I recently took this book out of the library. "1971 Never A Dull Moment" by David Hepworth. It's all about 1971 in music, mostly Rock, it mentions the Carpenters quite a bit. so here are all the parts on our duo: •pg 31: about photographer Jim McCrary and A&M records using him whenever they needed a photo of one of their artists... "He had photographed Richard and Karen Carpenter on a sail boat on Lake Tahoe" •pg 33: regarding Carol Kings Tapestry album and A&M Studios... "there were 3 studios at A&M on the corner of Sunset and La Brea. They were all busy that month: Joni Mitchell was in the small one, recording the songs that would make up Blue; Richard and Karen Carpenter were in the biggest one, recording the songs that would comprise their biggest-selling third album Carpenters;..." •pgs 51-54 Regarding the song "Superstar" being covered by other people... "Watching the Carson show that night in the new five-bedroom house he and his sister Karen had recently moved into in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey was Richard Carpenter. The Carpenters, who were originally from Connecticut, had put out their first album in late 1969 but already he was under pressure to come up with their third. They had spent the day in A&M's studio on La Brea recording tracks for this third album, and he knew he needed follow-ups to huge hits of the previous year like "For All We Know" and "We've Only Just Begun". The success of the Carpenters, which was already considerable, had been achieved at the expense of some of Richards pride. As the older sibling and an accomplished pianist and arranger, Richard might have expected to be in charge. Things hadn't worked out like that. Although he wrote his own songs, Carpenters hits tended to come from other composers like Paul Williams and Burt Bacharach. Although Richard did some singing his vocals were nothing like as distinctive as his gawky kid sister Karen. Richard had steeled himself from stardom only to find that It's mantle had fallen instead on his sister, who seemed manifestly unready for it. Their parents, the original driving force behind their children's efforts, still saw Richard as the talent. The rest of the world didn't agree. Karen Carpenter had been included as a package with her older brother ever since they were teenagers. Their gimmick was that she played the drums. The session musicians who played on the Carpenters records, who came from that loose federation of brilliant pop instrumentalists' known as The Wrecking Crew, knew that while average drummers were ten a penny, voices like Karen's happened only rarely. Joe Osborn, the bass player in whose garage they first learned to record, said 'She got no credit for anything. Richard was the star as far as the family was concerned'. Drummer Hal Blaine, who played along with her on some of the studio recordings, says 'that voice was just incredible. She was born with that. She didn't learn that'. Karen Carpenter's problem was that while the requirements of show business demanded that she come out front and be the band's lead singer, her self-consciousness about her appearance meant that she preferred to stay behind the drum kit. 'she was kind of a Tomboy' said Sherwin Bash, who managed them 'and the drums were traditionally a male instrument. She wasn't sure she was slim enough, svelte enough, pretty enough, any of those kinds of things'. Richard and Karen Carpenter prospered greatly in 1971 but they were scorned by those who considered themselves hip. They popped up on old-fashioned tv shows fronted by stars terrified that they were losing their way in a country which appeared to have gone youth crazy. In any show fronted by a comedian in a tux you could guarantee that there would be a musical guest. There wasn't the ghost of anything edgy about them. In a world where people were expected to flaunt their attitude they didn't appear to have any. They sounded like creamed rice. The fact that the Carpenters made it big speaks volumes for the willingness of a few record companies to invest in unconventional talent. A&M was a company that had made a lot of It's money from the east listening sounds of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass and the Sandpipers so it knew as well as anyone how to promote an act like the Carpenters. They were one of the first acts to sell big on eight-track and cassette. Their buyers were the great bulk of American and overseas public who just liked good tunes and also found something in Karen Carpenter's profound contralto that spoke to them about their lives every bit as much as Leonard Cohen, Carole King or Neil Young did to their listeners. So 'Groupie (Superstar)' was an odd choice for a Carpenters song. Then again We've Only Just Begun ' was originally a jingle for a bank. Richard had never heard the song Midler sang before, which is an indication of the direction in which his personal radio was turned, but he guessed his sister could sing the song, as she could sing pretty much any ballad. He was right. Karen was less than convinced but she did what she was told. They made one change to the lyrics, 'to sleep with you again' becoming 'to be with you again'. She did a guide vocal for the musicians to play along with. Even with only half her mind on the job she delivered a perfect performance. The guide vocal never needed to be replaced. That was the special quality of Karen Carpenter, a quality which became even more poignant following her anorexic-related death in 1983. When Bette Midler performed, half the impact was in the twinkle in her eye, her coquettish body language, the way she carried herself. With Karen Carpenter it was in her voice and her voice alone." •pg 309 Regarding family being a popular ingredient for Billboard chart success... And the chart for the first week of October... "The Osmond's breakthrough success earlier in the year with 'One Bad Apple' had been a fairly shameless pastiche of the leading family act of the year, the Jackson Five. Richard and Karen Carpenter were not far behind at number 4. " •pg 329 "October Playlist: ... Carpenters, "Superstar" .... "