T’internet truly is a wonderful educational tool.
Up until doing the little bit of research for this post, I had assumed today’s song was a cover of a number by The Carpenters:-
mp3 : Paul Quinn & The Independent Group – Superstar
The mighty Quinn and his just as mighty bandmates* recorded this for the 1992 album The Phantoms and the Archetypes, with it also appearing as a track on the Stupid Thing single the following year. My previous knowledge of the song stemmed from my childhood when the brother and sister duo enjoyed a Top 20 hit in late 1971 – to be honest, I thought Superstar had been a #1 record, such was the frequency with which I recall hearing it, but I’m thinking now that it was more likely one of those songs that was the subject of numerous requests over the years and I’m conflating things over an extended period.
Not that it matters.
I suppose I should have realised The Carpenters were themselves offering up a cover, given the writing credits go to Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett.
It turns out the song dates from 1969. The original has a totally different type of the arrangement, with horns and a gospel style backing vocal. It was Bonnie Bramlett on lead vocal, Leon Russell on keyboards and, among others, Eric Clapton on guitar and Rita Coolidge on background vocals. There were a few more versions recorded prior to The Carpenters, including by the likes of Cher, Bette Midler and Peggy Lee. There’s also been a lorry-load of versions since 1971 across a range of genres.
Paul Quinn’s take on things demonstrates that Superstar is, when it all boils down, a torch song of the utmost quality, and it’s a rather sad tale from the perspective of a discarded groupie, one who wasn’t a career groupie interested in quantity of ‘bags’, but who thought the love and affection offered by the musician in question was genuine and meaningful.
Turns out too that one line in the original version was felt too risqué by Richard Carpenter and so he changed ‘And I can hardly wait to sleep with you again’ so that Karen would now sing ‘And I can hardly wait to be with you again”, which is the line also sung by Paul.
The song was later, in 1994, covered by a very unlikely source:-
mp3 : Sonic Youth – Superstar
It appeared initially on the tribute album If I Were a Carpenter and was also released as a single. It has been used on a couple of soundtracks and is the only known version for which Richard Carpenter has expressed a strong dislike.
Oh and *the mighty bandmates referred to at the outset?
James Kirk (ex-Orange Juice)
Blair Cowan (ex-Lloyd Cole & The Commotions0
Tony Soave (ex-The Silencers)
Campbell Owens (ex-Aztec Camera)
Robert Hodgens (ex-The Bluebells)
Alan Horne (music impresario extraordinaire)
Nae bad eh?