This was a beautiful album when I first heard it in 1971. It is a beautiful CD when I listen to it today. Tapestry marked Carole King's transition from remarkable "Tin-Pan Alley' pop song-writer for the likes of Neil Sedaka, the Shirelles (who I think originally recorded Will You Love Me Tomorrow) and others to a singer/performer of the first rank. The album exploded in 1971, no small feat when you consider that 1971 may have seen the culmination in the evolution of the album from a compilation of inidvidual hits into a set-piece that was best served whole. The evolution began with Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds and went on from there. The growth of FM radio was fueled in part by the ability of those stations to play entire albums at a time. Similarly, the fact that FM stations would play whole sides of album encouraged musicians to create albums that were more than just a series of unrelated songs. But I digress . . .
There is a two-fold beauty gained from listening to Tapestry today. The first is the nostalgic pleasure gained from listening again to beautiful words set perfectly to music. This pleasure is probably limited to those of us, of a certain age, who cut their musical teeth on the music of the 60s and early 70s. The second is the pleasure anyone, no matter their age, can get from listening to the combination of lyrics and music that is Tapestry.
If the definition of a classic is a piece of work that survives and propsers over time, then Tapestry is a classic.
on April 25, 2008
I'll admit -- I'm one of those people who feel that TAPESTRY is one of the greatest albums of all time. So my review of this new 2-CD edition is colored by that view.
TAPESTRY is one of only a handful of albums ever released that contains only total winners (in terms of songs). Many artists produce great albums, but there are always a couple of songs that I don't like as much as the others. Not so with TAPESTRY. Every song on the album deserves five stars.
This 2-CD set contains the complete original album, along with a second disc of previously-unreleased live recordings of (most of) the songs from the album. These live versions were chosen because they strip the songs down to their pure essence -- Carole at the keyboard and on vocals, with nothing else. This is a fantastic thing to have paired with the original album. Sound quality is excellent, performances are inspired and passionate.
The set loses a star, though, because it's just not as good as it COULD have been. TAPESTRY has already been issued in a remastered, expanded edition. (This version appears to be the same mastering as the previous one.) However, the first expanded edition included two bonus tracks (one a previously-unreleased studio track, the other a live recording), and neither of those bonus tracks were included in this new edition. So if you want to have a "complete" TAPESTRY, you have to own both versions of the album. To me, this smacks of record company greed -- let's see how many times we can get these suckers to buy the same album. Sony has done this same thing recently with Michael Jackson's THRILLER. And Elvis Costello fans know all about this sort of thing...
If you're a Carole King fan, you will definitely want this set. If you don't care about live versions of the songs, you can stick with the single-disc remastered version from a few years back. But if, like me, you're a die-hard aficionado, you'll have to have both. It's only shelf space!
Why has Carol King's 1971 recording Tapestry stood the test of time?
Two words: sincerity and emotion.
The CD I bought from Amazon came with a sticker announcing: "4X Grammy Winner! Over 11 Million Sold! Every song's a classic!" But that really doesn't explain why, whether you're an "old timer" who got the original on vinyl or a young person experiencing King for the first time, Tapestry is so fresh, vital and appealing from start to finish.
It's not just King's superb white-soul sing-along melodies, or her music's wonderful rhythms, or the incredible variety of songs on this beautifully remastered CD. King wrote for a LOT of other artists who recorded her music and became very famous doing so doing the songs on this CD.
Indeed, when she recorded this in 1971 she was not as well-known to the general public as her music -- but that quickly changed when this became one of the great-selling
LPs of all time.
The secret is in her unpretentious, 100-per-cent post-liberated woman singing. She means EVERY word, every phrase and it comes across. Each jaunty song is a tasteful, at times playful, mini-drama. People often say that "so and so" (fill in the blank here) is the female equivalent of Frank Sinatra, considered the King of singing lyrics with supreme sincerity. But the REAL queen is definitely King. Her lyrics (happy and sad) don't just come alive, they're bursting with life-force as much as her music is bursting with worldclass melodies and rhythms.
Example: James Taylor grew increasingly famous (and rich) with his smash recording of You've Got a Friend. But his does not contain one-millionth the sincerity of King's rendition. Anyone who's ever "down" should listen to her sing the song -- and you'll feel like you do have a friend. And gift this to a beloved friend or relative and tell them THAT SONG is for them and when they listen they will completely get the message, a message King delivers right from the heart.
When the concert-challenged (she did not like to perform in public) King sings her songs the more famous versions of her music performed by more famous artists seem like
elevator music in comparison. Her "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" is laced with vulnerability unmatched by any other singer. `It's Too Late" takes on a near-defiant tone due to her phrasing.
She also does unparalleled work with the more upbeat songs such as "Where You Lead' and (my favorite) `I Feel the Earth Move" (our unofficial theme song here in California).
If you've heard King, get, listen to and savor this remastered CD. If you love someone, gift it. If you're a young musician or singer listen to and EMULATE a master writer and
performer. King's lyrics, music, rhythms and sincerity haunted and moved me in 1971 and they do today since this CD is every milligram good as it was when it was first recorded.
According to the liner notes, Tapestry was #1 for 15 weeks, on the charts for more than six years, and earned four Grammies including Record of the Year (for It's Too Late) and
Song of the Year (You've Got a Friend." This CD also contains two wonderful previously unreleased bonus tracks.
on April 26, 2008
When I first read that Sony was releasing yet another version of my all-time favorite album, "Tapestry," I moaned and groaned. I knew I would HAVE TO buy it yet again. Afterall, I've purchased the album (at least 3 times), the cassette, the 8 track, the MasterSound album, the 1987 CD, the gold-bit CD, and the 1999 remaster CD-- 9 copies of the basically the same album.
With this new 2008 "Legacy Edition," a 2nd disk containing all of the songs performed live in 1973 and 1976 was the latest "hook" to rack up more sales. I snuck out of work to purchase it -- my heart racing-- as if I were headed to purchase a brand new CD, rather than something that I've listened to so many times, it's become part of my very core. Packaging was indeed befitting a "deluxe" reissue, but, the most surprising thing I would discover is just how great most of the live tracks are: Ms. King's voice is at its strongest and some of these versions, most notably, "Way Over Yonder," are not only better than any prior version, but, they take on all-new power. While the recorded version of this song was always my least favorite (if such a thing could really ever be said) of the 12 tracks on the original, it's as if you are listening to a freshly written song hearing this latest impassioned liveversion. The same can be said of the versions of "You've Got a Friend" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" -- Carole's singing and piano playing is perfect.
Perhaps the secret lies in the fact that Hank Cicalo, the master engineer of the original studio version of the album, was chosen by Lou Adler to record these live versions.
I don't know why Lou Adler opted not to release these live tracks earlier --inferior live versions of some of these songs appeared on her Carnegie Hall live CD (1996), but, these versions are ther real thing.
So until the next version of this classic album is release --perhaps in 2021 -- it's 50 th anniversary -- these live tracks will keep me satisfied.
on July 10, 2000
Everyone had a "Tapestry" album in the early 70's.Almost all the songs were played on the radio.If it wasen't Carole singing one of them ,it was James Taylor or Aretha Franklin,who had huge hits.I love Carole's voice,its so layed back and natural.I remember hearing"Its Too Late," played over and over again on the radio when I was in school.I fell in love with it.When you think about it,there's not much production on this record.Its just piano,bass,and drums.The main thing is the words and music from one of the greatest songwriters ever."So Far Away"is another favorite.Carole goes from Ballads,to rock and roll with "I fill the Earth Move." I bought alot of Carole King records after "Tapestry." I've enjoyed all of them,but this one will be played forever in everyone's CD players.
on April 28, 2008
Unlike the other two reviewers who have posted here so far, I do not own the 1999 remaster of "Tapestry", so I have no problems with this incarnation. I do own the "Natural Woman" 2-cd set, which contains the entire album, and the sound on this edition is far superior. There's a lot more depth and clarity. But the main reason for my buying this was to hear the second CD of live versions. It's really amazing to hear these songs accompanied by Carole's piano only. It makes you realize that when you have songs this strong melodically and lyrically, you don't need a lot of frills added. I have one minor complaint--they list four concerts that the songs were taken from, but they don't specify which songs are from which concerts. I was in attendance at the 1973 Central Park concert, so I'd be interested to know what songs were included from that classic show. But that's a minor quibble. This is a wonderful edition of a landmark moment in pop music, and at such a reasonable price, it's well worth the investment. Carole's soulful and heartfelt singing is always welcome to these ears. Hey Sony, how about releasing newly remastered versions of Carole's other albums? : )
on October 26, 2001
Just picked up a Sony Super Audio CD player yesterday and they have come down in price significantly. I got mine from a major retailer for (dollar amount). The first CD I got was "Tapestry" and it was worth it. You can hear all of the subtle nuances of Carole's voice and you really feel the emotion she exudes. The remastering for the SACD is superb and this new stlye lends itself to Carole's singing.
Only drawback is that this SACD is not multi-channel and ,unlike what the previous reviewer said, only hybrid SACDs can be used in regualar CD players, and they are few and far between right now.
Go buy this disc!
on September 21, 1999
From a somewhat peaceful yet tender rendition of "So Far Away" through the subtle emotion behind "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" to the rock style of "I Feel The Earth Move," every song on this album is exceptional. Carole King has written some of the best music available, and with her singing her own material, she brings a certain uniqueness to the message. Often recorded by stars such as Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack, Carole King is the only one who knows what she wanted to say with her music. Singing her own songs gives her the chance to emote the messages, no matter how subtle, no matter how direct, to the listener. Listening to this album time and time again, one gets a better sense of what she was striving for with the music, and I think all who listen to this album will agree that she accomplishes it with grace.
Carole King's Tapestry is definitely one of those albums you come back to time and time again, no matter how varied your musical styles may become. I recommend this CD to anyone who even has a faint interest in her or her vocal stylings. You will not be disappointed!
on May 16, 2008
Tapestry is, of course, one of the ten most important singer/songwriter albums ever released, no matter how you cut it. If you don't own it, you should, and this is a good package to buy.
But if you're one of the umpteen million of us with at least one copy somewhere in your collection, the question is whether the newly-released material on the Tapestry Live bonus CD makes it worth repurchasing.
Even before CD sales began their stunning decline, record labels were eager to sell us beloved albums over and over again, adding snippets of rare, unreleased or live material seemingly every few years in a new iteration. If the added material were significant in quality and/or amount, it was worth it; more often, not. Some of Carole's reissues have been well worthwhile (The Ode Collection box set, the rare The City album); others less so (the '95 Tapestry re-release with 2 added tracks).
Long-time Carole King fans know of remarkable and interesting performances that, while preserved, have emerged from her vault only slowly and sporadically. One of her remarkable '71 duets at Carnegie Hall with James Taylor emerged on the Ode Collection in '93, but the full show didn't see the light of day until '98 - and remains the single finest Carole release to date. By contrast, none the other brass-laden '73 Fantasy tour tracks have emerged since "Believe in Humanity" on the Ode Collection in `93.
"Tapestry Live" opts to use only solo piano versions of the album's songs. Some of these are excellent, especially "Way Over Yonder," and the title track. And the absence of other musicians preserves the intimate, personal quality of the original album. It does at times resemble an unblemished, superb songwriter's demo tape. Carole is in great voice, and characteristic command of her piano. This alone makes Tapestry Live a worthwhile CD for true fans.
But if I set out to compile Carole's best live Tapestry recordings, most would come from other sources. It is hard to imagine a better Tapestry-era performance than the previously-released 1971 Carnegie Hall show. Perhaps one or two other performances from her '71 BBC-TV concert that is occasionally re-aired ("Way Over Yonder" with Abigail Hanness). Though Tapestry Live features a fine version of "Beautiful," both the violin-laden one from Carnegie Hall '71 and the slow, jazzy version from her '94 live CD are even better.
Another complaint is simply that the disc could have easily included more unreleased material. Tapestry live clocks in at only 38 minutes. It uses only performances of the 11 (out of 12) original album songs, recorded in the years following Tapestry's release. It might have included other solo performances of Tapestry-era songs and concert mainstays (e.g., Song of Long Ago, After All This Time, Child of Mine). Carole's '76 tour (used here in part) also featured some great performances of Tapestry-like Thoroughbred material like "So Many Ways" and "Only Love is Real," not to mention a great "Up on the Roof" with Waddy Wachtel on acoustic guitar. For that matter, the disc might even have allowed Carole to finish the song she is plainly segueing into after the CD abruptly cuts her off at the end of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow."
The only Tapestry song that Tapestry Live omits is "Where You Lead." Producer Lou Adler explains the omission by noting that Carole did not perform the song live at the time. Carole herself noted (during her wonderful '05-'06 Living Room Tour shows) that she stopped performing the song soon after recording it because she grew uncomfortable with the notion of women following their men around. She didn't perform it for 30 years, and resumed only after tweaking the lyric in the late 90's to serve as a TV show's theme song.
Fair enough. But if you had told me that the tone of a Tapestry song bothered its author enough to embargo it for 30 years, I would have guessed a different title. How about Smackwater Jack? A lighthearted rocker about a frustrated guy who "shot down the congregation," only to be hanged on the spot by local law enforcement (with whom the song seems to take even greater issue than with Jack himself). I admire Carole a lot, but Smackwater Jack's theme bothers me more than yet another song about someone wishing to follow their true love to the ends of the earth.
The disc's liner notes are sparse, and don't even indicate which performance came from which show and venue. And the "new essay" is nice, but considerably less informative than even this review (ahem).
Fan can cite bigger gaps in Carole's catalog than the one that Tapestry Live addresses. We still await the release of the vaunted (and vaulted) audio and video from Carole's '73 Central Park show before 250,000 people. And nothing did more to peak interest in Tapestry-era material that Carole's shows last November with James Taylor and the original Tapestry studio band to celebrate the L.A. Troubador club's 50th anniversary, all which were recorded as well. Hopefully her next archival release will delight fans even more by addressing these omissions.
Happy listening! - Ken
on February 11, 2000
"It's Too Late" was recorded and played on my cassette player/recorder hundreds, if not, thousands of times during the summer of '71. It was to be the greatest summer I can remember. And the thing I most remember about that good time, was Carole King. At the time, I was 16, an African-American male, growing up in the tumultuous South Bronx streets, in an equally tumultuous United States. And what times those truly were. But the music of Carole King...transended all the issues, all the problems. And there was something extraordinarily special about her music. I can remember vividly, the fact that the song "It's Too Late" caused the same incessant, beat following swaying, gyrating, and dancing behavior in all my friends, regardless of gender, race, or economic status...we were spiritually hooked! It would be some years later, when I would obtain the "Music" album. Interestingly, I never purchased the "Tapestry" album, but have listened to it in its entirety many, many times. Needless to say, I will obtain the CD in the near future. On the "Music" album I would come to further appreciate Ms. Kings talents. On the "Music" production, pieces like "Brother, Brother", "Sweet Seasons", "Surely", "Music", and "Growing Away From Me", Ms. King showed true genius. It's hard to say in any number of words, how truly talented she is...you must just listen, and allow your soul to be absorbed. Additionally amazing is the fact that she produced both the "Tapestry" and "Music" albums in the same year! Although I am not in any way a denominationally religous person, I must say, that we are blessed to have been graced by the Creator our God with the inspirational life of the musician Carole King.