• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy 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 available for ordering here.

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

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ALBUM?

  • ***** (BEST)

    Votes: 41 49.4%
  • ****

    Votes: 34 41.0%
  • ***

    Votes: 7 8.4%
  • **

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • *

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    83

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
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.
The "feel-good sunshine groove" I hear and get - but "the undercurrent of darkness"? I can detect a slight trace of something like that in "Superstar", but where is that in CTY? The obsession for the guy with moon dust in his hair and starlight in his eyes? The stalking by all the girls in town?

I guess one can find dysfunction and pathos anywhere if one tries hard enough, even in the most innocent of adolescent-like lyrics - maybe even with the little lamb following Mary everywhere...
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
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.
Thanks, Jarred! We think alike. : )
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
The "feel-good sunshine groove" I hear and get - but "the undercurrent of darkness"? I can detect a slight trace of something like that in "Superstar", but where is that in CTY? The obsession for the guy with moon dust in his hair and starlight in his eyes? The stalking by all the girls in town?

I guess one can find dysfunction and pathos anywhere if one tries hard enough, even in the most innocent of adolescent-like lyrics - maybe even with the little lamb following Mary everywhere...
I was speaking in terms of their overall output. But, that being said, there are several examples where 'Close To You' was used to great effect in various documentaries. One that comes to mind is an ABC series from 1986 called "Our World". They created a scene showing bombs being released from bomber planes in Vietnam as the background played Karen's line, "Why do stars fall down from the sky?" It was pretty effective, but I know I'm getting a little off-topic here.
 
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Jarred

Well-Known Member
The "feel-good sunshine groove" I hear and get - but "the undercurrent of darkness"? I can detect a slight trace of something like that in "Superstar", but where is that in CTY? The obsession for the guy with moon dust in his hair and starlight in his eyes? The stalking by all the girls in town?

I guess one can find dysfunction and pathos anywhere if one tries hard enough, even in the most innocent of adolescent-like lyrics - maybe even with the little lamb following Mary everywhere...

Only a slight trace in Superstar? My goodness! Darkness consumes that song! I think Retro and I are responding to the dark tones in Karen’s voice and how Richard (consciously or not) crafted arrangements that grooved with an undercurrent of foreboding that complimented what naturally came from her mouth. Sometimes it’s more her vocal performance alone and sometimes it’s the arrangement intertwined with her that gives their songs a heavier air.

Sing is an example that sounds cheerful, but the naïveté of the choir and the wistful flute with her vocal gives the would-be featherweight song a dimension no other musical act could accomplish. Such is the case I feel with a cream puff like CTY - they raise it above easy listening and, for me, turn it into something more emotionally complicated, all while being pleasant and musically sophisticated.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
This is a weird little experiment, but I never liked hearing the electric piano note segue into the acoustic piano between the 1987 remix of "Love Is Surrender" and the 1990 remix of "Maybe It's You."

Although I don't have the "Treasures" compilation (yet), I have the 1987 remixes of both "Love Is Surrender" and "Maybe It's You." As expected, they segue perfectly.


(Personally, I'm still trying to figure what versions I like best. I would maybe do the 1970 mix of "Love Is Surrender" and the 1990 "From The Top" remix of "Maybe It's You.")
 
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CraigGA

Well-Known Member
The options of Maybe It’s You helps us focus on different parts of the vocal stack but I like the original best. All of the Close To You album is best in the original mix, according to my own taste. The only thing I like about the remixes is that Karen’s voice sounds crisper and clearer in the lead vocal.
 

Cuyler

Bright colored pinwheels go 'round in my head.
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Top: Remastered Classics CD
Bottom: AM+ Series CD (CD 3184, pressed December 1988)

Verdict: Tie
Caveat: If you prefer a stronger tape hiss sound and higher-end frequencies, the Remastered Classics CD is the one for you. Some frequencies appear to go above 22 kHz, whereas the AM+ Series CD has a solid 22 kHz ceiling. If you prefer more dynamic range, the AM+ CD seems to be generally quieter, and the peaks don't push 1.0 (0 dB) as much. I would recommend looking for an AM+ CD without an IFPI number in the matrix if possible.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Others have mentioned it but one of the highlights of the arrangement is the 2 full stops at the end of the choruses after the buildup to the word "...blue." Silence is golden.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Others have mentioned it but one of the highlights of the arrangement is the 2 full stops at the end of the choruses after the buildup to the word "...blue." Silence is golden.

Well not silence, per se. There are the two quick four-note piano runs, which were Herb Alpert's idea; they are present in his jazzed up arrangement of the song, and he suggested to Richard that keep them in his arrangement. I think that little touch really makes the song.

I do agree that there is a slight undercurrent of darkness in "Close to You." After all, it's a song of longing: "They LONG to be close to you." This is about a love that is not happening, it's only a fantasy and who knows, it may never actually happen; so it could easily be seen as a sad song, despite the major-key melody.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Well not silence, per se. There are the two quick four-note piano runs, which were Herb Alpert's idea; they are present in his jazzed up arrangement of the song, and he suggested to Richard that keep them in his arrangement. I think that little touch really makes the song.

I do agree that there is a slight undercurrent of darkness in "Close to You." After all, it's a song of longing: "They LONG to be close to you." This is about a love that is not happening, it's only a fantasy and who knows, it may never actually happen; so it could easily be seen as a sad song, despite the major-key melody.
Yes, but even on that first full stop where the famous piano runs, or trills, occur there is a very brief moment of silence both before and after the runs - these strategically placed moments of silence, which are most often found at dramatic points in a composition, have long been referred to as "pregnant pauses".

And yes, it is a "song of longing" but by the third verse it's getting a little out of hand and starting to turn into a "stalker's song" (or so modern political correctness buffs would have us believe) with the lyrics:

That is why all the girls in town
Follow you all around
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

:rolleyes:
 

Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
Given the opinion on how the slowness of the song
I Can Dream Can't I

rubs some folks the wrong way,
I find the song Crescent Noon to be every bit as plodding....
yet, it still touches me !
Well, Gary, it's not all that surprising when you factor in the two words that appear most often here at the forum...

Karen Carpenter.

With all the varied displays of her greatness that bloom incandescently on the CLOSE TO YOU record, "Crescent Noon" is arguably Karen's vocal genius at its most elemental. Her unadorned style harkens back to the type of singing done in medieval church music, controlled yet plaintive, always just one step away from tears. The melody of the song gives us a chance to luxuriate in so many dimensions of her singing, including those exalted low tones at the end of each stanza. It's an art song all the way, from John Bettis' metaphysical lyrics to Richard's choices of instrumentation--and, of course, the unearthly harmonies in the middle-eight.

But it's Karen who makes this song transcend its dolefulness, just like those long-ago minnesangers who also sang with deep but stangely detached emotion about the ephemerality of life. She contained multitudes...
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
The other factor here is that "I Can Dream, Can't I" appears on an album with both "Desperado" and "Solitaire", on an album that's at least one song short. HORIZON is technically a wonderful album to listen to, but it earns its description "draggy".

"Crescent Noon" might be the slowest song on CLOSE TO YOU, and as such it's almost a welcome respite from the more frenetic tunes like "Help!", "Love Is Surrender", "I Kept On Loving You", and "Another Song", not to mention the big, bouncy hit " Close To You".
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
The arrangement here of "I Can Dream..." was a creation of the the veteran Big Band arranger/composer/trumpter Billy May, who had worked for years doing arrangements for Frank and Ella and the Andrews Sisters (among many others) - I'm not sure if he did the Andrews Sisters' 1950 hit version of this song, but it appears to be at a slightly faster tempo, and Cass Elliot's is even a tad more upbeat than that - If I remember correctly in "Carpenters: The Musical Legacy" Richard is quoted as saying something like he tried to get May to speed up his arrangement, but May wasn't having any part of changing it - and might have even resented Richard's interference to a certain extent. It's a really good 1940s style arrangement (including the use of the backing chorus) and a truely lovely vocal performance by Karen. The only thing I would have changed would be having a piano solo in place of the brass in the interlude section, but Billy - as a brass man - wouldn't have bought into that either.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Don presents a beautiful synopsis of Crescent Noon, writing "It's an art song all the way."
I am curious as to why it is absent on later compilations, as the Forum Resource includes only
one other release, the japan-issued Sweet Memory.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
Don presents a beautiful synopsis of Crescent Noon, writing "It's an art song all the way."
...
I'm not sure what an "art song" is - I picture a cold Museum audition room with a rotund soprano singing a dirge in German about the pathos of existence...but in a larger sense every song is a work of art, or an art song...take for instance the Carpenters' MR GUDER or ROAD ODE...the key feature of CRESCENT NOON is the vocalization of its unique and mysterious melody, and this could have been done with just about any lyrics at all, whether or not that they were metaphysical, or profound, or poetical or artful - Karen could just as easily have been singing the Solfedge words for the notes of the scale (Do, Rey, MI, etc.) and it would have had the same beautiful sound - I just wonder how much more beautiful it would have been if she had re-recorded this song say 7 or 8 years later with her much more mature, resonant voice...
 

Rick-An Ordinary Fool

Well-Known Member
I’ve read people get different meanings from this song Crescent Noon. Some say it’s about the circle of life, the beginning and ending of life yet the sun will shine again. Others that it’s about 2 lovers at one point were happy (green September) now has turned October brown love turned fair November then December (frozen cold) lives drifting apart…It’s dark, moody with rays of sunlight all mixed together. It’s not my favorite song but it does have some nice lyrics.

“Slowly we’ll fade into…a sea of midnight blue and a falling crescent noon”
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Isn’t it interesting how we rediscover songs?

Rick, I think you may be right. If my ears are correct, Karen sings “You and I were born like the breaking day”.
 

Chris May

Resident ‘Carpenterologist’
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
If I remember correctly in "Carpenters: The Musical Legacy" Richard is quoted as saying something like he tried to get May to speed up his arrangement, but May wasn't having any part of changing it - and might have even resented Richard's interference to a certain extent. It's a really good 1940s style arrangement (including the use of the backing chorus) and a truely lovely vocal performance by Karen. The only thing I would have changed would be having a piano solo in place of the brass in the interlude section, but Billy - as a brass man - wouldn't have bought into that either.
Billy sometimes could be a bit of a curmudgeon, depending on the particular mood he was in on any given day which accounts for some of the pushback.

He was a veteran arranger who was brought in specifically for this selection and Richard respected and trusted Billy's insight and expertise—despite any personal preference he might have had related to his choice in tempo.
 

Jarred

Well-Known Member
Well, Gary, it's not all that surprising when you factor in the two words that appear most often here at the forum...

Karen Carpenter.

With all the varied displays of her greatness that bloom incandescently on the CLOSE TO YOU record, "Crescent Noon" is arguably Karen's vocal genius at its most elemental. Her unadorned style harkens back to the type of singing done in medieval church music, controlled yet plaintive, always just one step away from tears. The melody of the song gives us a chance to luxuriate in so many dimensions of her singing, including those exalted low tones at the end of each stanza. It's an art song all the way, from John Bettis' metaphysical lyrics to Richard's choices of instrumentation--and, of course, the unearthly harmonies in the middle-eight.

But it's Karen who makes this song transcend its dolefulness, just like those long-ago minnesangers who also sang with deep but stangely detached emotion about the ephemerality of life. She contained multitudes...
Such eloquence about her gift! I always love your descriptions of her.

When an interviewer once said she was “like an emissary from a private world”, her performance of Crescent Noon is a flawless example of what she meant.
 
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Jarred

Well-Known Member
I just wonder how much more beautiful it would have been if she had re-recorded this song say 7 or 8 years later with her much more mature, resonant voice...
Her voice wasn’t technically at its first peak of maturity until the next year but I wouldn’t change this vocal for anything. She really scoops down into the pits of her lower register with a raw yearning we wouldn’t have gotten in 1978. We get that dark richness in something like “WDIGFH?” but it’s a different kind of song. This kind of abstract lyric benefits from a youthful voice that’s still all-knowing and sophisticated, like the word themselves are. Her tone may have been richer in 1971 but her singular emotional world you can hear as early as 1967. Interestingly, she sounds more developed tonally on something like Eve than she does on CN, but maybe it’s just how her voice is used.
 

JohnFB

I was born to belong to the lines of a song...
... We get that dark richness in something like “WDIGFH?” but it’s a different kind of song. This kind of abstract lyric benefits from a youthful voice that’s still all-knowing and sophisticated, like the word themselves are. . .
CRESCENT NOON does nothing for me lyrically, but it does appeal to me greatly as a melodic vehicle for Karen to display her natural mastery of the vocal craft...

As I've said before, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE is a great all around song - lyrically and melodically - it is a different kind of song truly - and if the high point of listening to Karen sing can be found in those awesome low notes then this song gives us a chance to hear her cruising in that basement lower and longer than any other, very especially in the two verses, where at 2 points she reaches the lowest notes she ever recorded...this is a vocal performance that should be held in the highest esteem among her recordings (and incidentally, joins GOODBYE TO LOVE & I JUST FALL IN LOVE AGAIN as the 3 main power ballads in their catalog).
 
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