Carole King recorded Welcome Home during January of 1978 and released the album about four months later. While it was an album of mostly upbeat music, personal tragedy would strike as her husband and sometime co-writer, Rick Evers, would die of a drug overdose in between. The album would not be embraced by the music buying public and was her least successful up until that time.
The first sign of trouble was found in the personnel listing. She was listed as the vocalist, background vocalist, and for arranging the strings. She was not listed as a musician. It was her personal piano sound that was so important to her success, and here it was ignored. There was a brass section listed, a virtual orchestra of strings, and even a choir. It all added up to a new direction for her music. She continued to travel away from her gritty, personal lyrics toward a more pastoral and philosophical style.
She wrote or co-wrote all the tracks but two were written by committee, which further removed her from her previous comfort zone. Her two compositions with Evers, “Sunbird” and “Wings of Love,” are polished but not memorable. Her solo compositions were the best of the lot, which should have been a lesson learned.
I had to listen to this album a number of times to reacquaint myself with the music, which is not a good sign. There are a number of her albums where I can name many of the songs, but I could only recall the name of one track before I removed it from the shelf.
The song I did remember was “Main Street Saturday Night,” which was actually very good. It had strong guitar lines and quickly settled into a nice groove. The vocal was also excellent, as she sounded as if she was really trying.
The two songs she wrote with multiple members of her recording band are among the album’s weakest. “Venusian Diamond” just misses as she/they overreached and the song did not gel. “Disco Tech” is dated, and any Carole King song with disco in the title still makes me cringe.
He own compositions, “Ride The Music” and “Morning Sun,” are interesting in some regards. Her use of a flute and clarinet as significant instruments was a creative touch. “Everybody’s Got The Spirit” and “Welcome Home” are competent songs and were welcome as they closed the album.
I don’t know what her mindset was when she was creating the music for the album or in what direction her marital relationship was traveling at the time. Both may have significantly impacted the album. On the other hand, the lyrics were mostly positive and whether they were legitimate or escapist is not known.
Carole King is a genius, but Welcome Home remains one of the weaker albums in her catalogue and one of the most forgettable.