Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The #7 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Tapestry" by Carole King

So we've had Back in Black from AC/DC at #10, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd at #9, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at #8, and now Inside the Rock Era brings you the #7 Album of All-Time.

Carole King set several records with Tapestry, two of which still stand--15 weeks at #1, the longest ever for a female artist, and 306 weeks on the chart, again the longest for a female artist.  The album remained in the Top 10 for 46 weeks, the seventh-highest total in the Rock Era to that point.  The longevity of this album and ability to stand the test of time was further validated when it charted as recently as May 14, 2011.  King wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, including two, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for Aretha Franklin and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" for the Shirelles, that were hits for other artists prior to this album.  It was James Taylor who encouraged King to sing her own songs and Taylor lends his talent to the album.

Tapestry has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, a factor that will be very much in its favor when Inside the Rock Era presents The Top 100 Albums in the World* shortly after the conclusion of this summer special.  To date, Tapestry has sold 10 million copies in the United States, and has an outstanding Track Rating* of 9.29. 

The #1 song "It's Too Late", one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*, was joined by "I Feel the Earth Move", which became a double-sided hit.  "Smackwater Jack" and "So Far Away" were the other singles.  But, as the high Track Rating* above attests to, the album can and should be tracked through.  There is not a bad or even average song on the album.  "Beautiful", "Way Over Yonder" and "Where You Lead" are also excellent songs and the title cut "Tapestry" is one of the Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

Carole King won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Record of the Year (for "It's Too Late") and Song of the Year (for "You've Got a Friend".  In 2003, Tapestry was chosen to be one of 50 recordings added to the National Recording Registry and be preserved in the Library of Congress.

(All songs by Carole King unless noted.)

Side one
1.  "I Feel the Earth Move" --2:58
2.  "So Far Away" --3:55
3.  "It's Too Late" (lyrics by Toni Stern) --3:53
4.  "Home Again" --2:29
5:  "Beautiful" --3:08
6.  "Way Over Yonder" --4:44

Side two
7.  "You've Got a Friend" --5:09
8.  "Where You Lead" (lyrics by Toni Stern) --3:20
9.  "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) --4:12
10.  "Smackwater Jack" (Goffin, King) --3:41
11.  "Tapestry" --3:13
12.  "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Goffin, King, Jerry Wexler) --3:49

King played piano and keyboards on the album.  She got help from drummers Russ Kunkel, Joel O'Brien and Steve Barzyk, Charles Larkey on electric and string bass and a member of the string quartet, Curtis Amy on flute, baritone, tenor and soprano saxophone and organizer of the string quartet, David Campbell on cello and viola, Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar on acoustic and electric guitar, conga and vocals and Terry King, who played cello, tenor sax and was a member of the string quartet. 

Ralph Schuckett played electric piano, Barry Socher played violin and viola for the string quartet and also contributed tenor sax.  James Taylor (who also played acoustic guitar and granfalloon), Joni Mitchell, Julia Tillman and Merry Clayton sang backing vocals on the album. 

Tapestry was recorded in January of 1971 at A&M Records.  Lou Adler was the producer while Hank Cicalo engineered the album.  Cicalo mixed it and Bernie Grundman, Vic Anesini and Steve Hall mastered it.  Roland Young was the art director, Chuck Beeson was in charge of album design, Jim McCrary provided photography and James Taylor wrote the liner notes.  The album was released January 30, 1971 on A&M Records.

Carole King's groundbreaking Tapestry is #7 All-Time.

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