taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs


You know that friend who invites you over and then proceeds to force upon you a concert DVD you really have no interest in watching? The next time it happens, that DVD will be Carol King and James Taylor: Live at The Troubadour. The premise of the CD/DVD collection is a re-visitation of their hallowed, pre-fame performance at the same venue 40 years ago, playing only the songs of that era that would go on to cement them into the upper echelon of singer/ songwriterdom. With a set list rich in Tapestry and Sweet Baby James, almost all of their greatest solo and overlapping work is represented. There isn’t much more beyond it that one would want to hear, making it a great selection for casual to intermediate fans to see the duo in the venue that helped propel them to stardom. It’s also an inferred declaration that neither has really done anything better in the 40 years since. Of the two media included, the CD seems to be the more enduring. The versions of “You’ve Got a Friend” and “It’s Too Late” feel the most passionate and authentic, aided by a heartfelt guitar solo by Danny Kortchmar on the latter. Watching the DVD, however, you can’t help but think about how James Taylor has matured into one of the most vanilla musical personas of his generation. Ever stoic in his delivery, the emotive effect behind the songs rely too much on how the listener receives them, as his own detachment from those qualities is palpable. King feels far more warm and engaging than her counterpart, though their mannered stage banter occasionally seems to reach. Both performers retain near-perfect reproduction of their vocals and harmonics from 40 years before, however, lending the performance its greatest selling point: nostalgia. The entire point of this release feels as if it should send listeners back to the classic albums with renewed interest. Hopefully, that is the case, because after a couple of spins, Live at The Troubadour ages quickly.


For a chance to have your band’s CD reviewed, mail it to:

YES! Weekly, 5500 Adams Farm Lane, Suite 204, Greensboro, NC 27407. ATTN: Ryan Snyder.