Picks and Pans Review: If I Were a Carpenter

updated 09/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Various Artists

Seems like we have celebrated the 25th anniversary of just about everything this year. The first moon landing. Stonewall. Woodstock. And now, believe it or not, the 1969 signing of siblings Karen and Richard Carpenter to A&M Records. The label observes that milestone by inviting 14 of today's hottest alternative artists (from the Cranberries and Sheryl Crow to Japan's female rock trio Shonen Knife) to pay their respects to the pop duo. You don't have to dig Karen's syrupy alto to appreciate the results. Sonic Youth delivers a whirling, zonked-out rendition of "Superstar," and 4 Non Blondes does an impassioned, verging on histrionic version of "Bless the Beasts and Children." The album might be more satisfying if some mainstreamers had joined in—imagine Lisa Stansfield embracing "Touch Me When We're Dancing" with her blue-eyed soul. In the end, If I Were a Carpenter is more likely to please alternative rock's 20-something constituency than die-hard Carpenter fanatics. (A&M)

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