The Essential Collection: 1965-1997 (2002)

Box cover

Disc 1:
1. Caravan
2. The Parting of Our Ways
3. Looking for Love
4. I'll Be Yours
5. Iced Tea
6. You'll Love Me
7. All I Can Do (Spectrum version)
8. Don't Be Afraid (demo)
9. Invocation (demo)
10. Your Wonderful Parade (demo)
11. All of My Life (1987 remix)
12. Eve (1987 remix)
13. Ticket to Ride (1973 version)
14. Get Together (Your Navy Presents version)
15. Interview (Your Navy Presents)
16. Love Is Surrender (1987 remix)
17. Maybe It's You (1990 remix)
18. (They Long to Be) Close to You
19. Mr. Guder (1990 remix)
20. We've Only Just Begun
21. Merry Christmas Darling (single version)
22. For All We Know (from "Lovers and Other Strangers")

Disc 2:
1. Rainy Days and Mondays (1985 remix)
2. Superstar
3. Let Me Be the One
4. Bless the Beasts and Children (from "Bless the Beasts and Children") (1991 remix)
5. Hurting Each Other
6. It's Going to Take Some Time
7. I Won't Last a Day Without You (1991 remix)
8. A Song for You (1987 remix)
9. Top of the World (original album version)
10. Goodbye to Love (1985 remix)
11. This Masquerade (1990 remix)
12. Sing (1994 remix)
13. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (1991 remix)
14. Yesterday Once More (1985 remix)
15. Oldies Medley: Fun, Fun, Fun (1990 remix)
End of the World, The
Da Doo Ron Ron
Deadman's Curve
Johnny Angel
Night Has a Thousand Eyes, The
Our Day Will Come
One Fine Day
16. Yesterday Once More (Reprise)
17. Radio Contest Outtakes

Disc 3:
1. Morinaga Hi-Crown Chocolate Commercial
2. Please Mr. Postman (1991 remix)
3. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1984 remix)
4. Only Yesterday
5. Solitaire
6. Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again
7. Good Friends Are for Keeps
8. Ordinary Fool
9. Sandy
10. There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World) (1985 remix)
11. I Need to Be In Love (1990 remix)
12. From This Moment On (live)
13. Suntory Pop Jingle #1
14. Suntory Pop Jingle #2
15. All You Get from Love Is a Love Song
16. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem of World Contact Day) (1989 remix)
17. Sweet, Sweet Smile
18. Christ Is Born (1990 remix)
19. White Christmas (1990 remix)
20. Little Altar Boy
21. Ave Maria (1990 remix)

Disc 4:
1. Where Do I Go From Here
2. Little Girl Blue
3. I Believe You
4. If I Had You (1989 remix)
5. Karen/Ella Medley: This Masquerade
My Funny Valentine
I'll Be Seeing You
Someone to Watch Over Me
As Time Goes By
Don't Get Around Much Any More
I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart
6. 1980 Medley: Sing
Knowing When to Leave
Make It Easy On Yourself
We've Only Just Begun
7. Make Believe It's Your First Time
8. Touch Me When We're Dancing
9. When It's Gone
10. Because We Are In Love (The Wedding Song)
11. Those Good Old Dreams
12. Now
13. Karen's Theme

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U.S. CD release

You're saying the track list looks familiar? It is -- this is ALMOST identical to From the Top, with only a few minor changes. This seems to be an example of Richard Carpenter's "tweaking" of something; he tweaks old recordings (with remixes and new instrumental parts), he tweaks old albums (how many Yesterday Once More CDs are there?). I imagine The Essential Collection was designed to replace From the Top, since they are SO similar. But there are some changes.

To start with, more of the hits have been included here. From the Top did not actually have all the Carpenters' hit singles on it! Very few tracks from the original set have been deleted, though, so there is quite a bit more music on The Essential Collection.. Among the tracks deleted are "Goodnight," from the CSULB album (which is an unfortunate deletion, in my opinion), the Spanish version of "Sing" ("Canta"), and two of the remixed tracks from Karen's solo album.

Another change from the previous box set is that many of the hits are included here in their original album mixes, instead of remixes. Some of these include "We've Only Just Begun," "For All We Know," "Superstar," and several others.

The only previously unreleased track here (sort of) is the Moringa Hi-Crown Chocolate Commercial, which was actually released on the DVD version of Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters but has never been released on CD before. The Karen/Ella medley is seeing its first U.S. release on this set, as the album As Time Goes By was released after this set in the U.S.

Overall the sound quality of the new box set is excellent -- The Essential Collection benefits from the remastering project that was undertaken in the late 1990's when the entire Carpenters' catalog was remastered, something that happened after From the Top was released.

The Essential Collection is, to me, a much better collection than From the Top, both in terms of the song selection and the sound quality. I would have preferred a *little* more in the rarities department (the CSULB songs, more Spectrum recordings, perhaps some unreleased live recordings or songs from the TV specials), but I do think this is an excellent collection of material from throughout the Carpenters' career.

Some strange trivia regarding this set:
--There are no original album mixes from Offering/Ticket to Ride included here, even though there are eight songs in this set that appeared on that album in a different form (nine if you count the re-recording of "Someday" in the 1980 medley)
--Live in Japan is the only Carpenters album not represented here at all
--One song each was included from Karen and Richard as solo artists (Richard's first solo album, Time, is not represented here)

Here are the new tracks that were not included on From the Top:
Love is Surrender
Mr. Guder
It's Going to Take Some Time
I Won't Last a Day Without You
A Song for You
Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
Morinaga Hi-Crown Chocolate Commercial
Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again
There's A Kind Of Hush (All Over The World)
Sweet, Sweet Smile
I Believe You
Karen/Ella Medley
Make Believe It's Your First Time
Those Good Old Dreams
Karen's Theme

Produced by Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter and Jack Daugherty

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