A&M/UMe have announced the 7 December release of Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The album combines the group’s original vocal and instrumental tracks from their 100-million-selling catalogue with new orchestral arrangements by Richard Carpenter, conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London. It’s available for pre-order now in digital, CD and 180-gram 2LP vinyl LP formats. It will be released in the vinyl format on 8 February.
Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra comes on the heels of the RPO’s album projects of recent years accompanying the catalogues of Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys. But the Carpenters’ album represents the first time that one of the artists who created the timeless original music has been closely involved in their new presentation. Carpenter serves as the producer, arranger and conductor on the album.
“I think that’s what makes it very special,” says Royal Philharmonic orchestral manager Ian Maclay, “the fact that it’s his music and he knows it and that he was there from the start. It’s not somebody else interpreting, which is what normally happens.”
From today (1), the fiirst two tracks, the new orchestral versions of ‘Yesterday Once More’ and ‘Merry Christmas, Darling,’ are available for streaming and immediate download with pre-orders of the digital album. On 16 November, the Carpenters’ version of The Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride’ will be available as the next taster for the album.
Carpenter and the RPO convened in Studio 2 at Abbey Road from 13-16 August 2018, the hallowed location that hosted legendary recording sessions by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and countless others. Richard’s new arrangements add to his original vocals and keyboards, Karen Carpenter’s vocals and drums, woodwinds by Bob Messenger and guitar by Tony Peluso.
The recordings also feature such stellar guest musicians as Joe Osborn on bass, Hal Blaine on drums, Chuck Findlay on trumpet, Earle Dumler on oboe, Tommy Morgan on harmonica, Buddy Emmons on pedal steel and Tom Scott and Doug Strawn on saxophone.
Carpenter explains that the new album gave him the chance to expand on the original, vintage recordings. “‘Close to You’ called for a sparse string arrangement,” he says, explaining that he would have liked to have more players and a richer sound on the hit version. “In the second and third verses, it sounded a bit thin, because there are only ten violins playing it. Now, we’ve quadrupled that. So, anyone with the ear for it will hear it immediately. It’s the same line, but it’s richer, because there are so many more players.”
He adds: “There have been more than a few times when I have thought, ‘I wish I could have a second crack at that,’ and there were places where things could be augmented without overdoing it. That’s the trick.
“These refreshed tracks more than ever showcase Karen’s remarkable voice,” he concludes. “And that to me was reason number one for undertaking the project.”