Carole King’s best work have been the subject of previous compilations before but this latest Essential collection is unique: Not only does it packages her best career-spanning work as a performer, but it also contains the original recordings of her best-loved songs recorded by other artists. (And the release comes on the heels of her current tour with James Taylor). There is no questioning King’s solo music will always be forever associated with the massively-popular Tapestry (1971), whose songs “I Feel the Earth Move,” “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away” are on this set. That album is arguably a best-of in itself. Still that shouldn’t overshadow some of the lesser-known pre- and post- Tapestry tracks, and even King’s most recent tracks like “You Can Do Anything” and “Now and Forever” continues the introspection and warmth that her music always brings.
The second disc contains the great music that she mainly co-wrote with then-partner Gerry Goffin that has been recorded by other artists. It’s a time capsule of the best in ‘60s pop music: Little Eva’s “The Locomotion,” the Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” (The absence of Herman Heremits’ “I’m Into Something Good” is a minor quibble). For now, what this entire set accomplishes is showcasing the breadth of this remarkable artist’s musical talent whether it is for herself or others.