• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are in the pipeline! The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy will be available on November 16, 2021 and can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is being released January 14, 2022, and is available for ordering here.

⭐ Official Review [Album]: "CLOSE TO YOU" (SP-4271)

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 41 50.6%
  • ****

    Votes: 32 39.5%
  • ***

    Votes: 7 8.6%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    81

Murray

Well-Known Member
Happy 50th anniversary to the Close to You album! 🥳

It was Carpenters highest charting studio album in Canada, going all the way to #1 on the RPM album chart. Both singles from the album, "(They Long to be) Close to You", and "We've Only Just Begun", also reached #1 on the Canadian singles chart.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
Definitely one of their strongest sets.... and supposedly 'whipped up' in a hurry - but one reason why this album is so good and so diverse, (even though the same features are strongly evident in all tracks), is because Karen and Richard had been performing a lot of these songs live over so many years.
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
Top Awards/Singles
Billboard Dec 26, 1970

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JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
...

It's funny though, I am not a fan of the song CTY. From a musical and production standpoint, it's great, but on the whole, the track is the embodiment of all the lame things the Carpenters were dismissed as being. It's ridiculously saccharine and the lyrics are painfully bad (as are most of Hal Blaine's IMO).

...
I used to feel the same - I liked it a little when it first came out, but then forgot about it completely after being overwhelmed by BEGUN and everything that followed...

I simply wrote it off as "juvenile" or "adolescent" for the next 50 years and skipped over it every time it came up...

Then while recently listening to the RPO album and checking out each song at least 6 times in an attempt to hear Richard's enhancements the subtleties of the arrangement, Karen's sweet vocal and the background harmonies all slowly conspired to convince me that in spite of the lyrics that this is a wonderful creation, a truly marvelous song - and all of a sudden I love it and can't get enough of it! Sometimes it just takes a little time and exposure...
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Only 50 years! :)
That's a mere half century! No need to rush these things...

That RPO album gave me a much fuller appreciation for several other songs that I was tepid about before: BABY IT'S YOU and TICKET TO RIDE among them - and it was largely the increased "presence" of Karen's incomparable voice that they somehow achieved that made the major difference for me - I was listening thru good headphones and her vocals sounded so fresh and gorgeous - it was stunning, like she was standing right behind me - what a marvelous gift from Richard!
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
'Close to You' is one of their few hits that I resched the point of fatigue with quite quickly. It was the song A&M UK focused on in 1990 to promote the Only Yesterday compilation and was released twice as part of a double-A single that year and got quite a bit of radio play. Even though 'Merry Christmas Darling' was technically the lead track of one of these singles, on TV they kept showing the awful Make Your Own Kind of Music video of 'Close to You' to promote it.

There's no denying it's a lovely song (normally I'm a huge Bacharach/David fan) and an innovative arrangement, but I got so bombarded with it in my early days as a fan that I still don't really want to seek it out anymore. Certainly I think 'We've Only Just Begun' has endured much better and I could listen to that again and again without ever tiring of it.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
'Close to You' is one of their few hits that I resched the point of fatigue with quite quickly. It was the song A&M UK focused on in 1990 to promote the Only Yesterday compilation and was released twice as part of a double-A single that year and got quite a bit of radio play. Even though 'Merry Christmas Darling' was technically the lead track of one of these singles, on TV they kept showing the awful Make Your Own Kind of Music video of 'Close to You' to promote it.

There's no denying it's a lovely song (normally I'm a huge Bacharach/David fan) and an innovative arrangement, but I got so bombarded with it in my early days as a fan that I still don't really want to seek it out anymore. Certainly I think 'We've Only Just Begun' has endured much better and I could listen to that again and again without ever tiring of it.

You captured exactly how I feel about the song too. I was never that mad on it in the first place because I felt it was in too high a key for Karen, but when they kept showing that hideous promo video in 1990, I ended up going off it altogether. We've Only Just Begun is an altogether different song, jaunty, not in so high a key and has a better arrangement.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
That’s why WOJB became their signature tune, as Richard says. It’s just has that enduring sound, and great to hear anytime, where as CTY being their biggest hit, now sounds a bit slow and dated. If I got to demonstrate just one of the 2 songs for somebody not familiar with Carpenters music or sound, WOJB would be a no brainer. It fully demonstrates their awesome,beautiful,full pop talents, and Karen’s one of a kind voice.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
i was 13 when CTY was released. i was completely captivated by the record, and i am still. i had never heard such technique; the over-dubbed harmonies, the thoughtful arrangement, and of course, that lead vocal. i have always considered CTY to be their signature.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
That’s why WOJB became their signature tune, as Richard says. It’s just has that enduring sound, and great to hear anytime, where as CTY being their biggest hit, now sounds a bit slow and dated. If I got to demonstrate just one of the 2 songs for somebody not familiar with Carpenters music or sound, WOJB would be a no brainer. It fully demonstrates their awesome,beautiful,full pop talents, and Karen’s one of a kind voice.
As I said above, the main reason it took me "a while" to fully appreciate the charms of CTY was the almost immediate appearance of WOJB - CTY didn't stand a chance (but then neither did any other song at the time)...

And yes, I would use WOJB as a demo song too because it does all the things you mention far better than CTY, especially highlighting Karen's wonderful voice - but even WOJB isn't necessarily the very best song for that...RAINY DAYS..., for example, is better for that,, or SUPERSTAR, or my personal favorite as a showcase for the beauty of her vocal performances, YOU'RE THE ONE.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
I think CTY, the song, works because of the arrangement and Karen’s vocal which, as usual, undermines the sugary sweet surface. But then again, there’s more to the surface than sunshine. Whether consciously or not, Richard’s arrangements of songs with joyous lyrics are often tinged with a slantwise unease and Karen enters and packs the feeling in deeper with her singular, melancholic translucency, blazing paradoxes of feeling and thought that the music she’s intertwined with never seems to fully recognize.

This might be the best description of the track:

Paced like a death march and embalmed with a fastidious, airless arrangement, it's like the musical equivalent of the most luxurious casket in the funeral director's showroom: One could lay oneself to rest forever in its easeful, languid groove.
 

ars nova

Well-Known Member
I think CTY, the song, works because of the arrangement and Karen’s vocal which, as usual, undermines the sugary sweet surface. But then again, there’s more to the surface than sunshine. Whether consciously or not, Richard’s arrangements of songs with joyous lyrics are often tinged with a slantwise unease and Karen enters and packs the feeling in deeper with her singular, melancholic translucency, blazing paradoxes of feeling and thought that the music she’s intertwined with never seems to fully recognize.

This might be the best description of the track:

Paced like a death march and embalmed with a fastidious, airless arrangement, it's like the musical equivalent of the most luxurious casket in the funeral director's showroom: One could lay oneself to rest forever in its easeful, languid groove.
who the hell published that?!
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
I think CTY, the song, works because of the arrangement and Karen’s vocal which, as usual, undermines the sugary sweet surface. But then again, there’s more to the surface than sunshine. Whether consciously or not, Richard’s arrangements of songs with joyous lyrics are often tinged with a slantwise unease and Karen enters and packs the feeling in deeper with her singular, melancholic translucency, blazing paradoxes of feeling and thought that the music she’s intertwined with never seems to fully recognize.

This might be the best description of the track:

Paced like a death march and embalmed with a fastidious, airless arrangement, it's like the musical equivalent of the most luxurious casket in the funeral director's showroom: One could lay oneself to rest forever in its easeful, languid groove.
Interesting analysis, but here's what I don't hear when I listen to CTY:

1. Undermining of it's sugary sweet surface
2. More to this surface than sunshine
3. Joyous lyrics tinged with slantwise unease
4. Karen's singular, melancholic translucency
5. Blazed paradoxes of feeling and thought

I think you may be reading far more into this recording than is really there. You had it nailed with your opening phrase: "I think CTY. the song, works because of the arrangement and Karen's vocal..."

The arrangement of this song is a miniature masterpiece, and it would have worked even if she had been singing her "Things to Do Today" list...

And instead of "the most luxurious casket in the funeral director's showroom" I'm picturing a hammock swaying in the warm, gentle breeze on a South Sea tropical isle...
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Record Mirror UK
Oct 17, 1970

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For some reason, the thought had formed in my mind that Richard and Karen had become concerned about their image a few years later in their career - certainly by the time of the Rolling Stone article in 1974.

I was surprised to read here that Richard was already displaying concern in late 1970.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
Interesting analysis, but here's what I don't hear when I listen to CTY:

1. Undermining of it's sugary sweet surface
2. More to this surface than sunshine
3. Joyous lyrics tinged with slantwise unease
4. Karen's singular, melancholic translucency
5. Blazed paradoxes of feeling and thought

I think you may be reading far more into this recording than is really there. You had it nailed with your opening phrase: "I think CTY. the song, works because of the arrangement and Karen's vocal..."

The arrangement of this song is a miniature masterpiece, and it would have worked even if she had been singing her "Things to Do Today" list...

And instead of "the most luxurious casket in the funeral director's showroom" I'm picturing a hammock swaying in the warm, gentle breeze on a South Sea tropical isle...

I don’t think I’m reading too deeply into any of this because these are motifs that I hear in nearly every song of there’s. When I detect a recurring structure of feeling and there’s so much going on with the voice’s relationship to the music I know there’s so much there to analyze. I’m hardly the first person/writer to process the effect of the C’s in such abstractions. The opening part of what I wrote is easily the most generic and throwaway line of that post, I feel, because it doesn’t get into anything beyond what’s already known for sure and for what’s been said for decades.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
I don't know if this is the most appropriate place for this, but WOW, I just heard the original Roger Nichols/Paul Williams demo for "I Kept on Loving You."


The arrangement is similar to the one on Close to You. I actually always liked this song for what it was. Still hoping one day we can see a clean 2" videotape transfer of the lipsynced performance on MYOKOM of Richard singing this song :)

And many thanks to the folks who worked on The Complete Singles for putting the single version on here (without the strings from Mr. Guder)!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
There's another fully fleshed out recording of the song on the Japanese release by Roger Nichols & The Small Circle of Friends. That album is called FULL CIRCLE.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I don’t think I’m reading too deeply into any of this because these are motifs that I hear in nearly every song of there’s. When I detect a recurring structure of feeling and there’s so much going on with the voice’s relationship to the music I know there’s so much there to analyze. I’m hardly the first person/writer to process the effect of the C’s in such abstractions. The opening part of what I wrote is easily the most generic and throwaway line of that post, I feel, because it doesn’t get into anything beyond what’s already known for sure and for what’s been said for decades.
Their music is so involving and unique that the feel-good sunshine groove can hold hands with the undercurrent of darkness in perfect harmony. I think everyone hears different things. That’s a sign of exemplary art to me.
 

Jarred

Your resident analyst right around the corner.
Their music is so involving and unique that the feel-good sunshine groove can hold hands with the undercurrent of darkness in perfect harmony

This is easily one of the best descriptions I’ve read of their singular artistry, how such contradictory, paradoxical elements can be as irresistible, complex and evolving as they are in the hands of two scarily symbiotic siblings.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
For me, Close to You isn't subject to what one might consider the typical "critical analysis", however fair or accurate it might be.

This song had such an impact on me as a young teen, affecting my first "puppy love" and otherwise interacting with my earliest "discovery" of romance, that I simply adore the song from a nostalgic view - one that supersedes any critical view of the song. Karen's voice was like nothing I'd ever heard, and remains so to this day, even though there are many female artists since then that I connect with (Amy Lee is one).

Not helpful from any critical perspective, but it's my personal experience with this song.
 
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