Pearls: Songs Of Goffin And King

Carole King

Capitol, 1980

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


As the 1970s came to an end, Carole King’s commercial viability was in decline, becoming far removed from the multi-million sales success of Tapestry. Her recent releases had been competent if not outstanding, and 1980 found her at a crossroads of her career, needing to produce a commercially successful album.

Since her current compositions were not providing her with the success she desired, she returned to her past for material. Despite the old saying “You can never go home again,” King proved that you could return to your past musically, especially when it contained some of the best pop songs of the 1960s. It all added up to her best and most successful album release in years.

During the 1960s, she and former husband Gerry Goffin formed one of the most successful and brilliant songwriting teams of all time. Dozens of their compositions charted on the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Billboard Magazine Pop Single and Rhythm & Blues Charts. They were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990 as a songwriting team. Once she decided upon the concept of her new album, she had a wealth of material from which to choose.

Pearls: Songs Of Goffin And King was released in 1980. Many of its songs would remain a part of her concert act for the rest of her career. It was interesting to hear her interpret her own songs that were associated with other artists. She filled in the sound with a full rock band, brass section, and background vocals.

“One Fine Day” and “The Locomotion” were both a part of Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The first was originally a hit by The Chiffons. King stripped it down a bit, increased the tempo, and proved she could provide a pure pop vocal for one of her own songs. It became her last Top 40 hit to date. “Locomotion” is one of the most successful songs of all time, becoming a number one single for both Little Eva and Grand Funk Railroad, in addition to reaching number three for Kylie Minogue. King’s voice is different from Little Eva’s but her interpretation was similar. Other pure pop interpretations included “Hey Girl,” “Chains,” and “Oh No Not My Baby.”

King traveled in a very different direction on some of the cuts on this disc. “Wasn’t Born To Follow,” and “Goin’Back” were both recorded by The Byrds and “Hi-De-Ho” by Blood, Sweat & Tears, and it’s interesting to hear her solo versions and compare them to their famous rock band incarnations. She had recorded “Goin’ Back” for her Writer album but the song was completely reworked here. “HI-De-Ho” was one of the most blues oriented songs of Goffin and King’s career and it forced her to stretch a little.

Pearls: Songs Of Goffin And King is an album I have continued to play on a regular basis down through the years. Charming is not a strong enough word for her performances on these tracks. It remains an essential, if underappreciated, album in her vast catalogue and is always worth a listen.

Rating: A-

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© 2012 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.