12 NOV 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH
For me, the most enjoyable holiday albums are the ones recorded by beloved and iconic singers. It's fun to hear that familiar voice in a different setting, which is why Carole King's debut entry into the Christmas pantheon, A Holiday Carole, is a rare treat. And it's released just in time for the holidays.
A family affair, it's produced by daughter Louise Goffin, who also co-wrote (with composers other than her mother) the three originals included among the 12 tracks. One of them, a salsa-flavored "Christmas Paradise," may have you rethinking your holiday destination plans.
Along with traditional fare like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and Donny Hathaway's super-cool "This Christmas," King includes Christmas-y titles like "My Favorite Things" along with the inspired addition of Irving Berlin's "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm."
Another rare find is William Bell's "Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday." Like King, Bell is a singer/composer and was the principal architect of the fabled Stax/Volt sound. King's faithful cover takes us back to the '60s, reminding us that this era was also her heyday, when she and former husband, Gerry Goffin, were cranking out hits from their office in the equally fabled Brill Building.
The sweetest track is a traditional Chanukah prayer that had been taught to King by her parents. Here, she's joined on vocals by daughter Louise and her grandson. The ancient melody is tastefully updated with jazz voicings in the piano accompaniment and a muted trumpet solo.
Considering that Carole King is one of the most successful composers and singers in pop music history, it's high time that she gave us her take on the sounds of Christmas. After all, she is the first name in... carols.