Every so often, a from-the-vault release captures our hearts, minds, and attention in such a way that it's impossible not to tell all family, friends, and neighbours about its existence. Originally issued to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tapestry, Carole King's The Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 is such a record, a fortunate document of an absolutely magical period in the singer-songwriter's legendary career and a revealing look at the then-stage fright artist turning in a commanding performance just as she was becoming a superstar.
Half-speed mastered from the original tapes, our numbered edition 180g LP of this compelling concert album brims with liveliness, depth, dimension, detail, and transparency. The nuances of King's spare performances and warm vocals emanate as if she's sitting five feet away. Stripped down even further than they are on the studio albums, songs breathe with palpable earnestness and emotion, the subtle differences from their more polished studio brethren allowing listeners an insight into King's creative genius.
At the time of its recording, King still suffered from shyness – and who could blame her? She had been accustomed to penning lyrics for other artists and sitting behind a desk in the Brill Building. Only recently did King strike out on her own and enter the public realm. This set encapsulates this contrast in thrilling fashion. Disarmingly genuine and daringly honest, The Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 benefits from the inclusion of King's nervous between-song banter that exposes who she is as a person and performer. Most importantly, despite her anxiety, she turns out stirring renditions of tunes from 1970's Writer, Tapestry, and even a few from the yet-unreleased Music.
Her control is demonstrated on the record's six opening cuts, which feature King alone at her piano. For the remainder of the program, she's accompanied by guitarist Danny Kortchman, bassist Charles Larkey, and a string quartet, which enter and exit according to arrangement. As such, the concert is profoundly intimate and personal, an "unplugged" session that predated the use of the term by nearly two decades. Longtime collaborator James Taylor joins her for a memorable medley of some of her biggest hits – "Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Some Kind of Wonderful/Up on the Roof" – the chemistry evident of why the duo's 2010 tour was one of the most in-demand outings in years.
Our remastered sound ties everything together and is what makes this release extra special. By going to the original source, the audiophile label considerably opens up the sonic perspectives, revealing the spacious acoustics of the famed venue that act in concert with King's music. In particular, the songs from Writer benefit from the no-nonsense production. You can literally picture King's piano beside her, and her voice – sincere, tender, melodic – is rich, full-bodied, and penetrating. Listeners can even hear it crack on occasion, the results a consequence of her nerves. Unpolished and non-synthetic, the performance is better for it.
No, they don't make albums like this anymore. The Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971 as real as it gets. And so is the sound.