Carole King’s Tapestry was Adele’s 21 back in 1971. The amount of chart and sales success made this LP irrefutable in any decent music collection. Obviously reissued to death for commercial reason but I largely ignored it because I just can’t feel the Earth Move any more. This song was overplayed, over covered. However, lately I was reintroduced to this LP at a customer’s system. I heard the recent MoFi version and it immediately registered a positive impression when the needle hit the groove. It was Nice!
Truth be told, I didn’t realise till I heard it from a big stereo system (my customer) that the last track of Side A – Way Over Yonder, was in fact quite demanding to play. It is a track that could split Carole’s vocal if the turntable setup is not perfectly done. It has become his litmus test before he signs off.
So having renewed my interest in Tapestry, I managed to dig out the following issues and did a shootout, purely for fun and curiousity. They are namely, King Record (GP 256) from Japan, Epic (Epc 82308) from UK, first issue Ode Records (SP 77009) from US and the ever controversial Simply Vinyl (SVLP 193) from UK. Before you jump into my conclusion on the best issue, take note that your mileage may differ as I’ve only heard this handful and our system and ears differ.
I played 2 songs from Side A (finally, the earth moves again and the just mentioned torture track) from all 4 LPs. I would rank them like this:
#4 – Epic UK. The sound is more laid-back and overall dynamics weaker compared to the other 3. Carole King sounded recessed.
#3 – King Record Japan. An improvement over #4 in the vocals. The spotlight returns to Carole King which rightly should.
#2 – Ode Records US. Eh?! An audiophile reissue over an original first issue? Are you sure? If you prefer the 70s, tad dusty, tad smoky, golden brown sound, this would be your #1. But if faint background noise is a bother, image focus, fine details is important to you, then this is #2. Perhaps if this popular first pressing didn’t see through that many hands, it would be a tie.
#1 – Simply Vinyl UK. This not inexpensive reissue (market price) gave Carole King an updated spin. Carole King sounded youthful through the quiet vinyl. There is good vocal focus, music separation and the backing vocals also stood out. It is jolly good resolution without any sense of digital hardness. And the latter is what turned audiophiles off whenever late reissues is concerned.
Ready to dust off this 70s best seller to compare notes? You may not have to skip the first track 😉