I was working at my desk the other day, playing the iTunes on low (just in case a Beatles song comes on; one of the people in the office isn’t a fan!). Anyway, the Carpenters come on, singing “Top of the World,” and I was reminded how much I always liked her voice. I mentioned it on my Facebook page and picked up 5 “likes” and 10 comments from people I know saying pretty much the same thing.
I feel like I’m putting my Soul Brother status up to question by making that kind of admission, but I really liked her voice. Now, I didn’t care for their first single, a remake of “Ticket to Ride,” but I’m thinking that was more not liking Richard’s arrangement than Karen’s singing. I had always hoped she would have the chance to sing something that sounded different that the typical Carpenters output. She did that in 1980, working on a solo album with producer Phil Ramone, but amazingly, neither her brother or most of the executives at their record company wanted to release it, thinking it didn’t sound enough like a typical Carpenters record. This is even with Quincy Jones arguing for its release.
After she passed, Richard re-mixed several of the tracks with his usual too-lush brush and released them on “Lovelines,” but eventually, the entire album, “Karen Carpenter,” in the original form, was put out in 1996. Some of the tracks have a very dated 80s sound, and even though she wasn’t in the best of health, she still that voice. It’s on iTunes and Amazon. There’s a duet with Peter Cetera and even a version of Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years.”
I can’t pretend to understand the way anorexia and bulimia affect some women; although I know the messages about body image in this society are way too intense. All I can think is that 32 is way too young and that she could show some of the current crop of “singers” a thing or two.