Chronological 73-track, four-CD anthology of avant-MOR avatars

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Carpenters – The Essential Collection 1965-97

Richard Carpenter is one of the few composers/arrangers to understand properly, and develop, the innovations of Brian Wilson, and in his sister Karen he had the perfect voice to articulate his concept. The first two of these four CDs (covering 1965-73) are divine, faultless; Karen’s voice is apostolic in its compassion (“Superstar”) and stark in its vulnerability (“Goodbye To Love”). Sadly, from 1974 onwards their work was largely by-the-book MOR; but the real revelation here is the astonishing invention and sophistication of their early work: songs like “All I Can Do” and “Eve” are utopian and ethereal in their arrangements.