Close to You: Remembering the Carpenters is unlike any of the other Carpenters' videos. It's a documentary about the lives and careers of Richard and Karen, rather than a collection of videos or performances. However, there are a lot of videos and performances seen here -- almost none of them complete, though.
Everything up to the end credits was shown on PBS in 1997, and this home video release contains an "encore" section with a few extras. If you get the LaserDisc, you get a few more "extras" thrown in, and if you get the DVD you get yet even more bonus material.
While the program itself is quite interesting, showing tons of footage that has never been officially released before (including the Carpenters' first TV appearance performing "Dancing in the Street"), the good stuff in this release is in the bonus materials. There are two "new" videos, shown complete and uncut, for "(A Place to) Hideaway" and "Ave Maria." The "At the White House" segment is also quite interesting, showing the Carpenters' performance of "Top of the World" and visiting with President Nixon.
The REALLY good stuff in this release is the inclusion of a number of previously-unreleased recordings -- all very short, but all very fascinating. We start with the two commercials for Morton's Potato Chips, a TV version and a radio version. These are done in true Carpenters' style, with many vocal overdubs. While the audio quality is not perfect, these are a rare addition to the early body of professional work by Richard and Karen. The KFRC radio jingle is similar in style and quality to the potato chip commercials; it is simply a short promo for the radio station taking full advantage of the Carpenters' vocal-overdubbing style. The last unreleased commercial is the best: a commercial for the Japanese product Hi-Crown Chocolate. The audio here, a song called "From the Heart," isn't actually the commercial's audio, but rather the track recorded for the commercial (the commercial itself has some sound effects, like seagulls, added to it, which are not present on this stereo track). While only about 33 seconds long, this is basically a complete song that sounds like it came right off the A Kind of Hush album. OK, so the lyrics are a little strange -- it was obviously written by someone in Japan -- it is, nonetheless, very beautiful.
The other "bonus" material includes a photo gallery (still photos shown to the sound of "Yesterday Once More") and two soda pop commercials, in which Karen and Richard are shown frolicking in a field (version 1) or sailing (version 2) and drinking Suntory Pop, while "Top of the World" plays in the background.
Unfortunately for those without DVD players, most of the really good bonus material is not on the VHS version of this (and the LaserDisc is out-of-print now). This DVD was actually what prompted me to buy a DVD player back in 1998! Well, this and Mary Chapin Carpenter's Jubilee: Live at Wolftrap mixed in 5.1 channel sound...
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