Monday, October 29, 2012

Carole King - "The Carnegie Hall Concert, June 18, 1971"

This legacy edition of this 1971 concert was not released until 1996. But it is a little gem.

Performed for a sold out crowd shortly after the release of King's landmark "Tapestry" album that was climbing up the charts and her song "It's Too Late" had hit number one on the charts the morning of this concert.

The audience is incredibly excited between songs and in sheer respectful awe when songs are sung. The audience is so quiet during some songs you can hear her voice bounce of the walls. King is obviously nervous as evidenced by her stage chatter, she does get more comfortable as the show progresses and as noted at this point in her life she had terrible stage fright.

While the songs are largely from "Tapestry" there are several excellent renditions from her forgotten debut album "Writer" and songs from her at the time unreleased  album "Music." For the majority of the concert King is alone with her piano giving even the famous songs a different spin. It is almost as if King is in your living with a grand piano, that is how intimate this concert sounds. Sometimes her voice is shaky as she was not really a performer at this point in her career. Well known California session guitarist Danny Kortchmar appears on a few songs; There is also a special appearance by James Taylor who duets with King on some of her old hits like "Will you still love me tomorrow" and of course "You've Got  a Friend."

The liner notes are excellent as is the sound which is usual for Legacy releases. This is a great companion piece to the classic "Tapestry" album and a warm nice listen for a late cold night. Recommended for fans of King and "Tapestry."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Israel Kamakawiwo`ole - "Alone in IZ World"

Easily the best of the many IZ studio albums released after his death in 1997. This is really a compilation of alternate performances and remixed/overdubbed songs from his previous albums. There are a handful of "new songs" one of which, a version of Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa" is an outtake with IZ cracking jokes part way through. It is a nice insight into the man like he is talking to you. Most of the tracks are unplugged IZ and his ukulele which is wonderful and soothing.

There are several orchestral, wall of sound style remixes that work very well, "Starting All Over Again" and "In This Life" becoming big hits in these redone versions. Overall the album works very well because it picks some lesser known songs in the musicians catalogue and presents them in simple but pleasing ways. Also released after the massive success of "Facing Future" and IZ's untimely passing the album became a huge hit and a popular addition to many listeners libraries. Most original copies of the disc come with a Quicktime special version that plays some candid personal photos, press clippings, and a screen saver.

Note: the version of "Over the Rainbow" presented here is not the famous version, see IZ's album "Facing Future" for the famous "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World" medley.