Album no. 181/1001
Often hailed as purveyors of the ‘soft-rock’, ‘easy-listening’ genre – and sometimes maligned for being so – The Carpenters are actually one of the most successful artists of all time, selling more than 100 million singles and albums combined.
While they were usually touted as a white-bread, wholesome act, the brother and sister duo actually hated their clean-cut image that was created and perpetuated by their record company.
They had a very successful 14 year career which was cut short when drummer and vocalist Karen died at the age of 32 after a long battle with anorexia. 😦
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: Nope. I probably know about two Carpenters songs, so… I don’t know.
NK: I have not and I am not hopeful.
CL: Well. What an EXCELLENT opening track – ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ never fails to give me goosebumps. How many commercially successful songs have a clarinet in them? NOT BLOODY MANY. ‘Crescent Moon’ is really lovely!
NK: MMMMMMMMMM. Dunno mate. This is Burt Bacharach type stuff. Well produced, but kind of easy listening pop. Not that there’s anything wrong with that as such, but some of this is a bit saccharine. ‘Love Is Surrender’, for example, is really gooey and horrible. Didn’t like it at all. ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ is ok I suppose.
CL: I like ‘Love Is Surrender!’ I should point out that I don’t love all the songs on this… ‘Reason To Believe’ has way too much of a country twang to it, and their version of ‘Help’ is sort of like a really watered-down glass of cordial, ie NOT GOOD.
NK: I didn’t recognise if from the title, but Rod Stewart has a version of ‘Reason To Believe’ which while not his best work is much better than this one. Also I agree with you on ‘Help’. It starts out ok, but once you get to ‘Help me if you can I’m feeling down’ all the momentum goes out of it.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: It’s clearly one of the most uncool things in the world to admit to enjoying the Carpenters. But you know what? I don’t give a shit. It’s great. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART GUYS.
NK: In shocking news I disagree. This is what you listen to when you’re on a date with somebody from your christian youth group (under parental supervision obviously).
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: While you can sometimes argue with record sales, I think this is actually an accurate representation of their popularity. They really started a successful commercial ‘easy-listening’ career. Especially considering everyone else in the same time period is trying to fit as many guitar solos into a 7 minute song as they can. They’re certainly doing something different.
NK: I am not completely sure, but this is not my genre. This is a bit of a throwback to Dusty Springfield’s first album where all the songs were written by other people (but mostly Burt Bacharach). I guess this is very polished folk pop? It just seems to lack a little bit of heart, like they don’t have any investment in what they’re singing. I didn’t go for this.
Will you be listening again?
CL: You know what. I’m just going to come right out and say it. I don’t care how much shit I cop for this – I like this album. I think it’s good. So yes. I will be bloody listening to it again. I already have about 4 times. So deal with that.
NK: Jesus christ. No, I will not.
Listen to Close To You on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.