Carole King's 'Legendary Demos' from the '60's Surface for April 24 Release

Press Release: Carole King will release The Legendary Demos, a previously unreleased collection of 13 recordings featuring some of her most celebrated songs, April 24 via Hear Music/Concord Music Group. The Legendary Demos traces King's journey from her days as an Aldon staff writer in the 1960's, where she crafted hit after hit for other artists, to the dawn of her own triumphant solo career in the 1970's, and contains the original recordings of future standards like "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "It's Too Late," and "You've Got A Friend." Featuring liner notes by acclaimed author and Rolling Stone contributing editor David Browne, the collection forms the lost missing link in the chain of King's career.

Aldon Music used these demos -- short for "demonstration records"-- to pitch King's material to other artists, from Gene Pitney and Bobby Vee to Aretha Franklin and the Monkees. While the recordings have long been coveted and collected within the industry (famed producer Lou Adler once gave "a stack of demos" to Randy Newman and called them "the best education that anybody who wanted to be a songwriter could have"), they have never before been released to the public.

'The Legendary Demos' Tracklisting:

1. Pleasant Valley Sunday (Goffin/King)
(Carole King: vocal; other musicians unknown) circa 1966
Covered by The Monkees (1967)

2. So Goes Love (Goffin/King)
(Carole King: vocal; other musicians unknown) circa 1966
Covered by The Turtles (1967)

3. Take Good Care Of My Baby (Goffin/King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1961
Covered by Bobby Vee (1961)

4. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Goffin/King/Wexler)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1967
Covered by Aretha Franklin (1967)

5. Like Little Children (Goffin/King)
(Carole King: vocal; other musicians unknown) circa 1966
Covered by The Knickerbockers (1966)

6. Beautiful (King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1970

7. Crying In The Rain (Greenfield/King)
(Carole King: vocal; other musicians unknown) circa 1962
Covered by The Everly Brothers (1962)

8. Way Over Yonder (King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1970

9. Yours Until Tomorrow (Goffin/King)
(Carole King: vocal; other musicians unknown) circa 1966
Covered by Paul Wayne (1966)

10. It's Too Late (King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1970

11. Tapestry (King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1970

12. Just Once In My Life (Goffin/King/Spector)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1965
Covered by The Righteous Brothers (1965)

13. You've Got A Friend (King)
(Carole King: vocal, piano) circa 1970

King and then-husband/songwriting partner Gerry Goffin signed to Aldon Music in 1959, and anyone who listened to the radio during the first half of the '60s will recognize the songs of teen passion and devastating heartbreak heard in King's original recordings. "Take Good Care of My Baby" was a No. 1 hit for Bobby Vee in 1961. Goffin's gift for tapping into teen anguish--in this case, hiding behind a stoic public face--was never conveyed better than in "Crying in the Rain," which the Everly Brothers took into the top 10 in early 1962. "Just Once in My Life" was the Righteous Brothers' follow-up to their still-spine-tingling "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and King's demo reveals how she and Goffin were instantly able to tap into the duo's (and producer Phil Spector's) dramatic, impassioned sound.

Like many of their fellow songwriters at the time, King and Goffin wrote songs for Don Kirshner's TV show about a fictional, Beatles-derived pop band that debuted in September 1966. The Monkees, as they were called, turned out to be more credible singers (and musicians) than anyone initially expected, as their high-charting 1967 version of King and Goffin's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" revealed. The Monkees also cut "So Goes Love," a dreamier ballad heard here, but the track didn't make their first album and wasn't released until long after they'd disbanded.

Whether it was a potential single for the Monkees or a solo performer like Pitney, King's demos were remarkable in their completeness. "When she sat down to the piano and played a demo of one of her songs, the whole arrangement appeared right in front of your eyes magically," recalls Brooks Arthur, who engineered a number of these efficient sessions for King at one of several midtown Manhattan studios. "She played certain chords, figures, and hooks, and she spelled out the arrangement. In 'Take Good Care of My Baby,' the piano figure in the middle was signaling to the producer, 'This is what you should do.' A lot of the smarter producers would adhere to Carole's demos. If you stuck to that, you'd come home a winner."

Generally, King would record by herself. Sometimes, though, she'd utilize a small group of in-house studio musicians that included guitarist Al Gorgoni, guitarist and bass player Charles Macey, and drummers Gary Chester and Buddy Saltzman (known for his beats on records by the Four Seasons). Those tracks displayed King's breadth of musical knowledge. The groove of Carole and Gerry's "Like Little Children" recalls Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour." And in case you're wondering why certain Goffin-King standards like "The Loco-motion" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" aren't included here, there's a simple reason: Those demos were cut with the recording artists themselves singing lead, and in some cases, the demos became the master recordings heard on the radio.

After the breakup of their marriage in 1968, Goffin and King moved seperately to California. Carole settled in Laurel Canyon with her daughters Sherry and Louise and began working as a staff songwriter at Screen Gems-Columbia Music, which had purchased Aldon Music from Kirshner and Nevins in 1965. In search of a new lyricist, King met writer and poet Toni Stern, "the quintessential California girl," as King describes Stern in her book.

The songs that emerged during this productive period would form the basis for King's 'Tapestry', one of the best-selling and most beloved albums of all time. 'The Legendary Demos' includes early takes of six tracks included on that album, most likely recorded at Screen Gems' Hollywood headquarters--according to Stern, after most of the employees had left for the day. King and Stern's ever-poignant "It's Too Late" is here, along with King's own "Way Over Yonder," "Beautiful" and "Tapestry," all three bursting with the artistic and spiritual renewal infusing King's life during this period.

Among 'The Legendary Demos' is a song that would later appear on Tapestry, the very original 1967 demo of Goffin's, King's, and producer Jerry Wexler's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," which Aretha Franklin also cut in 1967. King's version offers several different takes from the Franklin and 'Tapestry' versions. Her delivery in the opening lines is looser (check out the way she stretches out "Lord" in "Lord, it made me feel so tired"), and the bridge is even more imbued with palpable romantic and sexual heat.

And finally, there's King's initial take on "You've Got a Friend," a classic entry in the Great American Rock Songbook. Her friend James Taylor had first heard the song when the two were playing L.A.'s Troubadour club in late 1970 (at the time, the stage-shy King was playing piano in Taylor's band, having accompanied him on his own landmark Sweet Baby James). Milling around in the balcony of the club during soundcheck, Taylor heard King perform the song on a bare stage and was immediately taken with it; his own version, a massive hit, would arrive the following year.