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If I Were a Carpenter

Various Artists

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iTunes Review

Not exactly a tribute album, If I Were A Carpenter (1994) is more like a psycho-aesthetic exploration of Karen and Richard Carpenter’s musical legacy. Most of the artists contributing to this project seem to be fascinated with the sibling duo’s often-haunting brand of ‘70s-era pop. But their interpretations vary radically, veering from the coyly sentimental to the coolly ironic. The Cranberries’ cover of “(They Long To Be) Close To You” and Matthew Sweet’s version of “Let Me Be The One” stick close to the originals. At the other extreme, Sonic Youth picks up on the depressive side of the Carpenters’ work and turns “Superstar” into a suicidal dirge. Several bands — including Redd Kross and Shonen Knife — don’t bother with such analysis and simply romp through their tunes with reckless abandon. And then there are tracks (such as Cracker’s “Rainy Days And Mondays”) where the mood teeters between parody and homage. Taken as a whole, If I Were A Carpenter succeeds wonderfully in finding new (and often weird) resonance in one of the most familiar catalogues in pop history. You’ll never hear Karen and Richard the same way again.

Customer Reviews

One of the best tribute albums

Tribute albums usually come in two flavors: Carbon Copy & Bizarre. In my book, a good tribute album does an excellent job of mixing the two. Not every song that's being covered needs to sound exactly like the original. That's why it's a cover song. On the other hand, if you're going to do a cover song, do try to remember to throw in a few elements of the original, if for no other reason than to make it recognizable to those who have only heard the original. This album has just the right mix of original sound with new twists on some old favorites. "Rainy Days & Mondays" and "We've Only Just Begun" are very true to the originals, while "Top of the World", "It's Going to Take Some Time" and "Superstar" are excellent examples of maintaining the spirit of the original song, while taking just the right amount of artistic license to change some things around. It's a brave thing to turn a Carpenters song into a "Indie/Alternative" sounding song, but these bands did it. This is the kind of tribute album that should serve as a blueprint for others to follow.

good concept with highs and lows

I liked the concept of having alternative and indie bands takes on these tuneful (albeit sappy) AM gems -the best are Sonic Youth's take on 'Superstar' I remember seeing the video for this tune.also Bettie Serveert,American Music Club,and Shonen Knife's high-spirited take on 'Top of the World' -sort throught the rest by yourself according to whom you like,but the inclusion of Sheryl Crow,Babes in Toyland,and the Cranberries are a mystery-and wouldn't have been missed. -Rodspace


This Carpenters' tribute album is.. well.. different, and I would recommend it to you if you like rock music. However, some of these artists don't convey the original message that Richard and Karen did. These are love songs, not really rock songs. Some of these artists have no pitch at all, and, if you love the Carpenters, don't expect much to come out of it. Unless, of course, if you like off-pitch rock music.

If I Were a Carpenter
View in iTunes
  • $8.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 1994

Customer Ratings