..

CAROLE KING IN CONCERT

Review by Michael Jacobson

Director:  Larry Jordan
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Image Entertainment
Features:  None
Length:  85 Minutes
Release Date:  September 4, 2001

“How many of you remember the 60s?…How many of you DON’T remember the 60s?…How many of you were THERE, but don’t remember the 60s?”

Film ****

The word ‘legend’ is thrown about so nonchalantly these days that it’s lost a great deal of its shine.  But there are still some artists for whom the word is far too feeble.  Not many.  But Carole King is definitely one of them.

Ms. King is one of the truly indelible voices of rock and roll.  In the 1960s, along with one time husband Gerry Goffin, she penned a string of unforgettable hits for other artists that reads like a roster of some of the best pop/rock tunes ever recorded:  “Chains”, “The Locomotion”, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Up on the Roof” are just a few.  In the 70s, with some encouragement, she decided to put some of her songs to record herself.  The result was some of the best albums ever, including the masterful Tapestry, which spawned a string of hits and held the record for biggest selling album by a Canadian artist for a long time.

She doesn’t tour nearly enough, so when she does, it’s something special.  One such tour happened in 1994, and a terrific show was captured for PBS television.  Carole King in Concert also was released as a CD, and remains to this date one of THE best live albums I’ve ever heard.

Now, Image Entertainment has resurrected this once-in-a-lifetime event for DVD, and as a lifelong and die-hard fan, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  With a great band, an enthusiastic crowd and an endless catalog of great songs at her disposal, Carole King puts on a show you won’t forget.

All periods of her career are included, as she coos through beautiful renditions of “Natural Woman” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” from her days as just a songwriter.  Her pop diva days are represented by the likes of “Jazzman”, “It’s Too Late” and “So Far Away”.  Songs from her then current (and underappreciated) Colour of Your Dreams are also there, including a special surprise appearance by Slash from Guns N Roses on “Hold Out For Love”.  How cool is that, when one of metal’s most infamous bad boys plays side by side with one of rock’s most legendary women?

Every song is a highlight, but some are even more so.  Her band’s pumped up version of “I Feel the Earth Move” is like no version you’ve ever heard before.  It’s followed by Carole alone on the piano performing “You’ve Got a Friend”.  When her voice drops out and you can hear the entire audience singing the song back to her as she plays, you’ll get goose bumps on top of goose bumps. 

For a finale, Slash comes back as Carole and company rock through “The Locomotion”.  Even the normally dour rocker can’t keep his feet still as he trades licks with Carole’s guitarist, and she adds to the furor by taking over the keyboards from her backing player for a hard hitting organ solo.  The crowd is on its feet, and you will be, too.  This is rock and roll at its very best.

Carole King in Concert is a show any music lover will appreciate…after all, who doesn’t love Ms. King’s body of songs?  The bigger fan you are, the more you will cherish it.  This is one for the rock and roll time capsule.

Video ***

The transfer quality is good, despite some expected limitations from the videotape source.  Carole wears a black velvet dress during the show, and I’m pleased to report that the texture on it is always vivid; it never becomes just a wash of black.  Colors are natural looking and well contained…some darker moments, such as shots of the audience with the lights low, show less definition and some compensatory grain, but again, these come from the video source, not the DVD transfer.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix isn’t particularly daring, but it is very loud.  The rear speakers mirror the front ones with no detectable discretion, but it makes the music sound a bit more open and full all the way through.  The .1 channel delivers a little extra bottom end to the sound.  If you have surround capabilities, there’s no need to even opt for the original stereo track.

Features (zero stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

Carole King is a true superstar in every sense of the word, and Carole King in Concert captures that star at her very brightest.  Great songs, great playing, a smooth voice and a raucous guest appearance by Slash make for an unforgettable night’s entertainment.