Thursday, 31 January 2013
oh yes, indeed "The Carp Enters" ... an oldie but a goodie.
Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again - The Carpenters
Did you ever watch 'Top of the Pops 2', with cheesy but informative voiceover by Steve Wright? It really was not a bad source for a decent range of music in the mid-90s, mainly vintage TOTP performances but also a few new things (I remember it's where I first heard 'Basket Case' and Weezer's 'Buddy Holly'). It was there I first heard this song by The Carpenters - just the once, but I never forgot it.
Sometimes, Easy Listening is a real misnomer, and I think The Carpenters have been given a severely bum rap. There's more pain and power in Karen Carpenter's voice than a thousand howling misfits. You do their songs a real disservice if you take it easy when listening to The Carpenters.
This was not originally a Carpenters song - it is mainly associated with Barry Manilow, but the writer was someone called David Pomerantz. The Carpenters version wasn't actually released until the mid-90s, and that's how I heard it. It's beautiful, well-observed and poignant, ripe for analysis by Nick Cave! - in itself I'm surprised it's not a better known song.
Karen Carpenter's voice swoops and soars - it's this kind of vocal performance that would always lift The Carpenters above someone like ABBA. I suppose it's the maturity of a song like this that might be a little off-putting - it's not really music for the punk rock kids - having said that, I've just realised that the guitar bit about 3.20 in is exactly like the guitar solo in 'Down in the Tube Station at Midnight' by The Jam.
Perhaps that lends weight to the idea that we're all just suckers really - suckers for chord sequences and combinations of notes, for certain vocal catches, for certain memories. I first heard those two songs at almost exactly the same time, they've taken very different paths to roughly the same place in my affections.
I wonder how much Jack White had The Carpenters in mind when he established the fake back story to The White Stripes - it's an unusual dynamic, the brother/sister/female drummer duo - they'd really be ideal for The X Factor in this day and age.
I also wonder how much my reconsideration of The Carpenters, my sensing of pain and soul and sadness, is brought about by the tragic story of Karen Carpenter, and if she was happy and middle-aged now, would they just be another bland MOR band?
Rock'n'roll loves a tragic death - how many people have totally inflated reputations as a result? Still, I think Karen Carpenter is one of the great singers, and I think this song is one of the very best vehicles for her talent.
Posted by David at 21:32