Carole King, The Carnegie Hall Concert – June 18, 1971 – Ode/ Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2067 – stereo-only SACD, 72:58 *****:
(Carole King, piano and vocals; Danny Kortchmar, guitar; Charles Laskey, bass – with special guest James Taylor on tracks #15-16)
Carole King’s Tapestry album was a watershed event when released in March of 1971. Carole King was known as a devotee of Lieber and Stoller, and was friends with Simon and Garfunkel growing up in New York City.
She was a local sensation before Tapestry took off as a monster album with multi-million sales. The cover of Tapestry with Carole in hippie garb sitting next to her cat, caught the public’s attention. It was perfect for 1971 and once Tapestry was sampled with “I Feel the Earth Move”, “So Far Away:, “You’ve Got a Friend”, among others, we all felt an affinity with King. Tapestry belonged in the collection of liberal arts college students, folkies, and even high schoolers who dreamed of sitting at Carole’s altar.
Three months after Tapestry was released Carole recorded a concert at Carnegie Hall, quite an accomplishment over such a short time period after release of her LP. Whereas, everyone I knew had a copy of Tapestry, it was not until the Mobile Fidelity SACD issue of the Carnegie Hall concert that I even knew of its existence. This Original Mastering Recording is more than acceptable for its CD layer. When I first heard it in my small bedroom stereo unit, I was moved. It was special and brought back many memories of this time period. All this changed when the golden disc was placed in my SACD player, however. The soundstage became enormous, the concert hall came alive, and a palpable feeling of being in front of Ms. King, either singing along or just basking in her glow came immediately.
Carole’s shyness is readily apparent in her onstage banter, fumbling for words as someone so young being thrust into the limelight would have done. Her piano playing is adequate, the backing of Kortchmar and Laskey is impressive but not groundbreaking; however it is when Carole sings, her voice, such as an early Streisand had, is revelatory. Her range is not incredible, it just has a magic pure in innocence, and her sentiments poured out in the songs that were a part of our adolescence, remain glorious. It was a time of hope and both Carole and Simon and Garfunkel expressed our joy in a hope for our futures where the earth moves for us, where older adulthood is “so far away.” Even though the Vietnam War was a part of our lives and Nixon embodied what caused us to have a nagging worry about our universe, Carole King, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and The Beatles gave us hope that we could ride out the storm and make “a difference.”
When Carole is joined by James Taylor for “You’ve Got a Friend” and the medley of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, “Some Kind of Wonderful”, and “Up on the Roof”, the audience and today’s audiophiles are equally in a state of rapture. Let yourself relive Tapestry and Carole King in glorious fidelity. Many (most?) of us from back in 1971 are graying, sagging, or balding, but when we listen to Carole King sing in the esteemed Carnegie Hall, we can believe again and be young once more. For time travel, The Carnegie Hall Concert does the trick….
TrackList: I Feel the Earth Move, Home Again, After All this Time, Child of Mine, Carry Your Load, No Easy Way Down, Song of Long Ago, Snow Queen, Smackwater Jack, So Far Away, It’s Too Late, Eventually, Way Over Yonder, Beautiful, You’ve Got a Friend, Medley: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow/ Some Kind of Wonderful/ Up on the Roof, You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
– Jeff Krow