Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carole King - "The Legendary Demos (2012)

When I walk into the library I never know what treasure I will find. Sometimes it’s a book; other times a video; and on some occasions it’s a bit of music which I may have missed out on. The latter is the case with this remarkable collection of “demos” made by Carole King in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s; most of which went on to become monster hit records for other artists and even Ms. King herself.

Some of Ms. King’s best work was done in her earliest years while working New York’s famed “tin pan alley” in its final heyday. The basis for much of her first album was written during this time as well. The album contains not only the demos of Ms. King’s hits from “Tapestry”, but also such hits as “Crying In the Rain” which was big hit for the Everly Brothers.

That song was the only written with Howard Greenfield; who did the lyrics; and Ms. King; who wrote the music. They were both contracted to Aldon Music and decided to switch writing partners for the day. Ms. King usually wrote with Gerry Goffin. As a lark the two songwriting teams decided to switch partners for the afternnoon, with Gerry Goffin working with Greenfield's writing partner Jack Keller; and King and Greenfield pairing up to write this timeless classic.

A full full rock band demo of “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, which was such a smash for the Monkees, opens this remarkable album of hits in their nascent stages.  “Natural Woman” is featured in its original form with just Ms. King on vocals accompanying herself on piano.

Rounding out the album are several of the songs which she made famous herself with the release of her signature album “Tapestry”, and those songs are represented here in their striped down versions. Kind of what we now refer to as “unplugged.” The effect is magical and almost akin to having Ms. King playing in your living room. My favorite on the whole album is the original version of “Take Good Care of My Baby”, the iconic hit for Bobby Vee in 1961 and also was covered, but rejected, by the Beatles in their audition for Decca in 1962. A delightful treat for fans of Ms. King.

Richie Havens - Freedom

No one who remembers Woodstock can ever forget this dynamic performance by Richie Havens doing "Freedom". The song is really composed of 3 songs, "Freedom", a traditional folk song; "Motherless Child", a blues standard; and featuring  "Handsome Johnny," which was co-written with actor Louis Gossett Jr. The Woodstock Era didn't last long - but for those who were there - or even at home - the spirit of those times will always be alive thanks to videos like this. RIP Richie.

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