The duo's best album, and the place to start beyond the hits compilations. Up to the release of A Song for You, the Carpenters' success had seemed an awesome if somewhat fluky phenomenon, built on prodigious talent, some beautifully crafted pop sensibilities, and a very fortunate choice of singles -- their albums Close to You and Carpenters, though they were top-sellers, both seemed just a bit thrown together. Then came A Song for You, a seemingly unified concept album written and recorded during a frantic period of concert activity, and brimming with lovely musical ideas even more lovingly executed, laced with good humor, and enough hits of its own to have established any artist's career on its own. And even in between the hits, the album was built on material that could have made a whole career for anyone. The duo's version of a then-new Carole King song, "It's Going to Take Some Time," not only became a hit single but helped them in the "cool" department, Carole King being about the hottest musical personality there was at that particular time. One song, "Top of the World," which Richard Carpenter had only visualized as album track, became an unexpected hit single and one of the most popular songs of the decade. And where the Close to You LP had included some beautiful album tracks ("Crescent Noon," " "Maybe It's You"), A Song for You was dripping with masterpieces, including "Crystal Lullaby" and "Road Ode"; Richard Carpenter's "Piano Picker," a confessional piece sung by the composer, also marked the high point of his solo vocal contributions to the duo's music. Even the two cuts that reach back into the past -- the soft jazz instrumental "Flat Baroque," a 1966-vintage Richard Carpenter composition that he resurrected for this release, and "Bless the Beasts and the Children," the B-side of "Superstar" from more than a year earlier (written for a Stanley Kramer movie) -- slot in perfectly among the new songs. The high point of their recording career, A Song for You marked the last time that their music (and the only occasion that one of their albums) would be accepted in the rock world on its own terms, without the duo's squeaky-clean image and sound, and middle-class dorkiness becoming a drag on their sales and image. A Song for You has been released several times on CD, the best of which by far is the 1999 A&M remastering with new notes and full lyrics.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder