Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 06/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I always find myself ripping my hair out when listening to the Carpenters. It is an increadibly frustrating experence.
Here was a band led by Richard, an incredibly talented producer and arranger, and Karen, who was indisbutably one of the best singers of her time. They also had access to Hal Blane and Joe Osborn and their cohorts; these guys were, arguably, the best session musicans ever. (Ok, Chuck Rainy and Bernard Purdie were as good, but that was a whole other kind of music.)
On this album, the band shows promise. The invocation and benediction that bookend the record show this band were willing to toy with new ideas, and were interested in making an album and not just a collection of singles. "All I can do" is a wonderful piece of vocal jazz, and swings as well as anything, say, "Flute Thing," by the Blues Project, or some of the best songs on Blood Sweat and Tears" first album. It is absolutely brilliant. You could make a whole album of songs like "All I can do."
But for every moment of insperation, their are five moments of soft pop mush and those all-American hijinks, such as the innane introduction on "Wonderful Prade." Maybe it 1969 cultural polorazation. Every time there was a musically provocative idea, it was as if the band caught themselves and said "oh no, we are the good guys, not like those dirty, experimental, drugged out hippies you hear on FM radio." Every good idea this band had on this album was crushed underfoot before it could really be developed.
This instinct got more pronounced with each album.
I read an article once where Richard Carpenter said he actually admired Frank Zappa and the Mother's of Invention. Obviously, Richard was, in his own way, a genius and a musician with an openess to new ideas and eclectic taste.
It is sad he repressed all these impulses only to make clean, compatent top 40 music. Really, it is a shame