Carole King: In Concert


    review by Richard G. Vander

    A musical prodigy of the 1940s, Brooklyn born Carole King was the subject of her friend Neil Sedaka's 1959 hit, Oh Carol, a year after she met future-husband and song-writing partner, Gerry Goffin. Over the next decade this duo's extraordinary output of now-classic tracks rivalled that of Lennon and McCartney, though, unlike the Beatles, some of the best King/Goffin compositions were originally recorded by others like The Animals, The Byrds, The Crystals, The Drifters, Aretha Franklin, Gene Pitney, Dusty Springfield and Bobby Vee.

    After she split from Goffin, King continued to forge ahead, albeit sporadically, with her solo career as singer/songwriter. This delightful show, recorded in Hartford, Connecticut for PBS during King's 'Colour Of Your Dreams' tour (1993), features an admirable range of material - from heartfelt ballads to hard rock with a pleasing mix of pop and jazz influences. Opening with a super Hard Rock Café, King picks up the guitar for Smackwater Jack (boasting some great honky-tonk piano) before sitting at the baby grand herself for Up On The Roof, and Beautiful. Cool bass lines on Do You Feel Loveprecede an emotive performance of Natural Woman, though she's quieter and back at the ivories for So Far Away.

    Halfway through, a gospel choir, and guest guitarist Slash (of Guns 'n' Roses), take to the stage for pomp rock anthem Hold Out For Love - with enthusiastic audience participation. This is followed by Goffin/King's first hit Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (US #1 for The Shirelles in 1960), and the rousing saxophone of Jazzman (a hit single in 1974) prior to King's backing band resting through her welcome medley of piano-soloed oldies.

    From there, King launches into a melodic It's Too Late with bear-like Teddy Andreadis on vocals, and the bluesy Chains featuring Andreadis on harmonica. A powerhouse rendition of I Feel The Earth Move leads us into an audience-demanded sing-along of the classic You've Got A Friend (once a major success for James Taylor), and the set ends with the choir's return, and Slash on lead guitar, for a heavy metal version of Locomotion - the catchy tune Goffin and King wrote for their babysitter (Little) Eva Boyd, way back in 1962.

    One of the premier American female artistes of the 1970s (see her essential album Tapestry), Carole King remains a performer of strong personality, with a boundless energy that makes Tina Turner look like a zombie.

    Trivia bit: King's daughter Sherry Goffin is one of the backing singers here.