Thanks for posting Chris Christian's version, Ed. I like the predominant vocal line in the chorus in his version, which is different from what Carpenters used - or that line is buried in the harmonies or mix, on their version. I do agree that the song has SOMETHING, but that it is not a great song, by any means.Here's Chris version of "Back in My Life Again".
In respectful disagreement, I have to say I think Chris' is better, though it's not good. It's not really a case of Richard either unearthing a diamond in the rough or Richard hearing something that was perfectly good already and blowing it. Carpenters' version is pretty terrible and over-produced. His inability to sound current hurt the tune and his insistence on orchestration cheeses things out completely. Karen sounds fine on it but it's hardly a vehicle for her; she's just part of the production and not a very big part of it either. When one has a vocalist of Karen's caliber at their disposal, that approach is bordering on criminal, IMHO. I think there is a decent song here but neither Chris nor Richard got there, though Chris got closer.
It is somewhat interesting to note that Richard added lyrics in the first verse and the way he went about elongating the tune. To prove that even the worst of Richard's arrangements offer something, I do like the way the tune ends. Very unusual and it works well.
To me, Karen sounds fairly expressionless on Carpenters' version of 'Back In My Life Again'. It could be over-production or her performance. Compare that vocal to her earlier, iconic vocals on their huge hits. They're worlds apart.
'Worlds Apart' isn't true of personal connections, though. There are three degrees of separation between everybody. Chris Christian used to be in Cotton, Lloyd and Christian with Darryl Cotton, who went out with my cousin a few times in the mid / late 60s when they were in their late teens. (I never met him. I'm quite a bit younger than my cousin). Darryl Cotton also used to be in Zoot with Beeb Birtles, of Little River Band, and Rick Springfield, whom a lot of Americans from that era will know.
Back to Darryl Cotton - He had a number of hits in Australia around the time that 'Back In My Life Again' came out. These included 'Little Red Book', (the old Manfred Mann song), 'Same Old Girl', 'I Don't Want to Lose You' and 'Don't Let it Get to You' - all of which used the harmony-laden approach that Chris Christian used on 'Back in My Life Again' and which, of course, Carpenters almost always used.
Just a bit of trivia.