Saturday, July 5, 2014

36 Tapestry (1971) Carol King

  1. I Feel the Earth Move
  2. So Far Away
  3. It's Too Late
  4. Home Again
  5. Beautiful
  6. Way Over Yonder
  7. You've Got a Friend
  8. Where You Lead
  9. Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
  10. Smackwater Jack
  11. Tapestry
  12. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

There aren't too many artists who can boast a career like Carol King. Before she ever stepped up to a microphone and started her solo career, she was already a music legend thank to her incredible string of hits as a songwriter composing tracks for other artists. She had a long list of No 1's to her name that she co-wrote with her husband and was a big name in the music business.

From all reports King was a reluctant performer who had to be coaxed into the studio and practically chained to a microphone in order to actually put something down on vinyl. She relented and the result is one of the biggest selling albums of all time. It spent an incredible number of weeks on the charts and was one of the albums to own in the early seventies. King proved she was more than just a writer for other people.

There are lots of artists on this list who haven't really aged all that well. They were big in the sixties and seventies but their voices have shown the ravages of time, cigarettes and alcohol and left them a shadow of their former selves. There are people who are currently touring the world on the strength of the talents and abilities that they had forty years ago and lost some time in the eighties. Carol King is like this only in reverse. As a performer she has grown in confidence and ability over time and come to appreciate her talents and limitations while growing into her voice.

When I hear Tapestry it does sound to me like a singer who isn't entirely confident in their own abilities. You can almost see her looking towards the control booth and mouthing "should I really be doing this" to her producer. She sounds like a woman that's entirely conscious of the fact that she's singing songs that had previously been made a hit by Aretha Franklin. Nobody should be compared to Aretha, not even the person who wrote the song in the first place.

Tapestry was such a huge seller so there was no way she was ever going to be able to get away from the material, and to Carol's credit she's never seen the need. These songs have been a huge part of her concert repertoire for decades which gives listeners the chance to hear and appreciate them as her voice, abilities and confidence and have grown into the material. She's become a performer worthy of the material she's capable of writing.

I don't really enjoy Tapestry all that much. The songs are fantastic and proof that King really is one of the great songwriters of the last 50 years, but the performances aren't nearly as good as they could be or half as good as they would become. The recent re-release of this album included a live disc with every song but one recorded onstage two years later. King is already growing in confidence and her singing makes the live disc much better than the original version. Later live performances were even better.

Tapestry is great but for me celebrates King as a songwriter and potentially a great talent.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "If you don't own this then it means you have no regard for our musical culture, our heritage, or even for music itself."

-I love musical overstatements and this one might well the biggest of them all. Do  you own this album? If not then you have no regard for music and a total disregard for America's heritage. Shame on you.

So is this a Tapestry you can admire or not? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say it's a great album, but admittedly one that I associate with a certain time, and not one I play much. One song that no one ever mentions: "Home Again." A beautiful song but one that gets lost in an album that was chockfull of classics. Hard to deny its relevance. Which is better? Tapestry or Joni Mitchell's Blue? My guess is you hate Blue, but for me that would be a very hard-to-answer question. P.S. Carole with an e.