Wrap Around Joy
Released: September 1974
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 29
Certified Gold: 10/16/74
Three years have passed since the release of Carole King's Tapestry album featuring the exquisite "It's Too Late". Besides holding the trophy for all-time highest sales of an album, it contained much good and exciting music, and Ms. King was rightly cheered as an important craftsman in the pop field.
But that was three years ago, and her songwriting has seriously and steadily declined in quality since then. Her performances have become calcified. Her piano playing, once quite distinctive, now sounds as if she were trying to win the Silver Medal at a high school recital. Her songs about personal relationships grow ever more vapid, bland, and fuzzy. Her attempts at social comment have been accurately described (by Mr. Noel Coppage) as "good Liberal cant." She becomes more mechanical with each passing disc. And she has unfortunately begun to imitate herself -- no, check that; she has been imitating herself for some time. Now she's imitating others. As I listened to this album I was sure I'd heard it somewhere before. I did, fifteen years ago. It was by Johnny Mathis -- minus, of course, the occasional bouts with social conscience.
Ms. King's situation is reminiscent of Ralph Waldo Emerson's complaint about the poet Walt Whitman: "I thought he was going to make the song of the nation but he seems content to take the inventory."
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 1/75.
One of the most popular vocalist/writers of our time is back with her first effort in nearly a year, and it adds up to another collage of simply beautiful music. Several of the cuts are a bit more on the rock side than what we are used to hearing from Ms. King, yet they are done as tastefully and skillfully as are her softer things. The appeal of this set, however, is what seems to be a return to the exceptionally strong material that characterized her first solo efforts after a career as one of the finest rock writers of all time. There's more variety in tempo of songs, types of material, vocal styles and some excellent vocal backups from Nightingale. Some good rock, some fine ballads, lots of possible hit singles and some certain standards. Not one bad cut on the set, and one that should spend many weeks on the charts. Best cuts: "Nightingale," "Jazzman," "You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine," "Wrap Around Joy," "Sweet Adonis," "My Lovin' Eyes."
- Billboard, 1974.
The good news is that Carole's new lyricist used to work with Steely Dan. The bad news is that in Steely Dan he was a vocalist. C
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Following the success of Music, Carole King's second consecutive Number One album, her fortunes dipped slightly. Rhymes & Reasons stayed at number two for five weeks, but couldn't knock the Moody Blues' Seventh Sojourn from the top spot. Fantasy, King's next album, made number six in 1973. Both albums failed to yield a hit single. However, King would hit the top one more time with her sixth solo album, Wrap Around Joy, thanks largely to "Jazzman," which became the second-highest-charting single of her career.
Like Music, Wrap Around Joy was recorded with Lou Adler at the helm at A&M studios, and once again King was pregnant. The album was cut during April 1974. On April 29, less than a week after finishing the album, King gave birth to her fourth child, Levi.
Although there were similarities to her previous albums, Wrap Around Joy also marked some substantial changes. King composed the entire album with a new writing partner, David Palmer. "I like writing with partners," King says. "It gives the material a different dynamic."
Also, there were changes with her backing band. Noted session drummer Andy Newmark, who would later work with Bryan Ferry, was featured on the album. A second guitarist, Dean Parks, joined Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, who returned to the King fold. Kortchmar had played on Tapestry and Rhymes & Reasons, but not on Fantasy. In addition, noted saxophone player Tom Scott was featured on "Jazzman."
That cut was released as the first single from Wrap Around Joy on August 9, 1974. Three months later, "Jazzman" reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, but was kept from the top spot by Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet." Although "Jazzman" wasn't able to reach Number One, its popularity helped King score her third and final Number One album.
"I never imagined that so many people would come to hear my music and love my music," King says. "To this day, I meet people who tell me how much it has affected them. I'm very grateful that I have had that opportunity."
With Tapestry, Music and Wrap Around Joy, King became a huge star in her own right. However, she was still first and foremost a songwriter. "For me, it's a joy to hear other people to my material," King says. "When I make my demos, I get to do my own material. It's a lot more fun to hear someone like Aretha Franklin or someone like Mariah Carey sing a song of mine."
- Craig Rosen, The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, 1996.
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