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Pop/Rock - Released February 10, 1971 | Ode - Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Pop - Released September 15, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

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There have been many reissues of Carole King's iconic 1971 album Tapestry, and rightfully so. Perfectly conceived, produced, and executed, it continues to resonate with virtually anyone who hears it. It became one of the defining (and best-selling) records in the history of pop. This recording documents, if the press materials are to be believed, the first-ever concert performance of Tapestry in its entirety in London's Hyde Park in front of some 60,000 people. King is decades older for one, which might have proved daunting -- especially when considering the caliber of musicians who played on the LP sessions: saxophonist Curtis Amy, guitarists Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar and James Taylor, bassist Charles Larkey, and vocalist Merry Clayton, among others. This audio/video document more than satisfies. Kortchmar is still an integral part of the band and, save for veteran Zev Katz on bass and King, are the only baby boomers on-stage. King has continued to perform with few breaks and remains vital, every bit the athletic pianist and resonant, expressive vocalist -- there's a tiny bit of grain during the first few numbers, but they add, not detract; when she warms up, you'd never know she was her mid-seventies. It's worth taking in the video portion at least the first time through. (The CD and DVD are identical in song presentation and both are offered in pristine sound.) First there are a series of tributes on the big screen before she takes the stage: Narration by Tom Hanks, and comments by Tapestry producer Lou Adler (who says it took three weeks and cost $22,000!), David Crosby, Graham Nash, Kortchmar, Taylor, songwriters Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill, and Elton John, who credits King with his entire songwriting career. When the band takes the stage, they dig right in and go for broke on "I Feel the Earth Move." "So Far Away" is offered with a lifetime of regret, sorrow, and acceptance with stills of the session team on the big screen behind the band. King offers short reminiscences between songs, but the performances are far from nostalgic; they are technically solid, and energetically loose enough for a live stage. The video projections, interspersed with shots of a multi-generational audiences, underscore the emotional impact of these songs. King's daughter Louise Goffin joins the band for "Where You Lead" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," which are given a new poignancy in this presentation. King even straps on a Stratocaster for "Smackwater Jack." When she and the band finish the album, she takes the stage solo for a Goffin/King medley to offer a wider view of her career; they are snippets, but she pulls them off with finesse. The band rejoins for "Jazzman," "Up on the Roof," and "Locomotion" before the cast of Beautiful: A Carole King Musical joins the band for a send-off with a reprise of "You've Got a Friend." Audio, video, or both, this is a fantastic version of a bona fide classic. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2010 | Hear Music

Carole King and James Taylor reuniting isn’t quite a monumental reunion -- they never were an official performing entity, so they never had a falling out, appearing on-stage and on record from time to time since their ‘70s heyday -- but it is a notable one, particularly when they choose to perform at the Troubadour, the L.A. venue so crucial at the start of their stardom, backed by such fellow veterans of the SoCal singer/songwriter scene as guitarist Danny Kortchmar, bassist Leland Sklar, and drummer Russell Kunkel, musicians who supported them the last time they co-headlined the club back in 1971. All this made their series of shared shows in November 2007 an event, albeit a low-key one. King and Taylor embrace their classics -- it seems that there’s not a hit missed between the two of them -- and there’s genuine warmth to the whole show that’s quite appealing. Perhaps there are no surprises here, but any shock would have run counter to the whole spirit of the evening: this is about basking in both nostalgia and friendship, and if you’re on the same wave as the musicians, Live at the Troubadour is enjoyable. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 28, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

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Ambient/New Age - Released November 1, 2011 | Legacy Recordings

Carole King's first studio album in over ten years, A Holiday Carole, opens on a familiar note with a light, jazzy take on Rodgers & Hammerstein's “My Favorite Things.” King's daughter Louise Goffin produced the album and co-wrote the three original pieces, which include the Latin-tinged “Christmas Paradise,” the free and easy “Christmas in the Air,” and the lovely closing ballad “New Year's Day,” and while they may not be as instantly familiar as “Carol of the Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” or “Do You Hear What I Hear,” they blend in well amidst the yuletide standards. Fueled by King's laid-back delivery and precise diction, A Holiday Carole, which represents the first seasonal release from the pop legend, breezes by without a whole lot of pomp and circumstance, touching on multiple genres while remaining true to both the holiday spirit and the singer's distinctive cadence. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released March 1, 1978 | Epic

This album was always sort of a joke among Carole King's serious fans, containing 12 songs drawn from six albums, and liner notes that fail even to acknowledge the existence of Writer, her one pre-Tapestry solo LP. A Natural Woman supplanted it later, and the addition of two live cuts, "Eventually" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" from the Carnegie Hall concert on the 1999 reissue (Ode/Epic/Legacy 65846), doesn't extended the range or depth of the selection sufficiently. On the other hand, the 1999 remastering does improve the listening pleasure inherent in what is here -- the material off of Tapestry, Music, Rhymes & Reasons, and others is now very robust, with vivid instrumentation and a close, rich profile of King's voice. The selection of King's work is still only an inch deep, but it's a more rewarding inch. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released December 1, 1971 | Epic

After years as one of the most prolific and successful songwriters in pop music, Carole King emerged in the '70s with Tapestry, an album that catapulted her to the forefront of the singer/songwriter movement. While she had mined her back catalog for that album, she relied more heavily on songs written with new collaborator Toni Stern for Music. Coming out on the heels of the classic Tapestry, it's hard not to feel like this album was a bit of a letdown. However, time has shown this album to be one of her finest. While these songs lyrically lack the simplistic beauty of Gerry Goffin-penned tunes, the melodies are very strong and Carole King adds some nice texture to her piano-based tunes with the tasteful percussion of Bobbye Hall. When King goes for grand statements, however, it doesn't always work. Her call for peace and brotherhood works on songs like the opening track, "Brother, Brother," but her voice is not strong enough and does not convey enough emotion to prevent uplifting tunes like "Carry Your Load" from sounding a bit hollow and preachy. But her songwriting is still in peak form, and there are many highlights including "It's Gonna Take Some Time" (also made into a hit by the Carpenters) and "Song of Long Ago" (with backing vocals by James Taylor). © Vik Iyengar /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released May 1, 1970 | Epic

Writer is the most underrated of all of Carole King's original albums, in that it was completely ignored when it came out in 1971 and didn't really start to sell until Tapestry whetted everyone's appetite for her work. It's an album of its time, in both King's life and career, and the music of its era -- singer/songwriters were still something new, and in 1970, it was assumed that anyone in rock had to tend toward the extrovert and flashy to attract attention. Thus, Writer has a somewhat louder sound than the relatively lean, introspective strains of Tapestry which followed. "Spaceship Races," which opens the record, features Danny Kootch Kortchmar playing full-out electric guitar, chopping and crunching away with his amp turned way up, and King belting out a number behind his bluesy licks that makes her sound like Grace Slick and the song come off like a pounding (and good) Jefferson Airplane number of the same era, with a great vocal hook at the end of the verses. "No Easy Way Down," with its soulful instrumental and backing arrangement, calls to mind not only her own "Natural Woman" as done by Aretha Franklin, but also (in terms of New York white women belting out soul) Laura Nyro at her best, and it's also a great tune with a killer performance by King, whose wailing voice is extraordinarily powerful here. "Child of Mine" is the closest that the album gets to the voice that she found on Tapestry, while "Goin' Back" gives a more personal and elegant take to a song that is otherwise thoroughly identified with the Byrds; and "To Love" has King diving into country music, which she pulls off with exceptional grace, the song's title referring to a beguilingly innocent and free-spirited chorus that, once heard, stays with you. Even the least interesting of the songs here, "What Have You Got to Lose," is unusual in the context of King's overall work, with its heavy acoustic rhythm guitar, soaring backing vocals, and King's bold near-falsetto on the choruses. And that's just Side One of the original LP -- Side Two opens a little more slackly with the beautiful, reflective, but slightly too languid "Eventually," and the delightful "Raspberry Jam," which offers a soaring guitar showcase for Kortchmar (whose playing intersects the sounds of Roger McGuinn and David Crosby off of the Byrds' "Eight Miles High"), and a head-spinning, swirling organ from Ralph Schuckett weaving below and around King's piano, plus one of King's most playful vocals on record. The album ends on a special high note, King's singer/songwriter-styled reinterpretation of "Up on the Roof," which anticipates the sound she would perfect for Tapestry, emphasizing words and their feeling and meaning as much as music, and expressing herself principally through her voice and piano, moving the band out of the way. Ironically enough, if Writer had been released by almost any other artist, it would command a near-top rating and probably be a fondly remembered period cult item today; instead, for all of its merits, it must stand in the shadow of King's more accomplished and distinctive work that followed -- but even slightly "off-brand," under-developed Carole King music from 1970 is still worth hearing today. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1973 | Epic

Even in 1973, Carole King's landmark Tapestry album was still high on the charts. Fantasy was the first album to break the immediately recognizable, cozy sound set by Writer and made definitive by Tapestry. In the place of the warm, spare tones was a polished, soulful production. In many respects this album coasts on groove more than anything else. Sometimes it does work. "You've Been Around Too Long" comes off as subtle and accomplished, especially with David T. Walker's great guitar work. "Being at War with Each Other" pretty much covers well-worn ground. Those looking for Tapestry, Pt. 2 or 3 would come up empty, but the core of Fantasy does deliver on its idiosyncratic promise. "Corazón" has Latin intonations and King certainly doesn't embarrass herself. The album's best song by a long shot is "Believe in Humanity." On that track in particular all of the elements coalesce and might make listeners wish they took the harder sound and well-meaning messages even further, even for the hell of it. Some of the other tracks, most notably "Haywood," proves that although King knows the ins and outs of human nature, a story song isn't her forte. While the virtues of Music and Rhymes & Reasons tend to blur for some, Fantasy stands out as a risky and sometimes fulfilling effort. © Jason Elias /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released October 15, 1996 | Ode - Epic - Legacy

Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 is 17-song set recorded just as Tapestry was topping the charts and making Carole King a superstar. Featuring most of Tapestry and a few songs from Writer and Music this is, in a sense, Carole King unplugged (although that terminology was not yet in use). King performs the first half-dozen songs alone at the piano; bassist Charles Larkey, guitarist Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, and a string quartet back her (in varying combinations) throughout the rest of the program. Tapestry wasn't exactly a high-wattage affair to begin with, so these rearrangements aren't radical, but they're different enough from the studio versions to merit attention by serious King fans. James Taylor, then at the peak of his own popularity, joins King on vocals for a medley of some of her old Brill Building hits, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"/"Some Kind of Wonderful"/"Up on the Roof." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Lounge - Released February 12, 1998 | Ode - Epic - Legacy

Carole King had already written an enormous amount of pop classics by the time she began her solo career in earnest in the late '60s. With her second album, Tapestry, King became one of the most popular and artistically successful singer/songwriters of the early '70s. King never matched the consistent brilliance of Tapestry, yet managed to record many fine songs during the rest of the decade. A Natural Woman collects all of her finest moments over the course of two discs. Tapestry is included in its entirety, along with the highlights from her other albums, making A Natural Woman the one essential King album -- apart from Tapestry itself, of course. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released March 17, 2006 | Epic

On her second follow-up to Tapestry and third new album in less than two years, Carole King turned entirely to new compositions, most of them co-written with Toni Stern, rather than relying partly on songs from her back catalog. The result was a thinner collection than Tapestry or Music, although the album still went to number two and featured the Top 25 hit "Been to Canaan," as well as the warm love song "The First Day in August." © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 28, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released September 20, 2019 | Legacy Recordings

In 1973, Carole King was on top of the world. Her 1971 masterpiece Tapestry arrived in a way that revolutionized popular music and helped define the entire cultural landscape of the decade. The album was still in the charts two years later when King performed outside of the states for the first time at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Recorded weeks after the release of her fifth album, the hazy and conceptual Fantasy, King leaned heavily on material from that album for the concert's set list. Before launching into Fantasy material with a large band of skilled players (including an excellent six-piece horn section) however, she ran through some of her best-known hits in a solo reading of just voice and piano. While songs from Fantasy like "That's How Things Go Down" and the funky "Corazon" are fun, the timeless power of King's songwriting shines through best in her solo performances. Album versions of familiar hits like "I Feel the Earth Move" and "It's Too Late" were richly arranged with soft rock drumming, twinkly electric piano, and lush backing vocals filling the songs with color and nuance. Even stripped of all the production and window dressing, those songs are flawless, immediately engaging and connecting on an emotional level that transcends eras. Live at Montreux 1973 is a must for superfans, and serves as a fun performance document. King's vault of unreleased material up to this point was largely unreleased, with only 2012's The Legendary Demos and various live records supplementing her ample studio discography. Hearing King banter lightheartedly between songs while at the height of her popularity is both humanizing and sweet. The real treat of this collection is the solo renditions of her Tapestry material. King achieved perfection with those songs, and hearing them shine in a minimal form just adds to their greatness. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released September 1, 1974 | Epic

More upbeat and rockin' than her last couple of efforts, Wrap Around Joy contains much of the jazz-tinged rock King was becoming known for. Here, she found chart action with "Jazzman" as well as the title track. A good, solid effort, as usual, from one of America's finest songwriters. © James Chrispell /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 28, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

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Rock - Released August 5, 2009 | Rhythm Safari Pty Ltd

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Folk/Americana - Released December 1, 1975 | Epic

1976's THOROUGHBRED was Carole King's last album for Lou Adler's Ode Records imprint, and it's clearly a transitional release. Change was afoot in the musical air in 1976, and while there's no hints of punk or disco on THOROUGHBRED--which is a good thing--King is definitely moving away from the solo piano sound of her earlier solo albums. King's thumping, percussive piano playing is still all over the album, but guitars play a more prominent role than ever before. At times, the instrumental interplay resembles that of Fleetwood Mac, particularly Waddy Wachtel's Lindsey Buckingham-like solo on "Only Love Is Real." The songs themselves are in the eclectic style of 1973's all-over-the-map FANTASY, with the country-tinged "We All Have To Be Alone" and "Ambrosia" sitting comfortably between the slinky pop of "I'd Like To Know You Better" and the soulful "Still Here Thinking of You." © TiVo
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Pop - Released April 27, 2010 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Capitol Records

Carole King's first album in six years also marks her return to Capitol Records, for whom she recorded from 1977 to 1980. She tries updating her sound, with aggressive guitars played on a couple of cuts by Eric Clapton, synthesizers, and drum machines, while singing lyrics that declare her renewed passion and hope. King was never one of pop's deep thinkers, which got her into trouble when she started going cosmic in the late '70s, but here she restricts herself to a kind of willed optimism and determination, and she sings as though she means it. City Streets is thus King's most engaging record since her early '70s hits, and even if it's too late for her to reclaim her place in pop music, that's encouraging. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo