Carole King: Pearls – Songs of Goffin and King

Legendary singer-songwriter revisits her catalog

Originally released in 1980, the last of four long-players King recorded for Capitol, this album is a hit-and-miss affair touched in several places by the slick studio sound of its era. The idea of having King revisit pearls in her songwriting catalog was a good one, but unlike Tapestry’s emotional reclaiming of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” few of these renditions vastly improve on the earlier, better-known hits or provide revelatory insight into Goffin & King’s intentions. The album’s greatest commercial distinction was its single, a cover of the Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” which gave King her last Top 40 hit, but the earthy power of her voice is compromised in several spots by smooth keyboards, studio-tuned tom-toms and bar band blues arrangements. Still, King gives emotionally fulfilling performances of Freddie Scott’s “Hey Girl,” Maxine Brown’s “Oh No, Not My Baby” and Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Hi-De-Ho,” and thrives in a version of “Snow Queen” that weds The City’s original jazz groove to the Association’s vocal thickness. The closing cover of the Byrds’ “Goin’ Back” is truly superb, and shows just how easily King could reclaim her songs, as she’d done in bits and pieces on earlier records (e.g., “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” from Now That Everything’s Been Said, “Up on the Roof” from Writer and “Some Kind of Wonderful” from Music). Her first attempt to do so at album length pays some dividends, but isn’t the artistic triumph one might have hoped for. Rockingale Records (the label King founded in 2006) has returned this album to print in 2012 sans bonus tracks, and added an eight-page booklet that includes song lyrics and album artwork. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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