Great stories, mate.Generally, Carpenters were ridiculed when I was growing up, if they were mentioned. One of my sisters hated them with a passion and a cousin used to call them Carry-on and Wretched Crapenter. (I must admit, that one always made me smile). My Dad used to imitate the “Calling Occupants” line in the song like a chook cackling - “Cark-a-dark-a-das!” and refer to Carpenters as “Those buggers” -“You’re not listening to THOSE buggers again??” When I was 13, my class was making silk screens and I was going to do a print of the ‘Carpenters’ logo. I remember the art teacher making a snide comment about my choice. And around the same age, class mates were discussing female singers who ‘weren’t bad’ - I think Agnetha from ABBA, Suzi Quatro and maybe Stevie Nicks were mentioned, then Karen was mentioned as someone who was definitely unappealing, after which there were derisive gaffaws. However, after the BBC “Carpenters live at the New London Theatre” special was screened in early 1977, a girl from my class said of Karen the next day, “She’s good on the drums!” after which another girl scoffed at her comment. (Where I grew up, there was only one clear TV station at the time, so people would have had to watch the Carpenters special, if they were going to watch anything).
About eight months after all this, perception of Carpenters seemed to change when “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” was released. That was a Top 5 single in the state where I live. Some kids definitely thought it was cool. I remember one boy enthusiastically reciting the DJ’s and Alien’s lines from the beginning of the album version. “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” were also big around the same time and this may have helped Carpenters seem ‘in’ for a while. Visiting a few houses around the time, I noticed ‘Passage’ albums sitting beside turntables a couple of times. (The album reached Number 11).
Luckily, the “Space Encounters” special was never screened in my area, or that would have catapulted Carpenters to the realms of dagginess very quickly, all over again.