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Close to You

Carpenters

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Album Review

Hurriedly put together in the wake of the success of the title song, and containing the follow-up hit "We've Only Just Begun," Close to You is a surprisingly strong album, and not just for those hits. Richard Carpenter's originals "Maybe It's You" and "Crescent Noon" are superb showcases for Karen Carpenter's developing talent, the latter a superbly atmospheric, hauntingly beautiful art song of the kind that Judy Collins was doing well at the time, and gorgeously arranged. There's also a Swingle Singers-style number, "Mr. Guder," showing off their paired vocal talents and more of Richard's arranging talents. Karen's singing on "Reason to Believe" isn't so much somber as it is passionate, as she emphasizes the melancholy component in the song more than most versions. Their version of "Help" lacks the inventiveness of "Ticket to Ride," although it has some pleasing vocal flourishes. The finale, "Another Song," tries hard for a serious rock sound, especially in Karen's animated drumming, but it's her voice that stands out. Released amid the political turmoil of 1970, in the wake of the Cambodian incursion, Kent State, and the conservative backlash against the antiwar forces, there was no way that the rock press or the most politically active listeners were going to appreciate this record, but the fact that it had two huge hit singles and earned a gold record award raised their ire against the Carpenters, a problem that would dog the duo for most of its career. But the public bought, and kept on buying.

Customer Reviews

The sophomore effort

This second album was released in 1970 and was quickly assembled to take advantage of the huge single "Close To You." During sessions for this album, Richard discovered "We've Only Just Begun" by staying up late and watching television, this song was a backing track for a bank commercial in California. In the 70's, Richard had a "golden ear" for catching hit potential songs. The rest of this album consists of outtakes from "Ticket To Ride" and songs previously recorded by the short-lived group Spectrum, which the Carpenters were part of and featured Richard's compositions. While this album is a patchwork, there are moments of startling beauty. A favorite album track is "Cresent Moon" and a hit could have been scored if their cover of "Baby, It's You" was released as a single. Richard must have felt this too, "Baby, It's You" was remixed and included on the 1989 remix project "Treasures" released in the U.K.. The closing track "Another Song" starts off with a rather short vocal by Karen and then segues into an amazing instrumental rocker that has a decidedly Indian feel.

I Love This Album!

My favorite songs on here are We've Only Just Begun, Reason To Believe, and (They Long To Be) Close To You. This version of (They Long To Be) Close To You is the extended version. The story behind this song, (They Long To Be) Close To You, is that Herb Alpert, co-founder of recording studio A&M Records, suggested that Richard compose his arrangement of this song. After they recorded it, they played it to Burt Bacharach over the phone, and apparently he loved their arrangement. Just listen, and let it take your mind away. Reason To Believe is a wonderful song, and I love the music video for it, too. In this song, Richard Carpenter has a complicated piano solo, as demonstrated in the music video. Karen's voice just blew me away--how she felt the music, and understood the words. I recommend this album to anybody who loves the Carpenters. Edit, November 18, 2006: Many people would argue that "We've Only Just Begun" and "Close To You" are the main songs on here. Let's admit it. They were. They were the two songs that got the Carpenters above and beyond in their career. Once you learn to appreciate these two songs, I suggest listening to deeper cuts, like "Maybe It's You," "Reason To Believe," "I Kept On Loving You," and "Crescent Noon."

Wonderful, Absolutely Wonderful

Just a solid album from a talented group. Anyone not appreciative and respectful of this album is just not a true audiophile. All genre lovers need to listen to this album and think beyond their stereotypes.

Biography

Formed: 1968 in Downey, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

With their light, airy melodies and meticulously crafted, clean arrangements that appealed to a variety of audiences, the Carpenters stood in direct contrast with the excessive, gaudy pop/rock of the '70s; yet they became one of the most popular artists of the decade, scoring 12 Top Ten hits, including three number one singles. Karen Carpenter's calm, pretty voice was the most distinctive element of their music, settling in perfectly amidst the precise, lush arrangements provided by...
Full Bio