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"If I Were A Carpenter"

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by ThaFunkyFakeTation, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

    After I scanned this one and uploaded it to the site, I was listening to the whole thing (I have the CD so I can play it in iTunes while working). For my part, it's kind of a mixed bag. Some took it seriously and some didn't. Matthew Sweet probably did the best job as he gave the best reading of the tune he did ("Let Me Be The One"). Richard's electric piano and backgrounds don't hurt and it's the only one he participated on. The Cranberries do a very pretty version of "Close To You" and it's clear Delores likes the tune. Shonen Knife is just fun! They had fun with "Top Of The World" and I just can't hate. Grant Lee Buffalo also did a really nice job with "We've Only Just Begun". It sticks to the script but it's very nice nonetheless.

    On the flip side, Red Kross should be drug out and shot for their treatment of "Yesterday Once More". It was treated like a total joke. Babes In Toyland didn't do much better with "Calling Occupants...". In fact, it appeared the Babes couldn't wait to get out of the studio.

    The one that reportedly Richard absolutely hated is Sonic Youth's treatment of "Superstar"...and I feel it's the gutsiest thing on the album. The lyrics always felt a bit stalker-ish to me and the Youth must have thought so too. Their version is dark and incredibly sinister. It's not my bag musically but it's so interesting that it forces you to get involved with it. It's an unsettling experience but I admire their desire to interpret the tune their own way.

    Your turn now. What do you think of this album?

  2. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    I think Dishwalla's take on "Its Going to Take Some Time" is PRIMO. Richard even stated their version is better than Carpenters' version, which is quite a compliment indeed. I agree 100%. It's like a completely different song. I also like American Music Club's version of "Goodbye to Love".
    Geographer likes this.
  3. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I remember when I first got this CD and played it thinking what in the world happen to these beautiful songs, they destroyed their beauty. I could not understand how Richard could have been involved in this project, I mean of all projects? This one? However any exposure is better than none with Carpenters. There are only a few tracks that I could really listen to all the way through, Matthew Sweet's version of "Let Me Be The One" is ok and AMC's "Goobye to Love" is ok. We all know Richard changes his mind with time, I wonder if he still feels the same about this project. I certainly don't agree with Richard about Dishwalla's version of "It's Going To Take Some Time."

    Here is an article I kept from Sept 16, 1994 in ET magazine about Richard's review on the album. The first 2 pages are suppose to be side by side.

  4. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Sorry, having trouble getting full size photos to show, will try later. :laugh:
  5. Great thread! Thanks for starting the conversation! In short, I LOVE If I Were A Carpenter. Love. It. And it’s not because I think the IIWAC iterations are “better” than K&R’s, but mostly because the project conveys how deeply the duo’s work influenced music that came after it. Even unexpected, “punk" influences, like Sonic Youth, Dishwalla, etc.

    It’s been debated, since the album’s release, that many/all the artists who participated in the tribute project did so ironically, but from my perspective, it’s clear that these songs were approached with much love and gratitude. I’m pleased that the respective artists didn’t try to recreate their version of Carpenters’ sound, but injected the songs with their own style, be it pop, rock, grunge, punk, etc.

    My top 5 moments from the CD, in ranking order:
    1. Shonen Knife, “Top Of The World.” As Ed said, “fun.” And I’ll add jubilant, heartfelt, and a perfect reading of that sunny, pop song.
    2. Dishwalla, “It’s Going To Take Some Time.” My favorite part is the ad-libbing at the end. Great take on a Carole King classic. Sidebar: I think K&R were far too harsh in interviews about releasing this song as a single. “We goofed,” said Karen in a mid-1970’s interview about choosing the song as a single (as it barely missed the top-10, and compared to their other top-5 hits at the time, “IGTTST” seemed humble, in comparison...hindsight is always 20/20, no? The duo would have killed to reach that high on the charts in later years.). I’m guessing the off-handed comments also didn’t win the duo many friends in the music industry.
    3. Matthew Sweet, “Let Me Be The One.” Great country-pop version of this song that should’ve been a single. If you like this one, you should check-out Sweet’s ongoing collaboration with Suzanna Hoffs (Bangles), the Under The Covers albums. Great stuff!
    4. Grant Lee Buffalo, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” This arrangement has echoes of Paul Anka’s 1975 hit, “The Times Of Your Life.”
    5. Sonic Youth, “Superstar.” Also per Ed, the band brings out the literal reading of the dark lyrics, as did young Karen, but from a different point of view. That said, Richard’s arrangement made Carpenters’ version a torch song, Sonic Youth’s is chilling and creepy.

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  6. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

    Please do. I'm beyond curious and would love to see it. Here's hoping you can get it to show up. If you need to, you can email it to me and I'll happily throw it up for you.

    Must Hear This Album likes this.
  7. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I hope it works this time.

    Jamesj75 and ThaFunkyFakeTation like this.
  8. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    Let me know if this works.
    For me, it shows on my PC but on my phone I get blank squares. :laugh:
  9. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Honolulu City Lights

    I just realized, at the time of this article, it mentions Richard not writing music but working on various projects including a 6 CD set from Japan, this must have been the Sweet Memory 6 CD set.
    Jeff likes this.
  10. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting the EW article. I remember reading it when I came out. Nice to see it again. David Browne should have been as open-minded and fair to Karen's solo release, too, but he bashed it without really listening. It was as if he had his mind made up about the solo album before he even played it. Too bad.
  11. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    I favor Bless the Beasts here. Power chorus does it justice to my ear.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

    Thanks for posting this, Chris! Nice to see he could hear the greatness in Sonic Youth's take on "Superstar". I forget where I thought I heard that he hated it. Either way, I'm glad to be wrong. Thanks for setting me straight.. :wink:

  13. A&M Retro

    A&M Retro Well-Known Member

    It was the Terry Gross NPR interview where he said he didn't like it. But I get the impression that he was just getting annoyed with her incessant badgering about it.
    goodjeans likes this.
  14. goodjeans

    goodjeans Active Member

    ...liked the entire CD.
    I felt that every artist took the project seriously and put their 'spin' on it.
    The only thing that I did not like was the CD cover.
    My eyes looked like that the few times that I did hallucinogens.
    Jamesj75 and A&M Retro like this.
  15. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

    Ah. Ok. I hoped I wasn't crazy. Thanks...LOL!

    A&M Retro likes this.
  16. Rumbahbah

    Rumbahbah Well-Known Member

    Haven't listened to this all the way through in a long time (something that I imagine would be a bit of a struggle). It's a real curate's egg - a mishmash of the sincere and the jokey, the effective and the almost unlistenable.

    Best tracks to my ears, as flagged up by others, are Matthew Sweet's 'Let Me Be the One' (the 'straightest' take on the album and one that begs the question of why no one ever released this as a single, even though a number of artists recorded it - it just sounds like a hit), Sonic Youth's 'Superstar' (which channels the darkness of the Carpenters' version and takes it in a different direction) and Dishwalla's 'It's Going to Take Some Time' (whose reinvention of the song gives it a whole new life; the Carpenters' version is nice, but it does lack something compared to the their other singles of the same era).

    But that leaves a number of tracks that feel like they add nothing to the original interpretations ('Close to You' and 'Solitaire') and some that simply shouldn't have ever been recorded (Shonen Knife's 'Top of the World' is hideous to my ears, even if it taps into a quasi-ironic Japanese take on a group who were so popular in Japan).

    I get the impression that nothing on the album is an outright insincere take, but some are certainly much more heartfelt than others. There's also a certain ambiguity in the image on the cover and the use of all the close-up smiley faces of Richard and Karen in the CD booklet - you get the impression that the project didn't quite know which side of the divide to come down on in terms of whether the Carpenters should be revered or mocked, and in the end did a bit of both. But, in fairness, this was still the early 1990s, during which their critical reappraisal was still a work in progress, so the fact that it existed at all was probably a good thing, as it may have introduced alternative music fans who'd never normally have bothered with the Carpenters to their songs. Plus some contributors like Sonic Youth were long-time champions of the Carpenters, so I doubt they'd have signed up to something that didn't mean well.

    As to what Richard made of it, it's hard to tell. I imagine he may well feel more lukewarm to it now than he did at the time of its release, in the same way as he did with The Karen Carpenter Story movie, which might explain the conflicting reports of his thoughts on it.
    A&M Retro likes this.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    The best song on this tribute album, as far as I can ascertain, is " IGT Some Time" by Dishwalla.
    Dishwalla performed it on Jon Stewart's (or, that other guy at night) talk show. It was on Youtube.
    The audience laughed when it was mentioned that they were paying tribute to the Carpenters..
    I am not sure why the laughter, I hope it was not intended to be disrespect for the duo.
    As the years progress, I appreciate this album more than I did upon it's initial release.
    There was an extensive write-up in the Tampa Tribune about this release, basically touting the
    greatness of the Carpenters. I thought, at the time, finally, some overdue respect!
    Anyway, I have always felt that respect is long overdue in this country for Karen & Richard.
  18. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

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  19. mr J.

    mr J. Active Member

    They were probably laughing at the fact that an alternative rock band(that nobody's ever heard of) is paying tribute to an artist of Karen's stature.

    That tribute album,to a high degree,made a mockery of the Carpenters timeless sound and Karen's status as a great singer.The whole project was really just a waste of time-and it didn't sell,either.

    Karen wasn't a rock singer or affiliated with rock in any way.It was totally inappropriate for A&M to do a project like that.

    Veteran jazz artists Pat Metheny,David Sanborn and Janis Siegel(among others) have covered Carpenters songs and did justice to them.Those are the type of artists that should've done a tribute album.

    As far as respect-Karen is a legend in the business,and her voice is held in very high regard in the music industry-and among the record-buying public.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  20. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Found this from an LA Press Release (online), do not know if these quotes are necessarily true:

    - Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon often speaks of her great admiration for Karen Carpenter.
    -- "Close to You" was the first album Redd Kross' Gere Fennelly ever purchased "that wasn't by Beethoven."
    -- By the age of nine, Lori Babero of Babes in Toyland could sing every Carpenters lyric on the "Close to You" LP and believed the duo lived in the family record player.
    -- Matthew Sweet drives a Dodge Charger because of Richard Carpenter's 70s car fanaticism.
    -- "Bless the Beasts and Children" was the first song Sheryl Crow learned on piano.
    -- Berend Dubbe of Bettie Serveert has a shrine to Karen Carpenter in his bedroom.
    "When I was a kid I always hated pop and AM radio, but I always loved The Carpenters," said Jeffrey McDonald of Redd Kross.
    "Singing `ohh oohs' with Richard Carpenter, was an overwhelming thing," says Sweet,

    Billboard stats: from 9/94 to 1/95 only 148,000 copies sold.
    Given the promotion that A&M spent on this Album, that is a paltry number.

    But, Yes, I agree with Mr.J regarding this entire project.

    On the flip side of the coin, my (20 yr. old) nieces know of, and like, sonic youth's Superstar, from the movie Juno ,
    and through that exposure came to know about Carpenters and actually now know of/appreciate their music.
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

  22. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    A Newspaper Review (3 stars=good):
    *** IF I WERE A CARPENTER Various Artists (A & M) A&M Records' If I were a Carpenter is a compilation of Carpenters tunes from the 1970s done '90s-style. The album contains all of the Carpenters' most popular songs performed by today's bands, from Japan's Shonen Knife doing "Top of the World" to the Cranberries' "(They Long to Be) Close to You." The Cranberries' spectral and soulful rendition may be better than the recording that the Carpenters did themselves. Richard Carpenter commented to WFNX that Sonic Youth's version of "Superstar" was "haunting." This eerie quality is whispered consistently throughout the album and serves as a reminder of Karen Carpenter's life and death as a social activist and a victim of anorexia. The album also includes Babes in Toyland doing "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft," Cracker covering "Rainy Days and Mondays," Matthew Sweet singing "Let Me Be the One," and 4 Non Blondes re-creating "Bless the Beasts and the Children." The cover bands don't hold back in their versions of these classic hits, adding more pizzazz and obvious recording technology than the originals. The compilation creates an album loaded with the most familiar Carpenters' lyrics in a new mix of nostalgic funk. — Sarah DeMott & Jerry Hochreiter

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