This first collection of previously-released Carpenters' songs is quite an album! With the exception of "Ticket to Ride," every one of these singles placed in the top 12 on the U.S. charts, and nine of them were in the top 3. The album itself was the Carpenters' only #1 album.
But this album is more than a collection of songs. Richard and Karen did some new work for this album. The album starts with a new prelude of sorts, sounding like the beginning of "Close to You" but then continuing with an orchestral overture that leads directly into the introduction to "We've Only Just Begun."
"Top of the World" is the single version here. This is followed by the album's biggest revamping of an old song: "Ticket to Ride" has brand new vocals and drums (Karen was never satisfied with her 1969 performance), and an added guitar part. This re-made version is vastly superior to the original.
The next three songs have been linked together by instrumental bridges. "Superstar" segues directly into "Rainy Days and Mondays." "Rainy Days" actually has a new final phrase -- when Karen sings the final "me down," you're actually hearing a new recording (and you can tell the difference in the sound quality), which has a shorter version of the final word, since the segue into "Goodbye to Love" begins here.
Side 2 is much more straightforward, with no new recording having been done. "Hurting Each Other" was remixed, however; the tambourine has beeen removed from the mix. (This actually makes watching the music video kind of funny, as the 1973 remix is used but you can see a guy in the video playing the tambourine.)
It is obvious that much time and attention was put into the creation of this album, and the effort was well worth it. Not only are these great songs, but they are presented in a new and different way, which makes for a very enjoyable listen.
Unfortunately, this collection seems to have gone out-of-print in the U.S. It is available from Japan, however, and there are also many copies available from used CD retailers.
Produced by Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter and Jack Daugherty.
Return to the Carpenters Album Index.