This is one of the most-awaited sets of Carpenters songs ever released. It is the first time that the actual single versions/mixes of songs have been compiled into one collection.
Unforuntately, it's the Japanese singles, and not the U.S. singles. O say unfortunately because a number of the Japanese singles were just album versions of songs, while the U.S. singles were actually different mixes or edits.
But it's a glorious set of 33 individal discs (3" discs), each in a miniature reproduction of the original 45 rpm single sleeve. The whole set comes in a box that is about 7 3/4" x 7 3/4" in size. Inside, the box is divided into four chambers, each of which holds a stack of CD singles.
There is also a 56-page book inside which contains notes on all the singles and lyrics. Unfortunately for the U.S. audience, all the liner notes are in Japanese, save a brief introductory paragraph written by Richard Carpenter. There are no photos in the book.
This set fills in a few of the gaps in the "Carpenters-on-CD" collection. Until now, the original movie soundtrack mix of "Bless the Beasts and Children" had not been issued on CD. Single versions of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" are also long overdue on CD. The remainder of the singles which had been unavailable on CD include "I Kept on Loving You," "The Christmas Song," "Make Believe It's Your First Time" and "When You've Got What it Takes," all of which have very minor differences from the album version. A few other singles ("Please Mr. Postman" and "Solitaire") have been issued in their single mixes on CD before, but only on one other compilation.
The sound quality of the set varies quite a bit -- supposedly a search was made for all the original single master tapes used in Japan, which were to be digitally remastered for this set, but apparently not all the master tapes were able to be located. Some of the singles here sound exactly like the "Remastered Classics" versions of the songs (for those tracks which do not differ from their album versions). "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" sounds to me like it was mastered from a 45 rpm record (I have a better-sounding transfer from vinyl in my personal collection). And, in the case of "Ave Maria," the 1984 version of the song from the Christmas Portrait: Special Edition CD is used.
This is a limited-edition set, which sold out quickly after its first pressing and apparently had a second pressing sometime in 2007. It's expensive, but for the die-hard Carpenters collector, it's an absolute must (umtil a true U.S. singles set comes along).
What this set DOESN'T have are the single mixes of "Ticket to Ride" and "Your Wonderful Parade." The U.S. single was released only as a mono single, and both songs differ from their album versions ("Ticket to Ride" is a shorter edit, and "Your Wonderful Parade" actually contains a totally different opening). The set also doesn't include some of the U.S. single sleeves, as the Japanese single sleeves sometimes differed quite significantly.
Produced by Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter and Jack Daugherty
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