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Reviews: Carole King: Tapestry

Reviews: 10

Review by Tom March 2, 2003 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This has always been one of my favorate albums. I've owned the SACD for about 2 years and have played it many times. Both the vocals and the music on the first track on the album seem a little distorted, but after that the music on the remaining original 11 cuts sounds great. However, King's voice still seems to have a slightly distorted sound. This is also apparent with the original recording. I have the LP and I can hear the vocal distortion on it, even though it never bothered me before. With the bonus cuts, King's voice is clean, but the music is flat and veiled. Oh well. Overall, I still love this album.

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Review by petermwilson July 15, 2003 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Hi Tom,
WE seem to have similar tastes, and when i read the Tapestry review i popped it in right away.
I use Totem Model 1's all around which are very revealing speakers and the piano in the opening song is dispropotionately sharp compared to the guitar although Carol's voice is very clean from the center speaker.
What i noticed also is that everything, vocals/instuments/channelmixing is extremely well defined from the second song forward. I also love this album in the same way as Carly Simon's dvd-a "No Secrets" which were both (not to exclude Joni Mitchel who has released almost everything in HDCD) in the 1971/72 family of female stars.

Peter m.

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Review by Noonions March 31, 2004 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A pop music touchstone 33 years on,Carole King's Tapestry in 5.1 surround sound is something to behold indeed.You can imagine Carole King right in your living room when you hear this in SACD multichannel!Of course,the songs still sound as fresh and touching today as it did in 1971.Timeless indeed!

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Review by dbfarr63 May 15, 2005 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
This really is a classic album and now that I have heard it, a classic sacd. The multichannel version of this album is brilliant and sounds way beyond its 34 years. I think some of the reviewers were a bit harsh with the voice distortion. I don't think that there are many recordings made in 1971 that do not have any distortion in them. Anyway, this is one of the must have multichannel sacds to have in your collection.

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Review by JW September 25, 2006 (13 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
What a classic! There are a few versions of this SA-CD. I have what some people call a dual-layer SA-CD - a disc without the RB-CD layer but with an SA-CD multichannel and a stereo layer (ES86328 Ode/Epic/Legacy). The sound of this disc is pretty good, in a similar vein as I found the sound on 'Layla' very good. You cannot hear a better more authentic version. Is there a little distortion on for example the voice tracks 1, 2 and 11? Sure. Does it lack midrange? Ditto. But it sounds real and clean enough for me and nice enough by audiophle standards to give it a solid 3 star rating. I'm adding half a star because there is a story attached to this. Read on...

There have been some rumors going around the various websites regarding this disc. On Steve Hofman's site the master himself is on record in saying that the version to get is ES 65850/Sony/Ode/Legacy. It's supposed to sound warmer and more dynamic. He later admitted that he made this statement in error. The version under review here, according to others, is technically the better version with better balance and mix choices. This has caused some people to think that there was a difference between the stereo-mix on the original stereo-only SA-CD (ES 65850) and the stereo-mix on the ES86328.

I cannot compare myself, but I did some research and tried summarizing the various opinions for you here. The original tapes were used for the SA-CD which means that the 2-track mix is the original. It has also transpired that the original 2-track mix is the same on the single layer original SA-CD as it is on this dual layer disc. This seems to be the concensus these days. Both stereo tracks are the same. This was later confirmed by Vic Anesini - there was never a stereo re-mix( You can stop hunting for that single layer stereo-only disc now :-)

That said, let me quote Hofman again in a later thread when he says something very interesting on this stereo-mix: "This album is essentially UNMASTERED. Just like all of the silver MoFi CD's and many of the MoFi UDI's, WEA "Targets", JPN ABBEY ROAD, JPN Beach Boys PASTMASTERS and other early CD's.

Unmastered, let the chips fall where they may.

So, an album has a bit of a hole in the midrange, so this or that album has too much or not enough bass, so an album has too much dynamic range? These things mean that the music was untampered with in transferring to digital.

Essentially, to me, this means that you pay a paltry 20 bucks to have someone in a vault pull the master reels of an album out and make you a flat transfer. You have in your hand an exact copy of the master tape, warts and all. Where else on earth could this happen? Not any more, most everything is MASTERED now. This Carole King SACD for whatever reason (like the old Bob Dylan "John Wesley Harding" CD) emerged "mastering free", like the first series of Roger Nichols STEELY DAN CD's on MCA."

Take that to the bank.


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Review by mcondo September 26, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
I also have the ES65850 and find similar distortion of her voice. However, her recent live RBCD "Welcome to my living room" has very similar problems with her voice. Perhaps it is the mic's or recording engineer - or maybe a tired voice. In any case the SACD I have is well worth a trip down memory lane.

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Review by fredblue May 19, 2009 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I'll start off by saying this is a rather tricky disc to evaluate. The album must surely be considered a masterpiece by anyone's reckoning. Many of the songs are so hugely familiar, it's hard to be subjective about the content. On the other hand, the sparse, funky production of the album, which influenced an entire generation of - and genre/sub-genre within - popular music, has a tendency to sound a little "antique" nowadays.

While I feel woefully under-qualified to critique the quality of the truly classic content of this disc, I can be categorical on one thing here, the Multi-channel mix is LOUD!

I would have to say it is excessively over-loud to my ears! It does have a rather special "in the studio" quality that pervades much of the album, however, which grew on me more and more. A very pleasant surprise with this album's presentation, as opposed to the "live" sound I was expecting, with mere ambience in the rears.

Instead there are a good few very effective uses of discrete activity in the surround channels, with percussion featuring to good effect on more than one occasion. As other reviewers have mentioned here, Carole King's vocals do distort on a few tracks, but it is argued this was inherent in her mic setup during the original recording and so nothing could be done to rectify this trait. When the vocals aren't distorting however, they are wonderful! Sometimes they come across as a tad too attacking, especially on "It's Too Late", "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman)" but for the most part, the main vocal has just the right balance of punch and subtlety as and when the music dictates.

If it'll tip any potential purchaser over the edge to commit to buying this SACD, I will stick my neck on the block and say the M/C SACD presentation here must surely be the very best the album has ever (or doubtless will ever..) sound.

Another incentive to someone thinking of buying might be the inclusion of the two extra tracks, particularly the superb live cut of "Smackwater Jack" which is a nice bonus here. It is especially fun as it's presentation is so very different from the rest of the album, being ambient in it's rear channel use, as opposed to the discrete steering of the whole rest of the M/C SACD. It reminded me somewhat of Sony's Isley Brothers reissues (on rbcd) that featured a live track tacked onto the end, mixing it up a little and giving you something genuinely rewarding as an extra.

Also, do other listeners here similarly detect the mix of the other bonus, "Out in the Cold" to be a lot less "dry" sounding than the rest of the studio material? When I first played it, I immediately thought "what a shame the rest of the album wasn't presented like this" - with a bit more warmth to the sound and less attacking vocals.

However, upon listening again, it struck me this was a lot less engaging and the album material itself demanded what I'd call the "sit up and LISTEN!!" presentation of the legendary album itself. If you're on the fence about buying this one, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I can safely say you'll find a very effective and authentic mix (in M/C at any rate) of what has got to be one of the most seminal works of popular music.

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Review by pvcmusiclover April 11, 2012 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Musically, this is a masterpiece of an album. No questions about that.

Stereo sonics are ok. To my ears (I could be wrong), it sounds like they were taken directly from the stereo mixdown tape (mixed from the multitrack). Hearing the minimal amount of production that went into this, it would seem simple enough to just re-mix it from the original multi-track, thus eliminating an entire generation of scrape flutter, smearing of tone and other artifacts. I digress.

Tonally, things are kind of dry and closed in. However, a waveform view shows that there's no compression of the sometimes quite generous dynamic range. From a spectrum view, this is also genuine DSD. Compared to MFSL or Analogue Productions releases, bass is definitely muddier and less defined.

Verdict - I would love for Analogue Productions to issue stereo SACD of this album (from the original multi-tracks). However, this alright.

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Review by yoniyama July 29, 2013 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I bought this SACD (non-hybrid) a couple of years ago. This is a great SACD.

For those who missed this great SACD before and cannot quite bring himself to pay several hundred dollars to get a new one now, there is now a reasonable alternative: Blu-Spec II version from Sony.

I bought one from CD Japan recently, so I can listen to this in my car. Of course, I compared this Blu-Spec II version to the SACD.

I couldn't tell the difference between the two. (OK, I just turned 50 and my hearing may be failing. My much younger wife could not tell the difference, either.) But when I told my wife that our SACD could be re-sold for 10 times more than what I paid for it, she said NO.

Anyway, I am pleasantly surprised by this Blu-Spec II from Sony.

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Review by guit30 August 28, 2013 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I am reviewing A SACD which was not a hybrid, and it was easily the best SACD that I ever heard It was simply delightful to listen to. I'm not sure who released this SACD, I bought it on Amazon for 24 dollars. The whole matter is why I had never heard a SACD that was so perfect before, it was just sparkling on my inexpensive OPPO 980 multi Disc player, which means it can play several types of discs including SACDs, which was fed into an old 80s Fisher 2 bookshelf speaker stereo which is an item disappearing from today's households. I wonder why they stopped making SACDs that are not hybrid? I don't see any.
The two things that make this awesome are 1. Tapestry is an awesome CD, not a bad song on it. 2. It is the best sounding musical experience that my stereo has ever given me. Can I saw magical, the soundscape is otherworldly and these great things that really change my mindset after listening to it are rare. I was selfish, I saw the prices going thru the roof, and I am on disability, so I sold it for 70 dollars, now I see it selling for 350.00 used. Someone mentioned that there is a new version that sounds like this, I'd love to find it some day. I bought a mastered version of Tapestry after I sold this and it does not do anything for me. Don't sell it!!!

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