73 Songs, 4 Hours 10 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
42 Ratings
42 Ratings
a song 4u ,

The Boxed Set Overhaul

"From The Top" is still in print and that's a good thing regarding the tracks from that set that have been dropped here, those titles are listed on the opening review. All of the Carpenters hits are here, though not all are in their hit form, some are album cuts, and the overall sound is incredible. Richard added a lot of album cuts, "A Song For You" was intended for "From The Top" but for some odd reason this strong album cut didn't make it, this remixed version is from the 1987 version of "A Song For You" album remixed in it's entirity. "All Of My Life" and "Eve" were remixed for the 1987 project "Treasures" released in the U.K.. When this set was released the album "As Time Goes By" was a Japanese only release completed in 1999 and released in 2000. The Karen/Ella Medley is from that album and for the first time was made available here, as is the chocolate commercial. The only song included from Karen's solo is Richard's remix of "If I Had You" which was culled as a single in 1989. Still, nothing from Richard's moderately successful solo "Time" in 1987 is here, but this set does close with Richard's "Karen's Theme" recorded for the 1989 tele-biopic and included on his second solo "Pianist, Composer, Conductor" released in 1997. This boxed set is the most comprehensive of the Carpenters recording to date.

Carpenters Fan ,

Truly the Essential Collection

This 73 track, 4 disc box set has some of the really rare recordings of the Carpenters before 1969 (tracks 1-8 and 10). Lots of these songs have the 1991 remixes, too. It also features a rare appearance on "Your Navy Presents," a national radio show in 1970. The song was "Get Together," followed by an interview (the interview actually followed the Bacharach Medley they performed on "Your Navy Presents"). It features the single versions of "Merry Christmas, Darling" (1970), "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" (1974), and not a well known song "Tryin' To Get The Feelin' Again" (1975).

The oldies medley on this album is outstanding. The vocals and instruments were remastered and remixed to its fullest extent. The reprise for "Yesterday Once More" has its echoes taken out. If you compare the "Now & Then" version and this version of the "Yesterday Once More" reprise, the "Now & Then" version sounds like it has a lot of reverberation and the sound is pushed back, while this version is clear and crisp.

This album also features "Ave Maria" without the lead-in from the song before it on "Christmas Portrait." It includes some of the Carpenters' later songs from 1978-1980 on here, such as "If I Had You," "Little Girl Blue," and "Because We Are In Love (The Wedding Song)." I think "Now" is a true masterpiece, because Karen's vocals are perfect, and she did it all in one take. It was also her last recording before her unexpected death on February 4, 1983.

The four disc box set closes with Richard's composition for "The Karen Carpenter Story," called "Karen's Theme." It's a wonderful, grieving song that expresses all of the emotions of Karen's death into one song. It's a truly beautiful album, and I think it's worth the money. Go out and either buy the box set itself, or buy it right here on iTunes.

HiHelloWhat'sUp? ,

I love this~In loving Memory

I love this album b/c it brings back good memories. These are great classic songs. Rest in PEACE Karen.

About Carpenters

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 her brother Richard. Though their popularity began to fade as the '70s progressed, the duo continued to make music together until Karen's tragic death in 1983.

The Carpenters formed in the late '60s in Downey, California, after their family moved from their native New Haven, Connecticut. Richard had played piano with a cocktail jazz trio in a handful of local Connecticut nightclubs. Once the family had moved to California, he began to study piano while he supported Karen in a trio that featured Wes Jacobs (tuba/bass). With Jacobs and Richard forming her backup band, Karen was signed to the local California record label Magic Lamp, who released two unsuccessful singles by the singer. The trio won a Battle of the Bands contest at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, which led to a record contract with RCA. Signing under the name the Richard Carpenter Trio, the group cut four songs that were never released. Jacobs left the band at the beginning of 1968.

Following Jacobs' departure, the siblings formed Spectrum with Richard's college friend John Bettis. Spectrum fell apart by the end of the year, but the Carpenters continued performing as a duo. The pair recorded some demos at the house of Los Angeles session musician Joe Osborn; the tape was directed toward Herb Alpert, the head of A&M Records, who signed the duo to his record label in early 1969.

Offering, the Carpenters' first album, was released in November 1969. Neither Offering nor the accompanying single, a cover of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," made a big impression. However, the Carpenters' fortunes changed with their second single, a version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "(They Long to Be) Close to You." Taken from the album Close to You, the single became the group's first number one, spending four weeks on the top of the U.S. charts. "Close to You" became an international hit, beginning a five-year period where the duo was one of the most popular recording acts in the world. During that period the Carpenters won two Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist of 1970, and had an impressive string of Top Ten hits, including "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Superstar," "Hurting Each Other," "Goodbye to Love," "Yesterday Once More," and "Top of the World."

After 1975's number four hit "Only Yesterday," the group's popularity began to decline. For the latter half of the '70s, the duo were plagued by personal problems. Richard had become addicted to prescription drugs; in 1978, he entered a recovery clinic, kicking his habit. Karen, meanwhile, became afflicted with anorexia nervosa, a disease she suffered from for the rest of her life. On top of their health problems, the group's singles had stopped reaching the Top Ten and by 1978, they weren't even reaching the Top 40. Consequently, Karen decided to pursue a solo career, recording a solo album in 1979 with Phil Ramone; the record was never completed and she returned to the Carpenters later that year. The reunited duo released their last album of new material, Made in America, in 1981. The album marked a commercial comeback, as "Touch Me When We're Dancing" made it to number 16 on the charts. However, Karen's health continued to decline, forcing the duo out of the spotlight. On February 4, 1983, Karen was found unconscious at her parents' home in Downey; she died in the hospital that morning from a cardiac arrest, caused by her anorexia.

After Karen's death, Richard Carpenter concentrated on production work and assembling various compilations of the Carpenters' recorded work. In 1987, he released a solo album called Time, which featured guest appearances by Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Downey, CA




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