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

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Feb 4, 2013.


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  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The unsweetened Nowhere Man is another song I just recently discovered on an old cd-r, which I have had since about 1995-6.
    I do not know exactly how I came to get the early recordings,though. Some are from Your Navy Presents.
    In any event, until I played the cd a few days ago, I had no idea that I even possessed these early songs.
    But, it is gratifying to know that the fans here appreciate them.
    Especially realizing that Richard unequivocally states there is no further material to release, I felt the desire to share
    the recordings to a wider circle of devotees.
    Tapdancer likes this.
  2. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    While listening to the CTY album today, I am struck by how much I love the extended version of the title song, here.
    A stroke of genius; as I consider myself one of the few not (initially) too taken with the single version of Close To You.
    But, I really love the album version.
    Geniuses, they were !
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    song4u likes this.
  4. Many thanks for sharing these, Gary! The “Your Navy Presents” recordings illustrate how Karen was developing her vocal technique between the first two albums. While her voice sweetened over time, it took no greater leap than between the first two albums (to my ears, Karen’s vocals took another huge leap between Now & Then and Horizon albums as well as between the Passage and Made In America albums, where, to my ears, it thinned-out considerably, taking on a more cold water quality and leaving behind the warm, milk chocolate timbre).

    I remember getting the Ticket To Ride LP for Christmas in the mid-1980’s (it was the only Carpenters album not my sister’s collection). I was startled by the deepness and “clumsiness" of her voice, and the title track sounded awful compared to the one with which I’d grown familiar from The Singles album. After a few initial, disappointing listens, I shelved the album for a year or so, eventually dipping my toe back in every now and again, gaining greater appreciation for the album over the years, and growing to love Karen’s developing voice during that particular moment in the duo’s career. I now hear Karen’s vocals on that album as terribly sweet and endearing; it’s grown to be one of my favorite of their albums.
    Don Malcolm, Tapdancer and Jamesj75 like this.
  5. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    My favorite Carpenters album! Karen's voice is there, and the songs straddle the past and future even more than Offering. Just listen to 'Crescent Noon' and 'Another Song'. Or 'Mr. Guder and 'Love is Surrender'. Plus, I love 'Help'. Though, I love the unreleased version of 'Can't Buy Me Love' even more.

    Richard sings way less as if he realizes where the potential lies. And so it goes, mostly, from here on out.

    Maybe this is retroactive, I am A slightly newer fan, but the picture on this disc is not quite as offensive as later offerings. MIA really looks creepy to me, but this cover still looks hopeful.

    Just my two or three cents.
  6. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Allow me to issue a welcome to Guitarmutt. It's always good to have new voices here.

  7. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Yes, welcome Guitarmutt!
    Jeff likes this.
  8. Would someone please let me know if I'm not hallucinating here.....as a hardcore Sergio Mendes fan, I remember taking note of the fact that the original LP version of "Love Is Surrender" starts with Richard saying a very soft 'um, dois, tres' followed by the kick drum on beat 4 before the song starts. It tickled me because it was a subtle but extremely obvious nod to his labelmate (several Brasil '66 records begin this exact way). I even remember thinking that his vocal sounded a little like Richard was imitating Sergio's singing style.....does this makes any sense to anyone?
  9. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Yes, Bill, you may be hallucinating... I just checked my very early pressing of the album and there's no count in of any kind. The only early-era Richard count-in I know of takes place on "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" from the OFFERING album, and it's definitely English.

  10. Don Malcolm

    Don Malcolm Well-Known Member

    Sorry to be late to this thread...life decided to intervene, if you know what I mean. It appears that GaryAlan's fine group of mp3's has been taken down (snif!)...any way that they can be brought back??

    Karen here still has noticeable traces of her initial raw edge, and the combination of intricacy, delicacy, and intensity on the CTY tracks makes it one of the duo's seminal works. (But I think You Must Hear This Album said it better than I could, and I encourage all of you to check out the several Carpenters posts at his blog, which is a very, very good read.)
  11. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    Thank you everyone for the warm welcome. It's really nice to become a part of this forum where we can all share in a mutual love for such unique talent as Richard and Karen.
    BGW and ThaFunkyFakeTation like this.
  12. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    And welcome Don Malcolm.
  13. I hate when that happens. :)
  14. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    We forgive you! :)
  15. However, I would bet my eyeteeth that the arrangement of the song contains nods to Sergio - specifically the little whoop/holler before the second chorus (which pops up all over Brasil '66 records) and the keyboard ad-libs during the fade.....that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Has Richard ever mentioned Sergio in any interviews?
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Billboard Magazine, September 5,1970, Full Page Advertisement for the album:
    "Remember how good, how warm, love-rock used to sound?
    Well, chum, it still does, as you'll discover on listening to Carpenters' new album,
    Close To You.
    As you know from pleasant experience, with the title track, love-rock still sells pretty good, too.
    Which means that not only the lovers will want to stock up on the Close To You album, and a new single
    taken therefrom, "We've Only Just Begun", which figures to follow "Close to You" to the top of the charts and
    into the hearts of listeners everywhere."

    Produced by Jack Daugherty for A&M Records

  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Album: Close to You
    Mojo Collection ( Canongate Books, 4th edn, 2007,page 210)
    Richard Carpenter
    "...We cut two early versions of Close To You, one where Karen tried to sing it like Nilsson. Herb hated it.
    The third time was a charm. We brought in Hal Blaine. As fine a drummer as Karen was she couldn't lay into them
    --and, I'm going to sound like a chauvinistic pig-- the way a man can. Everyone was excited a shell about the song."
    ...."Herbie was ecstatic. He played it over the phone for Burt. Burt was ecstatic. So we've got six songs complete. Out comes
    Close To You. You could tell within a week that it was going to go Top 5. That's when the phone rang and it was "Get your
    album done!". All of a sudden we had no time."
    ...."Karen didn't need to warm up. She didn't give a damn about what time of day it was. She didn't need a special headphone mix.
    They took her right into the Board. She was a marvel. Everything about her..the phrasing, the timbre, the diction."
    ...."It's good to know that we're still so popular that the album is still in release 30 years later--but, there it is around the world,
    as we speak, with that awful, awful cover. That was the whole beginning of that image thing that so many writers have gone on about.
    ..."That Cover started the whole thing.
  18. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    Sorry, I cannot just let this hang here. I'm sure Richard is not a chauvinist pig, but it's still too tempting. Listen to Caravan, Girl from Ipanema, Iced Tea, Can't Buy Me Love, Your Wondeful Parade and tell me Karen couldn't be muscular on the drums. There are plenty of examples between demos and early recordings of her power.

    But the focus of the group was changing to focus on the vocals, and it sounds to me like Karen was trying to figure out what that meant for the drumming. She sounds like she's trying to be quieter to fit the new dynamic.

    Then the powers get the idea she should just sing, mostly. I imagine her drums are quiet and searching on those unheard takes of CTY. Rich knows what she can do, but instead of saying dig in, push more, he demures. The powers want her to sing, and here is their chance. Eventually, she'll hardly drum at all. It's just such a novelty, after all, a girl drummer?!!? Such a good voice shouldn't be diluted by other interests?

    Or am I just too cynical all these years later??
    GaryAlan likes this.
  19. Guitarmutt

    Guitarmutt Active Member

    Heck, listen to Another Song on the same album!
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Excellent comments, Guitarmutt !
    Karen could 'lay' into those drums, the evidence is there to support your 'cynicism' !
    One merely has to watch Karen drumming on the "All American College Show" .
    I'm with you all the way.
    Jeff likes this.
  21. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    I want the Karen Nilssonesque C2U on the future 50th anny sacd album. Great compliment to the end of record. Campaign time. Please come out of retirement Rich! It's YESTERDAY ONCE MORE you said so yourself.

  22. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I don't think it was a power thing, it was a drumming-style thing. If you listen to various Herb interviews, he insisted on using Hal Blaine because the drum sound needed to be "funkier." Now never in a million years would I describe "Close to You" as a "funky" song by any stretch, but there is just something about the Hal Blaine style that Herb thought would work better for the song.

    The same "Wrecking Crew" musicians were used on Sergio Mendes' "Righteous Life," which came out around the same time as the Carpenters hit it big with "Close To You." You can hear the same drum style on that song -- it's unmistakable. I always wondered whether Herb said to Sergio, "It needs to be funkier...get Hal Blaine!"

    Considering Carpenters had yet to score a big hit, Richard made the wise decision to listen to Herb, who had already produced many hit records, so obviously knew what he was talking about.

    If you listen to Sergio's song "Chove Chuva," specifically the vocals in the bridge where they sing "lonely in the raaa--aaa-aain", the harmonies there sound very Carpenteresque to me. I always wondered if Richard ever listened to those early Sergio albums. (Maybe not, considering their styles are so dis-similar.)
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
  23. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Coleman, page 52:
    "Boy, could she play 'em !, exclaimed Richard, she could knock it all off, it was no novelty."

    Coleman,page 83:
    " It was very light, It felt to me like it needed more beef." Herb Alpert
    "Herb believed...Karen being a woman...was not really laying into the drums." Richard Carpenter
    Second Attempt: Alpert asked Daugherty to bring in drummer Hal Blaine and pianist Larry Knechtel.
    Third Attempt: Richard returned to the piano.

    Page 100
    June 1971, Richard suggested a compromise--"..important love songs, Karen 'out front';
    rhythmic material, she could revert to singing from behind her drum stack."
  24. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    I definitely understand their decision to bring Hal in. For as great as Karen was, the drums definitely have a different tone when played at a harder, more beefier dynamic. Hal just had that. If you listen to just about every tom-tom fill he's ever played, you can hear what I'm talking about. I also think that Hal (and Joe who'd already been established with the group by this point) brought a level of credibility as The Wrecking Crew, since Karen and Richard needed a hit and as much ammo as possible to back that up. Bringing these guys in certainly didn't hurt things.
  25. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I agree with this Chris. As great as she was, Karen was more of a jazz-inflected drummer. Her chops are lighter and more airy with less 'attack'. A good example of this is 'This Masquerade'. Very complex technically, but definitely lighter in style. If you watch Karen play on 'I Got Rhythm', she performs some amazing acrobatics with her hands to get those fills, but it's still a softer sound.
    Jeff and Chris May like this.

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