Friday, May 6, 2016
"The Singles: 1969–1973" by The Carpenters (November, 1973)
I randomly discovered a YouTube video a few months of Karen Carpenter killin' it on the drums on some old variety TV show, and I was so impressed. I thought she was just "the girl from the Carpenters." I didn't realize she was also a great drummer! It caught me by surprise, and I immediately started watching interviews and documentaries about Karen and Richard Carpenter, and listening to all their music, including Karen's solo album that wasn't even released until 13 years after her untimely death. Needless to say, I became a fan.
"We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Top of the World", and 9 other classic Carpenter tunes fill out this compilation. If you're a fan at all of the group, this is an essential piece to have on deck when you're feeling like just chillin' on the couch on a Sunday afternoon. And if you aren't a fan of them, this is not for you because it most likely contains every song you hate.
There isn't much else I have to say about this. There's no real duds on here. It just showcases the best of the best. It's nice and laid back. I could fall asleep to this and have happy dreams.
I've mentioned before that I think it's kind of cheating to include greatest hits records in a list of classic albums. However, if any deserve the title classic, this is one, along with the Eagles Greatest Hits.
Everybody had this album. Well, I didn't. I didn't need it. Enough people I knew had it that I could hear it whenever I wanted, back when music sharing meant listening to records together in somebody's room. Also, because the Carpenters were radio darlings, you could pretty much be sure you'd hear them whenever you turned on your clock radio or your parents' hi-fi console. Only problem is, your parents liked 'em too, and man, that's just not cool.
This album cover should appear as the definition of ear candy in the dictionary. Karen Carpenter's voice was sweet and clear, and the Carpenters used songs by some of the biggest songwriters of the period. (Oh, and Richard Carpenter's own songs weren't so bad either.) Mix that with mellow, somewhat muted arrangements performed by some of the best musicians available in an LA studio, and the combination is pure, easy listening bliss.
If you're not a Carpenters fan, chances are you'll find at least a couple songs here that you like, even if you don't want to admit it out loud. And if you just can't handle anything this sweet because of your hyperrocksemia, stay away. Baby baby baby baby oh baby, is it sweet. This will likely put you into a diabetic coma.
For those occasions when you need to hear something soft and warm, though--like maybe a rainy Monday--you just can't do much better than this album. If you like a dose of Carpenters now and then, this is the only record you need. It has most of the songs you remember. Every sha-la-la-la and every whoa-woh-oh-oh will bring back happy memories. But for some listeners, the shing-a-ling-a-lings will put you over the edge.
Just make sure you brush your teeth after you listen.