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Carole King

Ode 77009
Released: March 1971
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 302
Certified Gold: 6/7/71

Carole KingMiss King's coming has been forecast since her Writer LP; initial response to this beautifully produced and performed album predicts wide acceptance. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Natural Woman" are updated oldies, while new material like "Smackwater Jack," "You've Got A Friend," "Where You Lead," and the title song are outstanding new songs. Naturally, she wrote or cowrote all the material.

- Billboard, 1971.

Bonus Reviews!

This album has become a no. 1 seller in a very short time and for good reason. It is a refreshing change from most LP's. The main reason for this is that the main instrument is the piano with a bit of sax & violin. The songs on this album do not suffer from lack of blaring electric guitar or drums.

Besides including her two hit songs, "It's Too Late" and "I Feel The Earth Move," the album has her recording of "Where You Lead" and her own beautiful version of "You've Got A Friend," which is probably the best song on the album.

Carole King - Tapestry
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
The LP also contains two early compositions of hers, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Natural Woman." The bouncy "Smackwater Jack" is a credit to any album and the beautiful and poetic "Tapestry" deserves to hold the title of the album. Other songs speak of loneliness or a desire to be at peace with one's self. "Beautiful" points out a usual problem these days when she looks at people and sees "Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing. If they don't see it why should I?"

All these songs round out the portrait of a truly great composer and performer of our times.

- V. Fronczak, Hit Parader, 3/72.

Pacific rock, to be sure, but with a sharpness worthy of a Brooklyn girl -- if there's a truer song about breaking up than "It's Too Late," the world (or at least AM radio) isn't ready for it. Not that lyrics are the point on an album whose title cut compares life to a you-know-what -- the point is a woman singing. King has done for the female voice what countless singer-composers achieved years ago for the male: liberated it from techical decorum. She insists on being heard as she is -- not raunchy and hot-to-trot or sweeet and be-yoo-ti-ful, just human, with all the cracks and imperfections that implies. And for the first time she has found the music -- not just the melodies, but the studio support -- to put her point across as cleanly and subtly as it deserves. A+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

The most successful female songwriter in the history of the US and UK singles charts wrote and recorded the best-selling album by a woman. It seems justice, yet before Tapestry was released it also seemed very unlikely. Carole first registered as a singer in 1962 with "It Might As Well Rain Until September," but this had merely been a demo for Bobby Vee that publisher Don Kirshner thought good enough to release in single form. King did not attempt to become an artist herself until the late sixties.

An LP with a trio named The City sold about five thousand copies and her 1970 solo debut Writer was undistinguished. Nothing prepared the world for Tapestry, a recital that has long passed the thirteen million mark in sales.

Among the tunes played by pianist King were "It's Too Late," an American number one, "So Far Away," a Top 20 tune, and "I Feel The Earth Move," the flip of "It's Too Late" that enjoyed much airplay in its own right. King revisited her hits for the Shirelles ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow") and Aretha Franklin ("[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman"). She wrote a classic in "You've Got A Friend," which became a US number one for James Taylor. King introduced what became a Grammy winner for Quincy Jones, "Smackwater Jack," She herself won Album of the Year for Tapestry, Single of the Year for "It's Too Late," Female Vocal Performance of the Year for Tapestry, and Song of the Year for "You've Got A Friend."

In 1987, Tapestry was chosen by a panel of rock critics and music broadcasters as the #30 rock album of all time. Appropriately enough, King's unparalleled achievement was the highest-placed disc by a female soloist in the survey.

- Paul Gambaccini, The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books, 1987.

Having started life in the music business as a songwriter, Carole King turned performer for her debut album Writer which set the scene for her massive selling album Tapestry. These classic songs are no longer mellowed by dated LP mastering and come up bright and scrubbed on CD.

The new-found clarity, however, reveals the absolutely flat miking of Carole King's voice, devoid of reverberation (the song "It's Too Late" apart). With a lesser talent this "over-exposure" could reveal shortcomings of vocal technique, but King's purity of voice and simplicity of line pull her through. Vocals tend to be segmented and do not blend well with the studio acoustic obviously audible around piano, drums and guitars. Hiss levels are quite high but the clarity of these sixteen-year old tapes transferred for this Japanese produced Compact Disc is remarkable.

Any one of these songs could have been the centrepiece of a succession of albums for a lesser artist.

- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.

In the world of popular music, the word "classic" gets bandied about like the word "improved" on ad campaigns, ceasing to mean anything after a while. Tapestry, however, is a classic, no two ways about it. King (already a very successful songwriter) assembled a collection of her best-known songs, plus some new ones, and gave them intimate heartfelt readings. King's voice had a warm earthy quality, with just the right amount of urgency. Listing highlights is fairly pointless, as the whole album is stunning. * * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Tapestry, Carole King's third release, is a benchmark recording for her and for pop music. With her earnest yet vulnerable vocals, a fluid backup band and Lou Adler's sure production, Tapestry combined a bit of classic King material ("(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?") with new, self-assured songs such as "I Feel the Earth Move," "So Far Away," "It's Too Late" and "Home Again." The album was on the charts, deservedly, for more than five years. * * * * *

- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

The sleeve is unprepossessing: a be-denimed Carole King clutching some fabric, her cat in the foreground. It is also a bold statement about the place of women in rock music. The imagery, the songs themselves and the huge success of Tapestry marked out a territory for intelligent, sensitive women who didn't have to exploit their sexuality in an obvious manner. With Tapestry, King married her gift for the concise pop statement (finely honed as co-author with husband Gerry Goffin of countless pop classics in the 50s and 60s) to a reflective lyricism, to create one of the defining singer-songwriter albums of the 70s. "I Feel The Earth Move" opens up with strident piano and funky bass. King's soulful vocal teases out the song's sexual theme, while the U.S. #1 single, "It's Too Late," features piercingly honest lyrics. "You've Got a Friend" is a touching pledge of support and King's solo version of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" makes for a sharp contrast to the bright 60s hit version. King's beautifully phrased vocals and versatile piano playing mark her out as a consummate artist. Tapestry is sheer crafted class.

- Collins Gem Classic Albums, 1999.

An almost flawless representation of all that's good about the singer-songwriter movement, this much-beloved Grammy-winning masterpiece from the Brill Building graduate is indelibly printed on the pop culture conciousness of the '70s and has a permanent seat on the all-time-greatest dais. Expect no bells and whistles, just powerful love-lorn balladry that transcends sap and feels like a conversation with an old friend. This beautifully woven collection resonates today -- King is still the queen. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

Carole King's second album, Tapestry, struck a chord with the public in a big way, remaining on the charts for over five years. King turned out to be exactly the type of artist that would be hugely successful in the seventies; a singer-songwriter, preferring confessional, personal songs to protest anthems, and eschewing sixties psychedelia for strong songwriting and clear recording values. On the other hand, while her debut as a solo artist was (unintentionally) well timed, Tapestry itself is timeless. Some of the songs were tried and true; "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" were both hits she and then-husband Gerry Goffin had penned for other artists. There were also several new songs which would be just as successful, including "I Feel the Earth Move," "So Far Away," and "It's Too Late." Decades later, the album plays like a seamless body of work.

Tapestry was voted the 39th greatest album of all time in a VH1 poll of over 700 musicians, songwriters, disc jockeys, radio programmers, and critics in 2003.

- Brian Ives, VH1's 100 Greatest Albums, 2003.

For a decade, King wrote pop songs with her then-husband, Gerry Goffin: hits such as Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion" (Eva Boyd was the couple's baby-sitter) and the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday." Then King's friend James Taylor encouraged her to sing her own tunes. "We would record my songs, and then we would go to another studio where James was recording his album," King said of making Tapestry. She slowed down "Will You Love Me Tommorrow?" (originally a hit for the Shirelles in 1961), heightening the melancholy inside, while her warm, earnest singing brought out the sadness in "It's Too Late" and the earthy joy on "I Feel the Earth Move." On Tapestry, King remade herself as an artist and created the reigning model for the 1970s female singer-songwriter.

Tapestry was chosen as the 36th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

Carole King tapped into the singer-songwriter movement then taking shape to create an album that set a new watermark for female artists. Unassuming, yet beautifully crafted, the 1971 release paved the way forward for female singer/songwriters, both in terms of the quality of its songs and the honest, highly personal style in which she delivers them.

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Single Review:
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Together with her husband Gerry Goffin, King had penned a string of hits for others in the previous decade, among them "Up On the Roof" and "The Locomotion," but as an artist in her own right Tapestry stands as her one glorious moment. Two of the album's songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," are reinterpretations from that period with Goffin, but it is the newer songs that notably shine. In "It's Too Late," knowingly charting the breakdown of a relationship -- she had split with Goffin three years earlier -- she created a US chart-topping single for herself (it reached Number Six in the UK), while in "You've Got A Friend" she wrote a US Number One for James Taylor. In turn, Taylor adds backing vocals and guitar to the song's original version.

Tapestry clocked up more than 300 weeks on the US chart, 15 of them at Number One, while it was named Album of the Year at the 1971 Grammy Awards.

As of 2004, Tapestry was the #13 best-selling album of the 70s.

- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.

Having already established herself in pop's pantheon during the 1960s as half of a legendary Brill Building songwriting partnership (with then husband Gerry Goffin), Carole King dramatically reinvented herself as a solo star with this landmark release.

The cover is unapologetically domestic -- a blue-jeaned King, needlework in hand, with her cat in the foreground -- and its homespun ambience is reflected in the uncluttered production and arrangements of the album. King's unadorned vocals are by turns strident and charged ("I Feel The Earth Move"), wistful ("So Far Away"; "Home Again") and playful ("Smackwater Jack"). Songs such as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" had already been "claimed" by The Shirelles and Aretha, respectively. But King's stripped-down versions -- particularly of the former, to which she brings an affecting sadness -- are worthy reinterpretations.

The sheer quality on offer swiftly reaped results. The achingly honest "It's Too Late" gave King a U.S. No. 1; the album topped the U.S. charts for 15 weeks straight, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide.

There is an unofficial tradition Stateside that freshmen get introduced to Simon And Garfunkel -- the duo's literate, often melancholy reflections seem to resonate with undergraduates. In the same spirit, Tapestry should be on the curriculum of every first year student, as an example of an artist claiming her own legacy while making the listener feel right at home.

- Yoshi Kato, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

The copyright date on nine of the twelve songs of Carole King's Tapestry reads 1971, the year the album was released. Theoretically, it's possible that some of these accounts road-damaged romance were written years before and kept on the shelf. But the prolife King -- who in the '60s cowrote such incandescent blasts as Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion" and the Aretha Franklin hit "(You Make Me Feel like) A Natural Woman" with her then-husband Gerry Goffin -- had issued her first solo album, the erratic Writer, the year before. She probably wouldn'thave held back anything great on purpose.

That means the core songs of the biggest-selling album of the '70s, and the East Coast's best answer to all the singer-songwriter strumming California was exporting at the time, came together quickly, in a matter of months. That might not seem so terribly impressive until you stop to really savor the songs in question: "I Feel the Earth Move," "So Far Away," "It's Too Late," "Home Again," "Beautiful," "Way Over Yonder," "You've Got a Friend," "Where You Lead," "Smackwater Jack," and "Tapestry." Individually, these are delicate, sophisticated, and effortlessly beautiful pop odes. Each is rich in backstory and loaded with interpersonal tension. Each has at least one sturdy, splendid melody (often several). And each is brought to an aching place by King's matter-of-fact delivery. Any one of them would make a normal tunesmith's year. So many, n such close proximity, qualifies Tapestry as one of the most extravagant bundles ever dropped by a generous muse.

- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.

For a decade, Carole King wrote pop songs with her then-husband Gerry Goffin. Then King's friend James Taylor encouraged her to sing her own tunes. She slowed down "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" (a hit for the Shirelles in 1961), heightening the melancholy inside, while her warm, earnest singing brought out the sadness in "It's Too Late" and the joy of "I Feel the Earth Move." The resulting set of songs saw King remake herself as an artist, selling millions and creating the reigning model for the 1970s female singer-songwriter.

Tapestry was chosen as the 25th greatest album of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll of artists, producers, critics and music industry figures in Oct. 2020.

- Rolling Stone, 10/20.

 Reader's Comments


I was there in December, 1970 at Massey Hall when James Taylor introduce Carole King. She was incredible and Taylor admitted to the audience that she upstaged him. A memorable night!

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