The music of the Carpenters has long transcended mere nostalgia. With 20 Billboard top 40 hits including three No. 1s and five No. 2s as well as 15 Adult Contemporary No. 1s, their timeless legacy of song is as resonant today as ever. Karen's intimate, warm, and soulful voice melded with Richard's rich, sophisticated musical settings to create a sound still unrivaled in popular music. Now, that sound is getting a little larger. On December 7, A&M Records will release Carpenters with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, pairing the classic recordings of the famous brother-and-sister duo with all-new symphonic orchestrations composed, produced, and conducted by the songs' original arranger-conductor-producer: Richard Carpenter.
Recorded by The Royal Philharmonic at Abbey Road, this new release follows similar collections by artists such as Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison, and The Beach Boys, but the participation of Richard Carpenter distinguishes this title. Following a newly-composed Overture, the set premieres a host of lushly reimagined Carpenters favorites from some of the world's greatest songwriters including Paul Williams and Roger Nichols ("We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays"), Leon Russell ("This Masquerade," "Superstar"), John Lennon and Paul McCartney ("Ticket to Ride"), and Burt Bacharach ("(They Long to Be) Close to You" with Hal David, "Baby It's You" with Mack David and Luther Dixon) not to mention his own remarkable, enduring songs such as "Yesterday Once More" and "Goodbye to Love" with John Bettis, "Merry Christmas Darling" with Frank Pooler, "I Need to Be in Love" with Bettis and Albert Hammond). In addition to their voices, Richard's keyboards, and Karen's drums, select elements from the original recordings have been incorporated, including performances by such musicians as Tony Peluso on guitar, Bob Messenger on woodwinds, Joe Osborn on bass, Hal Blaine on drums, Chuck Findley on trumpet, Earle Dumler on oboe, Tommy Morgan on harmonica, Buddy Emmons on pedal steel, and Tom Scott and Doug Strawn on saxophone.
Richard Carpenter illuminated his process in the press release. Speaking of the original "(They Long to Be) Close to You," he commented, "In the second and third verses, it sounded a bit thin, because there are only ten violins playing it. Now, we've quadrupled that. So, anyone with the ear for it will hear it immediately. It's the same line, but it's richer, because there are so many more players." He added, "There have been more than a few times when I have thought, 'I wish I could have a second crack at that,' and there were places where things could be augmented without overdoing it. That's the trick. These refreshed tracks more than ever showcase Karen's remarkable voice. And that to me was reason number one for undertaking the project."
Here's the new "Yesterday Once More":
and its new flipside, "Merry Christmas Darling":
Carpenters with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be available in a variety of formats including 1CD; 2LP 180-gram black vinyl; and 2LP white vinyl. The latter will be an exclusive to the Carpenters' webstore, which also offers bundles including lithographs personally signed by Richard Carpenter. This release serves as a tribute to the enduring artistry of Karen Carpenter, never to be forgotten, and her brother Richard. It arrives on December 7 from A&M Records just in time for holiday shopping, and can be pre-ordered at the links below!
Carpenters with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (A&M Records/UMe, 2018)
- Yesterday Once More
- Hurting Each Other
- I Need to Be in Love
- For All We Know
- Touch Me When We're Dancing
- I Believe You
- I Just Fall in Love Again
- Merry Christmas Darling
- Baby It's You
- (They Long to Be) Close to You
- Rainy Days and Mondays
- This Masquerade
- Ticket to Ride
- Goodbye to Love
- Top of the World
- We've Only Just Begun