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Official Review [Single]: 2. "(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU"/"I KEPT ON LOVING YOU" (1183)

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, May 7, 2016.

Which side is your favorite?


    33 vote(s)
  2. Side B: "(I KEPT ON LOVING YOU)"

    7 vote(s)
  1. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

  2. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    This afternoon I stumbled upon a CD of various Nichols-Williams songs from Japan with "I Kept On Loving You" by Heaven Bound With Tony Scotti. It was interesting hearing the song's verses done with female vocals. Richard did great with his version, but one with Karen on lead would have been quite interesting too. I wonder if they ever recorded her on lead vocals on the song?
  3. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Considering the Close To You album came on the heels of the Ticket To Ride/Offering album in which Richard did half of the lead vocals, my guess would be that Richard was still in the mindset of "we're both lead vocalists" when they started work on the CTY album. Plus, they were in a rush to get the album out. So my bet would be that they never recorded Karen singing lead on "I Kept On Loving You."

    I think the fact that he gave himself an occasional lead vocal is what made the first few albums so entertaining, as opposed to the later albums which mostly seemed kind of bland in comparison (to me).
  4. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    I would agree with that, and prefer those earlier albums with occasional vocals from Richard.

    Still, I can't totally dismiss the possibility of some demo or early version of the song where Karen sang some or all of the lead.
    John Tkacik likes this.
  5. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    It’s always possible a Karen lead does exist. Karen took over vocal duties on Get Together sometimes when they did the song live.
  6. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Gee, I hate to be the dissenter, but....
    as much as I adore the earlier albums (Richard's arrangements were very, very creative).
    At the end of the day (for me) it comes down to Karen's lead vocals.
    Can one imagine if he had vocalized--in 1976-- on I Need To Be In Love ?
    Oh wait, we do not need to imagine that:
    there is a much later recording of that very song with Richard singing at the piano--
    but, my point being, those earlier albums are not necessarily enhanced due to
    Richard's lead vocals--they are enhanced due to his more imaginative arrangements
    and utilization of instruments, and their placement. (Think.... harpsichord, or trumpets!).
    Not to discount his leads entirely, but I can hardly imagine continuing them as Karen's voice
    matured. I mean, say what you will about Horizon, but if Richard had placed his lead vocals on that album,
    I would have been mortified--Karen's voice was simply to fantastic to ignore.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  7. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I appreciate and even enjoy Richard's lead vocals, and he certainly makes an impact in the background. He's a decent singer. But I'd say the song selection has to be stellar for it to be good. Saturday is solid recording but a few cuts later, he comes across horribly. Karen is an altogether different story. She's in a league all her own.
    GaryAlan likes this.
  8. John Tkacik

    John Tkacik Active Member

    Maybe when they laid down the rhythm track in March 1970: Richard would have probably been on the piano and Karen possibly on a work lead?
  9. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    "Who sings lead" is part of the imaginative arrangements.

    Whatever floats your boat. I happen to enjoy variations of all types -- material, tempo, instrumentation, and vocalists. Many of my favorite vocal bands are ones in which there is more than one lead vocalist. Of course I agree Karen had a magnificent voice, but for me, the variety on those early albums was the key. That includes throwing in the occasional Richard vocal, the occasional funny bit like "Intermission" or "Piano Picker," or the occasional instrumental. By the late albums most of those things had been abandoned all in favor of all-Karen-all-the-time. I'm not saying that's what caused their sales to start to decline -- although it could have been -- but that's when they started becoming less appealing to me.
    Don Malcolm likes this.
  10. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    Mixing in different types of songs like the ones you've mentioned did give the discs variety. I think Passage was a move back toward that. Made in America suffers from a sense of blandness- much too soft overall- even though a couple of cuts are great. The music is as airbrushed as the album cover.
  11. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    I do agree--who sings lead is " part of the imaginative arrangements,"
    although I was trying to specifically aim at the instrumental aspect of the arrangements
    in those earlier albums.
    And, of course, Passage...in my view...has it all:
    creative instrumental, and awesome vocal, arrangements.
    And, by the way....things like invocation and intermission are among my favorites....
    Also, a song such as I Kept On Loving You (Richard's lead) is fine; however, I still
    believe Karen's lead is--at the end of the day--the real 'selling point' on all Carpenters' albums.
    Of course, as a longtime fan, I am quite aware of Richard's superb arrangements, however,
    I would be surprised if the average consumer was aware of much beyond Karen's lead vocals.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  12. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I think the difference between the early and later albums is the earlier ones were more fun, spirited and imaginative, the later ones were more sophisticated and adult in their arrangement.
    Mark-T likes this.
  13. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Once that 'easy listening' description got tagged onto their music,
    and, Weintraub proclaiming "...you are the Perry Como's of today"
    that seems to be where Richard directed his arranging efforts.
    Whether for good or bad, the consumer for whom he was directing his
    arrangements became addressed to an 'older' crowd.
    Of course, he was getting older, also.
    Offering is one of his best efforts, despite what I feel about his lead vocals !
  14. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, in the later albums, they essentially became Karen Carpenter solo albums, since Richard really moved to the back and aside from providing backing vocals and arrangements, the Horizon, A Kind Of Hush, Passage & Made In America albums were that did not feature the group Carpenters, but just one Carpenter.

    Its kind of funny how, when you look at the albums from 1975-1981, Christmas Portrait really stands out for most fans, as, even with what Richard said about how CP really should've been issued as Karen Carpenter: Christmas Portrait, CP featured quite a few Richard leads. You have Richard opening the album with O Come, O Come Emmanuel, plus he's involved with the Overture, and that's 5 minutes of music before you even have Karen show up, and then again you have Richard, while most of it is background, he still takes a pretty large amount of vocals on Jingle Bells & The First Snowfall/Let It Snow, which open Side 2 and then lead right into Carol Of The Bells which is a Richard on piano lead (I wonder if Richard and Karen ever thought of having Karen sing background vocals on Bells, like was done with the song on the Perry Como Christmas Show, although Karen wasn't in the choir on that, maybe there's an outtake for Bells in storage somewhere that has vocals from Karen). And then of course, as I recall, Richard also sang a little on Silver Bells.

    And when you jump ahead to 1984, and the release of An Old-Fashioned Christmas, again you have Richard opening the album with It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, plus during the Overture you have not only Richard on piano, as he did on CP, but he also sang on Happy Holiday, The First Noel, O Little Town Of Bethlehem & Angels We Have Heard On High (plus I think there might be a little Karen mixed into the background on some of those Overture songs), and then Richard launches into An Old-Fashioned Christmas, and the Richard piano lead O Holy Night which brings you into the album by about 15 minutes before Karen even starts to sing There's No Place Like Home For the Holidays. Really, Side 1 of AOFC is just Richard,, probably the most on any album since Close To You, with 2 leads by Karen. Side 2 you see more of Karen, but Richard still steps up to the front quite a bit, such as on Do You Hear What I Hear? where he duets with Karen, and then My Favorite Things & the Nutcracker Medley are Richard piano leads.
  15. newvillefan

    newvillefan I Know My First Name Is Stephen

    I think those comments from him that they should have been KC solo albums stem from his exasperation at the little recognition he received for all his efforts. He probably felt it would have been better to take the credit as Producer and leave her name on the cover.
  16. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    That's what always drove me nuts about the latter-day Carpenters era...the focus was so squarely on Karen because she was the lead singer, and "all Richard did" was provide the backing vocals, keyboards and arrangements. Well, where would the music be without THOSE contributions? Karen's is just the more audible, while his is more behind-the-scenes, but I still give him 50% of the credit for their success. If he hadn't done what he did with "Close To You" and all those followups, we all likely wouldn't be typing these words today.

    I don't know if keeping the same "formula" of Richard providing a vocal or two would have made those later albums more accessible -- it's hard to imagine now what he might have done, but it could have changed a lot of things. Like, maybe if he'd done the lead vocals on "Goofus," they wouldn't have released it as a single!
    Geographer and Jamesj75 like this.
  17. Jamesj75

    Jamesj75 Well-Known Member

    Count me in as one of the multitudes who was spellbound by Karen's voice primarily --- and to this day. That voice has been, to me and others, always the selling point, always the highlight. But you're absolutely correct, @Mike Blakesley, Richard's monumental contributions cannot be minimized and should be appreciated more (see, e.g., a thread I created in 2015, Time for Some Love for Richard! ).

    To me, it's similar to other forms of entertainment, such as movies and TV. It's always the actors (those prominent in front of the camera) who get all the glory, fame, and adulation, when others (writers, directors, supporting actors, cinematographers, camera operators, editors, set decorators, music supervisors, etc.) offer substantial, talented contributions, all of which fuse to make the finished product.

    Richard was also "in front of the camera." There shouldn't be a competition, however, among fans and critics, between Karen and Richard for individual impact on Carpenters' success.
    GaryAlan and Mark-T like this.
  18. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Well-Known Member

    I think the "same formula" would've helped. As we saw on As Time Goes By, Richard certainly sang during those years, and out of three non-seasonal posthumous albums, ATGB really sounds like a group effort, rather than a Karen solo. Richard sounded great on the Carpenters/Como medley (and even on the DVD it was great to see Richard sharing vocal duties with Karen and Perry, not to mention, but earlier in the special he did a fantastic job with the rest of the cast on It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas---actually I think he took more vocals than Karen in that song), and even on their own specials, Richard seemed to have his own song or two, whether it was a vocal or a piano lead. And in the 76-80 period when the Carpenters were doing their specials, it seems like there was a disconnect with what they were showing on TV and what was on their albums. Richard performed Dizzy Fingers & the Star Wars/Close Encounters Medley on the specials, and neither of those tracks were released till over 30 years later. Imagine Passage with the Star Wars/Close Encounters track leading into Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft, and even being the B-Side of Occupants. Talk about the marketing potential for that single!
  19. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    I always thought Passage would have been a perfect vehicle to slide in two Richard leads. One on each side.
  20. Perhaps Richard should have dropped out completely on Christmas Portrait and let Phil Ramone produce it. What a classic that would have been, right? Karen Carpenter's Christmas Seduction...just destined for the annals of American classics. What a missed opportunity. Stupid Richard always messing things up!

    C'mon. None of the albums...NONE...would have been what they are without Richard's genius, talent, insight, and hard work. In fact, without Richard, most likely we NEVER would have heard Karen's voice. You are right on in your analysis, Mike Blakesley...right on.
  21. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    And, I do trust that my lack of appreciation for Richard's lead vocals is NOT
    translated into a lack of appreciation for his gifts and talents:
    (1) Bringing out the best in Karen's lead vocals.
    (2) Background Harmonies, and their arrangements.
    (3) Compositions with John Bettis collaboration.
    (4) Production work.
    (5) Instruments, and their arrangements.
    (6) Choosing material.
    (7) Keyboard performances.....
  22. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    We honestly can't know that. That's more projecting than I'm willing to do. Karen had, IMHO, the single best female Pop voice we've ever heard. That voice would have found an audience one way or another.

    The public at large had no interest in Richard leading songs and he knew it. Richard's contributions were never the calling card of Carpenters. That was always Karen. Richard was always well aware of that. His arrangements, rhythm, vocal, and otherwise, were nothing without her voice. Richard never would have been successful without her. The "Time" disaster proves that as conclusively as possible. He sang lead all over that record and the results were lousy, IMHO. So lousy, in fact, that "Time" is the worst seller in A&M history...and justifiably so, IMO.

    Jarred and GaryAlan like this.
  23. Toolman

    Toolman Simple Man, Simple Dream

    Even Richard admitted plenty of times that he wasn't a lead singer. That said, I also enjoyed hearing his contributions to "Now and Then" and "A Song for You". Part of the problem with later albums is that there wasn't as much material. With only 8 (full) songs on "Horizon" and "Passage", it's harder to justify using up one or two of those precious slots on the half of the duo who isn't one of the finest singers in his/her generation.

    Regarding the asssumed lack of overt acknowledgement for Richard's contributions, I still don't get that argument. It never occurred to me during their heyday that he wasn't key to their success. I think that problem may have been generated a bit by his own insecurity -- PR agents planting that "What does the brother do?" question in their interviews so Karen could enthuse on Richard's genius, even though nobody that I ever encountered doubted it. Compare the attention he was given to that of John Farrar or other producers who were never lucky enough to be on the album covers and right beside the singers they produced during interviews or on stage.

    Why these conversations so often devolve into a Karen vs. Richard thing escapes me. Two great and distinct talents, remarkably matched in one family by whatever destinies guide such things.
    Geographer and GaryAlan like this.
  24. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    If I recall correctly,
    it was Joe Osborne's Magic Lamp Label which signed...
    Karen Carpenter for her first 45-Single as an Artist.

    One can read Richard's name under the song titles on the ML 45-single,
    so one realized he wrote those songs--if a record buyer cared to know.

    Be that as it may,
    Karen Carpenter was the selling point--Joe Osborne had to have known that,
    even in 1965.
    ThaFunkyFakeTation likes this.
  25. Mark-T

    Mark-T Well-Known Member

    "Perhaps Richard should have dropped out completely on Christmas Portrait and let Phil Ramone produce it. What a classic that would have been, right? Karen Carpenter's Christmas Seduction...just destined for the annals of American classics. What a missed opportunity. Stupid Richard always messing things up!"

    This is funny! Yet... In listening to Vanessa Williams' multiple Christmas discs, she does a great job of balancing sacred and secular. Even sounding a bit sensual at times. But all in balance and beautifully produced and consistent. I could see another Christmas disc with Karen singing something like Baby It's Cold Outside. I mean we're not talking Physical or More, More, More here. :)
    Geographer and GaryAlan like this.

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