Carpenters

Yesterday Once More: Greatest Hits 1969-1983

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This double-CD set was probably too much of the Carpenters for the average fan, but just the same, it touches bases that The Singles misses, and it is rewarding. The 1998 remastering (catalog number 31454 1000-2) is doubly attractive, as a mid-priced item with 24-bit remastered sound and new notes by Paul Grein. The 28 songs, totaling more than 110 minutes of music, still have a few holes, like their cover of "Beechwood 4-5789" and the deeply atmospheric "Crescent Noon," but every one of their albums is represented from Ticket to Ride on up. The remastering makes all of the difference in the enjoyment of the songs, presenting Karen Carpenter's voice and Richard Carpenter's arrangements in close, rich detail and intimacy; it all makes the care that was put into the original performances completely worth the effort. The duo's music never sounded less like recordings and more like performances, a fact -- brought home by the crystalline tones of Joe Osborn's bass -- that may distress those who merely want to relive their memories of hearing these songs on the radio. There will also be a few worthwhile surprises even for the casual listener, including the melodic dance number "(Want You) Back in My Life Again" from their final album and the rhapsodic "I Just Fall in Love Again" from Passage. This set is a decent compromise between the superficiality of The Singles and the deep but awkward construction of the four-CD boxed set, made more valuable by the remastering, which renders its sound superior to that of the same material on the box.

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