By Jon Konjoyan
The top selling U.S. recording act of the 1970’s was singer-drummer Karen Carpenter and her composer-producer brother Richard, who performed as “Carpenters.” The Downey, CA-based pop duo produced some of the biggest hits of the era including “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Superstar.” Tragically, Karen lost her battle with the slimmer’s disease anorexia nervosa in 1983 at only 32 years of age, cutting short the siblings’ Grammy-winning career.
A new book, Yesterday Once More, The Carpenters Reader by Randy Schmidt, reviews their remarkable musical legacy, much as his recent Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter detailed the intimately personal life of the famous pair. Schmidt will be appearing at a book signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Oct. 18, and a public tour of Carpenters Southern California landmarks follows on Oct. 21.
The book, including photos, is a compilation of select essays and articles from the early ‘70s to today. Among the most compelling: an interview with Karen and Richard in 1975 at their career peak (“It’s just Elton and us,” states Richard matter-of-factly about their hit-making power), to a sadder article after the hits stopped coming in 1978 and Karen’s desperate plea: “If somebody would just let us know what the problem is.”
There is also an excellent Q&A with Schmidt about Little Girl Blue and why he thinks Karen descended down a dark road she never could return from. But there’s no denying the talent. “As a singer,” Schmidt rightly claims, “no one really can compare. She sang so effortlessly and with so much simplicity. Most of all she communicated her songs in every tiny detail, from the intonation to the phrasing and all the subtle nuances. For more go to: amazon.com/Yesterday-Once-More-Carpenters-Reader/dp/1613744145/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2.