The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus to EX++*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This early Ode pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to from start to finish
- Big, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, yet still clean, clear and open (particularly on side one) - finally, the dark veil obscuring the sound of most copies has been lifted
- This album is clearly Carole's masterpiece - it's loaded with great songs, and they all sound solid and correct here, two qualities which are critically important to the sound of the album
- Problems in the vinyl are hard to avoid on this title - the original pressings were never that quiet to begin with, and it's a classic that was (understandably) played to death
- 5 stars: "...an intensely emotional record, the songs confessional and direct; in its time it connected with listeners like few records before it, and it remains an illuminating experience decades later. A remarkably expressive and intimate record, it's a work of consummate craftsmanship."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 11 times (4 loud, 7 light) about 1/4" into track 2 on side 1.
Audiophile sound is not easy to find on Tapestry. As we've been saying for twenty-plus years, most copies are either dull and murky or edgy and thin, and on half the ones that do sound good the vinyl is noisy. On a copy like this, though, the sound gets out of the way and lets you focus on the music -- and make no mistake, the music on this album is as good as it gets from Carole King.
We went nuts for this album during our big shootout. Since most of the time we're playing testosterone-fueled, raging classic rock, it was a nice change of pace for us -- and certainly easier on our poor eardrums! Our man JT makes an appearance playing acoustic guitar on a number of tracks, most notably "You've Got A Friend," and his pals Russ Kunkel and Danny Kootch turn up too, with Kootch handling most of the electric guitar duties.
What's surprising, if you haven't played this album in a while, is how good non-hit tracks like "Home Again" can be. But there aren't many of those non-hits on this album, and that's a good thing; almost every song was a hit or received a lot of radio play. The quality of the material is that good.
What The Best Sides Of Tapestry Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We're Listening For On Tapestry
Transparency and Richness
One quality that we had no trouble recognizing on the better copies was transparency. The more transparent copies made it possible to hear through the mix to Carole's piano, which is usually placed toward the back of the mix. There it serves to underpin the music, playing more of a supporting role than a leading one, very unlike the piano on a Joni Mitchell album, for example.
The better copies let you easily follow Carole's playing all the way through every song, from start to finish, no matter how quiet her part or how far back in the mix she may be placed.
If the pressing has a thinner sound obviously it becomes easier to pick up on the percussive nature of the instrument and "see" it more clearly. However, a thin piano tone on this album is the kiss of death. The better copies allow you to hear the full range of notes -- including those played with the left hand -- and for that, you need both richness and transparency.
This is a tricky balancing act; rarely in our experience do any two copies find precisely the same balance throughout an entire side.
Tough Sledding with Tapestry
There's a reason you don't see Tapestry Hot Stampers on the site very often. Folks, take it from us, even in Mint Minus Minus condition it ain't that easy to find them. People loved Tapestry -- it was Number One on the Billboard 200 for fifteen straight weeks, which is still the record for a female solo artist, and charted for more than 300(!).
It's a classic and it got played to death. Furthermore, the Ode vinyl the originals were pressed on was never all that quiet to begin with. We probably look at twenty or thirty for every one we find that's not scratched or worn out. So this excellent copy, with only a handful of marks and no groove damage to speak of, is nearly unheard of. Sound-wise, our copies will trounce any copy you've ever heard or your money back.
The Reissues Won't Get You There
The CBS Half-Speed is ridiculously bright -- can you imagine a worse way to present this intimate music? Bernie Grundman's heavy vinyl pressing isn't terrible, but it isn't all that musical and never really comes to life. We dropped the needle on it for a few moments and were bored to tears.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
A Must Own Pop Record
We consider this Carole King album her Masterpiece. It's a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- I Feel the Earth Move
- So Far Away
- It's Too Late
- Home Again
- Way Over Yonder
- You've Got a Friend
- Where You Lead
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
- Smackwater Jack
- (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Carole King brought the fledgling singer/songwriter phenomenon to the masses with Tapestry, one of the most successful albums in pop music history. A remarkably expressive and intimate record, it's a work of consummate craftsmanship.
Always a superior pop composer, King reaches even greater heights as a performer; new songs like the hits "It's Too Late" and "I Feel the Earth Move" rank solidly with past glories, while chestnuts like "You've Got a Friend," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" take on added resonance when delivered in her own warm, compelling voice.
With its reliance on pianos and gentle drumming, Tapestry is a light and airy work on its surface, occasionally skirting the boundaries of jazz, but it's also an intensely emotional record, the songs confessional and direct; in its time it connected with listeners like few records before it, and it remains an illuminating experience decades later.