7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Carole King. In conjunction with Gerry Goffin (and others) she has been responsible for some of the most iconic songs of popular music.
Since the 1960s Carole's name has appeared as composer on hit records for The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, James Taylor, The Byrds, Manfred Mann, Little Eva, The Monkees, The Chiffons.. the list goes on and on. Of course she also had hits she wrote and performed, such as "It's Too Late", "So Far Away" and a lot of others such as "Jazzman" which she took into the charts.
So, quite why she decided to release this little album (originally in 1980) is not altogether clear. I'm guessing that she was sick of being asked "Why did you not keep all those great songs for yourself?" Maybe...
Considering Carole's extensive choices when picking which songs to (finally!) record for herself she's chosen what is, to my mind, an odd set. These are not all the biggest or best known of her joint compositions with Gerry Goffin, perhaps they are her personal favourites among them? The pair were married between 1960 and 1968, so perhaps there's a personal angle there? No way to tell, there are no liner notes on this release. Plus there's only ten tracks - the CD is about half full (yeah, okay, it had to fit on an LP in 1980!). So, what is on this half-full, context-less CD? I hear you ask, in an irritated tone!
1) Dancin' With Tears in my Eyes: My first reaction was 'I didn't know Carole and Gerry wrote Ultravox's hit!'. But, no, this is a different song entirely. Pleasant enough, but apart from the nice intro, doesn't do much for me.
2) The Loco-Motion: Well, of course, the original hit version is so over-familiar that it's hard to be objective about any other version. However, Carole's version is pretty good. It's good for her voice, well within her range. Nice sax break too.
3) One Fine Day: Again, the original version rings in our ears. I'm afraid that this time this version suffers by the unavoidable comparison. This version sounds, well I hate to use the word, but, perfunctory by comparison. Nothing like as spirited or precise as the original Chiffons hit (on which Carole apparently plays piano). Oddly though, in 1980, this exact track was a US hit in its own right.
4) Hey Girl: Another Goffin and King song I an unfamiliar with. A nice ballad, but I'm not sure who this was ever a hit for.
5) Snow Queen: Again, not a song I think I have ever heard before. A great song though not in the chart-topper vein. Nice chord progressions.
6) Chains: Most familiar to me via the Beatles version from their first album "Please Please Me" - nice acapella intro to this version, then a chorus approach to the song which works well.
7) Oh No Not My Baby: Manfred Mann had the big hit single version of this song. Here, Carole does it as a straight singer-at-the-piano treatment, which works well once you get used to it being slower tempo.
8) Hi-De-Ho: Another unfamiliar (to me) song. A piano blues piece. Sounds like something the dynamic duo might have written with Ray Charles in mind.
9) Wasn't Born to Follow: A Banjo intro leads into what sounds to me like a protest song in the 1960s mode. Could be taken, at one level, as an anti-draft song.
10) Goin' Back: One of my favourites in the Goffin/King catalogue, so I am glad of its inclusion here. The Byrds did a good version, but Dusty Springfield's version was the definitive hit. Carole's version is good too and has depth, I suspect this is one of her creations she's most fond of.
As a songwriter Carole's track record is peerless. As a singer, I find she has a voice that sounds great when doubled, but less good when solo. I think the treatment of some of her songs on this album suffers from that. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating thing to hear her do some of these songs.
It would have been more fascinating still to have had some words from the lady herself about them, but this is a reissue a long time after the event, so perhaps it originally had copious background notes in 1980?
Anyway, for the lack of notes and the odd and unexplained song choices, four stars from this reviewer, for this packaging.