Nearly 50 years after their breakout success with the Burt Bacharach and Hal David-penned hit ‘(They Long To Be) Close To You’, 18 of the Carpenters’ timeless songs are getting the orchestral treatment. The new album, titled Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, pairs the original vocal and instrumental tracks with orchestral arrangements composed and conducted by Richard Carpenter
The new Carpenters album is the latest in a series of albums by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) which re-imagine the songs of iconic performers, including The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Roy Orbison. This, however marks the first time the artist has taken the lead on the project.
“Richard was there from the start. It’s not somebody else interpreting, which is what normally happens,” said orchestral manager Ian Maclay. “I think that’s what makes this very special: the fact that it’s his music and he knows it.”
Carpenter has said that the experience of setting his late sister Karen’s matchless vocals with brand new orchestral arrangements “just brought a smile to my face,” adding that working with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was “a dream come true”.
When he arrived at Abbey Road Studio in August 2018, Carpenter was still finishing the orchestral arrangements on a piano in his hotel room but he knew that he wanted to start with the strings. The multi-talented musician had scored the original orchestration for their Grammy Award winning version of ‘(They Long To Be) Close To You’ however, he felt the 1970 version featured too sparse of a string arrangement, (approximately 10 violins) and “sounded a bit thin”. On this new RPO version, he was able to quadruple the number of violins. “It’s the same line, but it’s richer, because there are so many more players,” explained Carpenter.
Carpenter also created augmented arrangements for 17 more of the duos classic songs including ‘We’ve Only Just Begun,’ ‘Rainy Days and Mondays,’ ‘I Just Fall in Love Again,’ and their cover of the Beatles’ ‘Ticket to Ride.’
Associate producer Nick Patrick, who has been an integral part of previous RPO orchestra albums and who has worked with musicians as diverse as Hans Zimmer, Placido Domingo, Lulu and Gerry Rafferty, praised the arrangements: “It’s a dream come true having the opportunity to work alongside a writer-producer-arranger like Richard Carpenter. These songs are incredible and this album can bring a whole new audience to the Carpenters.”
After returning to America, Richard Carpenter went into Capitol Studios to finish the final mixes, bringing his own Steinway piano into the studio in Los Angeles “to give it a feel of home”.
The fusion of Richard’s production genius, the duo’s harmonies and Karen’s immortal vocals make Carpenters both endearing and enduring. It is available now by A&M/UMe in digital, CD and 180-gram 2LP vinyl LP formats. The vinyl set will be released February 8. See a complete track list below.
Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Track List:
- YESTERDAY ONCE MORE
- HURTING EACH OTHER
- I NEED TO BE IN LOVE
- FOR ALL WE KNOW
- TOUCH ME WHEN WE’RE DANCING
- I BELIEVE YOU
- I JUST FALL IN LOVE AGAIN
- MERRY CHRISTMAS, DARLING
- BABY IT’S YOU
- (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU
- RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS
- THIS MASQUERADE
- TICKET TO RIDE
- GOODBYE TO LOVE
- TOP OF THE WORLD
- WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN