I know this album is supposed to show off Richard's talents as a pianist, an arranger, a composer and a conductor, but why did he do it this way?
Richard Carpenter: Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor is an album of old familiar Carpenters' tunes, performed and arranged differently than the first time around. What this means, for the most part, is that we get to hear new instrumental versions of songs that were originally sung by Karen. And, though I really hate to be so negative, these arrangements sound like elevator music. While it is exceptionally well-arranged and well-performed elevator music, it is still that sort of ultra-easy-listening sort of music.
There are exceptions to this; the original songs on the album are very nice. The prelude is beautiful, and "Karen's Theme" is breathtaking. "All Those Years Ago," a very melodic piece, is a piece that Richard produced for Canadian singer Veronique, whose album he produced in 1989. Two pieces that were instrumentals to begin with are also very nice here: "Time" (which is actually just a remix of the version on the album Time), and "Flat Baroque."
"Flat Baroque" is also one of two pieces here ("Sandy" is the other) with an exceptional distinction: they have Karen Carpenter as a performer. Karen provides backing vocals on "Sandy" and drums on "Flat Baroque." While that may seem like an impossibility, it is really quite simple -- Richard used tracks from the original recordings as the basis for these new versions. Actually, these new versions are mostly made up of the original backing tracks, with only the piano and, in the case of "Sandy," the O.K. Chorale having been added.
As for the rest of the album, I repeat my question: Why? Do we really want to hear the O.K. Chorale singing the chorus of "Top of the World"? Do we want to hear a medley of Carpenters' hits without Karen singing them? Personally, I don't.
Had this album been made up of new instrumentals (or re-made versions of old ones), I probably would have loved it. But as it is, I just don't care for most of it, which means I never listen to it. Let's hope that Richard's next solo project is a little less "easy listening" and a little more creative genius.
Produced by Richard Carpenter
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