Review : Carole King - The Legendary Demos
PopmattersMainstream American society held conservative and narrow views during the early 1960s. Pop songs concerned romantic love and teen tribulations. Brill Building songwriters such as Carole King helped expand the topics and concerns, but mostly they were commercial composers in a world whose values centered on the acquisition of material wealth, buying a nice house in the suburbs and living happily ever after with one’s spouse and children. Songs generally focused on the one true love to the exclusion of any societal topics. Being serious meant having sex, not actually being serious about the world.
The first two cuts chronologically on King’s new release of original demo tracks from the ‘60s reflect this. (Just a note, this record is far from including all of King’s demo records and just contains 13 songs.) The songwriter’s rendition clearly indicates the type of artist, if not the particular act, she had in mind. Her 1961 self-sacrificing declaration of love, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” was covered by Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, Dion and who knows how many other male crooners from the period. King’s tear-jerking rendition of “Crying in the Rain” uncannily mimics the trademark Everly Brothers sound.
These are fun pop songs that baby boomers still karaoke to today because of the rich and earnest vocal styles. The music from the middle of the decade shows how much things have changed in such a short time. The songs are serious, even when they do concern love, such as “So Goes Love”, about the end of a relationship. But these more adult concerns are still wrapped in pop conventions. One of the great ironies was King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday” as song by the Monkees. This topic is worthy of deep consideration....full text
AllmusicCarole King's influence as a songwriter and as a monolithic force in the history of American pop music is far-reaching and inarguable. In the minds of many, King's story begins with Tapestry, her 1971 solo breakthrough album that went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide and spawned a stream of FM radio classics for generations to come. What some people don't know about is her tireless work as a songwriter leading up to her own incredible solo work, penning songs that would become huge hits for everyone from the Monkees to James Taylor to the Turtles. The Legendary Demos gathers together for the first time ever the working demonstrational tapes King made of her compositions, the same tapes that these bands would reference when learning and recording their versions of the songs, as well as personal rough drafts of songs that would later appear on Tapestry. Recorded hastily and stored for decades on tiny plastic reels, there's a rawness and urgency to these recordings. Often put to tape in the course of an afternoon, directly after conception with the help of various session musicians, these demos are crackling with a triumphant sense of carefree spontaneity. The intimacy of these tracks is what makes them truly special. Tracks from the Tapestry era like "It's Too Late," "Beautiful," and "You've Got a Friend" capture all the breezy lushness of their studio versions with more Spartan arrangements of piano and vocals way up front. Their softly powerful delivery gives the feeling of an incredibly gifted friend casually practicing in the next room. Earlier demos cut when King was in her teens working as a staff songwriter at Brill Building contemporary Aldon Music give up a haunting rendition of "Crying in the Rain," a spare and focused "Take Good Care of My Baby," and a downright majestic piano and vocal version of "Just Once in My Life," all huge hits for the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vee, and the Righteous Brothers, respectively. The songs are already familiar staples, but King's lilting, almost instinctively brilliant performances shed light on the true spirit of her songs. Her soulful vocals on "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" resound with more verve and yearning than her later Tapestry version and arguably more immediacy and reaching than even Aretha Franklin's legendary version. The Legendary Demos is a fantastic example of a collection of unreleased material that really works rather than some lackluster hodgepodge of archived filler. Even the occasionally marred or crunchy fidelity of some of these songs doesn't detract from their potency. If anything, it adds to the fly-on-the-wall feeling of listening in on a true genius at different phases of her genre-shaping development....full text
13thfloorThis can be looked at as something of a companion piece to the recent Early Takes release by George Harrison in which stripped down demo versions of songs that were never meant to be released have been compiled to give a unique, behind the scenes look (or listen) into some of the rock era’s most enduring tunes....full text
Carole King Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Carole King Lyrics
- 1. Beautiful
- 2. Where You Lead, I Will Follow
- 3. It Might As Well Rain Until September
- 4. Now And Forever
- 5. Loving You Forever
- 6. Chicken Soup With Rice
- 7. Medley: Will You Love Me Tomorrow / Some Kind Of W
- 8. Medley:Take Good Care Of My Baby / It Might As Wel
- 9. Way Over Yonder
- 10. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
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