Carpenters

Close to You

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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.

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