The fourth and final entry is Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King, in which King revisits 10 songs written with Gerry Goffin. Well, Pearls is an appropriate title as those songs speak for themselves. Yet it is kind of strange to hear these early '60s tracks done in a “contemporary” (for 1980) style. There really isn’t much that can be done to change “The Loco-Motion” except for adding a cool sax break. I always thought the Todd Rundgren-produced Grand Funk version of that song was the killer reinterpretation.
“Dancin’ With Tears In My Eyes” definitely has that 1980 sound to it, though, for good or ill. “Hey Girl,” and “Oh No, Not My Baby” actually sound like they could have fit right in on Tapestry with the new arrangements. And I guess I had forgotten that “Chains” was a Goffin-King song, because The Beatles did such an excellent job with it on their British debut Please Please Me way back in 1962. From the first time I heard it, I have always associated it with them.
In the 32 years since Pearls, Carole King has stayed busy. She has continued to record, and has gotten very involved in environmental and political issues. I am really happy that she has decided to reissue these albums, because with 20/20 hindsight, it is obvious that they were unfairly ignored. If you ever considered yourself a Carole King fan but passed on these later recordings, do yourself a favor and check them out. I know I was pleasantly surprised at just how good they actually are.