The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on October 23, 1983 · Page 720
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 720

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 23, 1983
Page 720
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CALENDAR Richard Carpenter at A&Ms Studio CARPENTER: 'THIS ALBUM IS KAREN'S' By GREG BARRIOS Returning to Studio C at A&M Recording Studios in the heart of Hollywood, Richard Carpenter was coming back to the birthplace of the Carpenters. Richard and his sister. Karen, recorded many of their hits there, such as "We've Only Just Begun" and "Close to You." Only last year Richard had 'been working there with Karen on what would be their last album. In early February of this year. Karen died of heart failure brought on in part by chemical imbalances associated with anorexia nervosa. Richard was back in Studio C to play the completed album and to talk to a member of the press for the first time since the tragedy. Sitting in the darkened studio, one was aware of the memories that must have been associated with that small paneled room. Apparently in good spirits, looking tan and lean. Carpenter sat behind the controls again and suddenly Karen's marvelous voice filled the studio: "Now. now when it rains I don't feel cold. . . ." It was the opening strains from "Now." the song that opens the album. "Voice of the Heart." which is being released this month. (See adjoining review. ) "I wanted this album to be Karen's." he later explained. "I could only deal with what we already had recorded. I had thought of doing one by myself, but then I realized I shouldn't be taking any of the leads on this particular album. And even C, birthplace of the Carpenters. though it's the Carpenters, the vocals should all feature Karen. "I know she would have wanted this. In a sense, if our positions had been reversed, she would have undoubtedly done the same." His eyes gleamed as he spoke. Responding to those present at the album audition in Studio C. Carpenter simply said. "I thank you. and my sister thanks you." In the Carpenters' office upstairs at A&M. an entire wall behind Richard's desk is filled with gold albums and singles. It becomes even more staggering when you consider the half a dozen or more on the floor waiting for wall space. KAREN: HEART IN HER VOICE By PAULGREIN "VOICE OF THE HEART." Carpenters. A&M SP-4954. Since all but two of the cuts on this album had been recorded by the time the Carpenters released their last album two years ago. one might assume that this is a collection of second-rate leftovers taken from the vaults. Actually, this is the Carpenters' strongest album in a decade, and contains at least three cuts that rank with their all-time best. The most striking is "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore." which has the brooding, slow-boil dynamics of such '60s pop classics as the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" and Little Anthony & the Imperials' "Hurt So Bad." Cut in 1980. it proves that As far back as 1967. Karen, who had been on the plump side as a child, had gone to the family doctor and gotten on a diet to lose weight. She lost 20 pounds, but when fame began to put them in the public's eye. she started starving herself when she couldn't lose any more through regulated dieting. Richard, his head resting on his hand, quietly spoke: "When she got sick in Las Vegas in 1975. we knew something was seriously amiss. It turned out to be anorexia. My Lord. I remember she would come in between shows and just flop down. She was down to 80 pounds and she'd walk out on stage and her voice was absolutely marvelous. We were in awe at first. But then we had to cancel two tours the following year. It began to take its toll." She never lost her singing voice. The last album's title takes on a sardonic twist since her heart gave out. not her voice. In the same manner, the color photo of Karen on the album cover is one of her most ravishing, yet it was taken when she weighed less than 100 pounds and was in the throes of anorexia. "Near the end Karen was. I believe, finally aware she had anorexia nervosa and she wanted to fight it. She went back East for therapy. Obviously it didn't work, and she was allowed to come back home. I guess they thought they had gotten her to lick it. And had she lived, she would have been on the road to recovery, but from so many years of abusing herself her heart was now-weakened. "I knew she wasn't totally well, but Karen had the constitution of an ox. She really did. especially out on the road where she would keep up with the rest of us. if not beat us. "But getting back to the whole disorder and what killed her and all. there are several theories and one. of course, is near the end. because this 'therapist.' for lack of a better name who was only-making her worse, and she was only-losing instead of gaining (weight) he talked her into going into the hospital for IV hyperalimentation where they feed all these calories into you. and I've heard a lot of MDs say that's a terrible thing to Karen Carpenter on "Voices" cover. Karen's anorexia didn't noticeably impair her vocal power or drive. Nearly as compelling is "Ordinary-Fool." a Paul Williams ballad that the Carpenters cut in 1976. The song features the bluesiest vocal of Karen's career, one that's all the more poignant because of its do because it's too fast. It puts all that strain on the heart to put all those calories on at one time. We'll never truly know what exactly happened." Through hyperalimentation. Karen gained back 30 pounds and returned to Los Angeles to complete work on "Voice." unaware of the strain it would put on her heart. A Karen Carpenter Memorial Foundation has been formed to aid in the research of anorexia as well as a scholarship fund for talented musicians at California State University. Long Beach. And a star was placed a few weeks ago on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Carpenter plans to promote the new-album worldwide, starting with a week in England where the Carpenters have an avid following, then to Japan where their live import album is also to be re-released, and ending in Australia, where a collection of the Carpenters' 18 greatest hits was recently released to good sales. There is also talk of a montage-type of video for the first song from "Voice" released as a single. Their last hit was "Touch Me While We're Dancing" in 1981. "I haven't given much thought to the rest," he said. "I will continue my songwriting and my piano playing, and I would like to produce other artists, too. There also is enough material left from the Christmas album for another one. and I want to do another." He brightened. "Oh. Karen did a version of 'Ave Maria' which we produced live with a full orchestra and choral parts about five years ago. It was beautiful). And we also did 'Little Altar Boy.' which is my favorite, and is Karen's finest reading, period, of anything she's done. I'd like to put both out as a Christmas single." Part of Carpenter's spirited renewal to his work is due to the supportive response from fans, as underscored by a desk full of that week's mail. He marveled: "We thought we'd better pack up the fan club after Karen's passing. Wrong ... all kinds of mail . . . heartwarming stuff . . . orders for Carpenters' memorabilia." Barrios is a Los Angeles teacherwritercritic. understatement. c "Voice" is a highly diverse album. Z ranging from the rock -edged ballad "Two Lives" (previously cut by Bonnie Raitt) to the theatrical "Look to Your q Dreams." written by Richard Carpenter Q and John Bettis. The latter song has the q grand symphonic sweep of a musical t finale and contains the album's most rueful lyrics: "Blame blind yesterday for taking dreams awayThey could mean more than they seem." ;g The album's only serious deficiency is '" the presence of a bland choir on several cuts, including the slushy single "Make Believe It's Your First Time." The choir was called in because Karen hadn't cut ?Z backup vocals at the time of her death. it "Voice of the Heart" is a most fitting 3 title for this collection: Karen conveyed more warmth and compassion in her voice than any other singer of her generation. Not everyone was touched by the magic of Karen's voice, but those of us who were will never forget, or cease x; to be moved. -ji

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