The tune I bring you today is one of the finest moments from a brief and little known (outside of collector circles) chapters in the Carole King story.
In the late 60s, King had relocated to the West Coast, and out together a group called The City, featuring King’s future husband, Charlie Larkey of NJ’s the Myddle Class, and Donny Kortchmar.
The group would record one album, filled with great, melodics tunes (some co-written by Larkey’s Myddle Class bandmate David Palmer, later to hook up with Steely Dan), which was – sadly – met with commercial indifference.
A few years back I was away on vacation in the Finger Lakes region of New York and managed to get in some excellent 45 digging, which yielded a pair of 45s by the City.
‘Snow Queen’, written by Goffin and King, had originally been recorded by the Roger Nichols Trio in 1967, and then again by Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends in 1968 and went on to be covered by the Byzantine Empire, and the Association among others.
The version by the City is a mellow, jazzy reading of the tune with drums by Jim Gordon and King singing lead (and harmony with multi-tracked versions of her own voice). It’s the kind of pretty song that should have been a hit, at least on the more underground end of things, yet it went nowhere.
The City album ‘Now That Everything’s Been Said’, original copies of which are hard to come by and expensive – has been bootlegged (a black and white cover being the giveaway), but it was reissued by Light In the Attic.
I hope you dig it and I’ll see you all next week.
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