Friday, July 7, 2017

Forgotten Fridays: If I Were a Carpenter

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

Back in the album sales glory days of the 1990's, a record company would throw together some kid of compilation (soundtrack, tribute album, sampler, etc.) without any real regard to basing it on a genre of music. In fact, having as many genres as possible represented seems to have been preferred since the only way to get a copy of the band you loved doing this song was to buy the album. (For any youths reading, this was before illegal downloading, YouTube, purchasing a single mp3 for $.99.) 

This thought process runs rampant in If I Were a Carpenter, a fairly random tribute album to The Carpenters released in 1994. The best known song on here is Sonic Youth's cover of "Superstar," but that's more well known for being featured in Juno, which might be the last hit soundtrack we'll ever see. The rest of the album is a hodgepodge of 1994. You get songs by The Cranberries and Cracker, because it was 1994, and I don't think it was legally possible to not include at least one of them in a compilation that year. Although, The Cranberries' version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" is an absolutely perfect choice. Other giants of the alternative mainstream of 1994 are represented on this album with songs by Sheryl Crow, Matthew Sweet, and 4 Non Blondes. Dishwalla also pops up doing a version of "It's Going to Take Some Time," a full two years before they broke with "Counting Blue Cars."

Besides Sonic Youth, there is some more indie royalty represented on If I Were a Carpenter. Shonen Knife, who spent the 90's on the very cusp of superstardom if you judged by MTV News and any music magazine, do "Top of the World." You also get versions of Carpenters songs by Redd Kross and Bettie Serveert. Babes in Toyland's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Crafts" is the kind of song you would have assumed Sonic Youth's Carpenters cover would be. They do a louder, crunchier tribute compared to Sonic Youth's quiet, more earnest version.

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