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If "Help" became the follow-up single?

kprather

Member
Thread Starter
It's been mentioned (I think here) that originally "Help" was to be the Carpenters' second single rather than "Close to You". If that had happened, how different would the Carpenters' trajectory have been?

Could they have ridden the success of "We've Only Just Begun" into stardom? Would "Begun" have been as successful without "Close to You" coming before it? Or would the Carpenters have disappeared into the annals of history as just another Beatles cover band?
 

goodjeans

Well-Known Member
Great question.
I love their interpretation of "Help", but a second Beatle remake of a second single probably wouldn't have been a smash.
"Close To You" is a song with it's own heartbeat and unique identity.
It was so different at the time and so well done that it made people sit up and listen.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I don't think it would have been a huge hit, but it might have done better than "Ticket To Ride" - and, perhaps it might have given a resurrection to "Ticket To Ride" as a comparison as a past recording from the duo. I'm sitting here thinking - I don't recall hearing "Ticket To Ride" on the radio after it had peaked on the charts in 1969. The Carpenters' hits came so fast and furiously after "Close To You" that there wasn't room to play an older "also-ran" from them.

By the way, I have always loved their interpretation of "Help! - the soaring harmonies, the drum fills, and an organ to make it a near-religious experience.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
^^ I also love their rendition of "Help".

Close to You, as @goodjeans says, had that "magic" that made it a smash. Had "Help" been released instead, I don't think it would have derailed their career but might have delayed it, unless CTY was not even released - in which case, yes, bad for their career arc.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I don't think it would have been a huge hit, but it might have done better than "Ticket To Ride" - and, perhaps it might have given a resurrection to "Ticket To Ride" as a comparison as a past recording from the duo. I'm sitting here thinking - I don't recall hearing "Ticket To Ride" on the radio after it had peaked on the charts in 1969. The Carpenters' hits came so fast and furiously after "Close To You" that there wasn't room to play an older "also-ran" from them.

By the way, I have always loved their interpretation of "Help! - the soaring harmonies, the drum fills, and an organ to make it a near-religious experience.
The only time I ever heard the original single version of 'Ticket To Ride' on the radio was in 1978 when I was taking Driver's Ed class. We were driving down a busy street and I was so surprised when it came on that my driving went to crap.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Great question.
I love their interpretation of "Help", but a second Beatle remake of a second single probably wouldn't have been a smash.
"Close To You" is a song with it's owIn heartbeat and unique identity.
It was so different at the time and so well done that it made people sit up and listen.
It had to happen. Close To You is their biggest hit. The flood gates opened after that. Karen's voice made everyone "sit up and listen"!
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
“Help” has always been one of my favorite Carpenters tracks. I kind of wished they had released it as the 3rd single from the album. It was the one song I looked forward to them doing when seeing them in concert. Karen and Cubby O’Brien playing their drum kits in perfect sync was something to behold. She always sat at her drums for“ Help” and “Mr. Guder”. She always sang both with great passion, and totally in her element while drumming at the same time. One of my favorite memories of Carpenters live shows.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
It's hard to imagine 'Help!' being that breakthrough hit if it had been a single in place of 'Close to You'. Its unusual arrangement makes it something of an acquired taste, so it wouldn't have had enough mass-market appeal to do well. The muddy over-dubbed vocals on 'Help!' also mean that it lacks any real trace of 'that voice' that was so apparent on 'Close to You'. I think they made absolutely the right call not releasing it.

As others have already noted, releasing two Beatles covers in a row as singles would hardly have been beneficial in terms of presenting them as a new act with their own creative vision. They may well have ended up a complete afterthought rather than one of the biggest acts of the 1970s...
 

Alan71

Member
I don’t think Help would have been a good choice. That head voice (I’d say falsetto?) in the chorus doesn’t do it any favours.

Ticket to Ride is radically different to the Beatles’ version and Carpenters definitely brought something new to that. Help isn’t enhanced, to me it just sounds like a cover version used as filler for the album.

When I first heard Ticket To Ride, I always thought it was odd hearing Karen using incorrect English (“don’t care” instead of “doesn’t”, although the latter doesn’t fit and would have sounded awkward). I’ve long got over that but are there many other songs where they do this? The double-negative is normal in pop (ever since “I can’t get no satisfaction”) but Carpenters’ didn’t use it much, if at all, did they?
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Moderator
I think that "Help!" would have been a good choice for the third single off of CLOSE TO YOU. That would have provided space between it and "Ticket To Ride", with the killer pair of "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" in between (and don't forget the further space that "Merry Christmas Darling" provided). And I suspect that might have been the plan had not "For All We Know" fallen into their laps. But it did, and the march to the next album had now started.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I think that "Help!" would have been a good choice for the third single off of CLOSE TO YOU. That would have provided space between it and "Ticket To Ride", with the killer pair of "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" in between (and don't forget the further space that "Merry Christmas Darling" provided). And I suspect that might have been the plan had not "For All We Know" fallen into their laps. But it did, and the march to the next album had now started.
It might have stood a better chance as a single released in the wake of the massive success of 'Close to You' and 'We've Only Just Begun', but I still don't think it would have been wise to have done so even then. Like I say, because of its arrangement, it's a real love it or hate it track, so this would have been a risky choice, especially for a fairly new act.

Even if they did need or had time to put out a third single from the album, there were stronger candidates on there like 'Baby It's You' or 'Love is Surrender'.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
I guess so. It's amazing how people can hear things so differently. The stacked harmonies here seem to me to be the dictionary definition of what "Carpenters" were back then.
To me, HELP sounded a bit out of sync with the rest of this album, and perhaps Richard was subconsciously working on this one through the same lens he used for OFFERING...another reason CTY was the better choice for a single.

But I love HELP as a stand-alone song.
 

tomswift2002

Well-Known Member
It’s surprising that “Help” wasn’t issued as a B-Side in the States. It was issued as a “B”-side to Paraguay’s “Druscilla Penny”.
 

Another Son

Well-Known Member
I think that 'Help' is still an invigorating track, to this day. The arrangement and Karen's performance are full of energy. Richard has arranged the track so that, even though the recording starts on a high, the excitement still builds throughout the song until the increasing adrenaline rush throughout the organ solo at the end, finishing at a crescendo.

I bought the 'Close to You' album at around 12 years of age and it has always held a special place for me, through the decades. I loved 'Help' on first hear, as I did all the other songs. (By the way, I think Karen's head voice in the chorus of 'Help' sounds amazing, works perfectly and lifts the song).

However, Carpenters' run of singles was perfect, as it was. Adding 'Help' to the list of singles would have changed destiny somehow. You couldn't have got a better follow-up to 'We've Only Just Begun' than the magnificent, majestic, timeless 'For All We Know'.

'Help' obviously couldn't have had as big an impact as 'Close to You' if released after the 'Ticket to Ride' single. 'Close to You' was the right song at the right time. I think that if 'Help' had been released as their second single, although it's great, it wouldn't have grabbed radio programmers and the public anywhere near as much as 'Close to You' did and possibly wouldn't have received much airplay - especially because it was a second Beatles cover. On that count, I don't think Carpenters would have been taken seriously and I think they would have sunk.

As things were, the run of singles choices couldn't have worked better.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Adding 'Help' to the list of singles would have changed destiny somehow. You couldn't have got a better follow-up to 'We've Only Just Begun' than the magnificent, majestic, timeless 'For All We Know'.
There’s absolutely no comparison. Help just isn’t single material.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
This thread raises an interesting point: Help....is a great Carpenters' cover.
However, the question remains, would it have made a great follow-up single to Ticket To Ride.
The ingredients necessary for a song to materialize as a HIT SINGLE depends upon more than just the merits of the song.
Ticket To Ride followed by Help....would constitute two Beatles covers in succession and I do not believe that would
have been nearly as impactful as a SINGLE release as Close To You (at that time).
However, Help remains a fine album cut and great concert performance song.
I adore the 1974 Budokan rendition (I would have released that 1974 concert performance as a single for 1974).
 

Toolman

Simple Man, Simple Dream
Would've been interesting, I guess, to see what "Help" might have done as the third single, to the extent that it might -- probably not, but might -- have suggested to the general public at the right time that they were more than purveyors of soft love songs. It's still not one I care much for. I don't feel I'm missing anything; just a matter of personal taste. It's a bit shrill to my ears, as others have pointed out does not use Karen's most appealing voice, and Richard's interjections in the background -- "so in-se-kew, whoa" -- no thanks. Certainly an interesting album track, who knows what it might have done as a single, glad it's there for the many people who like it.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I agree with Harry. As the 3rd single from the CTY album, it would have let the non-lp buying public see Carpenters as much more than a MOR easy listening act. It was them at their early best. They could perform harder more rock driven tunes than WOJB and CTY. For All We Know was a must record it now song, in Richard’s great wisdom, so Help remained an album cut. I think that it it had been released as a single, the rock snobs and critics might have been kinder while Karen was still alive. As I said before, Karen was so in the performance moment, while she performed it live. She was having fun!
It’s what I got hassled for in the mid to late 70’s. It was hard to tell those that didn’t know me, they were my favorite group. It wasn’t cool to be a fan then. I was still crazy about them, no matter what people said.
 
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