A Song For You (1972)
Released on June 13, 1972, “A Song For You” is their 4th studio album. Many fans consider it to be Carpenters’ bellwether album, their peak of popularity and craftsmanship in music. With the exception of a few filler tracks (“Piano Picker,” “Flat Baroque” and “Crystal Lullaby”) the album was the perfect pop album filled with one classic after another. Eventually the album enjoyed five single releases and a total of six songs charting on the singles charts.
“A Song For You” brought Carpenters to a major presence on the worldwide music charts. Their previous album charted well worldwide but “A Song For You” was their first to chart in the Top 10 on many charts around the world. In the US the album reached #4 and stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 41 weeks.
According to Richard Carpenter, “A Song for You was intended to be a concept album (of sorts) with the title tune opening and closing the set and the bookended selections comprising the ‘song.” The five charting A-Side singles were “Hurting Each other,” “It’s Going To Take Sometime”,”Goodbye To Love,” “Top of the World” and “I Won’t Last A Day Without You.” The first song to chart from the album was “Bless The Beasts And Children” which charted as the B-Side to “Superstar.” Contrary to popular belief “Bless The Beasts And Children” was never released as an A-Side.
Capitalizing on their success with songs written by Paul Williams (“We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays’) and Leon Russell (“Superstar”), Carpenters included a Williams composition “I Won’t Last A Day Without You” (which became a Top 15 hit in 1974) and a Leon Russell tune “A Song For You” (which is the fan favorite from the album and many feel it should have been released as a single).
Richard Carpenters has stated, I was inspired to write the opening lines of “Goodbye To Love” while watching a 1940 Bing Crosby film: “Rhythm On The River”, in which a song named “Goodbye To Love” is mentioned, but never heard. I wrote the choral ending of this piece while visiting London in late 1971, and completed the middle of the song in early 1972, at which time John wrote the lyrics. While constructing the arrangement I pictured a melodic fuzz guitar solo and knew the guitarist I wanted use. In ’71 one of our early tours featured Mark Lindsay opening the show. His backing group was called “Instant Joy” and was led by a young guitarist named Tony Peluso, whose playing caught our ears. We asked Tony to play on “Goodbye to Love”. The result, in my opinion, is one of the all-time great recorded guitar solos. We subsequently asked Tony to join our road group, and he was with us for many years. This recording caused quite a bit of comment by people of all stripes. Our detractors heard that solo and rather bombastic ending and thought maybe we possessed a little more talent and adventure than they had previously thought. Conversely, some of our fans were outraged and thought we had “sold out”. When the dust settled, however, the record became a solid hit, landing in the Top 10 in both the United States and United Kingdom.
The track “Road Ode” has the rare distinction of being written by members from Carpenters’ touring band. Written by Gary Sims (guitar) and Danny Woodhams (bass). Karen dated Gary Sims for a short time from 1969-1970. On future albums guitarist Tony Peluso wrote a few songs.
Though the album did not win any Grammy Awards it did garner one nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement for the song “Flat Baroque.”
In 1989 “A Song For You” was issued through the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s “Original Master Recording” series, available on 24-karat gold CD format, with the 2-channel mixes having been taken from the original source, which improved the sound quality. Many of the tracks were remixes, though the overall quality was superior to that of the previous releases. The 24-karat gold disc has become a much sought after rarity selling for about $125.
Release Date: June 13, 1972
Catalog Number: SP-3511
Chart Positions: #4 US, #13 UK, #5 Canada, #6 Australia, #5 Japan
Certifications: 3x Platinum (US)
Singles: “Hurting Each Other,” “It’s Going To Take Sometime,” “Goodbye To Love,” “Top Of The World,” “I Won’t Last A Day Without You”
B-Sides: “Bless The Beasts and Children” (b-side of “Superstar”), “Flat Baroque” (b-side of “It’s Going To Take Sometime’), “Crystal Lullaby” (b-side of “Goodbye To Love”), “Road Ode” (b-side of “Yesterday Once More”)
- Karen Carpenter – lead and backing vocals, drums
- Richard Carpenter – lead and backing vocals, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond organ, celesta, orchestration
- Joe Osborn – bass guitar
- Tony Peluso – lead guitar, bass, keyboards
- Hal Blaine – drums
- Earl Dumler – oboe, English horn
- Bob Messenger – tenor saxophone, flute, alto flute, bass
- Louie Shelton – guitar
- Tim Weisberg – bass flute on “It’s Going to Take Some Time”
- Buddy Emmons – pedal steel guitar on “Top of the World”
- Norm Herzberg – bassoon
- Red Rhodes – steel guitar
- Gayle Levant – harp
- Gary Coleman – percussion on “Hurting Each Other”
- Ray Gerhardt – Engineer
- Roger Young – Assistant Engineer
- Roland Young – Art Direction
- Jim McCrary – Photography
- Bill Hennigar – Photography
- Jack Daugherty – Producer
Billboard Magazine Album Review (June 1972)
Here’s a super LP which will be another top seller for the Carpenters. Superb Jack Daugherty production and musicianship showcase the fine talent on such tunes as “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” (by Paul Williams) and “Crystal Lullaby” (both by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis). Includes “Hurting Each Other” and “It’s Going to Take Some Time.” Also dynamite readings of the title tune and of “Goodbye to Love” (also by Carpenter and Bettis).
Rolling Stone Magazine Album Review (June 1972)
While the Carpenters’ music is not particularly compelling, its lack of pretension lends it a bland integrity that is uncommon for middle-of-the-road pop music. The basis of this integrity is Karen’s singing, which grows more assured with each album. She is especially strong in her lower register, and she shows the potential of developing into an interesting stylist. The musical value of Richard’s contribution to the Carpenters phenomenon, however, is another matter. The best that can be said for most of his arrangements is that they provide adequate support for Karen’s voice and have a recognizable stamp. What they lack is a sense of dramatic structure or interpretive style.
The formula that Richard applies to his own songs, he applies to everyone else’s as well. This is a shame, since many of the Carpenters’ records begin strikingly but then fail to gather momentum. The most obvious way in which this happens is that, time and again, the clarity of Karen’s vocal line is interrupted or joined by multi-tracked “choral filler,” which tends to drain a song of its personality. It is the same fault that weakened countless pop records in the Forties and Fifties.
Five songs are authored or co-authored by Richard. They vary in emotional range from cotton candy to ice milk, the best of them being the current single, “Goodbye To Love.” Richard sings solo on two cuts — “Piano Picker” and “Crystal Lullaby.” His voice is pleasant enough, but he seems to be afflicted with a very noticeable lisp. One cut, “Flat Baroque,” features Richard on the piano playing in a style that can only be described as Peter Neromanque.
The title cut, Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” is far and away the album’s finest moment. It is a great song that is rapidly achieving the classic status it deserves, and Karen communicates its poignancy with effortless serenity. The Carpenters have done well by Leon in the past, their version of “Superstar” standing as perhaps their finest record to date. Unfortunately, the album doesn’t contain any other very strong material. “Hurting Each Other,” which preceded “Goodbye to Love” as a hit single, does not approach the level of the Carpenters’ first hits. Karen’s interpretation of Carole King and Toni Stern’s “It’s Going To Take Some Time” shows only that the song requires Carole’s personal touch in order to work. “Bless the Beasts and Children,” title song of the movie, has lavish production values going for it, and nothing else. Mention should be made of Bob Messenger’s pleasant flute and tenor sax breaks on “Road Ode” and “A Song For You,” respectively.
If the Carpenters are to grow with their audience, they will need more of this sort of instrumentation. But above all, they will need to be more discriminating in their selection of material. Karen is capable of giving us considerably more than tiny sugar valentines.
– Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 10/12/72.
A Song For You (1972)
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