There has been a lot of good and bad said about the brother/sister duo Carpenters, but if there were any one album I would recommend that anyone get as their most representative work, I would choose A Song For You. This album catches them at the peak of their creativity. You not only had the duo of Richard Carpenter and John Bettis turning out tunes such as the hit singles “Top Of The World” and “Goodbye To Love” for the album, the duo of Roger Nichols and Paul Williams also contributes “I Won’t Last A Day Without You,” keeping stellar company with the rest of the tracks on the album. The album is also themed in that the title song bookends the rest of the tracks.
The importance of the record should be put into historical context. At the time this was recorded, Carpenters were riding high on the smash success of “(They Long To Be) Close To You”, touring for dozens of weeks around the year, and fitting in recording during their touring downtime. As a result, a few things happened. They had spent time on the road honing their craft, so the band was performing as tightly as ever. And, the endless touring also made them road weary, which is reflected in the tune “Road Ode.” The frenetic pace also seemingly energized the production of this set, as it showcases Richard Carpenter’s full mastery of the studio as another creative “instrument.” Their popularity had swelled by this point, and this album celebrates it with some of their finest work.
I have not yet had any luck finding a clean tan label first pressing of this album (most are trashed, thrashed and bashed), but the best CD version to get is part of the Remastered Classics series. In that series, the original versions of the albums are reissued–no remixing, no re-recording, nothing but the original mix on CD. The Mobile Fidelity version, as well as the first A&M CD reissue, start featuring remixes among the tracks. Most notable is “Top Of The World” which kicks up the redneck meter with additional pedal steel guitar. Fine for the single mix but for many of us who owned the original, it’s just wrong on the album proper.