Carpenters Perform Carpenter

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Those who listened to the Carpenters during their heyday without paying attention to those names that appear in parenthesis after song titles might not be aware of a musical development that took place during the group's career. As time went on, Richard Carpenter became a more significant source of the Carpenters' songs as a writer. Richard was contributing to the songwriting at the outset, for example placing "All of My Life" and "Eve" on the debut album, Offering (aka Ticket to Ride) in 1969. But it wasn't until 1972 that "Goodbye to Love" (co-written with John Bettis) gave him his first representation as a writer on the A-side of a Carpenters single. When that song peaked at number seven on the Hot 100, Richard began putting more of his songs out as Carpenters singles, and he scored further hits with "Yesterday Once More," "Top of the World," "Only Yesterday," and "I Need to Be in Love." But his songs were still mixed in with many outside contributions, such that the Carpenters' musical legacy remains a combination of his writing and that of many others. A quarter-century later, as A&M looked for further ways to exploit the Carpenters catalog, the idea of assembling a compilation devoted to Richard's compositions was a valid one, and the tracks here mix his hits with a selection of the many album tracks he wrote. The collection presents the Carpenters at their most natural-sounding; Richard was writing for Karen Carpenter's voice, so the songs effectively exploit the qualities of that voice. When outside material was being arranged for the Carpenters, the results sometimes reflected the adjustment in a way that could make nonfans cringe. That's not the case here. Neither, however, does the album make the case for Richard as an important songwriter beyond the handful of songs for which he is known to those who know.

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