This is part 39 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.
Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month – thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.
Anand Harsh, The Untz
Van Morrison, A Period of Transition
This vinyl lives on my turntable. Beer spattered, and scratched all to hell, the thing barely plays anymore, but “The Eternal Kansas City” blares just as brightly as it ever has with the full chorus, blustery horns, and Van Morrison’s shredded vocal nodes. This is the late-night sing-a-long in my house when everyone is long gone and only the bleary old drunks like myself remain.
Aaron Z. Lee, Graphic Artist at the Lifestyles Center, Adjunct Professor of Illustration & Graphic Novel
The Faint, Wet From Birth
It came out the fall of my first semester of college and it had a great combination of strings, electronic beats and punk attitude. It’s been a pleasure to listen to it around October and it’s the perfect autumn/Halloween album.
Joe Bucciero, AdHoc
Gareth Williams & Mary Currie, Flaming Tunes
Sensitive, weird, makes aural-contextual sense alongside the best of Rough Trade, Xpressway, and Siltbreeze but ultimately resists proper analogy. Try hearing this when you’re in high school, steeped only in then-contemporary indie rock and its Our Band Could Be Your Life forebears, and ever looking back.
Beth Blenz-Clucas, Sugar Mountain PR
Carole King, Tapestry
It’s the very first LP I ever purchased. Carole’s album had been out for a few years before I discovered it, but tracks from “Tapestry” continued to get play on the FM stations in Chicago, where I grew up. I was just emerging from a childhood of piano lessons and the sappiest of ’60s pop music, as well as my grandmother’s eclectic collection of albums (everything from Sergio Mendes Brazil ’66 to Sinatra). She let me pop LPs into her wood-paneled hi-fi, and it felt good. But Carole King offered something entirely different. When I first heard the entire album at a friend’s house, I knew I had to own it. I showed up at my local record store, handed it over a wad of babysitting dollars, and marched it right home to play each side over and over and over again on my portable record player. I was joining the 25 million-plus people who were listening and loving those songs during that decade. Much later, I discovered the huge impact of Carole King on popular music, but on that first day, it was all about discovering songwriting. Underlying all of these songs was a sense that women could truly do and think anything. That was big stuff in the 1970s.
Bob Waters, Program Director & Morning Show Host, WTPA FM, Harrisburg, PA
XTC, English Settlement
Growing up in Reagan’s America (in what was already a conservative part of the country), I was surrounded by conformity and right-wing traditionalism. I was starting to form my own ideas and ideals and values, which were far different from those I’d been inundated with. English Settlement was like a liberal manifesto. It made my soul smile. It was, in every note, every moment, every way possible, liberating.
In a burst of activity, the Concord Music Group and its sister publishing company, the Bicycle Music Company, have merged to form Concord Bicycle Music. The combined company immediately turned around and acquired Vanguard Records and Sugar Hill Records from the Welk Music Group, in a deal that closed today.
The company also announced it has raised $100 million for acquisitions and to implement further growth strategies. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The merger and subsequent acquisitions create a new indie powerhouse that will have an estimated $125 million in annual revenue, with a master recording portfolio of about 10,000 albums, and a music publishing catalog of about 60,000 songs. Albums now under the combined company include work from such artists as George Benson, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creed, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Evanescence, Isaac Hayes, Kenny G, Carole King, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Steve Martin, Paul McCartney and Wings, Nine Inch Nails, the Offspring, Robert Plant, Otis Redding, Seether, Paul Simon, Social Distortion, the Staple Singers, James Taylor, George Thorogood, Tone Loc, and Esperanza Spalding. The Bicycle Music publishing catalog includes such songs as “Always On My Mind,” “Eye Of The Tiger,” “Guantanamera,” “Lady Sings The Blues,” “Let Your Love Flow,” “Man In The Mirror,” “Slow Ride,” “Stand By Your Man,” “Time After Time,” and the songs from A Chorus Line.
The Vanguard and Sugar Hill acquisition adds albums from such artists as Merle Haggard, O.A.R., John Fogerty, Levon Helm, The Indigo Girls, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joseph Arthur, Lee Ann Womack, Marc Broussard, Bruce Hornsby, Chris Isaak, and Bare Naked Ladies; and a catalog of albums from Buddy Guy, Mississippi John Hurt, John Hammond, the Weavers, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, James Cotton and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.
Carole King at a recording session at RCA Studio B in New York City when she was just 17 in these photos. At that age, she married Gerry Goffin in a Jewish ceremony on Long Island in August 1959 after King had become pregnant with her first daughter, Louise. They left college and took daytime jobs, Goffin working as an assistant chemist and King as a secretary, while writing songs together in the evening at an office belonging to Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway opposite the Brill Building.
“Basketball Jones” was a song from Cheech & Chong’s 1973 Los Cochinos (“The Pigs”) record, and is about teenage Tyrone and his love of basketball sung in a falsetto voice by Cheech Marin. That’s not the ‘wow’ part, though. Listen for the backing band: George Harrison, Klaus Voorman, Carole King, Nicky Hopkins, Tom Scott and Billy Preston. The Blossoms with Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and Michelle Phillips were the voices of the singing cheerleaders. The song was released as a single in September 1973 and reached #15 in the US charts, and animated short film of Basketball Jones was created to promote the release of the single.
Carole King once told The Telegraph that words didn’t always come as easily when she was a teen, calling herself “lyrically challenged.” She said that the true magic started happening when she met lyricist and future ex-husband Gerry Goffin at college in New York. Then, everything changed. Leading the way for every songwriter across all genres since the early 60s whether they realize it or not, her 1971 release Tapestry is still a monumental release, and still one of the landmark albums in music history. Here are 15 fun facts about the album that never deserts you, even if your friends and lovers do.
1. Carole King wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album, several of which had already been hits for other artists such as Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (in 1967) and The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (in 1960).
2. The cover photograph was taken by A&M staff photographer Jim McCrary at King’s Laurel Canyon home. King is holding a tapestry she hand-stitched herself, and that’s her cat Telemachus at her feet.
3. Tapestry was number 1 on the Billboard 200 for 15 consecutive weeks, and held the record for most weeks at number 1 by a female solo artist for over 20 years until surpassed by Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album in 1993.
4. Tapestry has been listed on the Billboard 200 for over 300 weeks between 1971 and 2011, the longest by a female solo artist.
5. Upon release, two of the biggest music critics had it right about Tapestry – Robert Christgau felt that her voice, raw and imperfect, free of “technical decorum”, would liberate female singers while Jon Landau in Rolling Stone felt that King was one of the most creative pop music figures and had created an album of “surpassing personal-intimacy and musical accomplishment“.
6. The first 22 seconds of “I Feel The Earth Move” is used for the earthquake room exhibit at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) in Portland, Oregon.
7. On July 26, 2011, the funeral of Amy Winehouse in London ended with a rendition of King’s “So Far Away.”
8. King’s version of “It’s Too Late” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts‒on the Hot 100 as a double A-side with “I Feel the Earth Move”.
9. “You’ve Got a Friend” was written by King during the January 1971 recording sessions for Tapestry, and James Taylor’s album Mud Slide Slim. King’s album was recorded in an overlap with Taylor’s, and King, Danny Kortchmar, and Joni Mitchell perform on both. The song is included on both albums.
10. “Where You Lead” was inspired from the Book of Ruth, where it says: “Where you go, I will go” and King re-recorded for the theme song of Gilmore Girls with her daughter Louise Goffin.
11. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, also known as “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, was originally recorded by The Shirelles, and was the first song by an all-girl group to reach #1 on Billboard.
12. She was only 18 when she wrote that song. Think about that for a moment.
13. The last song on the album was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. He had been mulling over the concept of the “natural man”, when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her he wanted a “natural woman” song for Aretha Franklin’s next album. And that’s how the title “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” came to be.
14. Tapestry is one of the best-selling albums of all-time, with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. It received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year, thanks to the lead single, “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” having reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained on the chart for 17 weeks.
15. King also won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year (“It’s Too Late”), and Song of the Year (“You’ve Got a Friend”), making King the first solo female artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, and the first female to win the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.