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Carpenters: Close to You (1970)

| Music | Video 1997




Cast overview:
Karen Carpenter ... Herself
Richard Carpenter ... Himself


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1997 (Australia) See more »

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Remembering The Carpenters
4 January 2005 | by petershelleyauSee all my reviews

This documentary was made with the co-operation of Richard Carpenter, which may explain the focus on the music of the group as opposed to exploring the details and reasons for Karen's death.

Replacing narration with anecdotal voice-overs, we see music clips dating back from 1969's "Ticket to Ride", which was their first hit; news footage; TV specials, Grammy awards, and interviews. Richard gets a lot of camera time, but we also hear from Herb Albert, Burt Bacharah, Paul Williams, and Petula Clark. Dionne Warwick is also spotted at Karen's funeral.

Photos show how Karen was a fat little girl but when she joined Richard's first band as a drummer and forever after, she is thin, so that the anorexia she suffered from is not dramatically noticeable until the 1980 TV special. Ironically the song we hear from her 1979 solo album is entitled "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind". There is a hint of Karen's unhappiness in her lack of a romantic life during the group's greatest popularity.

It is interesting that The Carpenters understood marketing enough to make music clips of their songs from the beginning, pre-MTV, in spite of the criticism made against them being too 'wholesome' in the 1970's hippie druggie era. Also noteworthy is the 'scandal' of the fuzz guitar solo in "Goodbye To Love", where Richard was told he had "sold out" to rock'n'roll; and how in Karen's 1980 duet with Ella Fitgerald, Ella's voice is past its prime.

Probably because Richard has such a role in this doco, it is not surprising that the appeal of the group is divided between Karen's haunting voice and Richard's gift for arrangement. He is gracious enough to admit that Karen was the star of the group, and also reveals that the over-dubbing stacked vocal harmony that was the group's sound derived from Les Paul and Mary Ford - a duo from the 1950's.

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