On September 25, 1971, with just two albums under their belts and on their very first tour outside of America, The Carpenters taped an episode of the BBC’s prestigious In Concert series. The artists lip-synched some tunes, like "Help!" and the Burt Bacharach Medley, but most of the songs on the BBC Concert were performed 'as live'. It was recorded on September 25 and aired on BBC1 on November 6, 1971. VH-1 has televised the concert for American audiences, however in order to fit it into a half-hour time slot with commercials, they left out "And When He Smiles", "I Fell in Love with You", "That on the Road Look", and "Lust for Earl and the Married Woman". In addition to singing, Karen also plays the drums during some of the songs. The program featured what are today considered to be some of the most iconic performances from Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, The Kinks, James Taylor, Carole King and others in their prime. This Carpenters performance is no exception with the young Karen’s clear as a bell vocals, brother Richard’s beautiful piano playing and stunning arrangements plus an absolutely crack band backing them up.
Most episodes of In Concert were shot in front of intimate crowds at the old BBC Television Centre in London and were known for being sensitively recorded and mixed. As far as I can tell, this is one of the few times the series deviated from purely live performances as the Burt Bacharach medley and “Help!” were lip-synced (and where are the string section hiding that we hear from time to time?). Those pre-recorded moments aside, it’s a pleasure to be able to concentrate on the fine musicianship here without the goofy middle of the road showbiz trappings of later TV specials like The Carpenters…Space Encounters in 1978 that featured Suzanne Somers and John Denver as aliens.