The Carpenters are great. I have their second album, Close To You, and a compilation disc of theirs. I should have mentioned in the “Favorite Album Track” thread that I like the album tracks of Close To You. The album is just superb, and the music is translated perfectly by the musicians who include that famous trio themselves: Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborne, and Hal Blaine.
Some of the tunes, despite being softer fare, actually rock: I’m thinking of the clever bass drum playing and the finely riffing horn section during the chorus of “We’ve Only Just Begun”, as well as the tension-filled timekeeping throughout “Close To You”, leading up to a dramatic release via a tasteful tom-run at the end, featuring Hal’s famous Octo-Plus toms (although he himself only used seven; he skipped one of the mid-range ones and opted for a double-headed floor tom). And, quite wrongfully, it is only now that I begin to recognize Karen’s haunting yet beautiful alto that is, after all, the star feature of the music. From prim and proper to footloose and funky, she still maintained a sober, down-to-earth texture to her voice throughout this wide range that to this day remains unequalled.
Richard is not to be forgotten; in fact, wasn’t he originally slated to be the “star”? While I am disagreed with by a few on this choice, my favorite track on this album is “Mr. Guder”, a lighthearted jab at Richard’s former employer. This piece is a perfect (and possibly the best) example of their over-overdubbed harmonies. I must admit that I am a sucker with anything that contains the slightest resemblance of a bossa-nova beat.
Their later stuff I don’t really care for that much; for me, the peak of their career is contained at least in part on Close To You.