Saturday, April 9, 2011

Michael Fremer Album Review

The Carnegie Hall Concert, June 18, 1971

Carole King

Ode/Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2067 Hybrid SACD

Produced by: Lou Adler
Engineered by: Hank Cicalo
Mixed by: Hank Cicalo
Mastered by: Shawn R. Britton (assisted by Rob LoVerde) at Mobile Fidelity Sound La



Ear Popping Time Capsule From Mobile Fidelity
by Michael Fremer
April 01, 2011

By 1971 Carole King had made the transition from housewife/Brill Building songwriting genius to singer/songwriter performer.

Footage of her working out a song with her then husband Gerry Goffin in a Brill Building cubicle shows a scrinched-eyed, painfully shy young woman banging out on the piano a catchy tune while attempting to "sing" the melody in a voice literally wracked with pain.

It was all in her head back then, but needed someone else's body to express itself fully.

Jump cut a few years to 1971 and there she was alone on the Carnegie Hall stage playing mostly solo to a full house, attracted there not by covers of LIttle Eva's "The Loco-motion" or The Shirelles' hit "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," (though she does sing it near the end of the concert) but by King's solo break-out album Tapestry.

She was not yet 30 years old.

King opens nervously with the punch line to the well-worn musician's riddle How do you get to Carnegie Hall? "Practice!"

No one in the audience gets the joke, but then in 1971 the "hipgeoisie" were very serious and smug folks so its not surprising that no one in the audience seemed to get the joke, or perhaps the ones who did were afraid to laugh.

In any case, King gets down to business with "I Feel the Earth Move" and it's obvious by the way she attacks the tune that she's fully made the transition from back room songwriter to concert stage performer, despite not possessing a beautiful set of pipes. It doesn't matter. "You're as beautiful as you feel," as King sings it and means it when she gets to "Beautiful" fourteen songs in.

Whatever inhibitions King had during her suburban housewife days in New Jersey seem to have been shed, though she accepts the audience's appreciative applause with meek, barely audible Jewish-guilt laden "thank yous."

When you hear her sing the now dated "Carry Your Load" the unmistakable influence of Laura Nyro will immediately strike you. Upon completing the song, she introduces "No Easy Way Down" by referencing Lyra Nyro, among others, who had then covered it. No doubt Laura Nyro heavily influenced King's break out from writer to performer.

Charles Lackey on bass and guitarist Danny Kortchmar join King after a few opening solo performances and wherever Kootch went in those days, James Taylor wasn't far behind, or ahead. After finishing "Beautiful" King momentarily disappears and brings back with her James Taylor.

The place erupts as by then Taylor was a superstar and had a hit with King's composition "You've Got a Friend," which they perform together along with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Up on the Roof" among others, accompanied by a small string section that, of course, sounds completely at home in Carnegie Hall.

The recording by Hank Cicalo is superb. It captures just enough of the hall sound to bring you to the concert, yet the perspective is sufficiently close to produce the feeling that you've got the best seats in the house. If the reflective hall doesn't sound a bit hard, your system is too soft!

This is pure live concert music making of the highest order, recorded to perfection. A gem of a time capsule and considering the price of a concert ticket today, this SACD is of course a bargain. The double LP will arrive soon.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

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Reprinted by Permission

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