Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Feb 4, 2013.
"Somewhere, in a fairy-tale forest lies one answer that is waiting to be heard."
Pure audio heaven!
I used to LOVE this cover! Until I bought the album 'A Kind of Hush' in 1977, this was one of only five photos of Karen and Richard that I had ever seen, despite being a fan of them since the early 70s. I didn't see them on TV until early / mid 1977 either, ('Live at the New London Theatre'). I bought 'Close to You' in 1976. The other photos that I owned were a photo of K&R with Bette Midler at the Grammys, a small pic from a teen pop mag that included very wrong lyrics for 'Goodbye to Love' and the inner photo from 'Great Hits of The Carpenters Vol 2, 1969-73'. I loved that photo, too. And I had seen the cover of 'Ticket to Ride' in a record store.
At the time, I thought that the photo on 'Close to You', taken on the rocks by the sea, tied in with the lyrics of 'Maybe it's You'. ("Rising on the shore, the ocean king. Walks among the waves of velveteen"). There were other songs with mention of the natural world, too, ('Crescent Noon' and 'Another Song'), which seemed to support the idea of doing the photo shoot outdoors. I thought that Karen and Richard looked good and I didn't see anything wrong with them sitting close together or smiling. I also liked the blues and greys of the frame and lettering. To this day, I am fond of this cover.
As is well known, and amply documented, Richard Carpenter quite dislikes this
Close To You Album Cover.
The worst thing about the Close To You cover is not the photo of the duo,
it is the awful gray color , the green border , and the "flowery" font.
The LP itself is flimsy cardboard--outside of the photograph, not much thought
went in to this entire "packaging" effort.
What is not known, and I have yet to read, is how Richard feels about the
I find the Horizon Cover the best of their artwork to that point, 1975.
(actually love both outside and inside photos).
The entire packaging of Horizon is first-class all the way !
I believe the earliest versions of the album had the gray being more of a silver color, giving the cover a lot more class than the flat gray of later issues. As I bought one on the day it came out and still have it, I can say that that first issue has differences from the other two that I own in LP form. As I said, the overall color is of a muted, reflective, metallic silver. The other two albums are just an ugly flat gray,
The upper right corner has just the text: A&M SP 4271 and no A&M RECORDS logo. The other two both have a logo under the text.
On the rear, the A&M logo on the silver cover has "RECORDS & TAPES" whereas the flat gray covers both just say RECORDS.
The silver cover rear has a small RIAA logo bottom right with the catalog number under it. The A&M RECORDS & TAPES logo is in the lower center. The flat grey covers have the A&M RECORDS logo in the lower right.
He briefly touched on in during the 1993 BBC Radio documentary, when discussing the subject of album covers:
"As I said in this PBS documentary that we did, I couldn't actually blame some of what the critics said, when you look at...not the music necessarily, but these album covers and publicity stills. It was horrible. Horrible! So if you look at Horizon, I finally did put my foot down. So we BOTH look pissed off on that one!!! But at least our cheeks aren't together and we're not smiling!"
The first 'Close to You' album that I bought, (in 1976), is a very attractive light bluish grey, (at least, that's how I'd describe it). The border around the cover photograph and the lettering is a bright blue. Very nice. The cover is sort of bumpy, with tiny protruberances, raised, sort of like a very even rendering. That, in my eyes, gives it a classy look. I can't really describe it. There'd be a name for this type of finish.
I later bought a copy which is more silver, with blue lettering - also very attractive.
I think I have a third copy that isn't as nice, but I can't remember what it's like. I'm just describing these from memory.
^^I am glad that many have chimed in on this: Harry, Stephen, Brian.
(1) Harry reminds me that the Cover I am looking at is the uglier version of Close To You,
whereas, when I look at the Japanese Pressing, the Silver coloring is much more prominent.
So, in actuality, the Cover is really not all that bad ! (My USA Pressing is more gray,flimsy).
(2) Stephen reminds me that Richard did have something to say about the Horizon Cover,
but, again, Richard's viewpoint--"...we both looked pis... off on that one..."--is not at all
how I perceive the Horizon Photo(s). I thank Stephen for bringing Richard's remark to my attention.
(1) Could it be that --since the Album sold many Millions of Copies--Richard bases his opinion on (again)
Sales of the Album. In other words, if the LP had not sold so many millions, he wouldn't think twice about
that cover (Close To You). I believe the cover of that LP has virtually nothing to do with the later 'image' issues.
(2) Horizon--as we know, peaked at #13 in the USA.
What Richard could have emphasized is how great the entire Horizon package is,
not that they "...looked p..... off...."
He seems to harbor--for whatever reason--a negative outlook on the entire Horizon album !
It's interesting that in the pairing of these two albums, both have a silver border around the cover picture.
I like the photo of the duo on Close To You. Their smiles do not look "forced" to me. It depicts exactly what they were; a couple of attractive, nice kids from the suburbs (with enormous musical talent). Nothing wrong with that...
In the comment about the 'Close to You' cover that I read, (and I can't remember where it was - maybe the Rolling Stone article), Richard criticised the location of the photo shoot, his suit, (which was pinned down the back), Karen's dress, (which he said was an expensive evening dress that she had to clamber down the beach in), the fact that they were sitting cheek-to-cheek and the smiles. I think he was saying that, at the time, they had no say over the concept or the image - the location, what they were wearing, the pose and ultimately the presentation that represented their music as it was offered to the world. You can understand his frustration. There were a few dud covers. For instance, although the 'Offering' cover now has retro appeal, it does look as if the photographer, at the last minute, saw a half-dead sun flower, ripped it up and handed it to Karen, saying, "Your album is called 'Offering'. Hold this out towards the camera!" And Karen and Richard look nonplused. Then there was the horrible 'A Song for You' cover. (Personally, I like the 'Close to You', 'Carpenters' and 'Now and Then' covers, but I know that Richard wasn't happy with them). I guess he was comparing Carpenters covers to other covers of the day that he thought were more groovy, artistic or imaginative and represented the music of the artists better.
Here is an instance where I do enjoy the.... "choir".....
an early Crescent Moon....though, less Karen vocals--still, she is magnificent:
Listening to Love Is Surrender--from the Sweet Memory,By And By, Set:
And, reading the resource information here, it states that "reverb" was added,
can someone with better ears than I, describe to me where this reverb has been added ?
By the By, I actually quite enjoy the song as (re)mixed for this collection.
The reverb is added to the lead vocal track, as is typical of many of Richard's latter-day remixes.
I must confess--after listening to
Love Is Surrender
on both The Essential Collection and the Sweet Memory disc,
I am unable to hear any "reverb" in the lead vocal........
I hear some reverb even on the original album track, but it's more pronounced on the remix.
Reverb is absolutely dripping on Karen's lead in the remix. Richard always does that when he remixes. He also makes the bass (kick) drum more pronounced. I'm assuming his objective with the lead vocal is to make it less "mono-sounding" but I don't get why he felt the need to give us more kick drum. It rarely sounds good. In truth, I like very few of his remixes.
The synth "bass" that he's added to many of the remixes just kills them. I honestly can't listen to that later remix of Top Of The World, the bass is so out of time, behind the beat. I can almost picture him sitting there at the keyboard during the remix sessions plonking away at the key that "plays" the kick drum, thinking it sounds great and modern. It doesn't. It sounds awful.
I'm guessing that my understanding of the meaning of the word "reverb"
as applied to the recordings is wanting !
Think of it as though it's muted echo. It's used to give the voice a sense of space. I think Richard has historically overdone this with his remixes. I'm assuming he uses it to stereo-fy Karen's lead.
^^Thanks all, for clarification !
....be that as it may....
In listening to
I Can't Make Music, from the JP Treasures set,
I hear--clear as a bell-what I consider to be "reverb" throughout the entire lead vocal,
however, on this same disc, Love Is Surrender does not sound like that at all.....
that is--no reverb that I can discern--so, I am still missing the entirety of the meaning !
Happily, I found a white-label promo copy of this album,Close To You.
so--now, I have another white-label-promo to add to a few others:
Passage and Horizon.
I have a promo of Made In America--it is not "white-label," though.
In case there is interest, I spotted at least three offers (today) on ebay
of the Quadraphonic The Singles 1969-1973 LP (starting at 15 dollars).
1970 was perhaps not a good year in general for album cover design! Take some of the most famous; even the Beatles' Let It Be is awful, while Bridge Over Troubled Water is much more evocative. Bitches Brew is really something else, but jazz records were becoming renowned for their stylish sleeves.
it is quite easy to complain about the packaging of CLOSE TO YOU , but, that was almost 50 years ago, and that is the way most albums were packaged; a picture on cheap cardboard. honestly CARPENTERS is the first album I remember that had special packaging, being the envelope style with the created logo. A&M can be faulted for perpetuating a narrowly focused view, but they put more into marketing and packaging of Richard and Karen than I had ever seen during that time.
Received my promotional (white-label) LP of
Close To You.
Still A great album.
I do note that the inner record sleeve--an A&M Promotional sleeve--
promotes many an A&M artists LP, what it does not have is a copy
(a photo) promoting the Carpenters' 1969 album
So, really, Offering was--at that point in time--
left to rot ?
Can you detail that innersleeve? Just out of curiosity.
I have a CLOSE TO YOU with one of these:
And the 35th Anniversary Set from Japan included one of these: