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It`s beautiful man! Mind you, Karen does look like death warmed-up though. I wonder if you can buy the whole thing?


Although I agree with you about Karen's skill as a drummer I don't think that was a live performance. Despite the mike over the drums i don't think you could get that sound from a single overhead and the vocals are devoid of any room sound! It's a great performance but...it was lip-synched.


I think you're underestimating BBC engineers as far as the one mic drum sound (Isn't the famous Bonham "When The Levee Breaks" sound one mic?). Also-I think it would be impossible to lip-synch as well as they are in this, none of them are ever even slightly off. Also there are no instruments present in the mix that you don't see someone actually playing, why would she bother picking up tht cowbell during "Always Something There To Remind Me" if she wasn't really playing. Every drum she hits is perfectly "synched" as well. When bands are lip-synching the drummers generally have to "pretend" play drums, she ain't pretending as far as I can tell. Also, watch Richard- he's conducting! Why would he need to do that if it was lip-synched? There are other songs on this special where there are obviously some things on tape that they are playing along with. Although I can understand why you would think this is lip synched- It seems your main evidence is that it sounds "too good". I just watched it again a couple times and could not see anything that gives this away as a lip-synch (and I do on the rest of this special).


Really, really nice.


Percy, it's not surprising that everything would be spot-on during a lip-synch, they actually played the song to begin with and they performed regularly (thus Richard's conducting, which he did during live performances). There's a considerable difference in Bonham's drumming and Karen's (I think you'll agree) and quiet drums like this would require a sound absorbing enclosure lest the mike be filled with room sound (like that in "When the Levee"). While I have the greatest respect for engineers of that time (who actually *were* real engineers, unlike today) and was lucky enough to have personal exposure to their skills, I doubt that the sound I hear in this recording was live. I might be wrong but......I doubt it.


Thanks for posting this - any info where I could get hold of the longer video of the session?

Also, I believe Burt Bacharach's lyrical collaborator is Hal David (not Davis).



big Island guy

i'm watching one right now that's definitely mimed and the miming is totally lame-
nothing matches up very well-
the vocals are very obviously canned-doubletracked.
he's playing electric piano and organ is coming out-
there's instrumental elements that obviously no one is playing-

it's nothing like that Bacharach medley as far as miming precision-

I'll post one of those soon and see If it changes your mind any about this one-

The next one after that is "Superstar" and that definitely has a live lead vocal if nothing else-



This arguement`s fun! For what it`s worth i can believe they really were that polished and therefore it`s live!


This is from the Carpenters Official site-


"Carpenters 1971 BBC Television Special"

If you have found this hidden track, congratulations! This song was written and introduced by a group called Wildweeds. It got some regional airplay and I heard it while driving from one engagement to the next in early 1971. We both thought it was catchy, and I put together this arrangement. Karen and I recorded a track for it, but since Karen was the drummer, there is no "work lead". This is a live recording, done on September 25, 1971 at the BBC television Studios., London, for our first UK special, which was originally broadcast on November 6, 1971. Released by arrangement with BBC Music, 1971 BBC."
Richard Carpenter says it's a live recording, although at least 1 or 2 songs are definitely pre-recorded. I think the jury may still be out on whether that Bacharach medley is live (I found at least one source that agrees with you about it), but most of the performanaces on this definitely ARE live which means those mics are live and that it's a live drum sound. I'm gonna post a thing right now that HAS to be live. It's a jam, with incredibly complicated, almost scat like singing, that speeds up and slows down and Karen plays fills that could not be mimed. Lemme know what you think after you see "I Fell In Love With You"


Just spoke to a good friend who's a Beatle freak who says that in every photo of a Beatles BBC recording session the drums are miked this same way. One overhead mic. That's it, not even a kick drum mic.
check this pic here.

all I see is some big Neumann looking thing high behind Ringo.

Ake eriksson

That´s a playback for sure. I´m a drummer so i know. She has done her lesson well though. I think Hal Blaine was the drummer in the studio for the Carpenters. He mention it in his book anyway.



appreciate your opinion but- have you looked at the other two videos up there? Those might change your opinion on this one... one is obviously mimed, the other could not possibly have been mimed.

Hal Blaine played on some Carpenters records but so did Karen (and other studio drummers)....

"In 1969, The Carpenters recorded their first album for A&M. The album, originally released as Offering, was later reissued as Ticket To Ride (A&M-82839). On this disc, nineteen-year-old Karen plays drums on all the tracks, and also sings lead on the lion's share of the tunes. The drum track on "Your Wonderful Parade" has Karen overdubbing snare and bass drum parts to create a huge drum-corps effect. "All I Can Do" is an uptempo jazz tune in 5/4 that swings from the word go. Here we witness a drummer in full command of her technique, assured and full of fire, playing imaginative fills and great hand/foot combinations. Her drumming is alive with the joy of self-discovery."


Some questions I still have.Why does Karen pick up and play a cowbell and then put it back down (During "Always Something There To Remind Me") if it's mimed? That's certainly some very hard-core miming. What are they playing along to? What is the woodwind player listening to when he starts the song? No one's got headphones, so it's not to a click. I still can't find one thing that happens in this video that gives it away as mimed.


Gosh, I really ought to come here more often...

A couple of things give this away as a lip-synced performance: Richard's doubled-tracked vocal during the "Walk On By" sequence, and his mistake singing the "when there is.." in "Always Something There To Remind Me". Vocal blend is generally too "thick" for a live performance, and, although their backup singers do a pretty good job, the BVs here sound like multi-tracked Richard & Karen.
As for the woodwind, the camera cuts to the clarinettist *after* the song starts, thus giving the player a chance to start miming. I agree, it's a very convincing performance, but I'm fairly sure it's mimed.


great stuff-it may be live but the overdubbbed -multitracked vox are not


I agree with those who think it was playback. Karen's movement behind the kit is convincing in terms of where she is at during any point in the song (because she did know how to play the drums), but it doesn't look like she's making much contact with any of the pieces except the hi-hat. She landed one hit on the ride cymbal that looked in-sync with the track.

One dead giveaway to TV playback is usually the distance between the backing vocalists and their mics. IMHO those harmonies are much too detailed to be coming off those RE-10-type mics at that distance--and they still all sound like Richard.

I still think it was a fine *TV performance.* They were professional sho-biz, all the way, and very familiar with all the material--hence the "conducting" motions from Richard, which I also caught. Also agree about the off-camera in-cue with the oboe, noticed that immediately.

Javier Morales

yeah i think this is mimed. for one the woodwind instrument that you hear is an oboe, but the one that the guy is playing is a clarinet. also the vocal harmonies are way too full and pristine to have been performed live. if it was live it would have to be an exact replication of the original recording, down to the little nuances of karen carpenters vocals. bit its still awesome to watch


This sounds exactly identical to the "Burt B. Melody" on the Carptenters Greatest Hits album (came out recently). I have listened to that track on the album at least 100 times prior to seeing this clip. If it were live, you would think she would play with her timining and/or phrasing to add to the live experience. The vocals are just waaay too clean. In parts, Karen is singing both the lead vocal and the backing vocal (with overdubs), so at the very least some of it is pre-recorded. I say it is completely pre-recorded and the cowbell thing is possibly live....to throw people off.

Tom Clift

I'm amused. I've been a pro musician for almost 40 years and I can tell you from experience, there is NO FRIGGING WAY you can get sound like that live and on televison. They do a great job of syncing, but that's ALL it is. Background vox and instruments are all on tape. Sorry, but that's how it is.

Rex Patton

Her vocals are live, but she is singing on top of an existing lead vocal track (expertly, I might add) and can also be heard in the background vocal mix, which is way too smooth and processed to be live, as are the instruments. Richard may be singing also, but he's way too far off mic to be coming through so clear as is another member of a band. His electric piano solo looked live but all in all I'd say it's a combination of live vocals on top of canned vocals and instruments.


i have this on dvd.

my guess is this is a mix.
but what you have to remember is the mic's used on the sound stage are very sensitive.
when you were at these type of things they told you to be very quiet. i remember watching tv back in that day and if someone coughed you heard it.

great reading all this.


wow, im so pleased i found this page.

i have wondered too about the live element

yes, an organ comes out of the electric piano

and you'll notice that woodwind instrument becomes more similar to a muted trumpet during 'close to you'

there is no strings present on stage either

however, i believe the vocals are all totally live

this is an amazing piece of footage either way

its a true lesson for todays 'musicians'

it is truely magical


this is lip synched, the audio is exactly like the album cut. listen to the reverb on the vocals and percussion. extremely difficult to recreate in the space shown in the video. indeed it is lip synched/mimed extremely well.


I have been a diehard fan of The Carpenters for over 35 years and can tell you for a fact that this is in fact mimed. There ARE songs on this show that are live, but this is not one of them. They did do a terrific job of miming on this one, I do have to say.

This is the shortened album version of the Bacharach-David medley and the harmonies alone are a dead giveaway. They are the perfect studio overdubs of K&R's voices alone, not the guys in the band.

HOWEVER... they DID do a fantastic longer version of the B-D medley in concert. And when I say fantastic, I do mean FANTASTIC! They add verses to Make It Easy On Yourself, among other things, on which Karen's vocal gives me chills.

And When He Smiles is a terrific live performance. I love the song and the solo by their flautist Bob Messenger. Karen's syncopated drumming ain't too shabby either! LOL!

They were fantastic live and in the early years Karen played drums the whole show. Yeah, Hal Blaine played on a few of their early hits, but he certainly played on no where near "everything", as he makes it out to be. Karen more than held her own live and on the album songs she did play on. She plays on every song on their first album, Ticket To Ride and all but one on Now & Then. She only came out because they made her come out.

Here's a link to a very early clip where she's singing and drumming live. If you think it's easy - try it! LOL! She was a fine drummer, indeed!



"Here's a link to a very early clip where she's singing and drumming live. If you think it's easy - try it! LOL! She was a fine drummer, indeed!


I posted that too... you can find it on Bedazzled in much better quality...


DEFINITELY lip-synched. The vocals, anyway.

First, they're multitracked to death (like everything they ever did) -- several layers of Karen. Which means that A) she had already sung this song in the studio several times -- synching perfectly every time -- so it's no real feat to do it on a stage, and B) whether or not she's actually singing here, there's definitely a backing track, so there wouldn't be any real need to do so.

And then of course, you can look at her neck, see that muscles (no matter how frail) are not straining like they should be -- she's probably breathing for drumming instead of for singing -- and it's obvious. This is the secret to good lipsyching: you actually need to sing the song. She's not, and it's obvious. As for the drumming, I think it's safe to assume that if there's a vocal backing track, they're going to need a percussion one too, just to keep the miming in time with the tape.

But even if it's all pre-recorded, I think it's safe to assume that it's really them on said pre-recording, so what's the difference, really?


It's kind of like the moon landing this clip, you can argue from several different points of view as to whether it's live or not!


Whether you think this is mimed or not, it would be foolish to claim, that if mimed this is anything other than one of the best miming performances ever.

On half the sixties group clips on this site, the drummer looks like he's never heard the song before that moment.

In my opinion this probably isn't live, entirely based on the amazing vocal sound mix- but you never know...

I was at a Gypsy music festival in the Czech republic last year, and myself ( a muso) and my friend (who runs a large london recording studio/record cutting plant) were utterly blown away by the sound of a four piece group, with mics a MUCH further distance from the instruments than you'd imagine was possible...I notice in this clip theres a fair bit of ambient micing going on, so...


Not live. Karen and her brother's vocals have been doubled or tripled during the chorus's. Something you couldn't have done live back then. Either that or the guy backup singers can sing just like Karen.

mr guder

re. Carpenters Bacharach medley ...
Definately mimed. If you look at the whole show, you will find that most of the concert is live. However, both Help and the Bacharach medley are mimed to the studio recordings - how can you tell? Easy! Just listen and compare - they are identical in every way, and the performance even includes all the double tracked vocals and harmonies. There are also a couple of songs in this concert which use the studio recordings for short introductory prompts for a few seconds before switching to live performances (watch Richard rush to catch up during the start of Rainy Days ... and listen to the change in piano tone for proof).

Duncan Walls

Just happen to be reading a bio of the Carpenters which mentions how anal Richard was that the performance of each song they had recorded be EXACTLY note for note and beat for beat (no drum flourishes get mentioned in connection with a rather bored and frustrated drummer) SO, MAYBE THIS is....

Rey in SD

The clip that is attached to this thread is definitely lip-synched...and I think it is also different than the BBC live special that others are referencing... However, the clips of the medley posted in the January 2006 archive "Carpenters Live in Australia Part 4" is definitely live - and well worth watching for the true talent Karen was!

Jeffrey Link

As a fan way back to 1970 (and one who met Karen and Richard on numerous occasions), as well as a self-made expert on their albums, I can tell you this is definitely lip-synced because Karen and Richard did ALL of backup vocals on their albums. Anytime you hear more than one "Karen" as is the case in this medley -- you know it's not live. When the backup band does vocals, it's all male falsetto and just doesn't have the same perfect blend. They did perform this set live from time to time, but not in this clip. According to Richard, they often "played instrucments" along with the playback, just to make it look authentic for the cameras...because of the perfection of their studio quality, Karen was perhaps one of the best at doing this for TV.

Washington, DC


This is ABSOLUTELY lip sycn'd & the dead give away is..... the backround vocals that enter within the first minute of the medley - it's the famous 'carpenters' harmony sound - Karen and Richards voices signing each part 2,3 or 4 times all mixed, eq'd and compressed together - easy give away.


Karen was a very good drummer, she was the drummer for the carpenders when the whole family was in it. She only sang a little. She also did some session work. Check out this web site for more info:

I've been playing drums for 15 years, and can appreciate the challenge playing and singing.
I do it, but not as good she did.

great web site!

Roelf Backus

I think it's like all their live albums 'partially live'. That is: performed live and multitrack recorded that same session. Richard and Karen then afterwards added more vocals. They both could easely sing and add any harmony part they want and both could perfectly memorise chorus parts and vocal timing and sung with perfect pitch. That's what them make so unique.

Roelf Backus

C. Otsuka

I'm pretty sure this concert is lip-synched. The audio tracks here and on the "Carpenters" album are identical, and, if you watch all other "Live At BBC" footage, you'll notice the Carpenters sound very different live than they do in the recording studio. It's a very slim chance that this recording is performed "live-to-tape", so to speak.


This thread has been inactive for over a year, but I just stumbled upon it now in October of 2007.

In case anyone is readng:

This clip is unquestionably ALL lip synched. This medley by The Carpenters is one of my true guilty pleasures; I know it very, very well. Trust me -- this is the studio recording from their first album. Even if it were live, there's NO WAY it would match that recording precisely. (there are a coupe of bits where Karen is off-- I think she misses a lone hi-hat hit in "Walk On By"

The richness an blend of the vocals are not going to happen if you are that far off the mic-- like the percussionist and the oboe player.

Yes you can get a good drum sound from one mic -- and it's nice to see the AKG C12-A over the kit, but there is too much detail in the sound for it all to come from only that mic.

Furthermore, I have been the Assoc. Music Engineer for "Saturday Night Live" for over a decade. It is quite possible to get exceptionally clean, punchy sound on a live broadcast (even I'm surprised how good things can sound), but trust me on this -- this clip is all mimed.


I can't say it is not mimed but I'm sure it is not mimed on the album record. I've compared it. It didn't match. The "live" is a little bit slower than the record and Karen's voice is a little bit different tune on some places.


This is the answer to this long argument. I KNOW FOR A FACT that this is mimed. Go out and purchase a copy of their self-entitled album, "Carpenters," that looks tan/orange on the front. The ninth track is the Bacharach Medley. Listen to it, and you'll notice that the only differences are that this version is slower (CD faster), and they took out a part of the song in the "live" concert. Please stop arguing about this.

Rey in SD

Wow - I can't believe folks are still obsessing over this clip -- I said it once last year, but now that our moderator has conveniently placed a Carpenters link in the Categories section you can see for yourself after watching the "Live in Australia" series -- this clip from the BBC special is lip-synched... A longer version of this medley is in Part 4 of Live in Australia so you can compare the two... (Another clip has Richard explaining how they replicate their stacked recorded vocals for a live concert).

The only question that remains is why haven't there been any more clips of Karen and Richard postly lately? Monday is Richard's birthday, so how about posting something then? (And remember, next February will be the 25th anniversary of Karen's death, so if we don't see anything soon, I hope to see some new clips by then! Please?)

Rick Henry

This is quite fantastic...Even live Karen's voice is near perfect (and despite the pre-recorded music... her leads vocals are live in most of this performance). Karen's drum skills are outstanding... she was quite a talent.

In an earlier post someone mentioned that, "Karen looks like death warmed up," I have to disagree this was 1971 three and a half years before the obsessive dieting began... at this point she was a healthy weight and was actually quite an attractive young lady.


This particular song is mimed to the studio recording (which is why you can hear Karen in the background harmonizing to herself), albeit very, very well. However, they often really did sing and perform to the tape rather than simply lip-sync, which is why it looks so good. They did do the Bacharach/David medley (a longer version, too!) live in concert a lot, though- check out 1972's "Live in Australia" for a TRULY live performance. It is flawless, and if anything, she sounds even BETTER. Karen was amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K5wcZQWEts and part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtNrB4ZHEBU

Other songs in this performance (with the exception of "Help" and the Bacharach medley) are indeed "Live at the BBC," hence the mics. "And When He Smiles," for example, was never a studio recording.

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