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CD review: Carole King 'The Legendary Demos'
Before her breakthrough solo album “Tapestry” made her a superstar of the burgeoning singer-songwriter genre in 1971, Carole King had been writing No. 1 hits for other artists for nearly 12 years. Her 1960s songs — many written with then-husband and lyricist Gerry Goffin — were made famous by the likes of Aretha Franklin, the Shirelles, the Drifters and the Monkees. Even the Beatles covered one of her tunes — “Chains” — on their debut album.
But before those tunes became smashes for others, they first came to life on demos — short for “demonstration records” — which were used to pitch those songs to other artists. “The Legendary Demos” collects 13 of King's early demo recordings of her own work, all previously unreleased, and some even better than the versions that topped the '60s charts.
“Take Good Care of My Baby,” written when Goffin and King were staff songwriters at Aldon Music, a New York song publishing house owned by Don Kirshner and Al Nevins, became a fully orchestrated No. 1 hit for teen idol Bobby Vee in 1961. Here, it's just 19-year-old King accompanying herself on a piano, yet the genuine adolescent anguish and heartbreak shine through in her youthful voice, creating a far more engaging and warmly intimate rendition than the one that whined through radio speakers.