Karen Carpenter – A Celebration of Life Forty Years On

As hard as it may seem forty years ago today one of the best female pop singers (IMHO) of the 20th century passed away – Karen Carpenter.

If you’ve never heard of Karen Carpenter or the music she created with her brother Richard under the name The Carpenters you must check them out either online with streaming or on a physical format of your choice – it will be well worth your time! Karen Carpenter’s voice is haunting, soothing, silky, melancholy and most of all memorable.

(Note: I’ve posted a few Carpenters stories here and have been a fan of The Carpenters since I first heard the 45 of their song “Hurting Each Other” in 1971 which I still have to this day in its beat up picture sleeve)

Now I don’t want to make this a morbid post, instead I’d like to celebrate the life of Karen Carpenter whose death forty years ago touched so many people in so many different ways.

I was thinking as I watched a Carpenter’s performance today online, just because Karen Carpenter passed away doesn’t mean her music passed away. In fact, as of late I’ve seen dozens of reaction videos on YouTube from younger people who are just amazed at the quality of her voice and the quality of The Carpenters’ music.

Whenever I see these YouTube videos featuring Karen Carpenter her voice is still as silky, effervescent and pure as it always was and even forty long years since her passing her voice still has the capacity to amaze and delight people from all ages and backgrounds.

So today in celebration of Karen Carpenter’s exquisite life and gift I’m going to share two acquisitions I just found in the last week that highlight her unforgettable voice as well as her brother Richard’s impeccable arrangements and musical performances.

The first thing that I found was this amazing single CD of The Carpenter’s “Gold”. It was mastered with a process I’ve never heard of until now called K2 HD mastering. The CD is made in Japan and features a single-disc version of a two-disc set by The Carpenter’s also called “Gold” which I have on a 35th anniversary CD set (see photos below).

I’ve always enjoyed the selections on The Carpenter’s “Gold” 2 CD set but have found the mastering a little bit hot or compressed and even though it sounded okay it wasn’t my favorite Carpenters collection.

I must say was amazed with the sound on this single version K2 HD  CD. It’s definitely an improvement over the 2 CD U.S. set I own especially the bass which is deeper and richer and overall the sound of this disc isn’t very compressed which was a great relief for me as the U.S. version is a bit loud for my tastes.

I must have missed the advent of  K2 HD mastering and even though this disc sounds great I don’t know that I’d go out looking for more K2 HD discs but since I found this used for a decent price I’m very happy with it and it’s a great overview of The Carpenter’s music.

This CD was made in 2007 so I’m guessing that K2 HD mastering must have been a thing in Japan at that time but if I happened to stumble upon another disc with this mastering by an artist I like I may snap it up but I’m sure K2 HD discs are probably expensive to buy new, if they’re still in production, and I’m not sure it’s quite worth a lot of money to buy them but found cheaply enough I would certainly be interested.

The second thing I found was an immaculate copy of the album that was released right after Karen Carpenter’s unfortunate death. Called “Voice of the Heart” this vinyl copy is still in the shrink wrap and even has the hype sticker which I always love to find.

The “Voice of the Heart” album was released toward the end of 1983 just a few months after Karen Carpenter died and is comprised of some of the last songs she was working on at the time of her death as well as some older material that never made it onto previous albums.

Songs like “Now”, Karen’s last studio recording, “Ordinary Fool” and “Make Believe It’s Your First Time” remain three of my all-time favorite Carpenter’s songs and they sound simply superb on this immaculate first pressing of this album.

(Note 2: The album cover always makes me cringe a bit as Karen looks very thin or maybe it’s because the shirt looks way bigger than she is. It’s a nice photo it just makes me somewhat sad. Nonetheless and this is an album well worth hearing and seeking out.)

Anyway it’s a really solid and enjoyable album and quite fitting to find near the anniversary of her passing. I can’t think of a better way to honor Karen than to highlight some of her wonderful recordings especially these two lovely additions to my collection.

Well, that’s all for now.

I just wanted to post something to honor Karen Carpenter’s memory and am so glad that her and her brother’s music are still being discovered and enjoyed all these many years since these songs were recorded and her untimely death.

As usual you can enjoy photos above and below of these new Carpenter’s finds as well as a couple of photos of my U.S. “Gold” 2 CD set.

Until next time be well and healthy and spring is almost around the corner.

See you soon!


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