Over 35 years ago, Carole King released her classic Tapestry album, which would become more than a masterpiece. The 12-song set delivered four genuine hits and contained original songs that “hit” for others (“You’ve Got a Friend,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” “(You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,”). But this masterpiece would actually achieve a greater fame, being recognized as a quintessential singer-songwriter album, one that would highlight the period of its release more than any other. Today, songs from this album are as recognizable as they were playing from radios and turntables in 1971. Since its initial LP release, the album has been reissued in various forms, including a sound-superior SACD. All of this attention underscores the importance of Tapestry as the time capsule it is. Carole King’s influence on later era singer-songwriters is especially notable.
This new reissue of Tapestry features a beautiful re-mastering of the songs, as well as a second disc that features the album in a live setting, recorded from the same general period (1973-1976). Ode Records co-founder, Lou Adler, states that the live inclusions are as potent, being “…the way I heard the songs for the first time…” In presenting the album as a combination of original tracks, and a set of live recordings of the same songs, the strength of Tapestry is brought to the forefront.
The selected live tracks are near picture-perfect renditions of the songs of Tapestry, sequenced in the same tracking arrangement as the original album to prevent an upset of the continuity of those songs. For many, this will feel like the ‘natural flow’ of Tapestry. Only “Where You Lead” is missing on the live disc, because it was a song she had not yet performed in a live setting. Yet, this live disc inclusion is a perfect complement to this Legacy Edition.
The set is further enhanced with the added booklet that includes lyrics, a good historical essay by Harvey Kubernik, and pictures of the youthful Carole King, full of her hippie splendour.
There are few who do not remember hearing “I Feel the Earth Move” on a favourite, well-listened AM Top40 radio station or a hip FM program that would also play deeper cuts – like “Beautiful” – from the album, and perhaps even the whole album itself. Even more so, there are likely fewer who do not remember the feel of that emotional tug of “So Far Away,” and the pain of heartbreak in “It’s Too Late.” Eventually, “Smackwater Jack” would entertain as well, sending Carole King up amongst the expressive singer-songwriters of her time, sure to regale us yet again with something that we could take hold of, and she did. Later, we would ‘understand’ her expressed feelings of escapism in “Sweet Seasons,” we would enjoy the doting “Jazzman,” and we would embrace the comfort and philosophy of “Been to Canaan.” But nothing would supplant the perfection of a period in thought and music as well as Tapestry. It’s why we keep coming back.
Do NOT hesitate to pick up this Legacy Edition of Tapestry. It is perfect in every way.