19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Almost as essential as you-know-what album,
This review is from: The Carnegie Hall Concert 1971 (Audio CD)
Don't let the fact that you already have the "Tapestry" CD (presumably after wearing out two or three copies of the LP before it) make you think this album isn't worth picking up as well. While many of the songs on here were standards long before the CD was released (and the others should have been!), the performances found here have a magic all their own.
King was apparently famous for her stage fright back in those days, and her somewhat nervous between-songs chatter with the extremely appreciative audience seems to confirm that rumor. This, after all, was just a matter of weeks after "Tapestry" had suddenly transformed her into a superstar after over a decade of behind-the-scenes work in the music business - and already, each song she performs from that album here receives a hero's welcome from the audience. But if King sometimes sounds a bit bewildered by her newfound popularity (she introduces "It's Too Late," the #1 song in the country that night, with a shy "Thank you for this, by the way!"), her performances don't suffer at all from it.
Naturally, the set list is dominated by songs from "Tapestry" - all of them are here, except for the title track and "Where You Lead" - but the combination of a stripped-down performance, an enthusiastic hometown audience and the spacious acoustics of the concert hall gives them all a refreshing sound. (The sound quality of the recording does occasionally show its age and King even runs out of breath at one point, but so what?) The much-fabled duet with James Taylor on "You've Got a Friend" is another nice touch for those of us who grew up dreaming of just such a recording.
But the best surprise here is the trio of gorgeous performances from King's 1970 solo debut, "Writer." That album featured most of the lyrical grace of its much more famous successor, but it lacked the near-perfect subtle instrumental styling that made "Tapestry" great and sounds unavoidably dated now for that reason. The spare production at work here proves to be the perfect remedy for that shortcoming, and "No Easy Way Down," "Eventually," and especially "Child of Mine" sound just as timeless as the better-known selections alongside them. If you've only heard the original versions of those songs, this album will be a revelation! Even her short-lived late-`60s band, The City, receives a nod with "Snow Queen," a quirky but interesting number from a usually-forgotten period of her long career.
It's not exactly witnessing the emergence of a star (she had, after all, been making records for over a decade, including a few of her own), but as an intimate performance by a master musician at what proved to be the top of her game, this is definitely one of the all time great live albums of its era.