Akiko (1989)

1. Rainbow, Rainbow
2. Put Another Memory On the Fire
3. Hold Me
4. How Could I Ask for More? +
5. Beg, Borrow & Steal
6. Let's Fall In Love Forever
7. Suddenly Love
8. China River
9. Only the Angels Know
10. The Reply *

Album produced and arranged by Richard Carpenter

+ written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis

* written by Richard Carpenter and Pamela Phillips Oland

U.S. CD release

Unlike Scott Grimes, Akiko is not all that much of a musical stretch from his "Carpenters" production style. Akiko is a female Japanese singer/songwriter, and she sounds eerily like Karen -- very similar, in fact. Were it not for the fact that her English pronunciation is so poor, you'd swear it was Karen singing in places on this album, especially the backing vocals (Akiko and Richard provide all the vocal harmonies throughout the album, and they're VERY Carpenters-esque!) This is very much what I imagine a Carpenters album would have sounded like in 1989, had Karen been around to record one.

While the album was produced and recorded in the U.S., and was sold here (briefly), it is not entirely in English. Several songs are sung in both Japanese and English, while others are entirely in English

The highlight of this album for Carpenters fans is the song "How Could I Ask for More?" This is the one song on the album written by the Carpenter/Bettis songwriting team, and it also happens to be the one where Akiko sounds most like Karen, singing down very low in her register. "The Reply" is the only other song with music written by Richard Carpenter, although frequent Richard Carpenter-collaborator Pamela Phillips Oland co-wrote "Let's Fall In Love Forever" and "Suddenly Love" with other songwriters (Randall Rumage and Akiko, respectively). Akiko herself wrote "Rainbow, Rainbow" and "China River."

Richard even sings a tiny bit of lead vocal on the track "Let's Fall In Love Forever," a very "Carpenters"-sounding track which has Earle Dumler on oboe (he plays on several tracks). Joe Osborne also contributes as bass player throughout the album.

My personal favorite track on the album is the final track -- "The Reply." As is the case with "Chance in a Million" on the Scott Grimes album, it is a more stripped-down track, consisting only of Richard on keyboards with strings accompaniment and an occasional oboe moment.

As is the case with Scott Grimes, this CD has been out-of-print for years now, and it is quite scarce, although copies turn up on eBay from time to time.

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