Of all the introspective styled singer-songwriters of the early seventies Carole King would perhaps seem a most unlikely candidate to adopt that genre - after all her success was at its peak a decade earlier when she was predominantly a songwriter alongside her husband Gerry Goffin penning a great many fondly remembered classics aimed at the teen market. Fortunately, her forte had always been strong melodies and 'Tapestry', her second album is no exception although its style is more intimate than the style of her early career.
Actually, it's not unrealistic to regard 'Tapestry' as one of only a handful of truly great albums because there are very few albums that are so consistently great from start to finish without the odd filler. 'Tapestry' certainly isn't amongst those groundbreaking albums often touted for in the best album polls but it really doesn't need to be because it's the album's simplicity that is its biggest asset.
Carole mixes a couple of her old songs with her newer efforts - 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' and 'Natural Woman' and although these versions are never going to eclipse the well known originals in terms of profile they are nevertheless both highly effective at interpreting the songs differently but also successfully. A number of the newer songs have also acquired classic status - especially 'It's Too Late' and 'You've Got A Friend' - best known through James Taylor's cover but it's really hard to imagine these original versions ever being bettered whoever decided to record them.
'Intimate', 'Sincere', 'Direct' are all words that have been used to describe 'Tapestry' over the years and they are all accurate. 'Classic' has also been used on occasions, too, and this term (despite being overused generally in popular music) is equally applicable in this case.
'Tapestry' is definitely a strong contender for the best album ever made.
on 2 March 2002
I bought the original LP (still have it!) of this in 1971 with money I had for my 21st birthday (from what must have been one of the very early Virgin Record Shops in Birmingham). It was the first album I also bought on cassette (for the car!), the first cd version I bought of an album I already had (at something like 10 times the price of the original LP - how's that for holding your value!). Now I've had to buy another for my 17yr old daughter who loves it (almost) as much as I do.
There's something for every mood, every track has a different appeal. The gentle melancholy of "so far away", don't we all need a place "Way over yonder"? My heart has always twinged with sympathy for the girl who has always wanted "a real home with flowers on the window sill" but who is prepared to follow her man in "Where you lead". Tell me, I want to know, did it work out, did you ever get that real home?
I don't think anyone has ever bettered Carole's version of "Will you still love me tomorrow?", possibly my favourite track, or maybe that should be Tapestry - or maybe "You've got a friend". Impossible to choose - a whole Desert Island's worth!
My kids, poor things, were forced to listen to this on car journeys from a tender age and they even loved "Smackwater Jack" - bellowed out with gusto from a tender age by both of them. Can you listen to that without finding your feet tapping and wanting to jig about?
The mix of tracks, songs, words, instruments, piano - all are just so right - it's hard to imagine how this could be improved. And it has stood the test of time, along with those other favourites "Judith" by Judy Collins and "Bridge over troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel".
So yes, the best album of all time, at least for me and not one bit less powerful in appeal thirty years on from when I first heard it.
Add something to your life - if you haven't heard it, buy it, sit back and enjoy. And,with luck, you may get as much pleasure out of it as me for a very long time.
And if you're in this part of the world and you notice a mum and daughter singing along to this in a car, note and wordperfect, it's probably us! Enjoy!
Edit and update:
Thank you so much to all the kind commentors who enjoyed my review over the last twelve years!
Still singing along here and I'm sure my daughter will introduce my new granddaughter to the joy of CK before long - another generation to sing with!
But my real surprise came this summer when I picked up my expat son, now 26, from the airport on a trip home. He often has a cd or two with him he wants to listen to in the car when he visits (My collection doesn't usually fit the bill, it seems). So I was astounded when he asked whether I had this cd in the car. Of course I did! So we sat in the traffic jam on the M25 and sang along together from beginning to end, - both of us still note perfect, I was interested to hear - after all these years. He'd recently heard a couple of tracks from the album being played by a friend out in the Middle East and it brought back memories. I never thought I'd see the day... Tapestry reaches the parts other albums do not reach, it seems!
This is a classic album that sounds as honest and sincere now as it did way back in 1971. Imagine an album staying in the number one spot for fifteen weeks and on the charts for over SIX YEARS.
With four Grammy awards under its belt, and songs like “I Feel The Earth Move”; “It's Too Late”; “You've Got A Friend”; “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”; “Tapestry” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, this album belongs in any serious collection of ‘70s music.
See also the tribute album “Tapestry Revisited” where folk like Rod Stewart, Aretha Franklin, Amy Grant, Richard Marx, Celine Dion, the Bee Gees and Bebe and Cece Winans, among others, pay homage to this singer/songwriter extraordinaire.
A must-have album for your collection.
on 9 March 2001
Born as Carole Klein in Brooklyn, New York, on 9 February 1941, Carole King, was selling songs in Tin Pan Alley from her teens. King did a few singles in the late fifties and early sixties, but bloomed as a singer/composer after she married lyricist Gerry Goffin. It was not until 1971 that King took the world by storm with her Tapestry album that was destined to become one of the most artistic endeavours of western popular music.
Tapestry came at a time when Rock 'n' Roll was in doldrums. Three tragic events happened in 1970. The Beatles broke up; and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died! A generation of music fans (the baby boomers), who had grown up with the artists, were approaching the age of thirty, and needed something to chill them out. "Love Story" was a big hit in 1970 and Tapestry was THE 'Love Story' of Rock 'n' Roll. The songs touched areas never touched by a female singer/composer before.
Tapestry is a classic album. It's characterised by smooth flowing lyrics and superb musical composition. The beauty of the artist lies in their ability to express our emotions for us in a way we may not have been able to do so in a few life times, And what better area to touch? The songs touch the most universal emotion of all-- love and melancholy. Although the lyrics may be based on urban New York blues-- as suggested in "Where You Lead"-- the message is universal, it touches us all.
The album is like a tapestry itself from the first song "I Feel the Earth" to "You Make Me Feel". Each song is set in a perfect order (with the notable exception of "Smackwater Jack"). The songs weave the Tapestry of love and melancholy. The album starts with a strong and forceful "I Feel the Earth Move (Under my feet)", and then drops back to a slow and melancholic "It's Too Late". "Way Over Yonder" gives one a feeling that you're floating on the waves. Then comes "You've Got A Friend". James Taylor made this a hit of his own. The two sang the song at King's Carnegie Hall Concert where Taylor came as a "surprise guest". After "You've Got A Friend" comes a faster "Where You Lead" that's followed by "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"? "Smackwater Jack" seems a misfit. The next song is the title "Tapestry". The last song is "(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman". This is a perfect finishing to the album. The song is also symphonic. It starts slowly and then bursts out before fading away. Rod Stewart made a hit out of this song (well, he changed the title!). The song, composed by King and Goffin, was a tribute to Aretha Franklin.
The album won four Grammys in 1971 including album of the year. It's still in the top 25 highest selling albums of all time. But statistics is just one side of the story. Popular art becomes a classic only when it has elements that can make it stand the test of time. It has to be simple yet complex. It has to appeal to all audiences speaking their emotions, usually of sorrow and not total happiness. Only then can art travel from one time zone to another. "Tapestry" is definitely one album that's stood the test of time.
I'm not a baby boomer. I first heard "Tapestry" in 1991/92 when I was 21/22. It's one of the few albums I've listened from beginning to end and then fell in love with instantaneously. Tapestry is an ageless album like "Year of The Cat", "Blood on the Tracks", "Déjà vu", and a few more. It doesn't appeal to those baby boomers of 1971 alone, but to all baby boomers of all times. The beauty of the album lies in its touching not only love, but also melancholy-the sweet and sour feeling of love, i.e., life! It reminds us that in "true love" we can touch, but can never hold; we can have but can never keep. This is the beauty of love and life. This is what drives us to want more love and enjoy it as long as it lasts, and enjoy the sweet and sour feelings when it's not there. 'Probably' this is why Tapestry has stood the test of time-- simply because it speaks the truth!
If you haven't' heard the album yet, go out and buy it. Rest assured it'll be one memorable experience...
on 11 March 2005
In terms of becoming an overnight sensation after having worked with some notable success in the music business, you are hard pressed to find a better example than Carole King. Having written some early hits like "The Loco-Motion," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," and the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday" in the 1960's King got the chance to record and sing her own songs, urged on by friend James Taylor, on this landmark 1971 album. "Tapestry" was simply an album that everybody had to have (Think "Rumors" or "Thriller" if you are not old enough to remember when selling 10 millions albums was a LOT of albums). "Rolling Stone" just came out with a special collectors issue naming the 500 greatest albums of all time, and "Tapestry" checks in at number 36. I am honestly surprised it is that low.
This is an album, to borrow a phrase, that announces it's presence with authority with the opening piano chords of "I Feel The Earth Move" and ends with a truly soulful "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." In between there was the beautiful simplicity of "So Far Away" and "You've Got A Friend." "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" had been a hit for the Shirelles back in 1961, and King makes it even better by slowing it down and heightening the melancholy of the lyrics. This was really the first album after the Beatles broke up where you found had a more than one or two hit singles; at least that's the way I remember it. "Tapestry" remains a simple, classic album of pop music. It is also an important album because King established the model for the female singer-songwriters of the 1970s, such as Carly Simon, which eventually gets us to the Sarah McLachlans of the world (which is why it should be higher than #36 on the "Rolling Stone" list).
on 11 September 2000
Unlike most people - I didn't pick up on Carole King until a couple of years ago when I bought this CD. What had I been missing for 30 asomething years? Quite a lot. Even though this recording comes from the early 70s, it sounds fresh and relevant today with its themes of loneliness, romance and inspiration. Almost every track is well known or has been covered, but few have bettered the original. In the UK, only the saga of her breaking up marriage to Gerry Goffin, IT'S TOO LATE made the singles chart, but YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND, a hit for James Taylor (who sings backup on this album) and IT'S GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME (Carpenters) demonstrate Carole King's ability to continually come up with haunting melodies. I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE is a toe tapper which opens the album effectively and SO FAR AWAY, TAPESTRY and BEAUTIFUL are standouts and what can you say about YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN - a classic which can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This CD has the added bonus of a live version of SMACKWATER JACK. So many albums of the 60s and 70s are over rated and don't hold up in this digital age - but this one does and deserves its 5 stars.
on 2 June 2009
Fabulous music - intelligent, lyrical, ascerbic, independent and redolent of the 1970's New Woman. Of its time, yet still relevant and magical today, I cannot recommend this classic album highly enough. Up there along with albums like 'Sergeant Pepper', 'Teaser and the Firecat' and 'Graceland', no album collection is complete without this one. And this re-mastered version just enhances it.
This is undoubtedly one of the defining records of my musical development, from first listening to this is a child while going through my parents LP collections. Tapestry was the second LP I played, Tracy Chapman being the first. Even as a child, I fell in love with the rich melodies on the Tapestry album, and as a angst-ridden teen, related to the title track. Now approaching my 30's, Carole's music is as relevant today as it always has been
Her latest revival, perhaps more suited to collectors and audiophiles, proves an enjoyable, but sonically enhanced remaster of the original vinyl I first listened to.
The one and only reason this doesn't get my recommended 5-Star rating, is that, as a product review, the Legacy Edition release does not contain the amazon-advertised 'bonus' track "Out in the Cold." This track didn't make it on the original Tapestry release in 1971, possibly due to the limited run-time on the older vinyl's. I have this song separately anyway, and it's a wonderful addition from the Tapestry sessions. However, it just isn't included in this release, despite the advertised 13-track listing on disk one.
However, to end on a high, the second disk of live piano/vocal performances, sequenced in the same order as the original release is fantastic. It feels like an unplugged demo version of Tapestry, and sounds wonderful. King's rich vocals and her melodic piano-playing almost convince the listener that she isn't singing and playing alone, and you find that your mind fills in the melodies, harmonies and backing vocals and instruments found in the commercial release. One track is missing from the Live disk - that being "Where You Lead." This was apparently not performed live on tour in the 70's because of the rising feminist movement, and Carole explains that this songs simply isn't about that, and didn't want the association to be made between feminist-politics and her own meaning of the song - so she simply didn't perform it live. Nevertheless, a fantastic addition for people discovering Carole King for the first time, and for collectors or fans.
As the search for vinyl turned from a romp to the local music store to a search in the antique mall. I realized it was time to switch to CD's. With limited space and no future for many old vinyl friends it was time to round them up and release them to the local used book store. I cried and could only hope they would find a home that would cherish them.
It did not take long before I realized I missed them. So now I spend my days waiting for them to be reincarnated. Some that return are so tinny in sound that I can not believe they were that way to begin with. Others are so mangled that the original pattern of tunes is lost for ever.
It may be the result of time but I found this album to be all I remember and then some. It is well worth the purchase.
"Tapestry" is the best representation of Carol King and her music. If you only buy one, this is it. And you will feel the earth move under your feet.
on 24 January 2001
I have cried a million tears to this album. Carol King has the un-nerving ability to know exacltly how I feel at different times in my life. 'Its too late' reminds me of one break up and 'So far Away' of another particularly bad one. I have many times wanted to play a song from Tapestry to my partner and say listen to this this is how I feel. I'm sure millions of people feel the same. Tapestry is a must for anyone who has ever fallen in love, had a broken heart, fallen out of love etc.