One of the freshest music DVD releases out there is from the 1970’s soft pop duo, The Carpenters. THE CARPENTERS LIVE RARITIES on the IMV Blueline label comprises rare concert footage of the brother and sister act performing live in England and Australia.

For much of the 1970’s, this act were a powerful chart-topping singles act with their soft approach to music and the excellent vocals of sister Karen Carpenter, who was later to die as a result of a severe eating disorder.

The Carpenters actually had a long climb to success that started with Karen Carpenter’s 1966 flop single, “Looking For Love”, which didn’t even chart. In 1969, and a new contract with A&M Records, the duo also flopped with an easy listening version of The Beatles’ classic song, “Ticket To Ride”. But, in the Summer of 1970, the vocal duo finally hit gold with the monster #1 chart success of “Close To You”. A follow-up single, “We’ve Only Just Begun” did nearly as well as “Close To You”, proving to the record world that a really soft pop act could get some real strong chart action, although plenty of songs by harder rock acts as well as soul acts were strong on the music charts.

With the success of country music oriented acts like Olivia Newton John as well as many older easy listening acts seeking some new traction on the country music charts, The Carpenters experimented with two country-flavored singles in 1973 and 1974, that included “Top Of The World” and a remake of “Jambalaya(On The Bayou). “Top Of The World” returned the vocal duo to a #1 hit once again. But, the group soon returned back to their old familiar style of doing soft pop remakes of old classics with, “Please Mr. Postman”, a remake of the old soul girl group classic that returned The Carpenters to #1 chart position once again on the pop charts. But, in 1975, “Only Yesterday”, was to be their biggest hit in later years, peaking at #4 on the charts as the soft music duo began to fall out of favor with the record buying public somewhat, that started turning to other acts, and the duo had a string of mostly unsuccessful singles and slower selling albums than during the previous years of success from 1970-1975.

Karen Carpenter died of cardiac failure in 1983 as a result of her battle with the severe eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. Some solo record release attempts by Richard Carpenter or some releases of some Karen Carpenter rarities or older recordings just never had much success after her 1983 death. The duo’s last moderately successful single was in 1978 with “Touch Me When You’re Dancing”, which only peaked at #16 on the pop charts. Most of the other singles just couldn’t even make the top forty anymore. The vocal group never was part of the disco, new wave or punk rock craze of the late 70’s, and just seemed too square and out of step with the times by then. The vocal duo was never a progressive act by any means, but had an appeal for their soft sound, especially among female record buyers.

But, this brand new freshly released music DVD remembers this vocal duo in far happier times, when they were a big hit not only in the U.S., but had a little traction in Canada, the U.K. and Australia as well. This DVD is a pretty nice package to remember this act that once was a huge part of the early 1970’s pop charts.

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  • Vagabond661

    “Horizon” was my favorite, followed by “Passages”.

    • It’s sure funny, but as much as I like hard rock like Black Sabbath or blues oriented bands like Canned Heat, The Doors or Ten Years After, I really liked The Carpenters as well, and bought all of their singles in a picture sleeve, which I still have.

      NOW AND THEN was my favorite because I loved the oldies feel of the album, and always liked Jan & Dean, Dion, and other oldies groups a great deal. “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Johnny Angel” and “Our Day Will Come” remain always cool songs in my book.

      I thought The Carpenters were a great singles pop act.

  • fustian24

    Their history is quite interesting. The family moved to California because they believed their son would make it as a jazz pianist. Karen started playing drums because she had a crush on someone in the school band. They won a jazz contest at the Hollywood bowl, but the record deal that was supposed to go with it fizzled because the bottom had dropped out of the jazz market. The song they played is available and is surprisingly good. Karen was not bad as a drummer.

    When the producer complained that all anyone wanted was singers, Richard suddenly said “Karen can sing”. She was stunned.

    They began to change to a more popular act and a year or so later while playing at a Hollywood party, the “A” in A&M records heard Karen sing and demanded that A&M sign her. He didn’t care what kind of music she sang. He said that you don’t hear a voice like that every day. That “A” would be Herb Alpert.

    One of the things I always wondered about was, how do you let your family member die without stepping in? Well apparently they all tried. Nobody knew about anorexia and they just didn’t know what to do. But people were trying to help her.

    That whole anorexic thing started after Karen saw a picture that made her look heavier than she was (not much).

    They heavily overplayed her records and she became a joke for a long time, but now and again I hear one of her songs and I am reminded of what a rare talent she was.

    • Excellent history, Fustian. I appreciate it very much. I’ve always liked The Carpenters for some reason, especially when they made a remake of some oldies song. I’ve always been a Herb Alpert fan ever since I went to the FRITZ THE CAT movie years ago and fell in love with his version of “Scarborough Fair” in the soundtrack. I didn’t like the movie so much, but the Herb Alpert version of the song stuck with me and I acquired a real taste for his albums. Movie soundtracks mean a great deal to me it seems. Someday I will certainly do a feature on my favorite soundtracks of all time.

      THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY soundtrack probably rates as my favorite. Strangely, a fairly obscure new wave act, Lene Lovich, opened her 1978 album, STATELESS, with a song called “Home” that heavily borrowed part of the riff from this movie theme, but with a distinctive new wave feel, although the song was actually supposed to have a Russian feeling to it. “Home” is a great musical composition, although it obviously borrows from other music here. On THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY soundtrack, one song, “The Story Of A Soldier” always brings tears to my eyes. The music is so mournful and is the backdrop to the carnage of a huge battlefield with a handful of women mourning and attending to the dead. A great, great soundtrack by any account.

      • fustian24

        Paul, I admit to following the occasional link from the main Wizbang site to tweak you for being another clueless lefty, but I just surfed up to the main page and I was horrified (not least because I’m at work).

        You used to run a nice little celebrity gossip site no worse than the Daily Mail. Now it looks like Hustler. What the hell happened?

        You all right, dude? Wife leave you? Desperate for traffic? You seem to have gone very low rent…

        • For the record, I’m much more of a social liberal, than a political one. It’s always a fine line what to run over here at Wizbang Pop. Just thought it would be a little fun to run some sexy stuff on the celebrity news column the last few days, although there’s plenty of more mainstream news such as this Carpenters DVD piece here.
          I’m 57 and my cute blond 29 year old girlfriend and I are perfectly happy, and the weather’s been good enough lately to ride my chopper almost everyday. So I’m happy if I can ride something everyday.