The Divine Miss King

The vinyl reissue wave gets smarter by the day. Now, many of the titles that were once licensed and reissued on 180 and 200 gram vinyl by Classic Records, and which have now become highly valuable and silly expensive on eBay, Discogs and other websites, are being licensed again and reissued at more reasonable prices. I was very happy to see that an old favorite, one of the greatest album length collections of songs ever, Carole King’s Tapestry, has recently been given the luxury reissue treatment by Mobile Fidelity, who worked from the original master tape. Best known prior to this as half of a songwriting team with her former husband Gerry Goffin, King, the former Carol Joan Klein, cut Tapestry in California at A&M Studios, with Lou Adler at the helm and Hank Cicalo engineering.

Listening to MoFi’s wonderfully quiet pressing is guaranteed to make your head shake, both at how beautiful this new mastering and pressing job is, but also at the quality of the music. From the first chugging chords of ‘I Feel The Earth Move,” through the wistful “So Far Away” and the decisive “It’s Too Late” with its great bass line and Curtis Amy’s soprano sax solo, onto the only tune I could ever play drums to, “Home Again,” and the almost hidden pleasures of “Beautiful” and “Way Over Yonder” there’s not a clunker in the bunch. Often the place on LPs where the lesser material was parked, Side Two may be even more glorious: “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Where You Lead,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” the sassy change of pace, “Smackwater Jack,” and the final two fastballs, the title track and her take on perhaps her finest song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Wow.

Even today, I’m hard pressed to think of a single record with this much unforgettable material. Had the White Album been cut down to one disc, it might have been the equal of Tapestry. It’s to the point where you wonder why someone, her manager maybe, didn’t suggest something like, “Carole baby, maybe you oughta save at least one hit for the next record?” But then this was a different era. One where musicians swung for the fences. But even having said that, this was still a particularly extraordinary collection of songs for that or any other era. And all from a woman who’d never really been a singer or performer before! Having musicians the caliber of James Taylor, Danny Kortchmar, Merry Clayton, Russ Kunkel, Charles Larkey aboard for the sessions didn’t hurt much either.

If records can change lives then Tapestry, which has sold over 25 million copies, has more converts than a lot of religions. A very personal, gnashingly emotional record, it spills its guts across the grooves in spectacular fashion. It may well be the perfect album. It is undoubtedly one of the best soul records ever made. And you gotta love that crazy cat!

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COMMENTS
deckeda's picture

ORG's 2x45rpm reissue, which came out only last year, is still available. So if that's $50 and this one is $30, maybe the current label will introduce their own next year for $20 ...

gbroagfran's picture

You have to be kidding,

 

This is one of the most boring, tepid albums of all time. I hated it when it came out, and still do. When is the supposed "vinyl resurgence" going to feature something that you don't have to be 75 years old to listen to? Yes, it's true that mostly older people can afford the $100,000+ stereos, but younger people will never become "audiophiles" when only warmed-over goo-goo, gah-gah music is featured on your site. 

How about addressing the issue that when the baby boomers are gone, the audio industry will die with it? Just like accordian ownership declined when Mitch Miller and Lawrence Welk were gone, vinyl will disappear when boomers are gone. Young people will not spend big bucks on stereos to hear this boring schmaltz. 

deckeda's picture

... when the "vinyl resurgence"  might abade. Young people DO buy it for whatever reason. I'm pushing 50 and buy NEW vinyl (i.e. new titles, not usually reissues on LP) more than anything else. 

If you like new music, seek the LP version when available---you'll be doing YOUR part for the vinyl resurgence. Unclench about whatever the 20-yr olds may or may not be doing.

Maybe this iteration is it, maybe the ORG is it, maybe the Classic is it, maybe the '77 reissue is it. In the end, this is just NEWS you care about or don't. And if you don't, so what? No one else should care? It's a fairly iconic LP even if you slept throught it.

jmsent's picture

I'd say that's an accurate description of this wonderful piece of music.  But I've never understood the obseesion with all the remasters and reissues. The original recording is , at best, on the "high side" of classic early '70s quality; which is to say, not all that great.  My 1996 Master Sound Gold cd version is as clean and transparent as I'll ever need. I cherish Tapestry, yes. I just don't need to keep rebuying it.

jimtavegia's picture

You too easily expose yourself. There is little pop music worth issuing let alone re-issuing. 

gbroagfran's picture

If you are referring to me, I don't drink coffee, own any MP3s, and don't listen to "pop" music. I have an SME, Quads, tube gear, and such, but what I said above is true. Audiophiles will disappear unless the younger group is groomed with something more relevant to them than 70's schmaltz.

ChrisS's picture

You're reading the wrong column... Go read Stephen!

http://www.stereophile.com/category/stephen-mejias

ddotyddot's picture

He did talk about Warpaint a few posts back. Whether or not Warpaint is your thing, it's new, is a tremendous album, and is on my to-buy list (after I recover from the speakers I just bought). And it's true that Stephen Mejias talks about current music (on vinyl and CD) regularly.

And I'm not sure what you consider the "younger group," but I'm in my mid-to-late 30s and have a renewed interest in good sound. 

Martin Osborne's picture

Robert enthuses over a reissue and we get  a) his love of an archival title is killing the so called vinyl resurgance; and  b) and there is little pop music worth issuing.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the vinyl resurgance does not stand or fall on Roberts' enthusiasm for a Carole King album.

As for there not being much pop music worth issuing, there's far more music released in a week than a person could listen to in a year without sleep so not sure about the grand statement.

Maybe it's time for a few people to lighten up?

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