What brings people together? 2 of the duos that we’ve spent time with this month met growing up together in school, and the remaining pair found each other in a ballroom, but sometimes you’re just stuck with a person from the very beginning. Today’s addition to the Musical Training Plan showcases a type of union that we here at Fatstacks can really appreciate: the sibling duo. They say you can’t pick your family, but that didn’t seem to be much a problem for Richard Carpenter and his younger sister Karen. Richard and Karen not only possess real musical talent but a particular brand of synergy that nobody but siblings can achieve. Officially signing on as a musical act in 1969 when Karen was only 19 years old, the duo set their goals high and got after it early. Today we focus in on their 4th album, A Song For You. Released in 1972 only 3 years after signing a record deal (but long after they started playing music together), A Song For You displays impressive songwriting chops on behalf of Richard and even more impressive singing ability on behalf of his sister. You won’t find anything extremely groundbreaking, revolutionary, or life-changing in this album, but when it comes to quality pop/soft-rock albums less than 40 minutes long, you can never get enough.
A Song For You may have originally been intended to be a concept album of sorts, but that doesn’t stop it from having half of its track list released as singles. It’s all so poppy and easy to listen to, but in that wholesome early 70’s Brady Bunch kind of way. There is absolutely no offensive language to be found on this record and virtually no sexual suggestiveness, making it accessible for all ages. The Carpenters don’t really push their genre or step outside of it at all, but the style shifts from slow ballad to up-tempo sing-along, to a sort of baroque swing in rapid succession. This album is decidedly easy-listening but that doesn’t mean that it won’t keep you on your toes. After the opening, title track which is a slower ballad we shift quickly to “Top Of The World” which is an absolute blast of a country-pop bop. At times the Carpenters are soft and sweet, at other times they are funny and energetic, and later on they become reflective and romantic. I know I say this a lot, but this album doesn’t drag at all, it constantly moves and presents new songs which bring something that none of the prior tracks had. Much like yesterday’s album I have a feeling that most younger audiences won’t appreciate this album as much, but I really don’t care because this album is so worth a listen. Of course Karen’s vocals are absolutely wonderful, but I really have to praise the variety and skill on display in the songwriting of Richard Carpenter, Leon Russel, John Bettis, and a few other assorted artists. They say too many cooks spoil the broth, but it seems that on this album the relatively long list of contributing songwriters seems to have worked wonders.
Okay well there you have it. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this album, probably because this album doesn’t say a whole lot to me. Don’t take that as a negative though, because Lord knows that simple and fun pop albums are very important to anybody’s music collection. This album in particular is an excellent choice to throw on in the car, while studying, cooking, doing laundry, or just looking for something to throw on while you relax. It need not be studied, only enjoyed and appreciated. Sometimes doing the Musical Training Plan I put a lot of value on those albums which need be really listened to and heard thoroughly to enjoy fully, so I figured it was time to give the people some mindless fun. I hope you all enjoy it!
“Top of the World” is such a damn good song.