Over the last couple of years Ace has have built up an impressive series of songwriter-based compilations. Burt Bacharach, Jackie DeShannon, Randy Newman and the Leiber & Stoller, Pomus & Shuman, Greenwich & Barry, Mann & Weil and Goffin & King teams are amongst those spotlit so far. A second volume of Randy Newman’s early numbers is in the pipeline, as are sets devoted to the songs of Ashford & Simpson, Neil Diamond and Chip Taylor. Meanwhile, “Honey & Wine” marks our second foray into the folio of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, one of the most lauded songwriting partnerships of all-time.
As a kid Goffin developed a taste for Broadway musicals and began creating songs in his head. With a vague ambition to one day write a musical of his own, he enrolled at college to study chemistry. It was there that he met 17-year-old Carole, a keen amateur rock’n’roll songwriter in search of a lyricist. They hit it off right away, penned a few songs together and dropped out of college to get married. In 1960 they joined Carole’s pal Neil Sedaka as staff songwriters at Aldon Music, a fledgling publishing house headed by Al Nevins and Don Kirshner. Within a couple of years they were the most successful songwriters in the country.
We like our original versions at Ace and a few are included here. Bobby Vee recorded ‘Go Away Little Girl’ before Steve Lawrence got his mitts on the song for example, while the Rising Sons (Ry Cooder’s early band) cut ‘Take A Giant Step’ before the Monkees did and stylish jazz diva Nancy Wilson’s reading of ‘No Easy Way Down’ was taped before Carole’s own version was released.
If you’ve ever wondered how many Goffin and King compositions the Monkees recorded, the short answer is 18, the most successful of which was ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, the couple’s restless ode to life in suburbia, included here. (The long answer is contained in the booklet.) While not all of Goffin’s lyrics are autobiographical, it is tempting to assume that ‘So Goes Love’, heard here by the Turtles, documents the breakdown of his and Carole’s personal relationship. Thankfully, they continued writing together after their divorce.
As with our earlier volume, this set includes familiar hits (the Monkees, Maxine Brown’s ‘Oh No Not My Baby’, the Drifters’ ‘Up On The Roof’, Gene McDaniels’ ‘Point Of No Return’, etc), overlooked gems (Chuck Jackson’s ‘I Need You’, Jan & Dean’s ‘The Best Friend I Ever Had’, Freddie Scott’s ‘Brand New World’, ‘I Happen To Love You’ by the Myddle Class, to name just four) and some new to CD rarities (‘Stage Door’ by Peter James, ‘They’re Jealous Of Me’ by Connie Stevens, ‘The Boy I Used To Know’ by Andrea Carroll, Jody Miller’s very non-PC ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’ and Carolyn Daye’s ‘A Long Way To Be Happy’).
BY MICK PATRICK