 de febrero de 2016

207º-Live In Germany, 1981-

Recorded for Dutch tv show "Mies" in 1981!! Taken from old Video 2000 tape!!. It's a live lead vocal from Karen!.

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

206º-The New York Times Magazine-




‘I’m Here, I’m a Carpenters Fan, Get Used to It’



In the basemnt of my childhood home, there are stacks of old Billboard magazines, dating from the mid-’70s. Recently I rooted through them to find the issue of Jan. 5, 1974. At the top of the album chart inside is the greatest-hits collection by the Carpenters, No. 1 40 years ago this week. Seeing that chart always puts me in mind of another date that same year, April 12, when I got to see the Carpenters live. I was 13. After the show, my mother and I walked up the aisle of the theater, and she delivered her review of the concert:

“Karen looks as if she’s putting on weight.”

She was talking about Karen Carpenter, of course, who, with her brother, Richard, had staged a nonviolent musical coup a few years earlier. Their gentle pop songs, stuff like “Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” conquered the charts in the era of acid rock. And because they were a little geeky — Karen a tomboy-with-bangs who played the drums, Richard a keyboard-and-arranging whiz in a pageboy haircut — they scored big for underdogs everywhere, including me. The music could be cheesy sometimes, but I still loved Karen’s low, lamenting voice and Richard’s tidy, tuneful arrangements. And most of all I loved their chart-topping numbers. For a gay adolescent nerd whose other greatest thrill came on report-card day, their success was my success.

My own review of the concert had nothing to do with Karen’s appearance; she didn’t look overweight, or underweight, to me. I was just struck by how the music — long, somewhat rote medleys interspersed with hokey patter — almost didn’t matter. For me it was probably similar to the Beatles’ legendary concerts at Shea Stadium a decade before, when the screaming drowned out what was happening onstage. On that night in 1974, my mother and I were within a few feet of the Carpenters. We touched the proverbial hem of Karen Carpenter’s hiphugger garment.

They were always better in the studio anyway, I thought, again just like the Beatles. And they were due for a new album soon. The music would take care of itself then. 

That summer, my mother and I sat in plastic-covered chairs in my Aunt Marie’s living room in Ozone Park, Queens, watching President Nixon leave office on TV. I felt bad for the guy. I knew he’d done something wrong. But still, he was resigning in disgrace from the most powerful position in the world in front of millions. And he was a Carpenters fan. He once called them “young America at its very best.”

The Carpenters, meanwhile, were M.I.A. The fan-club newsletters reported that they were touring the world and made vague references to their being in the studio. “When is the new album coming out?” my mother said that day.

“Maybe around Thanksgiving,” I conjectured hopefully.
I was craving new Carpenters music not just because there hadn’t been any in more than a year, but also because I was worried about the state of pop. This wasn’t about disco, which was starting to gain a foothold. I loved some disco songs. The stuff that disgusted me were huge hits like “Seasons in the Sun,” “The Streak,” “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” “The Night Chicago Died,” “(You’re) Having My Baby.” I suppose every era has its novelty hits, but there was just no escaping these crummy songs on the radio. If ever there was a need for the kind of classing up of the airwaves that the Carpenters could provide, it was the summer and fall of 1974. Moreover, for them to be off the market for so long seemed like madness, when they could have gone platinum practically by setting road signs to music.

While there was no new album, there was one major Carpenters-related life event around that time: I threw a punch. And it landed.

Like my mild-mannered father, I avoided confrontation at all costs. I kept my head down in the halls at school, and when someone made fun of me or shoved me into a locker, I just let it slide. My mother and I had recently witnessed some road rage, two guys duking it out in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic. She said something like: “Look at those idiots. Always, always walk away from a fight.” So I usually did.

But one day in the cafeteria in eighth grade, I ignored her advice. The object of my rage was not one of the denim-jacketed nicotine-soaked meanies who tormented me regularly, but rather a boy I ate lunch with every day. He was a mouthy, sarcastic kid named Danny, and as I continued not to hide my affection for the Carpenters — I wrote their name on notebooks, wore their T-shirt, sang their praises wherever I could, as if to say, “I’m here, I’m a Carpenters fan, get used to it” — he belittled them, and me, constantly.

That day at lunch I had my drumsticks with me — in band I played drums, Karen’s instrument! — and Danny pulled them out of my folder. “Are these the kind your girlfriend uses?” he said mockingly. I looked up from my Velveeta-on-white sandwich and pulled the sticks back, and the recoil made one of them slap into my eye. No damage was done, but the weeks of ridicule gathered into a fist, and before I knew it, it was landing smack in the middle of Danny’s honk of a nose.

I hit a gusher. That kid bled.   

November came, and with it, finally, a new release! Only a single, but at least it was something.

Disco was really dominating now, and while I didn’t think the Carpenters should make a disco record per se, at the very least I was hoping for something lively, a song the kids could dance to on “American Bandstand.” About a week before Thanksgiving, such a record appeared. Here was “Please Mr. Postman.”

The exhilaration that flooded me as that song flooded our living room for the first time — it was late on a Sunday afternoon; the radio station was WNBC; Cousin Bruce Morrow was the D.J.; my mother was cooking pot roast — made me focus on everything that was good about the record. It was a classic Motown song later covered by the Beatles, so it couldn’t have had better provenance. The Carpenters’ take on it wasn’t disco, and it didn’t have the irresistible hip-chug of the earlier versions, but it had smooth, steady drumming, by Karen herself and not one of the studio ringers who usually played on their records. Karen’s lead vocal was fluid and sometimes muscular; she clearly held her own on this beloved rock treasure.

The mixed emotions I had about the record surfaced later. It almost came to a dead stop when the blanched-out harmonies kicked in. Making matters worse was a promotional video for the song that had Karen and Richard cavorting around Disneyland. I knew that Karen was a big Disney fan, but . . . what were they thinking? They always complained that they were pigeonholed as square and white-bread, but then they dance around with Mickey Mouse?

Oh, and in the months since my mother and I saw that concert, chunks of Karen’s body seemed to have fallen away, like a snowcap after a sudden, unexpected spike in the temperature. I wasn’t alarmed, exactly, not yet. I’d never even heard the word “anorexia.” And she still sounded pretty good.

Many people were Carpenters fans, but you had to keep it to yourself in the 70's, especially in High School. Great article, I look forward...

What buoyed me most, as usual, were the chart numbers. “Please Mr. Postman” flew up the Billboard Hot 100, and in January 1975, it became their 10th million-selling single. On Jan. 25, my mother and I watched Dick Clark count down the Top 10 on “Bandstand,” and when he revealed the occupant of the No. 1 slot, she looked over at me with something akin to pride.

The song played. And the kids danced. 

Five months later, in June 1975, the new album, “Horizon,” finally arrived. Karen sang as beautifully as ever, and the album was a hit, but not on the multiplatinum level that only a year before was so automatic for them. While they should have been reveling in their success and ramping up the energy, at a time when pop music in general was picking up the tempo, “Horizon” was oddly short and slow and downcast. The really big hit of the summer belonged to the Captain and Tennille, kind of an ersatz Carpenters, with the perky “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

With each successive album, there were quizzical song choices from Richard, while Karen’s voice, once the place where hope and despair fought to a draw, melted away sliver by sliver, song by song, along with her body (and their record sales). I kept hoping that the next album would be the one to turn things around, But by the time I left for college in 1978, they weren’t even making the Top 40 anymore.

Then, a glimmer of hope: Near the end of my freshman year, I read that Karen would record a solo album with the hot New York producer Phil Ramone. I thought, This could fix everything. But the album was shelved on the eve of its release. Karen reunited with Richard for one final record, “Made in America,” in 1981, but it wasn’t the comeback they (or I) were hoping for. In early 1983, the years of battling anorexia caught up to her, and she died in her parents’ home at age 32, with no second act in sight.

That night, Feb. 4, I went to my job spinning records at a local bar. I was mostly numb during my six-hour set of songs by Men at Work, Prince, A Flock of Seagulls, the Pointer Sisters. For my last song, around 4 a.m., I played the Carpenters’ “Superstar.” When Karen started to sing the haunting first line, “Long ago, and oh, so, far away,” the bar got quiet. I closed the door to the D.J. booth, sat down on a record crate and wept. 

New York, 2013. The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas, Darling,” is a fixture on the radio during the holiday season. I hear it in my car on occasion and quite often in the living room of my Manhattan apartment. I wonder if that kid I punched almost 40 years ago is hearing it somewhere. That day in the cafeteria, to his credit, he didn’t hit me back or rat me out; he still teased me about the Carpenters (especially the Disney video), but now with a hint of respect. I guess I made the one punch I’ve ever thrown in my life count.

And the Carpenters themselves have, over the years, been getting respect from unexpected sectors: the film director Todd Haynes; the bands Sonic Youth and My Morning Jacket; the alt-cabaret artist Justin Vivian Bond; the novelist Mary Gaitskill have all acknowledged or celebrated the Carpenters in their art. There was a second act after all.

An even more recent nod, though, came from a not-so-surprising source. Burt Bacharach, the composer of “Close to You,” was on NPR last spring to promote his new memoir, and the host played a few bars of his classic “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” but not the familiar version by Dionne Warwick. “That’s a good singer,” Bacharach said. “Who was it?”

“Karen Carpenter,” the host replied.

“Oh, oh, my God,” Bacharach said. “What a voice.”
Rob Hoerburger, an editor at the magazine, is writing a book about growing up a Carpenters fan.

miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2016

205º-Hal Blaine on Karen Carpenter-


May 07, 2012


Maybe it's because I came of age in the early '70s. Or because my parents had a "burnt orange" car. Or that I had an apple-green Schwinn Stingray. Or that our home was painted redwood. Whatever the reason, the Carpenters always take me back to a time when everything was changing, and not always for the better. But through it all—the striped bellbottoms, the tough kids in the suburbs and the gloomy news—Karen Carpenter's voice made everything seem just righ. 

If you also have a soft spot for the Carpenters, you should know that the drummer on just about all of their hits was the Wrecking Crew's Hal Blaine. What makes Hal's playing behind Richard and Karen Carpenter so special is his subtlety and the percussive textures he added in just the right places. There's the suspenseful delay of the drums on Close to You toward the end, just before Karen's overdubbed vocal chorus comes in. Or his tom-toms on Rainy Days and Mondays.  
I called Hal a short time ago to chat Carpenters because I had just discovered a series of YouTubes where someone isolated Karen's voice on hit tracks, so it sounds like she's singing a cappella. More on these clips at the bottom.

Here's Hal Blaine, on the Carpenters...
JazzWax: When did you first meet Karen Carpenter?
Hal Blaine: I first met Karen when Fender bassist Joe Osborn

brought her and Richard over to Sound Recorders in Los Angeles. Joe and I were doing a Neil Diamond recording session. On a break, Joe said he wanted me to meet a couple of people. When we stepped outside the studio, Karen and Richard were there, wearing matching Western jackets with fringed leather. They seemed like nice kids, in their teens. 

JW: What did Osborn say?
HB: He said, “This is Richard. He plays organ, and this is Karen, she plays the drums.” There was a little chitchat but the meeting was cut short when Joe and I were called back into the studio. Neil was ready to roll again.

JW: Why did Osborn want you to meet them?
HB: Joe said they had been recording in his garage and needed a producer. He wanted me to consider producing. I said, “Joe, based on what you’ve told me, they don’t seem to fit any specific genre. Besides, we don’t have time to go to the bathroom, let alone produce.” Joe shrugged and agreed.

JW: What happened next?
HB: I saw Ticket to Ride, their first album on A&M, when it came out and was happy for them. But nothing much came of it. [The album reached only No. 150 on the Billboard chart in the U.S.] About a year later I got a call from Herb Alpert of A&M Records. I had been the drummer on all of his Tijuana Brass hits. A&M was about to drop the Carpenters, and Herb wanted me to come in to play drums on a song Paul Williams had written with Roger Nichols.

JW: Did you go in?
HB: Yes. When I arrived, the Carpenters’ parents were there. You could tell right away they ruled the roost. We started to run through the song, We’ve Only Just Begun. But Karen was singing way too high. I stopped the session and took Karen aside.  

JW: What did you say?
HB: I said, “Look, Karen, I don’t want to bug you with this, but you’re singing way up high. You speak mid-range, which is much better for your singing voice. Why don’t you try it?” 

JW: Did she agree?
HB: At first her parents cut in and insisted that up high was the way she sang. I said to her, “Try taking it down three keys.” So she did, and the rest is history [laughs].

JW: Her parents must have been quite domineering.
HB: Her mother hated that I was there. Karen played the drums, and her mother didn’t like that I was playing on the session and not her. Her mother said, “I’ve seen many drummers on TV, and Karen can play just as good as they can.”

JW: What did you say?
HB: I said, “Of course she can. But she doesn’t have the studio experience. Playing in the studio is completely different.”

JW: How so?
HB: As a drummer, you’re sitting in a room at your kit in a tight space, and the mikes are highly sensitive. Most drummers are used to knocking the hell out of their set. But in the studio, at least back then, before the digital recording age, you didn’t do that. With all those mikes, you can’t be wailing away or you’ll hit one of the stands. You also have to develop a technique of playing in your own little zone of space. You have to play gentle. If a song calls for something a little heavier, you turn the sticks around so you’re using the thicker end. It’s like the difference between driving a little car and a semi-truck. There are different rules for maneuvering.

JW: So what did you tell her mother?
HB: I said, “Karen is a fine drummer, but there’s some things you have to know about playing in a studio, and you can only learn those things by spending years there and listening back to hear what’s right and what’s not working.” 

JW: Did Karen ever play on those recording sessions?
HB: No. I played on all those dates. Karen liked to hang around a lot at A&M because I was always there recording for Herb. She loved the drums, which helped her a great deal as a singer in terms of her time and tempo.

JW: Why were her parents so insistent on her playing the drums?
HB: Probably because I kept insisting she was the natural voice for the group, not the drummer. Karen had an extraordinary voice, the kind you wanted to hear over and over again. To me, that translated into hits.

JW: Why did her parents oppose that?
HB: I don’t know. Her mother kept saying, “But Richard is the star, Karen is just the drummer.” I think part of that stuff pushed Karen over the edge eventually. The poor thing was playing her buns off on the drums, trying to do the right thing, and her parents were letting her have it.

JW: Did Karen respect you?
HB: Yes, especially as their records became hits. She understood.

JW: Richard Carpenter is quite a player-arranger, yes?
HB: Definitely. He was and still is. But he understood.

JW: Whose idea was the intro to Close to You?
HB: Richard came up with the intro, but at first it started too slow and ran too fast. He was rushing it, and I told him. Sometimes even the greatest solo pianists will start at one tempo and wind up at another. This is fine in a club, but on a record, the listener notices little things like that.

JW: Why is that?
HB: Because in a club, the audience listens with their eyes, distracting the ear. But when it comes to a recording, even an average listener can hear the slightest imperfections. It’s like what happens when you watch a home video. Even if you know nothing about film, the average eye has been so well trained by watching TV that you become frustrated when a home movie isn’t smooth and there aren’t edits and cuts. The ear is the same way with recorded music.

JW: What did you do to help Richard Carpenter?
HB: I suggested he use a click track. This is an electronic click in a headset. You hear the band on one side and the click track on the other. Jack Daugherty was producing and agreed.

JW: What about the drums you used on the sessions?
HB: Back in 1963, I had been experimenting with a larger drum set and used it on Frankie Laine’s recording of Don’t Make My Baby Blue. Then I had a full kit made, which gave me a rack of eight concert tom-toms suspended above the bass drum. It was a monster set. After I appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show playing them, every drum company in the world jumped on it. I gave the idea to Ludwig, thinking they would name it after me. Instead, they called it the Octaplus. I used this kit on all of the Carpenters’ sessions.

JW: Tell me about the drums.
HB: My long-time drum tech, Rick Faucher, worked with a guy named Hal Blaemar, who made the fiberglass shells. I introduced the set on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. I played a drum solo with Nancy Sinatra singing Drummer Man.
The fellow who made my drums made two sets for me; one for Ringo [Starr]; one for himself, and one for Karen, who wanted them when they toured.

JW: Who engineered the Carpenters dates?
HB: Larry Levine. He set up the mikes so they had an intimate, warm feel. Behind Richard and Karen was Joe Osborn on electric bass and me. 

JW: Your subtlety on Close to You is amazing.
HB: That’s what I was known for. I always wanted to hear a song before I played it. My role was to keep time but also add just the right subtle flavor in the right places. A lot of that is because of my schooling. I studied arranging and harmony when I was young and could hear the way I should sound in my head, before the recording started.

JW: Your drums always seem to be Karen’s heartbeat.
HB: That’s the way I wanted it. My drumsticks are my paintbrushes. I was painting a picture. Certain colors coming in and going out. That’s why I loved my Zildjian cymbals. There are nuances I wanted that only those cymbals could produce.

JW: Did Karen overdub her lead vocals?
HB: No. She overdubbed herself to fill out the choral parts, but she always sang the lead line live with us in the studio. 

JW: Who wrote your drum parts?
HB: I did. There were no major charts. My goal was to accompany her in the gentlest way. I’ve always been an accompanist. 

JW: Did you do a lot of takes?
HB: Yes. Joe and I always were in the pocket, and Richard knew he could do whatever he wanted to. Herb took the trumpet solos. But everyone there was a perfectionist, and we wanted it to be just right.

JW: As the years went on, could the studio musicians tell that Karen Carpenter had an eating disorder and was having health issues?
HB: Not at first. Everyone who came to Hollywood back then and became a star thinned down. It was the style out here and probably still is in many ways. The rule of thumb, sadly, was if you’re going to be on film or TV, you had to be 15 pounds underweight to look normal. It’s crazy, I know, but that’s how it was.

JW: No one could tell there was an issue?
HB: There were times when I’d give her a hug at the studio and I could feel her rib cage. She was like a little bird that had fallen out of a tree. For me, the saddest thing of all came in the later years. Karen had finally met a guy she liked, and he just took her money. He broke her heart completely. It was so damn sad. Her face was so hollow.

JW: When you think back, what do you think of Karen?
HB: How sad her life was. Years after she died in 1983, Richard called me to update some of the older tracks, for remastering. We were in the studio for about six hours, and I cried all the way listening back and playing over the parts. What a shame.

viernes, 19 de febrero de 2016

204º-Karen Carpenter En La Infancia (1954-1963)-

Contrariamente a lo que pueda parecer, la pequeña de los Carpenter de muy niña no mostraba gran interés por la música, aunque es cierto que al ver el interés que mostraba su hermano con la colección extensa de discos que tenía su padre en el sotano de la primera casa de la familia en New Haven, sentía curiosidad y se quedaba con él allí. Aquí la tenemos en la foto superior con cuatro años comenzando a practicar ballet y acrobacias.

Karen, en sus propias palabras, era "poco femenina, disfrutando de deportes que tradicionalmente se han asociado con lo masculino, como el softball, el béisbol, y el bádminton en la calle y sobre el césped de su casa" con los amigos. Ella todavía no mostró inclinación musical. Karen compartió un interés en la música debido a su admiración por su hermano. "Si él escuchaba la música, yo lo hacía. Hice todo lo que él hacía. Y honestamente, todas las grabaciones que escuchabamos se quedaban en mi mente."
Karen todavía estaba probando instrumentos como la flauta y el acordeón, pero mostró poco interés. Estaba más interesada en el ciclismo y otros deportes físicos.

A los 10 años, Karen muestra un apetito normal y saludable. Ella era muy querida en el barrio debido a su personalidad divertida y solidaria. Fue en esta época que ella también se vio afectada por otros niños de sus burlas por su tendencia a la gordura. La pubertad se produjo por Karen en torno a la edad de 12 o 13. Sus padres declararon que su "gordura" no le molestaba a esa edad, y que ella aceptó bromas sobre el particular alegremente. Frank Bonito, un buen amigo de Karen, observa ahora: "Creo que ella siempre sintió que era poco atractiva, especialmente cuando se convirtió en una mujer de grandes caderas".

martes, 16 de febrero de 2016

202º-Richard Y Karen Carpenter En Disneyland 1974-

Hace ya más de 40 años, Richard y Karen Carpenter actuaron en Disneyland Durante un evento especial para la USC (Universidad del Sur de California).

No fue la única vez que el dúo estaría asociado con Disney. Unos años más tarde, fueron filmados para un segmento de la televisión en relación con Walt Disney World. Richard también estaba considerando seriamente componer la banda sonora de la película de Disney "The Rescuers". No olvidemos que los hermanos eran seguidores acérrimos de los personajes de Disney.

Si estás familiarizado con la historia de Karen y Richard, es posible que sepas que él y el compañero de composición John Bettis trabajaron en Disneyland. La foto fue tomada en 1967.

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2016

201º-Los Coches De Los Hermanos Carpenter-

Un aspecto no muy conocido de la vida privada de los hermanos Carpenter, es su pasión por los coches de alta gama, particularmente en el caso de Richard.

Aquí os muestro el Jaguar XJS de 1979 de Karen Anne Carpenter. El Coche de Karen fue vendido en Ebay hace unos años. La restauración de este vehículo ha sido una labor de amor. Adquirido de Richard Carpenter en 1995, este coche de California fue de la exitosa cantante antes de que ella falleció en 1983. Aún mostrando su placa personalizada KAC3 de California, este deportivo de 12 cilindros se ve y funciona muy bien. Incluye una amplia restauración que tiene todo el nuevo interior de cuero y alfombras hechas de herramienta original. Otros extras incluyen nueva Pioneer AM / radio FM y reproductor de CD, altavoces, neumáticos Michelin ruedas de alambre original y 54.000 millas. 2 puertas Transmisión automática Colores Burdeos/marrón Exterior – Interior Beige.

A continuación, una lista con la colección particular del teclista y compositor Richard Carpenter, integrada por veinticinco vehículos espectaculares.

1956  Chrysler 300 B Buick 1965  Riviera
1957  Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet 1957  Corvette
1957  Ford Thunderbird Chevrolet 1966  Corvette Sting Ray
1959  Chrysler 300 E Chrysler 1956  300 B
1959  DeSoto Adventurer Chrysler 1959  300 E
1959  Plymouth Sport Fury Chrysler 1960  300 F
1960  Chrysler 300 F Continental 1971  Mark III
1960  Dodge Polara DeSoto 1959  Adventurer
1962  Ford Thunderbird Factory Sports Roadster Dodge 1960  Polara
1962  Plymouth Sport Fury Dodge 1968  Charger R/T
1963  Pontiac Grand Prix Ferrari 1972  GTC4
1963  Studebaker Avanti R2 Ferrari  1973 GTB4 (Daytona)
1964  Ford Thunderbird Ford 1957  Thunderbird
1965  Plymouth Satellite Ford 1962  Thunderbird Factory Sports Roadster
1966  Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Ford 1964  Thunderbird
1967  Pontiac GTO MG 1972  B
1965  Buick Riviera Plymouth 1959  Sport Fury
1968  Dodge Charger R/T Plymouth 1962  Sport Fury
1970  Plymouth Barracuda ‘Cuda Plymouth 1965  Satellite
1971  Continental Mark III Plymouth 1970  Barracuda ‘Cuda
1971  Plymouth Roadrunner Plymouth 1971  Road Runner
1972  Ferrari GTC4 Plymouth 2000  Prowler
1972  MGB Pontiac 1963  Grand Prix
1973  Ferrari GTB4 (Daytona) Pontiac 1967  GTO
2000  Plymouth Prowler Studebaker 1963  Avanti R2

Como veréis, si pincháis en los nombres de los modelos de vehículos vaís directos a unas fotos de dicho vehículo en la página oficial de los hermanos

Richard Carpenter nos habla de que dicha afición también contagió a su hermana:

"Desde que era chica estuvo en contacto con los coches de la época. Le gustaba su Mercedes 350SL del año 72. Lo guardó y lo conservó mucho tiempo. Además en el año 79 compró un Jaguar XJS. Estaba familiarizada con los coches, pero no conocía en gran detalle cosas como el tamaño de los motores...".

Aquí la vemos de hecho en una foto muy rara y muy poco conocida, con uno de sus coches.