Various Artists – If I Were A Carpenter (1994)

FrontCover1The Carpenters (officially known as Carpenters)[a] were an American vocal and instrumental duo consisting of siblings Karen (1950–1983) and Richard Carpenter (born 1946). They produced a distinct soft musical style, combining Karen’s contralto vocals with Richard’s harmonizing, arranging and composition skills. During their 14-year career, the Carpenters recorded 10 albums along with numerous singles and several television specials.

The siblings were born in New Haven, Connecticut, and moved to Downey, California, in 1963. Richard took piano lessons as a child, progressing to California State University, Long Beach, while Karen learned the drums. They first performed together as a duo in 1965 and formed the jazz-oriented Richard Carpenter Trio followed by the middle-of-the-road group Spectrum.

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Signing as Carpenters to A&M Records in 1969, they achieved major success the following year with the hit singles “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun”. The duo’s brand of melodic pop produced a record-breaking run of hit recordings on the American Top 40 and Adult Contemporary charts, and they became leading sellers in the soft rock, easy listening and adult contemporary music genres. They had three number-one singles and five number-two singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 15 number-one hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, in addition to 12 top-10 singles.

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The duo toured continually during the 1970s, which put them under increased strain; Richard took a year off in 1979 after he had become addicted to Quaalude, while Karen suffered from anorexia nervosa. Their joint career ended in 1983 when Karen died from heart failure brought on by complications of anorexia. Extensive news coverage surrounding these circumstances increased public awareness of eating disorders. Their music continues to attract critical acclaim and commercial success. They have sold more than 90 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

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If I Were a Carpenter is a 1994 tribute album to The Carpenters. It features alternative rock bands covering the songs of Richard and Karen Carpenter.

The cover is a cartoon-like drawing of Richard and Karen Carpenter listening to an LP album against an orange background. Richard Carpenter has said that he doesn’t “care for” the version of “Superstar” by Sonic Youth.

The album was the brainchild of Matt Wallace (Maroon 5, Replacements, Faith No More) and David Konjoyan.

The album, and specifically the Sonic Youth cover of “Superstar,” featured prominently in the 2007 film Juno; “Superstar” was included on the Juno soundtrack. (wikipedia)


Released among a bevy of tribute albums toasting the likes of Charles Mingus and Neil Young, If I Were a Carpenter registers as one of the best of the lot, with spot-on performances of Carpenters classics from the ’70s. Unlike many tribute collections, this CD gets it right most of the time, thanks to a lineup of artists suited to the duo’s wide-screen pop mix. Matthew Sweet, the Cranberries, Sheryl Crow, Grant Lee Buffalo, and Cracker deliver the most straightforward interpretations here, informing the likes of “Solitaire” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” with the same amount of moody tenderness that made the originals so effective. On the other end of the spectrum, Sonic Youth gives “Superstar” a nicely claustrophobic and feedback-addled turn, while Bettie Severt brings its Neil Young-inspired guitar attack to bear on “For All We Know.”


On other fronts, Shonen Knife and Babes in Toyland contribute giddy lo-fi readings and Dishwalla and 4 Non Blondes go in for brooding swagger. Finally, American Music Club and Redd Kross get special mention for their tailored-made and respective helpings of despair and dreamy ’70s sensibility on “Goodbye to Love” and “Yesterday Once More.” And, while being impressed by the sheer range and originality of these interpretations, listeners will also discover the overlooked songwriting talents of Paul Williams, Roger Nichols, Leon Russell, Neil Sedaka, and Richard Carpenter. A must for the post-punk-savvy Carpenters fan. (by Stephen Cook)


01. American Music Club: Goodbye To Love (Bettis/R.Carpenter) 3.12
02. Shonen Knife: Top of the World (Bettis/Busby) 3.56
03. Sonic Youth: Superstar (Bramlett/Russell) 4.08
04. The Cranberries: (They Long to Be) Close To You (Bacharach/David) 2.41
05. Bettie Serveert: For All We Know (Griffin/Karlin/Wilson) 3.28
06. Dishwalla:  It’s Going To Take Some Time (King/Stern) 4.18
07. Sheryl Crow: Solitaire (Cody/Sedaka) 4.45
08. Marc Moreland & Johnette Napolitano: Hurting Each Other (Geld/Udell) 4.12
09. Redd Kross: Yesterday Once More (Bettis/R.Carpenter) 3.59
10. Babes In Toyland: Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft (Klaatu) 4.09
11. Cracker: Rainy Days And Mondays (Nichols/Williams) 3.46
12. Matthew Sweet: Let Me Be The One (Nichols/Williams) 3.27
13. 4 Non Blondes: Bless The Beasts And Children (Botkin, Jr./De Vorzon) 4.19
14. Grant Lee Buffalo: We’ve Only Just Begun (Nichols/Williams) 3.51


The official website:

Various Artists – You’ve Got Mail (1998)

FrontCover1You’ve Got Mail is a 1998 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Inspired by the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie by Miklós László (which had earlier been adapted in 1940 as The Shop Around the Corner and in 1949 as In the Good Old Summertime),[3] it was co-written by Nora and Delia Ephron. It tells the story of two people in an online romance who are unaware they are also business rivals. It marked the third pairing of Hanks and Ryan, who previously appeared together in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993), the latter directed by Ephron.


Kathleen Kelly is in a relationship with Frank Navasky, a left-leaning newspaper writer for The New York Observer who is always in search of an opportunity to root for the underdog. While Frank is devoted to his typewriter, Kathleen prefers her laptop and logging into her AOL email account. Using the screen name “Shopgirl”, she reads an email from “NY152”, the screen name of Joe Fox, whom she first met in an “over-30s” chatroom. As her voice narrates her reading of the email, she reveals the boundaries of the online relationship: no specifics, including no names, career or class information, or family connections.


Joe belongs to the Fox family that runs Fox Books, a chain of mega bookstores. Kathleen runs the independent bookstore The Shop Around The Corner that her mother ran before her. The two are shown passing each other on their respective ways to work, revealing that they frequent the same neighborhoods on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Joe arrives at work, overseeing the opening of a new Fox Books in New York City with the help of his best friend, branch manager Kevin. Kathleen and her three store assistants, George, Aunt Birdie, and Christina, open up her small shop that morning.


Following a day with his 11-year-old aunt Annabel and 4-year-old half-brother Matthew, Joe enters Kathleen’s store to let his younger relatives experience storytime. Joe and Kathleen have a conversation that reveals Kathleen’s fears about the Fox Books store opening around the corner. He omits his last name and makes an abrupt exit with the children. At a publishing party for New York book business people later that week, Joe and Kathleen meet again where Kathleen discovers Joe’s true identity in the Fox family. She accuses him of deception and spying, while he responds by belittling her store.

When “Shopgirl” and “NY152” finally decide to meet, Joe discovers with whom he has been corresponding. At the table, he joins her without revealing his online identity, leading them to clash once more. NY152 later resumes the online correspondence, apologizes, and promises to eventually tell her why he stood her up.


The Shop Around the Corner slowly goes under. Kathleen’s employees move on: Christina goes job hunting, George gets a job at the children’s department at the Fox Books store, and Birdie retires. Kathleen and Frank amicably end their relationship. Kathleen takes a break to figure out what she wants to do (write children’s books). As the shop goes under, Joe realizes his feelings towards Kathleen and begins building a face-to-face relationship, still keeping his online identity a secret. They slowly build a friendship.


Eventually, NY152 arranges a meeting between his online persona and Shopgirl, but right before she is to meet her online friend, Joe reveals to Kathleen his feelings for her, worrying that she will not forgive and love him even when she learns the truth. Kathleen hints at feeling the same way but cannot bring herself to forgo her feelings for NY152, not realizing they are the same man, and the two part. Upon arriving at the meeting place, she hears his voice and sees that NY152 is, in fact, Joe Fox. Kathleen cries tears of joy and reveals that she hoped it would be him.


A soundtrack was released on December 1, 1998, and featured a mixture of classics from the 1950s and 1970s, particularly the work of Harry Nilsson, as well as new original recordings and covers. The score to the film was written by the English composer George Fenton. (wikipedia)


Nora Ephron’s charming, good-natured remake of The Shop Around the Corner was the definitive upscale urban romantic comedy of the late ’90s (or at least 1998), so it’s only appropriate that the accompanying soundtrack fits the film like a glove. A canny mix of familiar oldies, forgotten treasures, new songs, and an excerpt from the score, the album is much like the movie — entertaining, occasionally supremely engaging (whether it’s Stevie Wonder’s classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and Randy Newman’s “Lonely at the Top,” and no less than three Harry Nilsson songs, including a cover by Sinéad O’Connor), but ultimately ephemeral. Not that that’s a bad thing — in fact,


You’ve Got Mail is a very enjoyable listen. For many fans, that may be enough, since it is fun and evokes fond memories of the film. It just doesn’t really work as its own entity. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


01. Harry Nilsson: The Puppy Song (Nilsson) 2.42
02. The Cranberries: Dreams (Hogan/O’Riordan) 4.30
03. Bobby Darin: Splish Splash (Darin) 2.11
04. Louis Armstrong: The Dummy Song (Brown/Henderson/Rose) 2.19
05. Harry Nilsson: Remember (Nilsson) 4.02
06. Roy Orbison: Dream (Mercer) 2.11
07. Bobby Day: Rockin’ Robin (Thomas) 2.35
08. Randy Newman: Lonely At The Top (Newman) 2.32
09. Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Garrett/Hardaway/Wonder/ Wright) 2.38
10. Sinéad O’Connor: I Guess the Lord Must Be In New York City (Nilsson) 3.07
11. Harry Nilsson: Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg) 3.31
12. Carole King: Anyone At All (King/Sager) 3.09
13. Billy Williams: I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter) (Ahlert/Young) 2.07
14. George Fenton: The “You’ve Got Mail” Suite (Fenton) 5.35
15. Jimmy Durante: You Made Me Love You (McCarthy/Monaco) 3.01




The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We (The Complete Sessions) (1993)

OriginalFRontCover1Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? is the debut studio album by the Irish rock band The Cranberries. Released on 1 March 1993, it was their first full-length album after having released four EPs, and is also their first major label release. The album was written entirely by the band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and guitarist Noel Hogan. It reached number one in the UK and the Irish Albums Chart. At the end of 1995, it ranked as the 50th best selling album in Australia. It reached number 18 on the US Billboard 200 albums chart and sold over five million copies there.

Re-release The album was re-released in 2002, under the title Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (The Complete Sessions 1991–1993). This version of the album featured bonus tracks as well as B-sides from the singles lifted off the album.(by wikipedia)


Title aside, what the Cranberries were doing wasn’t that common at the time, at least in mainstream pop terms; grunge and G-funk had done their respective big splashes via Nirvana and Dr. Dre when Everybody came out first in the U.K. and then in America some months later. Lead guitarist Noel Hogan is in many ways the true center of the band at this point, co-writing all but three songs with O’Riordan and showing an amazing economy in his playing, and having longtime Smiths/Morrissey producer Stephen Street behind the boards meant that the right blend of projection and delicacy still held sway. One can tell he likes Johnny Marr and his ability to do the job just right: check out the quick strums and blasts on “Pretty” or the concluding part of the lovely “Waltzing Back.” O’Riordan herself offers up a number of romantic ponderings and considerations lyrically (as well as playing perfectly fine acoustic guitar), and her undisputed vocal ability suits the material perfectly.


The two best cuts were the deserved smashes: “Dreams,” a brisk, charging number combining low-key tension and full-on rock, and the melancholic, string-swept break-up song “Linger.” If Everybody is in the end a derivative pleasure — and O’Riordan’s vocal acrobatics would never again be so relatively calm in comparison — a pleasure it remains nonetheless, the work of a young band creating a fine little synthesis. (by Ned Raggett)


Mike Hogan (bass)
Noel Hogan (guitar, background vocals)
Fergal Lawler (drums, percussion)
Dolores O’Riordan (vocals, guitar)
Mike Mahoney (additional vocals)


01. I Still Do (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3:16
02. Dreams O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 4:32
03. “Sunday O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3:30
04. “Pretty (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 2:16
05. “Waltzing Back (O’Riordan) 3:38
06. “Not Sorry O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 4:20
07. Linger (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 4:34
08. “Wanted O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 2:07
09. “Still Can’t … O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3:38
10. “I Will Always (O’Riordan) 2:42
11. How (O’Riordan) 2:51
12. “Put Me Down (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3:33
13. Reason (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 2.02
14. Them (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3.42
15. “What You Were (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3:41
16. “Liar (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 2:22
17. “Pretty” (Prêt-à-Porter Movie Remix) (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 3.41
18. “How” (Radical Mix) (O’Riordan/N.Hogan) 2,58

“Liar” was featured in the 1995 film Empire Records and  “Linger” was featured in the 2006 film Click.


Dolores O'Riordan01Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan (6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018)

The Cranberries – No Need To Argue (1994)

FrontCover1With their surprise success behind them, the Cranberries went ahead and essentially created a sequel to Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We with only tiny variations, with mixed results. The fact that the album is essentially a redo of previously established stylistic ground isn’t apparent in just the production, handled again by Stephen Street, or the overall sound, or even that one particularly fine song is called “Dreaming My Dreams.” Everybody wasn’t a laugh riot, to be sure, but No Need to Argue starts to see O’Riordan take a more commanding and self-conscious role that ended up not standing the band in good stead later. Lead single “Zombie” is the offender in this regard — the heavy rock trudge isn’t immediately suited for the band’s strengths (notably, O’Riordan wrote this without Noel Hogan) — while the subject matter (the continuing Northern Ireland tensions) ends up sounding trivialized.

Booklet04AOpening cut “Ode to My Family” is actually one of the band’s best, with a lovely string arrangement created by O’Riordan, her overdubbed vocals showing her distinct vocal tics. Where No Need succeeds best is when the Cranberries stick at what they know, resulting in a number of charmers like “Twenty One,” the uilleann pipes-touched “Daffodil’s Lament,” which has an epic sweep that doesn’t overbear like “Zombie,” and the evocative “Disappointment.” (by Ned Raggett)


Mike Hogan (bass)
Noel Hogan (guitar)
Fergal Lawler (drums, percussion)
Dolores O’Riordan (vocals, guitar, keyboards)

01. Ode To My Family (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 4.30
02. I Can’t Be With You (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 3.07
03. Twenty One (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 3.07
04. Zombie (O’Riordan) 5.06
05. Empty (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 3.26
06. Everything I Said (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 3.52
07. The Icicle Melts (O’Riordan) 2.54
08. Disappointment (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 4.14
09. Ridiculous Thoughts (N.Hogan/O’Riordan) 4.31
10. Dreaming My Dreams (O’Riordan)      3:37
11. Yeat’s Grave (O’Riordan)      2:59
12. Daffodil Lament (O’Riordan)      6:14
13. No Need to Argue (O’Riordan) 2.54