- This vintage Ode pressing boasts outstanding grades from start to finish
- Big, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, yet still clean, clear and open – 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
- 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.”
Audiophile sound is not easy to find on Tapestry. As we’ve been saying for twenty 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 Korstchmar turn up too, with Kootch handling most of the electric guitar duties.
Carole returned the favor, playing the piano and singing on Taylor’s wonderful but underappreciated Mud Slide Slim album.
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 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 best 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 (here are some examples of thin sounding records), 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 best 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 exceptional copy, with no scratches that play 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.
Quite a number of our customers have written us about our Hot Stamper pressings of Tapestry, and their letters can be found here.
The Washington Post article that Geoff Edgers wrote includes a video of a little shootout we did for Tapestry, using, without my knowledge, the MoFi, a Hot Stamper and a regular reissue of the album. In the video you see me describe the sound for the first go around, more of a warmup than a real shootout.
When we went back and played each of the pressings again, the differences were much more pronounced. The MoFi still sounded like a CD, the current Columbia reissue was still no better than passable, and the Hot Stamper became even better sounding than it had been earlier, with sound the other two could not begin to offer. You can see that it took me a few minutes to get deep into the sound, but once I was there, it turned out to no contest. The Hot Stamper showed us just how good Tapestry could sound.
This customer, along with a number of others, talks about a similar experience he had with one of our Hot Stamper pressings.
A real shootout, like the one that produced this very copy, would have involved 6-10 early domestic pressings, since those are the only ones that sound good to us these days.