Album Review ? Carole King: Tapestry

Originally released in March 1971, Tapestry was a true pop phenomenon.

Spawning a treasure trove of hits (“It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away,” and “I Feel the Earth Move,” among others), the album stayed on the Billboard charts for 302 weeks. In part, the success of Tapestry reflected the tenor of the times — introspective, sunny, folk pop was in vogue — but the strength of King’s songwriting is what’s given the album its classic status.

This Legacy Edition packages the original album with companion disc featuring live versions of every track, with the exception of “Where You Lead.” Culled from shows that took place in 1973 and 1976, the live performances outshine their studio counterparts in several respects.

Shorn of all accompaniment except her own piano playing, King sounds supremely confident as she cuts straight to the melodic core of these pop standards. Songwriters often say the measure of a song’s worth is how well it stands when played with minimal embellishment.

By that measure, Tapestry’s material deserves its lustrous reputation.

As regards the original disc, despite supposed remastering, the sound remains thin and compressed — a blemish made more apparent by the aural vibrancy of the live recordings. That said, the beautiful packaging, informative liner notes, and behind-the-scenes photos make this reissue a worthy set.

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