Close To You: Remembering The 

Close To You: Remembering The Carpenters


Reviewed by: Andrea Mullaney

There was absolutely nothing cool about The Carpenters. The epitome of white bread Middle America's retreat into bland and safe popular entertainment after the wildness of the Sixties, their reputation has not held up well. This documentary, focusing on survivor Richard's memories of their career and his sister Karen, is unlikely to appeal to those who just can't see past the toothpaste smiles and the syrupy musical arrangements.

Which is a shame, really, as his reference to her as one of the greatest female singers ever is, for a change, hardly hyperbole. The sixteen songs featured on this DVD (not all in full) showcase her amazing voice, rich and clear and swollen with emotion.

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Hardly an objective portrait, this is an affectionate reminiscence, led by interviews with Richard, who has looked almost exactly the same for the last 30 years, as well as appearances from band members, producers and the like.

Their rather sickening album covers, presenting them as a wholesome yet strangely incestuous couple, and their horribly cheesy TV shows (with laboured comedy routines) are lightly touched on, with Richard seemingly aware that their image has damaged their reputation. But he's also at pains to emphasise their innovation, taking credit for putting guitar solos into big ballads and popularising overdubbed vocals.

Actually, their marketing savvy was ahead of their time, too, with the band craftily associating themselves with songs from adverts and making promotional clips, before the age of pop video. These are the most interesting parts of the DVD, showing the young siblings in the context of the time. Particularly noteworthy is an early Sixties psychedelic performance when they were still known as The Dick Carpenter Trio.

Just the last 10 minutes deal with the darker side and Karen's tragic surrender to eating disorders, although there are earlier points when you can't help but notice her extreme anorexia. This isn't a psychological profile and the reasons for her illness (or for Richard's pill addiction) aren't touched on - neither, oddly, is her marriage.

Not anything massively new here, then, but a nice memento for fans.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2005
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Close To You: Remembering The 
Carpenters packshot
Documentary about the musical brother and sister.
Amazon link

Director: various

Starring: Richard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter, Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, Petula Clark

Year: 1999

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


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