As I'm working through my look at the music of Richard and Karen Carpenter through fresh eyes, I'm only up to the 1971 Tan album- a landmark disc that includes Superstar, Rainy Days and Monday, and For All We Know. It will be awhile before I reach 1976's disc A Kind of Hush, but someone on the wonderful A&M Corner discussion boards shared a terrific link to some shots of the duo for the album by the famous photographer Ed Caraeff. I just couldn't wait until then to share them.
I had not seen these shots, but they are pretty great. Both Karen and Richard seem rested, relaxed, and healthy, putting off that Southern California vibe. Even after seven albums, sold out tours all over the world, and a grueling schedule.
The photo that made the inside of the disc.
They're pretty young here. Karen's barely 26, and Richard's 29. So young to have reached that pinnacle of international stardom and all the pressure that went with it.
The gorgeous but clearly Middle-of-the-Road song I Need to Be in Love is included on the album. The Herman's Hermits' remake is one of my guilty pleasures, and I still can't get enough of Boat to Sail, a Jackie DeShannon piece of life on the ocean. The sheer elegance and artistry of the previous Horizon album would be tough for anyone to compare to. They didn't even do it. They just wanted to have a bit of fun and lighten the mood. The artwork and photos reflect that attitude.
From this same photo session, Ed Caraeff captured my favorite shot ever of Karen, seen below. I think he captured something in her soul.
Everyone seems to love this sepia toned photo of Karen Carpenter. It gets downloaded from this blog all the time. It even looks good in black and white.
In just seven more years, and Karen would be gone. Those critics who quickly dismissed the Carpenters as fluff would be forced to freshly reevaluate their art in light of her rich, nuanced voice and the lyrics she sang. There's been nothing like that voice since.
Like a great photograph, you just keep coming back to their songs and discovering something new.
(Photographs copyright Ed Caraeff.)