Carpenters

Close to You: Remembering... [Video]

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They had it all: Looks, talent, success in abundance, and, of course, that voice, a tone that could sear your soul without batting an eyelid. Between 1970 and 1976, there wasn't an act on earth that could compete with the Carpenters, and it is worth noting that even ABBA, the closest anyone came to seriously trying, had to wait for Richard and Karen Carpenter to vacate the throne room before they truly came of age. So many modern retrospectives look back on the duo through the jaundiced eyes of the ultimate tragedy that awaited them, but the only thing the Carpenters should really be remembered for was the peerless run of records that drove them so hard and fast in the first place. That and the fact that they still sound as freshly minted as they did when they first hit the airwaves. Close to You: Remembering comes close to touching that ideal plateau. Of course, Karen's death cannot help but shadow the proceedings, even as the film trips through the idealistic days before anyone could even pronounce "anorexia." But even there, the emphasis is not on what we lost, but on how lucky we were to have had it in the first place. And so 100 minutes slip by in a blur of brilliance and beauty, long-archived TV and performance clips, and a dazzling selection of hip period fashions (the duo's hairstyles have a life of their own), anchored by interview clips and memories that, even as Richard himself relives them, still seem incredible to recall. It is the music that dominates, of course, and the emphasis on short clips alone will certainly send you scurrying out to pick up the Gold: Greatest Hits DVD to replay again and again. The bonus material that appends Close to You, meanwhile, offers its own secret treasures, ranging as it does from the sublimity of Karen performing "Ave Maria" to the absurdity of a string of TV commercials that the duo starred in. The end result, devoid of the tacky sentimentalism to which it could so easily have pandered, winds up all the more touching for not even trying.

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