Get this crazy baby off my head!


Carole King

Carole King - Pearls Songs Of Goffin And King - 1980 - Capitol Records

Dan Heilman wrote "On Pearls King reprises the early-'60s pop gems she wrote with Gerry Goffin, with fine results." There is just a fraction of their phenomenal work documented here, and the 16 and a half minutes per side on the vinyl LP is hardly enough time to give the listener a proper perspective. "Dancin with Tears in My Eyes" opens the collection, a pleasant new addition to their repertoire, but next to "The Loco-Motion," "One Fine Day," "Chains," and "Snow Queen," its purpose is more to bring the album full circle than to try to compete with these classics. "One Fine Day," the song the Chiffons brought Top Five, was the hit, going Top 15 from this set 17 years later. Make no mistake about it, this is possibly Carole King's most important work since Tapestry, and why a similar album didn't follow Tapestry or its follow-up, Music, was a marketing blunder and a mystery. Missing here is Lou Adler's production, though King and her co-producer, Mark Hallman, are hardly inefficient. It's just that some songs get more attention than others. The reworking of the Freddie Scott-Bobby Vee-Donny Osmond hit "Hey Girl" is breathtaking. Here King is backed by lush production and a bluesy vocal that surpasses anything else on this record, as well as much of what was on the charts at this time. Without changing gender, King's performance is a showstopper. Her friend Neil Sedaka employs the same technique when he puts "Where the Boys Are" in his live sets, and both singer/songwriters take their original compositions to new heights. "Chains," however, the song covered by both the Cookies and the Beatles, needed a bit more of what they gave to "Oh No, Not My Baby" -- a bigger sound. Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King is the set the artist's longtime fans craved when Tapestry made her more than a household name. On her Writer album, pre-Tapestry, she gave listeners "Up on the Roof"; with Music, the Tapestry follow-up, listeners got "Some Kind of Wonderful"; and on her pre-solo work with the City, the Lou Adler-produced Now That Everything's Been Said, there were three familiar tunes that are re-recorded for Pearls, those being the Blood, Sweat & Tears hit "That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)," "I Wasn't Born to Follow," which the Byrds covered, and "Snow Queen," which Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Tokens, and the Association all recorded. Both songwriters, Goffin with his excellent It Ain't Exactly Entertainment, and King with just about every album she made between Tapestry and Pearls, refused to capitalize on their earlier efforts. They, and their fans, are not the better for it. From 1962's "It Might as Well Rain Until September," King's first hit, to the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday," hearing a superstar sing her original songs that fans know and love is something very important. Her version of "Oh No, Not My Baby" is right up there with the classics by Rod Stewart and Maxine Brown, and at the risk of being redundant, it must be said again: this album deserves its place right next to Tapestry. © Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

This album contains ten classic Goffin & King songs, but only skims the surface of this great songwriting duo's catalogue. There's no "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Every Breath I Take", "Take Good Care of My Baby", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby", "Up on the Roof", "I'm into Something Good", or the brilliant "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". Compilation albums are not normally criticised too harshly on this blog, but there is so much more that could have been included on this too short album.


A1 Dancin' With Tears In My Eyes
A2 Locomotion
A3 One Fine Day
A4 Hey Girl

A5 Snow Queen
B1 Chains
B2 Ho No Not My Baby
B3 Hi De Ho
B4 Wasn't Born To Follow
B5 Goin' Back

All songs composed by Goffin & King


Carole King - vocals, background vocals, piano
Mark Hallman - guitar, harmonica, background vocals
Eric Johnson - guitar
Christopher Cross - guitar, background vocals
Charles Larkey - bass
Reese Wynans - keyboards
Steve Meador - drums
Miguel Rivera - conga, percussion
Richard Hardy - flute, saxophone
Tomás Ramírez - saxophone, winds
Ray Crisara, Bobby Meyer - trumpet, cornet
Donald Knaub, Michael Munday - tombone
Mark Maniscalco - banjo
Betty Whitlock - fiddle
Lydia North, Oscar Ford, Jr., Deborah North, Gloria Hines - background vocals


Nine of the ten cuts on Pearls–Songs of Goffin and King are rerecordings of oldies, and they represent Carole King's implicit acknowledgment that her songwriting talent has failed in recent years. There's no shame in that admission, however, considering how many classics King and her longtime partner, Gerry Goffin, have contributed to the pop-music hall of fame. And it's a relief to have a new Carole King album filled with material that's good. Her solo career actually peaked in 1972 with Rhymes and Reasons, and her LPs since then have steadily declined in quality, even while Tapestry (1971) continued to rack up record-breaking sales. Still, Pearls isn't the comeback I'd anticipated. There's an odd indifference – perhaps it's melancholy – in King's replays of chestnuts like "Locomotion," "Oh No Not My Baby" and "Goin' Back." These tunes lack the definitive touch or the first-time-out exuberance that characterized similar remakes on Writer: Carole King and Tapestry–or, for that matter," Dancin' with Tears in My Eyes," Pearls' one new number. This composition – a catchy throwback to King's Shirelles days and a great improvement over her recent psychobabbling–is the current album's most lavishly produced track, and that leads to another slight disappointment: the oldies here are done almost austerely with little more than piano and voice, like demos from the Great Masters. Though the a cappella intro to "Chains" and the speedy tempo and shooby-dooby-doo-wahs in "One Fine Day" are fun, the clattery, kitschy arrangements of yore are missed. Interestingly, Pearls' best cuts are those least associated with Carole King. Besides "Dancin' with Tears in My Eyes," there's "Snow Queen" (which King first recorded in 1968 with her trio, the City), now redelivered in a nicely streamlined, jazz-propelled version. The biggest surprise is "Hey Girl." This old Freddie Scott hit is a strange choice, given the lyric's gender specifications, but King gives it a beautifully rough, near-torchy treatment. Her passionate performance is reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt's version of "Hurt So Bad" – it climaxes in long notes of rage mixed with desperation–but, to these ears, King's is the more emotionally convincing and aesthetically pleasing. Of course, doing an LP like Pearls presents Carole King with a new problem. It brings her career full circle (as did her first solo effort, Writer), yet it also raises the question: where does she go from here? Judging from the burned-out quality of the records immediately preceding Pearls, that question is pretty scary. © DON SHEWEY, (Posted: Aug 7, 1980): © 2009 Rolling Stone