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Music Review: Carole King – Writer

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Carole King is a well respected and popular singer/songwriter who has sold well over 10 million albums. The first part of her career was as a songwriter with former husband Gerry Goffin. Her first composing success took place in 1960 when “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles topped the American Singles charts. By the end of the millennium, 118 of her songs had charted on the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart. The writing team of Goffin/King has been inducted into The Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls Of Fame

While she had released a few singles during the 1960s, it was not until 1970 that she issued her first album, Writer. It was a moderate commercial success but set the stage for one of the best-selling albums in American music history (Tapestry), which would shortly follow.

Writer is a many times forgotten album in her large catalogue. It was a mixed bag in terms of covering a number of styles. The main handicap over the years has been the mix. The original vinyl album featured fuzzy vocals at times. The CD releases cured that problem but faded some of the songs too early, plus turned down the volume on her piano until it was almost non-existent on some tracks. Recent reissues have hopefully dealt with those problems.

She co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks with Gerry Goffin, and the last with Toni Stern. Some songs may not be among her most memorable but most were very good.

The one track that was and remains well-known was a remake of her own “Up On The Roof,” which had been a hit for The Drifters during late 1962 and early 1963. It was a brilliant creation, as the ascending notes match the lyrics as they travel up to the roof. Her take was simpler than The Drifters, as the focus was on her vocal and piano. James Taylor made the song a hit again during 1979 and they performed it regularly on their recent reunion tour.

There were a number of excellent tracks. One of the best was “Eventually,” which spoke of the dreams and fears of the ’60s generation as a new decade had begun. “Raspberry Jam” can best be described as a jazz waltz. ”Goin Back” looked at the simple things in life, at a time when life was anything but simple for many people.

Writer found Carole King at the beginning of her recording career. It was simple, lyrical, melodic, and underrated. It remains a comforting and enjoyable listen 41 years later.

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