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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. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Interesting read (June 6,2014):
    Under Cover: Sonic Youth Pay Loving Tribute to the Carpenters

    "In the first part of the ’90s, tribute albums were all the rage. It seemed like every other day there was a new record full of both big- and small-name bands tipping their collective hats to an artist from the past. From Neil Young to Roky Erickson, and seemingly everyone in between, the market was flooded with tributes.
    Among the more curious was 1994′s ‘If I Were a Carpenter,’ which paid homage to the darlings of ’70s soft-pop AM gold, the Carpenters. But the story of brother-and-sister-duo Richard and Karen Carpenter goes deeper than their long string of hits reveals. Way deeper.
    They made beautiful records that weren’t just the temporary pop-radio fare that they were often dismissed as. They made songs and records of a far more lasting quality. That, in part, is what ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ set out to prove. (Well, that and a certain bit of “it’s so uncool, it’s cool” hipster aesthetic mixed in.)
    A promotional campaign at the time proclaimed “The Carpenters Are Cool!” And while there are certainly many forgettable moments on the album (Dishwalla?), there are many stellar moments too, including Redd Kross’ transformation of ‘Yesterday Once More‘ into a shining power pop anthem and Grant Lee Buffalo’s sincere reading of one of the Carpenters’ best songs, ‘We’ve Only Just Begun.’
    And there’s Sonic Youth‘s take on ‘Superstar,’ which they melt down to an eerie glow. Thurston Moore takes the lead here, and delivers the song in a wash of fragile despair. He doesn’t quite sing the lines as the rest of the band stays relatively faithful to the song’s original arrangement.
    But because this is Sonic Youth, the basic track is augmented by distortion and synthesizer swirls along the way, ultimately making it sound more like a curio than a true tribute. But we assume their hearts were in the right place. After all, the band has penned songs about the Carpenters before.
    Karen’s voice was a thing of natural beauty, and her version of this song — written by Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett — features one of her greatest performances. You can feel her heart breaking as she faultlessly sings every note.
    The Carpenters hit No. 2 with ‘Superstar’ in 1971, but the song had already had a life out of the spotlight with versions by Rita Coolidge, Cher, Vicki Carr and Delaney & Bonnie, who recorded the original version in 1970. Even Bette Midler and Peggy Lee took stabs at it, but it’s the Carpenters cut that everyone knows, loves and pays tribute to."

    Source: http://diffuser.fm/sonic-youth-carpenters/?trackback=tsmclip

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  2. Funny. I thought the Dishwalla tune (It's Going to Take Some Time) was the stand out best song on this compilation (there were a few more, but just a few). How many copies of IIWAC were ultimately sold?
  3. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Dishwalla nailed "It's Going to Take Some Time!" That's my opinion and that of Richard Carpenter himself, as noted here and elsewhere, including the "Entertainment Weekly" piece. Dishwalla turned one of my least favorite Carpenters' hits into a standout, giving it a different feel and a new life.

    As we know, music appreciation is so subjective. Witness the discussions here! There are certain Carpenters' songs I find outstanding (e.g., Solitaire, A Kind of Hush, I Have You, All Because of You), whereas others seem to hate them; others' favorites might come up lower on my personal list. There is probably someone here who disagrees with me and thinks IGTTST is the Carpenters' finest moment. And that's okay!

    I am always annoyed when the Carpenters don't get the respect they deserve as well as their rightful place in history. I think that If I Were a Carpenter was a step in the right direction. Bottom line: they were paying tribute to the Carpenters. Yes, most of them put their own spin on their performance (including Dishwalla and Sonic Youth, among others). And maybe the CD didn't sell as well as hoped, but those involved were big fans and wanted to honor Karen and Richard. I like that.:)
  4. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    For the record, I thought Dishwalla's cover song was the best of the lot, also!
  5. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    "Listen up: The tricky art of a tribute
    If I Were A Carpenter: An Alternative Rock Tribute To The Carpenters — 1994

    It turns out a lot of the bands that rose to prominence in the alternative rock movement of the 1990s were huge fans of 70s pop duo, the Carpenters.
    There's tons of variety on this album: from faithful covers by Grant Lee Buffalo, The Cranberries and Sheryl Crow,
    to the real standouts: 'Top Of The World' by Japanese punk rockers Shonen Knife, the fuzz soaked 'Superstar' by Sonic Youth
    (apparently the only song on the album that Richard Carpenter hated)and the raucous 'Yesterday Once More' by Kris Kross."

    Read more at:
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Yet, another review:
    Review by Stephen Cook
    Released among a bevy of tribute albums toasting the likes of Charles Mingus and Neil Young, If I Were a Carpenter registers as one of the best of the lot, with spot-on performances of Carpenters classics from the '70s. Unlike many tribute collections, this CD gets it right most of the time, thanks to a lineup of artists suited to the duo's wide-screen pop mix. Matthew Sweet, the Cranberries, Sheryl Crow, Grant Lee Buffalo, and Cracker deliver the most straightforward interpretations here, informing the likes of "Solitaire" and "We've Only Just Begun" with the same amount of moody tenderness that made the originals so effective. On the other end of the spectrum, Sonic Youth gives "Superstar" a nicely claustrophobic and feedback-addled turn, while Bettie Severt brings its Neil Young-inspired guitar attack to bear on "For All We Know." On other fronts, Shonen Knife and Babes in Toyland contribute giddy lo-fi readings and Dishwalla and 4 Non Blondes go in for brooding swagger. Finally, American Music Club and Redd Kross get special mention for their tailor-made and respective helpings of despair and dreamy '70s sensibility on "Goodbye to Love" and "Yesterday Once More." And, while being impressed by the sheer range and originality of these interpretations, listeners will also discover the overlooked songwriting talents of Paul Williams, Roger Nichols, Leon Russell, Neil Sedaka, and Richard Carpenter. A must for the post-punk-savvy Carpenters fan.
  7. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Perhaps this has already been mentioned, but,
    Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots had to
    back out of the project due to scheduling conflicts.
    The participation of those two would have been quite interesting.
  8. That’s super unfortunate - I can only imagine how amazing a Pumpkins version of “I Won’t Last A Day Without You” would be!
  9. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

    This reminds me:

    Chris (our anything-but-ordinary fool): Would you mind if I took the news article you posted and added it to "vinylalbumcovers"? I think it'd be a very appropriate addition to the album page.


    HAPPYONE New Member

    I managed to purchase a promotional copy of this cd and it does indeed have a sticker on it saying “The Carpenters Are Cool!” i still agree they are!
  11. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    Hi Ed, of course not, sounds like a great idea.
  12. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo Thread Starter

  13. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Thanks Ed - looks great!
  14. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I like that Ed, very nice.

    Does anyone know the years and times of each corresponding photos, I always thought they were so cool in the CD inner booklet.

    1. Looks like A Kind of Hush 1976?
    2. Now & Then 1974?
    3. Horizon 1975?
    4. Made in America 1981?
    5. I'm unsure about this one, looks like late 81 or 82?
    6. A Song For You 1972?
    7. Christmas 1978?
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan Well-Known Member

    I'd say the 2nd one was 1974 around the time she recorded the show with Perry Como, the rest you have spot on. #5 is late 1981 :)
  16. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Dishwalla Interview:
    Rodney Browning Cravens - I feel like we broke into the mainstream almost right away quite honestly. We got signed by A&M Records and made our record. What a lot of people do not realize is we were actually on the 1994 Carpenter’s tribute album If I Were a Carpenter. That actually came out before our real record and we were really paranoid about that because we did not want to be another band like the Lemonheads where their only hit was a cover. Entering the world with a cover felt really strange to us, but when we found out what other bands were involved, like Sonic Youth, Red Cross, and so many great bands, we said we want to be in this company. We tracked up a version of “(They Long to Be) Close to You”, but The Cranberries had already snagged that song from the tribute, so we did “It’s Going To Take Some Time”. That got put out and immediately they started playing it as a single. When we were recording Pet Your Friends out in Philadelphia, we already had a hit song going on and it actually fooled us a little because we felt this rock game is easy (laughs).

    Jamesj75 likes this.
  17. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    From--- Global Texas Chronicles, 2014, by Walter Price:
    Rediscovering ‘If I Were A Carpenter’

    If I Were A Carpenter (A&M ’94) has a place in my history. When it came out I was burned or burning out on the now every band and label wants to have their irritating toes in the grunge genre. When this deeper in most spots tributes of sort to the 70’s AM and lite FM radio brother and sister duo, I didn’t have proper time to become interested. I listened to it a handful of times and before I could form my own opinion on it others were cramming their overly hyped praises down my thought processes. So I gave up on it. I was a moody person back then.
    It turns out, 20 years later, I’ve rediscovered If I Were A Carpenter is a fantastic achievement. An album that was thought up by two believers (Producer Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Deftones, REM) & David Konjoyan) who loved their their form of ‘whitebread’ music and probably realized a golden opportunity to showcase The Carpenters in new thrilling of the moment sounds in its release and they did have the know how to gather some of the best of the best alternative, pop, post punk and college radio mainstays to explore what are ultimately darker than intended soft classics.
    I have never hated The Carpenters; in fact, I’ve always thought their almost weird stage presence and underlying conflicting emotional and sonic styles made for good stuff. It wasn’t until Karen Carpenter passed away and I learned for the first time about eating disorders and her extremely turbulent struggles did the songs find a deeper haunting intrigue in me.
    Nothing morbid, just an interest in getting to know what was really going on in those years when this sibling hit machine was killing it on the charts and softly rocked a whole generation on radio and TV. Not my generation really but my mother’s for sure.
    After rediscovering this true gem of music history, I found that the standout tracks are the tracks written by Richard Carpenter in whole or in partnership. Redd Kross kill on ‘Yesterday Once More’, Sonic Youth get twisty and dive darker deeper on ‘Superstar’ and Cracker re-perfects ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’.
    Perhaps this album is more of an exploration or unique translations than a tribute to what The Carpenters had done. So be it. I suggest If I Were A Carpenter should be done again by a new crop of who’s who in the indie music scenes today to keep the legacy going or just see how others read the same book. Interesting.

    Jamesj75 and A&M Retro like this.
  18. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    I bought the tribute album at the time of its release and wanted to like it. Really, I tried. I didn't. And I know why. I still wanted to hear Karen singing her songs, not someone else. After all these years I still can't aaccept entirely that we lost her. Intellectually I know it, but I wish she were still here.
    Jeff likes this.
  19. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    tooo tahrue!
    aaflyer98 likes this.
  20. Actorman

    Actorman Active Member

    It's interesting that he says the standout tracks are the Richard-penned ones, yet two of the three songs he specifically praises are not Carpenter/Bettis songs.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    First, I must apologize .....for the unabashed utilization of the "hyperbole" such as
    "blindness" and "stupidity" regarding the Art Department's Cover for this 1994 Tribute Album.
    That being said, my Roget's Thesaurus proffers the synonym "misrepresentation" as a possible alternative.
    Thus, I acquiesce to that terminology.
    Now, this:
    "Darcy Fulmer, the music director of modern-rock radio station KROQ in Los Angeles,
    says her personal pick to click is the Redd Kross track. "It's a radio-friendly hit," she says.
    Ms. Fulmer calls the Carpenters tribute album "a brilliant idea. I'm very impressed by the people involved in it,

    and it shows that people who like alternative music liked dork music when they were little, too."

    That is the reason I oppose the Cover...it merely reinforces the above quote.
    I am not making an artistic evaluation of the Artwork.
    To each his own.
    In future I will avoid expressing a divisive opinion.
  22. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    Gary Alan, ALWAYS express your opinion! I enjoy hearing it. We all don't agree with everything everyone says on here, but that's ok! It would be a boring forum otherwise.
    Jeff likes this.
  23. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    Just imagine if there are no divisive, dissenting opinions? I think not!
    aaflyer98 likes this.
  24. aaflyer98

    aaflyer98 Well-Known Member

    And P.S. I think you are right about the album cover!
  25. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    I have a rather artistic hand painted replica of this album cover coming in at 4'×5' from Tower Records. Clever pic concept yet caricatures could be more flattering.
    GaryAlan likes this.

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