Live in Japan

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The Carpenters never released a concert album in America, so this pricey double disc from Osaka, Japan, has been a choice import among serious fans for many years. The show opens with a fair medley comprising "Superstar" and "Rainy Days and Mondays." Other numbers include "Goodbye to Love," "Top of the World," and "Help" (which comes off better and more sincere here than it did in the duo's studio version, at least until the synthesizer and electric guitar take over the song). Karen Carpenter's performance is sincere, and her singing is very good -- she makes "Top of the World" sound like it's the first time she's singing it -- but the backing vocals (by Richard Carpenter, Danny Woodhams, Doug Strawn, and Pete Henderson) and support instruments are a bit on the anemic side, except for Tony Peluso's inappropriately overamplified guitar on "Goodbye to Love." A major part of disc two is given over to a 1954-1964 oldies medley, with Pete Henderson singing some lead and Tony Peluso as the "deejay/narrator"; that includes "Little Honda," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Leader of the Pack," "Johnny Angel," and "Johnny B. Goode," as well as full performances of "We've Only Just Begun" and "For All We Know" and "Sing" (backed up by the Kyoto Children's Choir.)

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