1. The new Carpenters recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now available for preorder! Use this link to preorder, and help us out at the same time. Thank you!

Anyone read this?

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by ullalume, Jan 21, 2014.

  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    April 21, 2018

    The Top Uses of The Carpenters “Close to You” in Movies or TV...
    "When the Carpenters got a hold of it however they turned it into a song that’s been immortalized since its re-release. Since that time it’s been featured in films and TV alike either as a meaningful piece or a spoof of sorts that still brings greater meaning to the work it’s been given over to.
    It’s a great song if you listen to it."

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  2. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    @GaryAlan, thanks for the above link. Those movie/TV clips were news to me. (I vaguely knew about the Simpsons' connection.) I must say I found Kurt Russell's performance of "Close to You" in The Best of Times to be particularly engaging: it was heartfelt, and I give bonus points for his mimicking of the piano accompaniment. I forget what you call that piano technique of the sequences of notes. Maybe one of our learned friends here can enlighten me...
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Herb Alpert brings brassy sound to Boston’s City Winery
    Herb Alpert brings brassy sound to Boston's City Winery
    "he and Moss started building a stable of acts that ranged from rockers Joe Cocker and the Police to the comparatively softer Cat Stevens and the Carpenters. Alpert takes credit for signing that last one."

    “The Carpenters sold more records than any of our other artists,” he said. “But even after they had a couple of records out, my own company was saying, ‘Man, why’d you sign these kids? They’re a little too cute.’ Maybe they thought they weren’t compatible with what was happening on the radio at the time. But then I gave them ‘Close to You’.”

    "Alpert stopped to savor the memory, then added, “The first time they recorded it, Karen was playing drums, and she was very good, but she wasn’t a recording drummer. I got the idea that they should have the real artillery, so we used (drummer) Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew, and that record was a monster. After it became No. 1, the people that were asking why I signed them were looking at me and saying, ‘You’re a genius!’ ” (laughs)."
    Carpe diem likes this.
  4. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    "But then I gave them Close To You":

    Agreed; "genius" move by Herb recognizing the song as being compatible to the Carpenters' style, "genius" move to get the lead sheet to Richard and giving him the freedom to build his own unique arrangement around Karen's magnificent vocals, "genius" move to replace Karen with Hal Blaine because Joe Osborn felt more comfortable to record with a proven studio drummer with whom he had worked with a lot. Not popular with the Carpenter camp (Agnes) and a lot of fans, but you can't argue with the results.

    On all aspects, give Herb his due, he put his neck out, took a tremendous risk, and won the lottery! The label got very healthy financially by signing the duo.
  5. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I can't remember what interview I read this in (the Rolling Stone one, maybe?) but somewhere, Richard mentions that he was arranging a Bacharach medley for a concert they were performing. Herb had already given him "Close to You" as a possible part of that medley. Richard said the song didn't work for the medley but Herb insisted they should record it anyway.

    It's pretty amazing that Herb recognized the song's potential for K&R, considering his own musical vision for the song was a completely different bossa-nova-ish arrangement.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Herb Alpert:
    "....she wasn't a recording drummer...I got the idea that they should have the real artillery..."

    That explains nothing for me....
    I still ask, if Karen was good enough for the entire Offering LP, as studio musician/drummer,
    did replacing her in the studio--for Close To You, and most of that 1970 LP,
    make that much of a difference ?
    In other words, Richard was as much a "studio" pianist, as Karen was a "studio" drummer--
    at that point in time...he was not replaced on either the single or the album.
    Yet, Karen was the metronome ,and Richard needed a "click-timer," (he being too fast).

    Richard Carpenter:
    Close To You” was just so different and understated for Top Forty radio that I worried.
    That track...we had to revert to a “click” because it was just so deliberate.
    (Bassist) Joe Osborn and Karen were like metronomes,
    (drummer) Hal Blaine and I tended to rush a little. "

    HuffPost Exclusive : The 40th Anniversary of Carpenters / Interview with Richard Carpenter | HuffPost
    Carpe diem likes this.
  7. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Pardon as I go slightly off-topic. It's fun to play "what if?" here... What if CTY would've "bombed"? It's interesting to mull over what would've happened. Would We've Only Just Begun been "the hit"? What if both songs tanked? What if the studio cut them loose immediately? Would Karen have married, had children, and baked brownies in Downey, only sharing her voice with the church congregation on Sunday? But, CTY was a monster hit and everyone associated with it is now "a genius".
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  8. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Well, if numbers tell a story, these numbers are pretty interesting in that regard:
    OFFERING / TICKET TO RIDE - highest chart position in Billboard, #150
    CLOSE TO YOU - highest chart position in Billboard, #2

    Was it Karen's drumming, or Hal Blaine's drumming that made such a big difference? Who can say? But the end results are pretty significant.
    Carpe diem likes this.
  9. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I would venture to add that the chart positions and sales between Offering and Close To You LP's
    relied in no significant way upon who did the drumming on those albums.

    Now, the quality of the songs, that tells all....and, as Richard has said, he was going to
    put out Offering as he wanted it, no matter what year they were signed to A&M (1975, Compendium).

    So, I have to ask:
    Did Herb have even more input on which songs appeared on the second album, Close To You,
    than we are aware of ?
  10. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    I think there's 2 issues here:

    1) Is there "such a thing" as a difference between a band drummer's skills and a studio drummer's skills
    2) Would CTY have been a hit regardless of who played drums on the song in studio

    To #1 - I Googled "difference between studio drummer and band drummer" and a few variants of that, and found a number of articles and forums where this is discussed.

    Should anyone be surprised that this is a contentious issue among drummers, even today?

    The general consensus seems to be that yes, there's a difference. The studio requires tuning the kit a certain way, cymbals used (and struck) differently, comfortable with a click track, and relentlessly consistent; they will drum the same part over and over with the same precision (some derisively called this "robotic"). Many claim that studio drummers aren't suited for live acts, because they have no "flair"; I suspect that's not true in all cases, but I'm not one to properly judge that.

    Most agreed that a good band drummer can learn to be a good studio drummer fairly quickly, as long as they are really good drummers to start with.

    (An aside - drummers today are facing being replaced by computer drumming. It is already happening. Drummers have also noticed that even though they played the drums in studio, parts of their playing were replaced by computer drumming. Uggh. Sometimes the future sucks).

    My view; Karen probably had some things to learn to be a better studio drummer; but she could have, and quite easily.

    As to #2 - we'll never know this answer. We do know that with Blaine it was a smash success. In my personal opinion CTY would have been just as big of a hit, because the drums in that song are understated anyway. But I add the caveat that because I am not a musician, there may be subtle elements of Blaine's playing that somehow _do_ make the song stronger. As a non-musician I may not be able to recognize it.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Nice analysis ! Thanks for putting some thought into that response !
    Now, substitute "Karen's studio drumming" everywhere with "Richard's studio piano playing"
    and, ask yourself why --given the much more prominent piano-performance
    in Close To You---Richard was still retained as studio pianist, but Karen was replaced as studio drummer.
    As Richard stated, he and Hal "tended to rush a bit" but Karen's timing was perfect.

    Obviously, until we get to hear those tracks--with Karen on drums ,for Close To You,
    we will never really know what the difference IS !
    Carpe diem likes this.
  12. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    There is also the version with Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on piano that did not make the final cut either. In Ray Coleman's biography it says: "Richard believed Larry's robust style lacked the finesse needed for the sensitivity of the song."
    Carpe diem likes this.
  13. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    "Obviously, until we get to hear those tracks--with Karen on drums ,for Close To You,
    we will never really know what the difference IS !"

    Yes GaryAlan; those tracks that Herb heard when he didn't like the song as performed (with Karen on the drums). Will those ever see the light of day? I doubt it. Was it all Karen's drumming or did the arrangement/vocals in general need refinement on those early recordings? As fans, it would be nice to hear them so we can judge for ourselves.

    My thoughts on the CTY single's success: 80% Karen's uniquely beautiful vocals (and I'm being conservative) that mesmerized the general public (don't you remember where you were the first time you heard it?); 10% Richard's arrangement (and I'm being generous); 10% "intangibles": timing, saturated radio play, marketing, luck, Hal Blaine's drumming, Joe Osborn's bass, Chuck Findley's horn solo, the harmonies, a Bacharach/David song, etc. I believe you could have had a chimpanzee (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating) on drums for that song and it still would've been a hit. That VOICE, was just not going to be denied!
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  14. arthowson

    arthowson Active Member

    Karen played on Postman #1. YOM #2 and Sing #2
    David A, GaryAlan and Carpe diem like this.
  15. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    Well, apparently Herb was ok with what he heard in terms of Richard's keyboards, not so much Karen's drums (or Messenger's base, right?). And I don't think it unreasonable to suggest that while Agnes _did_ fight for Karen to remain on drums, she would have gone apoplectic if he tried to replace Richard. Ultimately I think there was a ton of pressure on all concerned, to have a hit; Herb was limiting what he saw as "variables" when listening to them. And without wanting to stir up another debate on this, I do believe it was an easier decision to replace Karen because she was a female drummer in 1970.

    One might argue that that same beautiful voice was also on Offering. The song choice itself, and as arranged by Richard - in my opinion - created a frame for Karen's voice that gave us the Karen we all love to this day. It was all integral and sometimes, magic just comes together.
    Geographer and Carpe diem like this.
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I am glad to read Arthowson,
    reminding me that Karen did play drums on the Singles,
    the hit singles,
    Please Mr. Postman, Yesterday Once More and Sing.....

    Obviously, Hal Blaine's "studio drumming" could be replaced byKaren--and, successfully at that !
    Strange, though--if Hal blaine was so very instrumental on studio drums--
    Why was he let go after/at same time as Jack Daugherty was fired ?
    Don Malcolm and David A like this.
  17. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    Thank You!! Not to mention This Masquerade; which I would find it quite impossible for any "studio" drummer to outdo her on that track!
    David A likes this.
  18. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    I like your comments, especially: "I do believe it was an easier decision to replace Karen because she was a female drummer in 1970." It was far more easy for Richard to tell Larry Knechtel to "take a hike" than it was for a barely 20 year old Karen to argue with Herb, Joe Osborn, and Hal Blaine.
    Don Malcolm and David A like this.
  19. David A

    David A Well-Known Member

    The speculating get's ever deeper, but I'd guess that once they were a big success, the concerns that may have been at play in Herb, et al.'s minds on CTY, were long gone. Again, in my opinion CTY would have been an equal success with Karen on drums; just speculating about what the motives and thinking was by the powers-that-were, for replacing her on most of CTY.
  20. This discussion could easily be a topic on its own! I think Karen was an incredible drummer, especially in light of the fact female drummers were so uncommon in her time. To me, Karen's style definitely slanted toward jazz and "lighter" types of things. She certainly could hold her own on any of their ballads. I think her drumming style on the Ticket To Ride album was perfect for the "product of the 60's" it turned out to be. As I recall, the 70's ushered in a new pop sound that had "harder" (heavier) drums than the 60's pop songs. The fills in the 60's songs were lighter and busier whereas the 70's fills were more attention getting (think: Anticipation by Carly Simon, for example).
    CraigGA likes this.
  21. ullalume

    ullalume Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I bet Karen was really gutted by being taken off drums that Feb/March of '70, and for most of the other subsequent cuts off that album. But I bet that disappointment was blown away 3 months later as it rocketed up the charts.

    BTW, I'm never exactly sure which tracks she did drum on. I know Mr Guder and Another Song for sure, but I've always been under the impression she did 2 other tracks. . .perhaps Love is Surrender and I'll Never Fall in love again since I believe both of these were recorded before CTY and Blaine's arrival, plus they have Karen's "flair" if you know what I mean.

    Anyone know for sure?

  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    ^^Neil, I will get that information from the Fan Club Newsletters (which songs Karen drums on album CTY);
    In the interim, here is another recent article focussing on Women Drummers....

    6 Amazing Female Drummers Who Are Breaking The Mold & Marching To Their Own Beat
    April 24, 2018 at 10:00 am

    "Karen Carpenter

    Karen Carpenter was one member of the sibling duo known as The Carpenters. She and her brother, Richard, started the band as a duo in 1969 and had amazing success. Karen started off as a drummer and slowly began singing and playing other instruments, like the bass guitar, as well. Despite moving away from the drum kit and in front of a mic stand, she always considered herself “a drummer who sang,” and her brother marveled that it seemed as though she was “born in a drum factory.”
    She released 10 albums with The Carpenters as well as some solo music. Her voice and drumming abilities have been praised, and her popularity playing such a male-dominated instrument is made even more amazing by the timeframe in which she played.
    In Karen’s time, there wasn’t a big focus on women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. Women in male-dominated industries were incredibly limited, and there weren’t any programs pushing women to learn the STEM fields. However, the A in STEAM is just as important. Adding arts in with the other categories like science and technology is important in promoting learning an many different facets of education.
    As we’ve seen, women making a career out of something like their musical ability isn’t something as prominent for women. Karen’s parents were excited to see where their son’s musical ability would take him but didn’t anticipate it for Karen Carpenter. She broke that mold."
    6 Amazing Female Drummers Who Are Breaking The Mold & Marching To Their Own Beat - GirlTalkHQ
    goodjeans and Geographer like this.
  23. Yamaguchi

    Yamaguchi Member

    Actually, on the OFFICIAL ranking of top groups for the 70's on Billboard, the Carpenters ranked No. 4 overall and No. 1 among all American recording artists, solo or group. Only McCartney, Elton John, and Beegees (all non-American) ranked ahead of them. This actually understates Carpenters' status, as Billboard includes only American sales and Carpenters were especially strong internationally, especially in the world's No. 2 and 3 music markets, Japan and UK.
  24. Yamaguchi

    Yamaguchi Member

    This whole discussion is too America-chauvinistic and parochial. The music market is international, and Carpenters, both in their active years and now/historically, do much better on the international perspective. Japan and UK are the second and third largest markets behind the US, and Carpenters have excelled in those markets for 50 years (not to mention the rest of all East Asia, including China, where the Carpenters' popularity is enormous). This is because their music has become classical in a sense, and the trashed-up American market rejects classically beautiful music.
  25. Carpe diem

    Carpe diem Well-Known Member

    A lot of accuracy in your comments and I respect your position. Indeed, it seems the duo received a lot more love in Japan and the UK then they received in their home country. I have read articles of how they are currently "blowing-up" in Asian markets like China and Vietnam where western music was discouraged/banned during their heyday. It reminds me of the Japanese documentary of their 1974 Budokan appearance when they arrive at the airport. Japanese teenagers are "giddy" with excitement while talking to the interviewer and then the interviewer asks an American serviceman walking across the lobby about the Carpenters and he responds with a puzzled look "Carpenters?". How could any young American not know who the Carpenters where in 1974?! Maybe he didn't understand the question...
    Geographer likes this.

Share This Page

Users Viewing Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 0)